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To: Gentoo project list <gentoo-project@g.o>
From: Denis Dupeyron <calchan@g.o>
Subject: Re: Improving our people
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009 00:47:09 +0100
Donnie Berkholz wrote:
> Track who's mentored people
>  How many people?
>  How good are the mentees?
>   Commits, etc
>  How long do the mentees stay in Gentoo?
>  Do they become mentors or leaders?
>  How long does mentorship continue?

Are you trying to rate the mentor or the mentee here ? Or both ? What do
you think you can identify with this data ? What's the goal ?

> Reward mentors publicly
>  Recognition

You're right, I also think this is important. Plus, good mentors are
good potential candidates to become recruiters. When I see a good mentor
I always try to talk to him/her about becoming a recruiter. It almost
worked, once.

>   Mention in recruitment email

When I notice the mentor did a good job I usually mention it in the
announcement. The question is should we say when we think the mentor did
a lousy job and for example recruiters had to find a new one or finish
the training themselves ? Until now I never did.

>  Mentoring is important

I think we all agree here.

>  Get better new devs

Should we do a better screening of potential devs ? Should we go hunting
for candidates more actively ? I did this in the past and usually this
doesn't work very well for various reasons. Should we advertise our
needs more ? Or advertise only when there are urgent needs in order to
avoid a wear-off effect ?

One thing I want to note here is that I'm convinced many of our users
could become good devs. We don't need geniuses, but people with adequate
social skills who make the commitment to help Gentoo. Maintaining
ebuilds isn't rocket science, even I can do it. Once you know the basics
and where all the necessary info is it's not that complicated. What it
takes is focusing on doing a good job and interacting in a suitable way
with other devs and users. What I mean really is that there's hope. Good
devs are everywhere, our only task is to train them for their daily
activity of maintaining ebuilds.

>  Improve existing devs by pairing w senior mentors (code review, designing/proposing major changes, etc)

This happens during the one-month probation. I'm sure though that
probation isn't done properly by most mentors.

The pairing should also happen more at the project/herd level. It all
depend on the team, and on the motivation.

>  Improve mentoring
>   Best mentors can train how to do it

Yes, or recruiters. Also, I try to setup co-mentoring as soon as I see
an opportunity. The classical case is pairing an experienced dev/mentor
with little time to co-mentor with a less experienced dev or first-time

The biggest problem is as always lack or recruiters. I'm currently away
until at least March due to not having a place to leave anymore, and
thus no (real) internet either. In the meantime Petteri is doing a
tremendous job at filling both my shoes and his. We should all thank him
for that. I hear there are a couple new recruiters coming in, but I'd
hate their training to be sacrificed due to our urgent need for help.
Bad recruiters means a few "generations" of bad devs (on a Gentoo
time-scale I'd consider a generation to be 6 months, i.e. the time it
takes for a new dev to become a mentor). On the other hand, we do need help.

Now for a different idea on the "Improving our people" subject, just
before I had to (temporarily) stop my recruiting work, I was thinking
about setting interactive "classes" on irc. We could decide of a topic,
time, etc... and have devs sign up (how about non-devs too ?). The
session would consist of a quick recap of the necessary knowledge on
this topic (say dev quiz level, for example). This would have to be
short to avoid being boring. Then most of the session would be spent on
questions and answers, and very probably participants could answer each
others questions most of the time. Topics would certainly be more often
technical, but not only. We could have topics like "Good mentor
practices" or "How to interact with other devs" for example.

See ? Another idea, another project, and as usual nobody to work on it.
We have to break this vicious circle at one point or another.


Re: Improving our people
-- Donnie Berkholz
Improving our people
-- Donnie Berkholz
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