You may have stumbled upon a few of our Meilistars’ interviews in the past few months such as Minoru’s or Markus’ to quote only a few. And you probably wondered “what even are Meilistars?”

Meilistars are top contributors of Meilisearch that have kindly agreed to participate in our very first contributors’ program.

What is a contributors’ program?

If you’ve never heard of contributors’ programs before in the context of a tech open-source project, the idea is quite straightforward: bringing together a group of remarkable people to offer them exclusive opportunities. It’s basically the Avengers project of the open-source community. The aim of such a program can vary depending on the company of course. So…

Why did we decide to create the Meilistars?

It was the first time in Meilisearch history to launch such a program, we’ve never had the chance to work with our contributors in this way. Our aim was, first and foremost, to thank some of our key contributors for all the work and support they’ve offered us up until this point.

As an open-source project, a lot of our successes are intimately linked to the involvement and dedication of our contributors, and it is paramount that their work doesn’t go unnoticed or underappreciated.

How did we put it together?

As we mentioned, it was the first time for us to launch such a program, which means there was a lot for us to learn. We did our due diligence and researched as much as we could by reading about what other companies may have done in the past, dissecting everything and trying to put together a program that made the most sense to us.

But of course, theory can only bring us so far, and the time quickly came to trial our concep out so we reached out to our initial list of star contributors.

This choice was motivated by the fact that we wanted to thank them for all their work so far, as we explained, but also because we believed that trustworthy contributors would be candid with their feedback. We explained in our very first email that we were trying something new, and we might need their guidance regarding whether or not our offering was up to standard.

After all, our idea was to create a program that would be interesting to our contributors, not just another ego boost for ourselves. Everything had to link back to them.

Once all our identified profiles were contacted about the program, only one thing was left to do: actually launch it!

How it went?

Program timeline

We organized a live welcome session in which some of our meilistars participated. We were able to explain the program's objective to them and they had the opportunity to ask questions and clarify any doubts. As we mentioned before, our main goal was to show our gratitude, as they were already top contributors. During this session, some of them directly asked us to suggest issues or challenges for them to work on.

So that's what we did. We contacted our engine and integrations teams and asked them to provide us with a list of issues where they could use some help. If you're curious, here is the list (click to unroll):

Some of them are still open,  if you're looking for a summer challenge… 😁

A few days later, Meilisearch released version 1, and our meilistars mobilized to help us spread the word. And, thanks in part to them, the release of v1 was a complete success. We couldn't be more fortunate!

In the meantime, we started interviewing our stars. And in March, we published the first of many interviews with a Meilistar. It has been great to learn more about them. Their feedback on Meilisearch has been very insightful, especially coming from people who use and know the product that well. In fact, this feedback frequently comes up in conversations within the engine and product teams when discussing the future of Meilisearch.

Unfortunately, time has not allowed us to interview all of our stars throughout the duration of the program. But don't be surprised if we reach out to you for an interview. Just because the program has ended doesn't mean our curiosity has ended as well. We will be back with more questions!

In April, we finally managed to send out the swag that we had been working on for months. And from what they shared on social media, it seems like they liked it, don't you think?

Screencaptures of tweets by Meilistars showcasing received swag

In May, the last month of the program, we organized an exclusive Ask Me Anything session where our stars could ask any questions they wanted to the Meilisearch team. It was highly active, and the exchanges were very enriching. Stay tuned because we will soon be sharing these exchanges in a dedicated blog post!

Despite its brief duration, the Meilistars achieved remarkable results.

30 PRs merged, 14 issues opened, more than 25 tweets, 171 Discord messages, 119  issue comments, and 48 GitHub Discussion comments

Taking stock of the program

Now that the program has reached its natural conclusion, it’s time to look back and assess our learnings.

  1. Asynchronicity is the way. It’s of course a pleasure to be meeting our stars in person as it was the case during the welcoming session, but the reality of things makes synchronization a nightmare. Everyone has their own lives and agenda, families and friends to prioritise. And that’s without even mentioning time differences thanks to the great diversity of our Meilistars cast! Trying to keep things as asynchronous as possible is paramount to ensure a maximum of people can join in the fun and various activities
  2. Pre-defined projects are our friends. We were initially reluctant to assign any work to our contributors as we didn’t want to add any additional work on their shoulders, so imagine our surprise when they requested it themselves! In the future, we will be preparing a list of available issues for them to work on at their own pace and if they wish. As our Meilistars pointed out themselves, our relationship is one of trust, so if they can’t handle the issues we prepare for them, we must trust they would tell us.
  3. Reworked planning. Time truly flies! It feels like we launched the program yesterday, but we’re already concluding our first installment, it is surreal. In order to make the most of our Meilistars and the time we have with them, it appears we must have a tighter agenda for our activities such as our interviews and swag shipping. In a similar vein of thoughts, we might want to launch some type of ice breaking activities to allow contributors of various backgrounds to come together and get to know each other if they so wish.

Now what?

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to our very first Meilistars. We had a blast with them and we certainly hope they enjoyed themselves as well. It’s heartbreaking that the fun should come to an end… which is why we’re getting ourselves ready for the next edition of the Meilistars!

Once a Meilistar, always a Meilistar, the contributors of the first session have the possibility to stay in the program if they feel like it. And if you’re not one of the cool kids yet, worry not! For our second edition, we're aiming to be more open. We'll introduce a registration form to make it easier for anyone interested in joining the program to apply. We will carefully review all applications and reach out to selected participants in due course. Stay tuned for updates regarding the timeline!

We’ll be looking forward to get to know all of you! In the meantime, you can join us on Discord!

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