Henry Zhu Launches New Maintainers Anonymous Podcast

Maintainers Anonymous is a new podcast created by Henry Zhu, who has been the primary maintainer of Babel for the past two years. Babel is a JavaScript compiler used by Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and millions of others. It is downloaded over 18 million times per month and used by more than 1.8 million repositories on GitHub. Zhu recently left his job at Adobe to work on Babel and open source full-time.

In his new podcast, Zhu is talking with other maintainers to unearth their valuable perspectives and share similar struggles. By presenting them as regular people, rather than faceless code projects, Zhu is aiming to encourage empathy for maintainers.

Maintainers Anonymous is centered around the “how” of maintenance and Zhu is open to having guests from a variety of fields and disciplines, such as a librarian, gardener, or moderator. In an episode titled “Speedrunning with Omnigamer,” Zhu and his first guest, Eric Koziel, discuss the intricacies of “speedrunning,” playing a video game with the goal of beating it as fast as possible. Koziel describes it as a medium for doing an optimization challenge. Since the games are just software, he and Zhu explored how speedrunning intersects with coding and talked about some of the parallels with maintaining open source software.

The next two episodes are a series with guest Stephanie Hurlburt, a graphics engineer and owner of the company that makes Basis, an image/texture compression product. They delve deeper into how business development is relevant to open source, setting healthy boundaries, inherent vs. perceived value, marketing, and more.

If you’re looking for a new podcast to add to your subscriptions, Zhu’s Maintainers Anonymous offers a wide variety of topics and perspectives that touch on open source, maintainership, and other aspects of life and business in the world of technology. New episodes are available on the podcast’s website, and listeners can also subscribe via RSS, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or Spotify. Follow @MaintainersAnono on Twitter for all the latest.

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2 Comments


  1. I read about half of the article without finding an explanation for what exactly a “maintainer” is. :-) I can kind of guess that the term is used for people who are responsible for maintaining some type of code base? But not sure.

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  2. I think you’re right, referring to people who maintain open source projects.

    Leaving a job at adobe to maintain an open source is a bold move! Very admirable.

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