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Serverless Workflow Project Governance

As a CNCF member project, we abide by the CNCF Code of Conduct.

For specific guidance on practical contribution steps for any Serverless Workflow sub-project please see our contributing guide.

You can contact the project maintainers at any time by sending an email to the Serverless Workflow Specification Maintainers mailing list.


Main responsibilities of maintainers include:

  1. Sharing responsibility for the project's success.
  2. Making a long-term, recurring time investment to improve the project.
  3. Performing necessary tasks, even if they are not the most interesting or fun.


A reviewer is a core role within the project. They share in reviewing issues and pull requests. Their pull request approvals are needed to merge code changes into the project.

Emeritus Maintainers

Emeritus maintainers are retired maintainers who have provided valuable contributions to the project in the past but are not able to dedicate the time necessary to be fully active maintainers going forward. While their efforts will be focused elsewhere, it is hoped that they will try to find the time to continue to be active participants in the community by:

  1. Providing guidance and mentorship to current maintainers and contributors.
  2. Offering historical context and insights based on their past experiences.
  3. Participating in discussions and reviews on an advisory basis, without the obligations of active maintainers.

Adding maintainers

Maintainers are primarily contributors who have shown a strong commitment to the long-term success of the project. Contributors aspiring to become maintainers are expected to be actively involved in coding, reviewing pull requests, and managing issues for over three months.

Becoming a maintainer is not just about contributing; it involves building trust with the current maintainers and proving to be a reliable decision-maker for the project.

Periodically, the existing maintainers compile a list of contributors who have been consistently active in recent months. From this list, maintainer candidates are selected and proposed via a pull request. To avoid conflicts of interest, only one maintainer per organization is allowed.

Once a candidate is proposed by adding them to the MAINTAINERS file via a pull request, the existing maintainers have fourteen business days to discuss, raise objections, and vote. Votes are cast through pull request comments, and candidates must receive at least 66% approval from the current maintainers.

The process for the reviewer role is similar but requires only 33% approval from current maintainers. Voting is restricted to maintainers of the repository for which the candidate is proposed.

Adding Emeritus Maintainers

To transition a maintainer to an emeritus role, the process follows the same voting and approval procedures as adding new maintainers, a new PR is created that requires a 66% approval vote from the current maintainers. Once approved, the emeritus maintainer is added to the EMERITUS file and announced to the community.


Serverless Workflow subprojects all culminate in officially supported and maintained releases of the specification. All subprojects must adhere to CNCF Code of Conduct as well as this governance document.

Adding core subprojects

New subprojects can request to be added to the Serverless Workflow GitHub organization by submitting a GitHub issue in the specification repository.

The existing maintainers are given fourteen business days to discuss the new project, raise objections and cast their vote. Projects must be approved by at least 66% of the current maintainers.

If a project is approved, a maintainer will add the project to the Serverless Workflow GitHub organization, and make an announcement on a public Slack channel.

Stepping down policy

Life priorities, interests, and passions can change. If you're a maintainer but feel you must remove yourself from the list, inform other maintainers that you intend to step down, and if possible, help find someone to pick up your work. At the very least, ensure your work can be continued where you left off.

After you've informed other maintainers, create a pull request to remove yourself from the MAINTAINERS file.

Removal of inactive maintainers

Similar to the procedure for adding new maintainers, existing maintainers can be removed from the list if they do not show significant activity on the project. Periodically, the maintainers review the list of maintainers and their activity over the last three months.

If a maintainer has shown insufficient activity over this period, a neutral person will contact the maintainer to ask if they want to continue being a maintainer. If the maintainer decides to step down as a maintainer, they open a pull request to be removed from the MAINTAINERS file.

If the maintainer wants to remain a maintainer, but is unable to perform the required duties they can be removed with a vote of at least 66% of the current maintainers. An e-mail is sent to the mailing list, inviting maintainers of the project to vote. The voting period is fourteen business days. Issues related to a maintainers performance should be discussed with them among the other maintainers so that they are not surprised by a pull request removing them.

How are decisions made?

Serverless Workflow is an open-source project with an open design philosophy. This means that the repository is the source of truth for EVERY aspect of the project, including its philosophy, design, road map, and APIs. If it's part of the project, it's in the repository. If it's in the repository, it's part of the project.

As a result, all decisions can be expressed as changes to the repository. An implementation change is a change to the source code. An API change is a change to the API specification, and so on.

Decisions are built on consensus between maintainers. Proposals and ideas can be submitted for agreement via a GitHub issue or discussion. Upon agreement, a pull request should be opened. We encourage not opening pull requests without a discussion first either in a new issue or using the discussion tool.

All decisions affecting Serverless Workflow, big and small, follow the same 3 steps:

  • Step 1: Open a pull request. Anyone can do this.

  • Step 2: Discuss the pull request. Anyone can do this.

  • Step 3: Merge or refuse the pull request. Who does this depends on the nature of the pull request and which areas of the project it affects.

I'm a maintainer. Should I make pull requests too?

Yes. Nobody should ever push to master directly. All changes should be made through a pull request. Please see the Contributing document for more information about opening pull requests.

Conflict Resolution

To merge changes into the specification, approval from at least one maintainer, other than the pull request's author, is required. Maintainers who do not explicitly voice their opinions on the pull request within the two-day approval period are assumed to agree through lazy consensus.

Discussions and voting can be posponed in case one of the maintainers expressed that they won't be available for personal reasons, e.g. parental leave, vacations, sick leave, etc.

We generally prefer that technical issues and maintainer membership are amicably worked out between the persons involved. If a dispute cannot be resolved independently, get a third-party maintainer (e.g., a mutual contact with some background on the issue but not involved in the conflict) to intercede. If a dispute cannot be resolved, the core maintainers have the final say in deciding an issue. The core maintainers may reach this decision by consensus or by a simple majority vote if necessary. The maintainers should endeavor to make this decision within a reasonable amount of time, not to extend it longer than two weeks.