Gentoo Archives: gentoo-project

From: Denis Dupeyron <calchan@g.o>
To: Gentoo project list <gentoo-project@l.g.o>
Subject: Re: [gentoo-project] Improving our people
Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 23:51:48
In Reply to: [gentoo-project] Improving our people by Donnie Berkholz
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 mentor. 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. Denis.


Subject Author
Re: [gentoo-project] Improving our people Donnie Berkholz <dberkholz@g.o>