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Re: mentoring programs in Debian

On 11/03/13 at 21:56 +0100, Ana Guerrero wrote:
> [Some sort-of thread hijacking]
> Hi folks,
> I see this thread going nowhere and it's a pity because discussing new
> ways to integrate contributors in Debian is a topic worth discussing.
> I have been involved in GSoC in the editions 2011 and 2012 and in
> Code-in 2011. Besides that, I mentored a now DD inside the Debian Women
> mentoring program. All those mentoring programs were *very* different
> therefore producing different results. And I'm sure we can use more 
> schemes of recruiting/attracting new contributors.
> The question I would love to see answered by you both is:
> What new schemes of mentoring/integrating new contributors do you
> envisage we could try in Debian?

Interesting question. You write about "new mentoring schemes", I'm going
to extend the scope a bit to "improvable schemes".  I hope you don't mind.
I think we have many different schemes, and I'm not sure that we need
to add new ones. But we could "optimize" some of them a bit.

The various schemes are all (or most of them) useful. Different schemes
suit different people, so it's important to continue to offer them.

So, what do we offer in terms of mentoring in Debian? That's a pretty
good question and actually, we should have an overview of that somewhere
on the website or the wiki.

What I can think about:

per-upload mentoring using -mentors@ and mentors.debian.net
(it's not strictly per-upload, but at least it starts that way)
this works quite well. I see two ways we could improve that:
- work on the mentors.d.n infrastructure:
  + include more automated checks by default (packages could be built
    and tested with piuparts, for example)
  + include a social dimension (with karma and stuff). People would be
    able to review others' packages and earn points when comments
    are good-quality.
- localize -mentors. We could have language-specific lists and IRC
  channels for the languages that are quite well represented in Debian
  (FR, DE, ES, etc.). Often, the language barrier is a problem for
  young contributors.

list of easy/starting tasks
We do it, AFAIK:
- through bugs tagged 'gift'. This does not work very well. Maybe
  advertising that more could be enough to improve that.
- through listing tasks in the team pages (see the "starred" ideas on
  e.g. http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/Ruby). We need to encourage all
  teams to have such lists on their pages.

mentoring inside teams
Like https://wiki.debian.org/DebianMed/MoM. That's a very good idea. We
could build a list of teams willing to mentor someone, and publish that
list in a "call for mentorees".

NM process
Not strictly-speaking mentoring: it would be better if the mentoring
happened mostly outside (before) the NM process to relieve the load on
the AM.

Internship-like (e.g. GSoC)
That's a nice way to get involved for people who can dedicate a lot of
time to Debian for a short period of time. We could explore
participation into other programs, such as

So, to summarize the key ideas:
- build an overview of mentoring schemes offered by Debian
- improve mentors.d.n
- localize -mentors@
- advertise our lists of easy tasks
- develop mentoring inside teams
- explore other internship-like programs

If elected, that's clearly something I'd like to push. It's also a field
where I would welcome help from others.


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