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Wayfair's OSPO: Advocacy

Within Wayfair’s Open Source Program Office, we have three main pillars that drive the team. We provide a platform of solutions with processes, tools, and support. We provide a team that combs through the organization, finding projects that may be ripe for open-sourcing. We also maintain and publicize our open source projects.

This article will focus on the latter of these three responsibilities. We advocate for our software, for contributions to it, and for others to open-source their software, too.


Responsibility to Wayfair

We, as Wayfairians, write solutions for a large e-commerce enterprise that we hope may apply to more than our specific use case. The best way for us to reach as many people as possible is to ensure we present our solutions in a way that we expect will be well-received in the OSS community. Our first priority in Advocacy is to represent the stability, integrity, and usefulness of the software that engineers within and outside of Wayfair contribute to our OSS (Open Source Software) presence.

This may include creating content to publicize and inform on our solutions, through blog posts, presentations, tech talks, meetups, and more. This may also include setting standards throughout our organization that help ensure a reasonable level of consistency across our offerings, without suffocating the innovation required to keep moving a project forward.

Our second responsibility and priority as a team is to ensure we attract talent that makes meaningful contributions to Wayfair. To be clear, this does not include solicitation. We encourage folks that contribute to our solutions in a meaningful way to continue to do so. We encourage contributors who are passionate about our projects to consider joining us. We also assume a simple presence of stable and useful projects designed to solve problems at enterprise scale will attract talent.

Responsibility to Not-Wayfair

One unique position that Open Source Program Offices (OSPOs) have within their host companies is the expectation that we represent the brand of Wayfair, specifically as it relates to Open Source. As such, we make a deliberate effort to present a truthful and transparent picture of our Open Source Projects.

More directly, we set standards for what projects are matured within the Wayfair OSS ecosystem. We steward the efforts of these projects and ensure the stability of any dependents we have downstream. Our responsibility to an industry and community that has come to rely so heavily on open source software is that when we see something, we say something. We make fixes to our own code, and encourage others within Wayfair to fix things that are broken, even if it isn’t owned by us.

We owe the ecosystem outside our company that built incredible frameworks and languages the courtesy of contributing back whenever we can. OSPO helps identify these opportunities and helps teams contribute. We ensure that our organization has the right relationships and contacts to make meaningful decisions about how to give back.

Who Does It?

We do this work as a shared effort across the team. The folks who contribute the most are Developer Advocates. In a nutshell, we have people who are passionate about helping the open source community continuously improve. They help by contributing code, issues, and communication about our projects. They’re relationship builders, they’re developers, and they’re people who like to understand what we can do better.

Developer Advocates contribute to our major Open Source projects and write presentations about it. They may hold meetups, tech talks, or virtual streams to publicize the work that Wayfair does in Open Source. They may write blog posts, participate in partnerships with other organizations, and build communities around our solutions.

As with every pillar of the Wayfair OSPO, Developer Advocates share responsibilities across different areas. They may draw inspiration and partnerships internally as well as externally, contribute to Platform solutions, and guide our efforts in sourcing projects from within.

Give Me an Example

You’re looking at it! Literally. You’re reading some of it right now. This website is an example of some of our Open Source advocacy. By sharing our practices and how we work with the rest of the world, we can get feedback about it. We can educate others. We can learn more and give something back. We make space for people to tell us what they think and give them something to think about. That’s the goal, and that’s what we do!

Questions, Comments, Confused?

If all of the above feels too intangible, you want to change it, or you want to talk to us about it, consider opening an issue on this repository and tell us what you think! If you prefer to stay as off-the-grid as possible (mad respect), reach out to us at opensource@wayfair.com.

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