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Community membership

Note: This document is in progress

This doc outlines the various responsibilities of contributor roles in OpenTelemetry. The OpenTelemetry project is subdivided into subprojects under (predominantly, but not exclusively) language-focused SIGs (Special Interest Group). Responsibilities for most roles are scoped to these subprojects (repos).

The OpenTelemetry Governance Committee owns this document and process until delegated. They can be reached via e-mail

Role Responsibilities Requirements Defined by
member active contributor in the community. reviewer of PRs sponsored by 2 owners. multiple contributions to the project. OpenTelemetry GitHub org member.
approver approve accepting contributions highly experienced and active reviewer + contributor to a subproject CODEOWNER in GitHub
maintainer set direction and priorities for a subproject demonstrated responsibility and excellent technical judgement for the subproject CODEOWNER, GitHub Team and repo ownership in GitHub

New contributors

New contributors should be welcomed to the community by existing members, helped with PR workflow, and directed to relevant documentation and communication channels.

Established community members

Established community members are expected to demonstrate their adherence to the principles in this document, familiarity with project organization, roles, policies, procedures, conventions, etc., and technical and/or writing ability. Role-specific expectations, responsibilities, and requirements are enumerated below.


Members are continuously active contributors in the community. They can have issues and PRs assigned to them. Members are expected to participate in SIG or SIGs and remain active contributors to the community.

Defined by: Member of the OpenTelemetry GitHub organization


  • Enabled two-factor authentication on their GitHub account
  • Have made multiple contributions to the project or community. Contributions may include, but is not limited to:
    • Authoring or reviewing PRs on GitHub
    • Filing or commenting on issues on GitHub
    • Contributing to SIGs, subprojects, or community discussions (e.g. meetings, chat, email, and discussion forums)
  • Joined the gitter channel
  • Have read the contributor guide
  • Actively contributing to 1 or more subprojects.
  • Sponsored by 2 approvers. Note the following requirements for sponsors:
    • Sponsors must have close interactions with the prospective member - e.g. code/design/proposal review, coordinating on issues, etc.
    • Sponsors must be approvers or maintainers in at least 1 CODEOWNERS file either in any repo in the OpenTelemetry org.
    • Sponsors must be from multiple member companies to demonstrate integration across community.
  • Open an issue against the OpenTelemetry/community repo
    • Ensure your sponsors are @mentioned on the issue
    • Complete every item on the checklist (preview the current version of the template)
    • Make sure that the list of contributions included is representative of your work on the project.
  • Have your sponsoring reviewers reply confirmation of sponsorship: +1
  • Once your sponsors have responded, your request will be reviewed by the Governance Committee. Any GC member can review the requirements and add Members to the GitHub org.

Responsibilities and privileges

  • Responsive to issues and PRs assigned to them
  • Active owner of code they have contributed (unless ownership is explicitly transferred)
    • Code is well tested
    • Tests consistently pass
    • Addresses bugs or issues discovered after code is accepted
  • Members can review and approve via the GitHub workflow. This review work is not sufficient to merge a PR. There will still need to be a review by an approver.
  • Members can be assigned to issues and PRs, and people can ask members for reviews with a /cc @username.

Note: members who frequently contribute code are expected to proactively perform code reviews and work towards becoming an approver for the subproject that they are active in. Acceptance of code contributions requires at least one approver in addition to the reviews by members.


Code approvers are able to both review and approve code contributions, as well as help maintainers triage issues and do project management.

While code review is focused on code quality and correctness, approval is focused on holistic acceptance of a contribution including: backwards/forwards compatibility, adhering to API and flag conventions, subtle performance and correctness issues, interactions with other parts of the system, etc.

Defined by: CODEOWNER workflow.

Approver status can be scoped to a part of the codebase. For example, critical core components may have higher bar of becoming an approver. Some approvers may only be doing issues triage and have no approval rights.


The following apply to the part of the codebase for which one would be an approver in the CODEOWNER files.

  • Reviewer of the codebase for at least 3 months
  • Reviewer for at least 10 substantial PRs to the codebase
  • Reviewed or merged at least 30 PRs to the codebase
  • Nominated by a maintainer
    • With no objections from other maintainers
    • Done through PR to update the CODEOWNER.

Responsibilities and privileges

The following apply to the part of the codebase for which one would be an approver in the CODEOWNER files.

  • Approver status may be a precondition to accepting large code contributions
  • Demonstrate sound technical judgement
  • Responsible for project quality control via code reviews
    • Focus on holistic acceptance of contribution such as dependencies with other features, backwards / forwards compatibility, API and flag definitions, etc
  • Expected to be responsive to review requests
  • Mentor contributors and reviewers
  • May approve code contributions for acceptance


Note: This is a generalized high-level description of the role, and the specifics of the maintainer role's responsibilities and related processes MUST be defined for individual SIGs or subprojects.

Maintainers are the technical authority for a subproject in the OpenTelemetry project. They MUST have demonstrated both good judgement and responsibility towards the health of that subproject. Maintainers MUST set technical direction and make or approve design decisions for their subproject - either directly or through delegation of these responsibilities.

Defined by: GitHub organization ownership, permissions and entry in CODEOWNERs files.


The process for becoming a Maintainer should be defined in the SIG charter of the SIG owning the subproject. Unlike the roles outlined above, the Owners of a subproject are typically limited to a relatively small group of decision makers and updated as fits the needs of the subproject.

The following apply to the subproject for which one would be an owner.

  • Deep understanding of the technical goals and direction of the subproject
  • Deep understanding of the technical domain (specifically the language) of the subproject
  • Sustained contributions to design and direction by doing all of:
    • Authoring and reviewing proposals
    • Initiating, contributing and resolving discussions (emails, GitHub issues, meetings)
    • Identifying subtle or complex issues in designs and implementation PRs
  • Directly contributed to the subproject through implementation and / or review
  • Aligning with the overall project goals, specifications and design principles defined by Technical Committee (TC). Bringing general questions and requests to the discussions as part of specifications project.

Responsibilities and privileges

The following apply to the subproject for which one would be an owner.

  • Make and approve technical design decisions for the subproject.
  • Set technical direction and priorities for the subproject.
  • Define milestones and releases.
  • Mentor and guide approvers, reviewers, and contributors to the subproject.
  • Escalate reviewer and maintainer workflow concerns (i.e. responsiveness, availability, and general contributor community health) to the TC.
  • Ensure continued health of subproject:
    • Adequate test coverage to confidently release
    • Tests are passing reliably (i.e. not flaky) and are fixed when they fail
  • Ensure a healthy process for discussion and decision making is in place.
  • Work with other maintainers to maintain the project's overall health and success holistically.
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