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Mentoring: We're Doing It Wrong

by Community Manager at Elasticsearch on Jan 19, 2012

  • 3,021 views

Presented at linux.conf.au 2012 - more details in speaker notes when downloading presentation ...

Presented at linux.conf.au 2012 - more details in speaker notes when downloading presentation

Dave Neary of the GNOME community recently penned a post [0] on mentoring programs for FOSS communities, and his findings were a bit disheartening. Of all those mentees taken in under various mentoring programs, from Google Summer of Code to the Great Documentation Project, only about 1 in 4 became regular contributors to their mentor's projects. Based on these figures, it appears that mentoring programs are actually quite a poor return on investment and mentors would be better off simply doing the work themselves.

Right? Well, sort of. Well, no, actually.

In this talk, Leslie Hawthorn argues that FOSS communities approach mentoring in a problematic manner. Our current approach focuses on the problem from the lens of software development, such as scaling our mentoring processes and measuring return on investment. Rather than focusing on these as measures of success, Leslie will discuss alternative ways to conceptualize the mentoring process and explore the broader social and cultural implications of mentoring folks in FOSS. She will also discuss alternative models for mentoring the next generation of contributors, including recommendations for implementing these models in your projects.

[0] - http://blogs.gnome.org/bolsh/2011/05/31/effective-mentoring-programs/

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13 of 3 previous next Post a comment

  • nearyd Dave Neary, Community manager at Red Hat Thanks for the shout-out Leslie! I agree that framing successful mentoring as measurement of 'return on investment' is poor. But I'm not sure I agree with your (apparent) suggestion that bringing in new long-term contributors is the wrong goal - it's the only one which justifies running a mentorship program at all to me. Debugging the new developer experience, while very worthwhile, is different from mentorship, I think.

    Thanks again!
    Dave.
    2 years ago
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  • lhawthorn Leslie Hawthorn, Community Manager at Elasticsearch Thank you! 2 years ago
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  • toscalix Agustin Benito Bethencourt, openSUSE Team Lead / Product Manager at SUSE Good points 2 years ago
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Mentoring: We're Doing It Wrong Mentoring: We're Doing It Wrong Presentation Transcript