Recap of Contributor Working Group Inaugural Mentorship Chat on March 20, 2023

In attendance: @adityakane @nao @oglekler @yoga1103 @leonnugraha @kirasong @st810amaze @onealtr @carl-alberto @tobifjellner @kcristiano @javiercasares @webtechpooja @sz786 @meher @webcommsat @courane01 @jeffpaul @sereedmedia @cbringmann @angelasjin @juliarosia @askdesign @wolfpaw @nomadskateboarding @dpknauss @harishanker

Notes: @nomadskateboarding @harishanker


Meeting Start

Clarifying Group Responsibilities

At the chat, it was clarified that the exclusive focus of the group will be on building a projectwide mentorship program for WordPress. This is because lack of mentorship was identified as one of the biggest gaps in contribution experience for our program based on feedback from multiple blog posts. Besides, “Establish contributor and mentorEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. programs” is one of the big picture goals of the WordPress Project in 2023 as well.

@tobifjellner shared some excellent ideas that the group might want to look at, which includes finding easier ways to contribute, find a new default channel in SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at for newcomers, suggeestions to improve onboarding, and onboarding contributors regionally and locally. The idea of creating a default channel for contributors was supported by several participants. While these ideas have merit and should be pursued, the group decided that it was best to focus on Mentorship for now, which is a big project to tackle.

The group proposes to have bi-weekly chats (for now), every second and fourth Thursday at 12:00 and 21:00 UTC (for now).

Proposed Mentorship Program Brief

The Mentorship Program is envisioned as a short-term optional program for new contributors. It does not focus on a particular Make/Team but is aimed at imparting necessary guidance and skills to new contributors to succeed in and with the project through 1:1 and cohort-based mentorship. The program will be launched with the hope that mentees will pick up the necessary knowledge, guidance and skills required to succeed with WordPress and will go on to make successful contributions in the project, and grow with the project.


For the remainder of the meeting, we brainstormed on how a successful mentorship program would look like. Brainstorming prompts included: ideas about the mentorship program and contribution flow, how effective mentorship would look like, ideal mentorship, length and type of program and mentorship, recognizing mentorsEvent Supporter Event Supporter (formerly Mentor) is someone who has already organised a WordCamp and has time to meet with their assigned mentee every 2 weeks, they talk over where they should be in their timeline, help them to identify their issues, and also identify solutions for their issues. and mentees, and finally, connecting graduated mentees to the respective teams

Ideal mentorship and mentors

  • @yoga1103 alluded to the founding of WordPress in a mentorship perspective.
  • @tobifjellner: “shouldn’t be too formal. The environment changes; the need changes; situations are different (contributor dayContributor Day Contributor Days are standalone days, frequently held before or after WordCamps but they can also happen at any time. They are events where people get together to work on various areas of There are many teams that people can participate in, each with a different focus. briefing vs. greeting and directing newly registered users…)”. He mentioned about how good mentors have an overview of what happens, where to find information, and a general willingness to listen and understand. Having a place tor read about contributor journeys might also be helpful.
  • @kirasong: Good mentors would be folks that have a significant amount of experience in the team they are helping with. Having  more personal conversation can make folks feel more comfortable asking questions that aren’t silly, but feel silly to them. Mike fondly remembered @nacin who encouraged him to message anytime saying that “answering questions was his job” and how it created a friendly environment.
  • @webtechpooja: Firstly a new contributor comes in a dedicated channel for beginners where they can ask any question and a mentor will help them and guide them to respective channel and Team.
  • @nao Informal effective mentorship has happened based on a good, trusted relationship (which started at a event or online encounter). Mentorship needs to be sustainable. For that, if a cohort-based mentorship is successful it can scale well. Outside of the cohorts mentorship can still happen, but a good structure and sharing best practices can help mentors grow as well.
  • @st810amaze: There does not seem to be one right answer to this and that things differ in each culture.
    Having a big picture that can be shared globally and modifying them to each continent or country might be good. Mentor/mentee relationship sounds formal, could it be moved to something informal (e.g. buddy system)
  • @askdesign: There is a need for mentorship. The most effective experience for me so far has been to join a team with a specific set of goals. Concrete tasks were given and we got to know each other on the team. With that said, identifying personal goals for contribution might also be helpful. Mentorships should open-ended. I started onboarding with the training team at least 2 months ago. Work and life prevent me from continuing on a “regular” basis, so I’m still in the process of onboarding. If there was a time limit, I might be discouraged.
  • @juliarosia: Recently I have been thinking a lot about the Brene Brown quote “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” In this context, I view successful mentorship as that which brings as much clarity as possible to contributors. And imparts a confidence in approaching situations when things aren’t clear (where to find answers, how to ask questions, etc.).  Some overarching qualities mentees would need to succeed include an ongoing willingness to make the time commitment required of a contributor and to sustain that time commitment into the future; a desire to work collaboratively and in community; and humility (the recognition that no one person can or should hold all the answers or information)
  • @nomadskateboarding: From a mentee view, the program looks like a place I can ask any question without first finding a channel or other person to speak to. It looks like answers. An ideal mentor would have knowledge of where “everything” is, or where to look for the answers. 3 – 6 months for duration, or more! Mentors would need to have knowledge, empathy, and the desire for others to succeed.
  • @sereedmedia: I don’t think we should be teaching contributors (mentees) “skills”. A mentorship program and a training program are very different things. I think we should provide paths to learn any necessary skills on LearnWP and that mentorship should be community- and project-based. I wonder if the idea of mentorship should be less tied to “skills” and specific types of contribution and more of an introduction to the community. Like the first week at a university when they do freshman tours. Or MySpace Tom. Especially without a direct tie to a specific team, the skills component seems very complicated. In my mind, useful mentors wouldn’t be coding or writing mentors, but people who could help you figure out where everything is. This could be helpful for language resources, and matching contributors with people who speak their same language or are in their time zone.

