Back in May we announced two projects w interested hackers dedicat 5-10 hours/week for 8 weeks n return we would a dedicated mentor.
I want to outline how the program was structured, what worked well, and what we want to do differently next time.
The program worked well enough, with some improvising, here is what we started with:
we created a set of bugs that would be good to get new contributors started and working for a few weeks
anybody c express interest via email/irc, we tak 2-3 participants
That was it, we improvised a little by doing:
- accepting more than 2-3 people to start (4-6)- we had a problem saying no
- folks got ramped up and just kept working
- blogging about who was involved and what they would be doing
- setting up communication channels with contributors like etherpad, email, wunderlist, bugzilla, irc
- setting up regular meetings with contributors
- picking an end date
- summarizing the program
What worked well
A lot worked very well, specifically advertising by blog post and newsgroup post and then setting the expectation of a longer contribution cycle rather than a couple weeks. Both :wlach and myself have had a good history of onboarding contributors,
Setting aside a pile of bugs to work on was successful. After
Another thing that worked is we tried to work in public channels as much as possible Also communicating to other team members and users of the tools that there are new team members for the next few months. This really helped the contributors see the value of the work they are doing while introducing them to a larger software team.
Lastly I would like to point out a dedicated mentor was successful. As a contributor it is not always comfortable to ask questions, or deal with reviews from a lot of new people. Having someone to chat with every day you are hacking on the project is nice. Being a mentor doesn’t mean reviewing every line of code, but it does mean checking in on contributors regularly, ensuring bugs are not stuck waiting for needinfo/reviews, and helping set expectations of how work is to be done. In an ideal world after working on a project like this a contributor would continue on and try to work with a new mentor to grow their skills in working with others
What we can do differently next time?
A few small things are worth improving on for our next cycle, here is a few things we will plan on doing differently:
- Advertising 4-5 weeks prior and having a defined start/end date (e.g. November 20th – January 15th)
- Really limiting this to a specific number of contributors, ideally 2-3 per mentor.
- Setting acceptance criteria up front. This could be solving 2 easy bugs prior to the start date.
- Posting an announcement welcoming the new team members, posting another announcement at the halfway mark, and posting a completion announcement highlighting the great work.
- Setting up a weekly meeting schedule that includes status per person, great achievements, problems, and some kind of learning (guest speaker, Q&A, etc.). This meeting should be unique per project.
- Have a simple process for helping folks transition out of they have less time than they thought- this will happen, we need to account for it so the remaining contributors get the most out of the program.
In summary we found this to be a great e and are looking to do another Quarter of Contribution