The Contributor Experience Role

What is the Contributor Experience Lead’s role in an Open Source project?

The Contributor Experience Lead owns a part of what some of us have referred to so far as Community, Communication, and Documentation work. But not only those! 🤯 They have several areas of contribution, and as their contributions grow in prominence within the project they may very well be recognized as a maintainer, with contributions to code, and social infrastructure - and a focus on project sustainability.

What do we mean by that? The Contributor Experience Lead has 4 areas of activity, and a broad range of skills to achieve results. Let’s break this down.

Areas of activity

  • Onboarding
  • Tools Integration
  • Outreach
  • Governance

By working in these 4 areas, the Contributor Experience Lead can support new and developing contributors as they work on the project. The goal of the Contributor Experience Lead is to improve the overall project culture and experience for everyone involved, to promote civility and collaboration, as well as diversity and inclusion. They look for actions they can take themselves, and experiences they can promote in the project as a whole. They are learners and need to adapt to the existing people and culture and build upon it. No two projects are alike.

In this guide, we will elaborate about techniques for each area of activity, sharing tools, resources, and experiences. Building systems, and providing examples to motivate how those systems work in practice in different projects.


We are currently developing a career ladder for the Contributor Experience Lead. While this is worked on, we can already share the skills we are working with. But please consider some changes might still be coming. We are following a relatively “standard” engineering career ladder framework. We consider all skills which require expertise, training, and domain knowledge to be technical skills - even if they are not engineering skills - they comprise a set of techniques that one can become an expert in.

Core Competencies


Strategic networking, Strategy development, Advocacy


Outreach, Facilitation, Engagement, Cultural Competence, Communication platforms management, Speaking & presenting, Promotion of civility, Mentoring & coaching

Handling and Providing Feedback and Credit:

Feedback gathering, giving, and receiving, Credit for contributors

Strategic Alignment & Impact:

Proposal development, Qualitative research, Analysis, Change management

Technical Skills

Craft and Quality:

Training & teaching, Community events planning, Community governance support, Moderation, mediation & intervention, Emotional integration, recruitment, Management of tech platforms & CMS, Knowledge brokering, Social justice development, Hospitality techniques, Technical integration of tools, Technical writing


Content creation and curation, Editorial, Reporting

Broadly speaking, these skills require competencies in: Interpersonal skills, Communication, Culture and DEI, Program development and management, Technical skills, Qualitative research

Like many other complex roles, we wouldn’t expect any one person to be an expert in all areas of competence, especially if they are just starting out in this role. But they should be aware that this is what the domain requires from a team of contributors, and that they would be collaborating with other folks who have a variety of skills. They might also be interested to grow and develop more broadly, or more narrowly. However, a solitary Contributor Experience Lead in a project would benefit from a brand set of skills, and a collaborative approach with fellow contributors who could help them along the way.