Justin Garrison
January 18, 2018

Dear Kubernetes Community

Posted on January 18, 2018  •  5 minutes  • 873 words

Dear Kubernetes Community,

KubeCon and CloudNativeCon were an absolute blast! 🙌 I can’t believe how big the conference has got in such a short period of time. I’m thrilled to see how inclusive and welcoming the community is to new people. Especially people who identify with groups underrepresented at most conferences.
Thank you to the Linux Foundation for all the hard work I can’t even fathom goes into planning an event of this magnitude. Thank you to the CNCF for intentionally fostering a diverse community. Thank you to the project and community leaders for being accessible and approachable by anyone and everyone in the hallways, talks, and after hours events. Thank you to everyone who provided constructive feedback to speakers, organizers, and projects.

We have come a long way, but there is still a lot to do.

As the community matures I’m worried we will not learn from the experiences of other communities. We should be aware of their challenges and celebrate their successes. As wonderful as things seem, it’s easy to be blind to the behaviors that can easily tear us apart. We need to remember that for many people this is the first community (especially OSS community) they are a part of.

As I reflect on the amazing conversations I had this past week I have thought of some values we need to reenforce and things we should keep in mind.

People come first. All people. Nobody is a nobody and we need to always keep in mind that all of this software is made by people. Be respectful and know that everyone brings their own history, experiences, and value to the community. Have empathy for new and established people in our community and even those outside of our community.

Protecting the community is more important than any single person, no matter who it is. Don’t allow toxic people or behaviors to be ignored. Speak up! If you don’t know how to speak up or do not feel safe I am tremendously sorry because if that is the case we have not made this a safe environment and have not made it clear what we value. Please tell someone, anyone, if you feel threatened, scared, or harmed by another person or process. Please also keep in mind that we are all just people. We make mistakes. Together, with open feedback and dialog, we can hopefully make fewer mistakes.

There will never be another KubeCon 2017 just like there will never be another KubeCon 2016. We need to look ahead at what is to come and make sure we are, as much as possible, prepared for the unknown.

The projects are maturing. That means there will be companies investing in the technologies and enterprises with new demands on them. From here on out there will be a lot more money at stake and new motivations for being involved in the projects and communities. We should be welcoming for anyone willing to join the community who value what we value, but it is not our responsibility to make them successful or allow them to disrupt progress to keep their existing business. We should encourage new use cases and keep and open mind to learn new things.

KubeCon is only going to get bigger and more people who come will not know what we value or be invested in our community. Talks will focus on solving different problems and hallway tracks may become more exclusive and private. If you see behaviors that do not put people first, respectfully remind them what we value and how we behave. This is true for KubeCon, Slack, meetups, SIG calls, and GitHub. If you don’t feel safe speaking up, or do not know what to say please report it. The leaders of the projects and communities cannot know every bad experience that happens, but they are active in maintaining a safe environment.

Kubernetes needs to remember what it was like to be new, the struggles of being small, and be inclusive of the broader communities we interact with and have impact on. Being a leading project means we must set the example, not look down or abuse our popularity. This is not an “us vs. them” situation. There are no winners. Technologies come and go. They are not important. The people who build them are.

Be careful what we measure. Organizations become what they measure  and it is no different with OSS. Do not measure the easy things because they are easy. Even if not explicitly said, they will become influential within the community. Measure the things we care about because they are important and who we want to become. No matter how difficult they are to quantify.

This community is special. It won’t stay that way on its own. Thank you to everyone who has helped create it and for everyone who is a part of it who keeps its values.

Keep being curious. Keep asking questions. Invest in other people. Love them and empathize with them. Protect them and make their success yours.

This community can be much more than just Kubernetes and the surrounding projects if we can maintain these values and continue to write the world’s most boring software with its most exciting people.

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