Mentorship type: Cohort v/s 1:1

  • @kirasong: Cohorts work in contributor days, might be a good area to start. Longer term, someone specific for folks to work on might be a good idea to consider. Longer term, I think it can help to have someone specific for new folks to pingPing The act of sending a very small amount of data to an end point. Ping is used in computer science to illicit a response from a target server to test it’s connection. Ping is also a term used by Slack users to @ someone or send them a direct message (DM). Users might say something along the lines of “Ping me when the meeting starts.” to find a way forward — an answer to “what’s the next step?”
  • @webtechpooja: 1:1 and cohort both works depending on situation.
  • @yoga1103:  learn.wp courses, that will make the flow easier. mentors can take up cohorts if the situation permits. Yogesh shared the example of a local community member mentoring students to contribute translations.
  • @leonnugraha: Cohort-based can be more efficient to mentor new contributors, but I think we also need to open the opportunity to have 1:1 to their mentor. This way, if any newcomers struggling behind or to catch up with anything, they won’t feel left behind and leave WP project
  • @jeffpaul: I’m wary of connecting too many people directly 1:1 with mentors as that could quickly overrun some mentors, so something more like CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress.’s New Contributors meeting might be a nice middle step before getting connected 1:1 or via small cohorts.
  • @askdesign: I favor cohort.
  • @juliarosia:  love the idea of a cohort-based group. This allows new contributors to learn from each other and grow together; these connections would directly strengthens our community.
  • @nomadskateboarding: Both cohort and 1:1 would work, I feel.

Contributor Day Suggestion

@adityakane offered a suggestion for contributor day:

  • Could we have every team have a Contributor Day – via Zoom (online) which is team based (each team has their own contributor / onboarding day)
  • This could be like a regular thing – like team chats – maybe have these once every 2 months rather than every 2 weeks.
  • Regularity would allow to tackle some of the eternal September phenomenon with onboarding atleast.

@leonnugraha seconded the idea of a specific contributor day focussed at onboarding.

@wolfpaw: For instance I find myself drawn to several teams when I look at contributor days, so how would I choose which to put focus into? That could be a good thing to help people determine.

Onboarding Flow of Contributors in the Mentorship Program

@dpknauss and @sereedmedia asked about the onboarding flow for the contributor mentorship program, to which @harishanker clarified about how the pilot version could have a call for mentees, who sign up, go through the mentorship, and graduate to be “placed” with contributor teams with support from a team mentor. The program will be project focussed and team agnostic.

@jeffpaul I would hope that the earliest points of interaction could be “automated” of sorts given how many folks likely come to the project versus how many might get further through the contributor conversion funnel to a human mentor. Something on Learn could help with that first step, in educating folks on various options available to them (the different make teams & their focuses) and then in selecting likely fits for their continued contributor journey. 

@nomadskateboarding: For myself, the thing I still struggle with is I don’t know who or where to ask for help. I feel that a single slack channel or place that anyone can ask any question is needed. If not for this program, just in general. (Same with a dedicated channel for error and feedback. Let the new people ask questions and post issues, then the experienced people facilitate it from there.)

@sereedmedia: I think a super crucial part is the question of how we connect mentored contributors to the teams. There is so much variation in team operation and management and contributor roles (and even handbook content), that I don’t think it is currently setup to make for an easy transition. Also, I would like to see that specified clearly in the program descriptions just so it’s super clear. 

@jeffpaul: Definitely makes sense to start with assumption of folks with lowest possible understanding of the project and go from there wherein folks more knowledgeable can “skip” those bits until they get to the onboarding that best “fits” then.

Could a pilot program with cohort and 1:1 based mentorship work?

@jeffpaul: “some flow from automated-educate-folks-on-options-and-fit to large group q&a to more formal mentorship of folks who waves hands in some way show interest/capability fit could work. That last bit of interest/capability fit might be the heaviest workload once things are going, trying to assess who’s “approved” to move to the next stage so figuring out how that could work and making that as transparent as possible will help give folks trust and confidence in the contributor process perhaps?”

Everyone generally supported Jeff’s comments. @angelasjin acknowledged that some contributors might like a human touch but a 1:many approach could be useful.

Next steps

Distilling ideas from the brainstorming session, members of the working group are going to work on a Minimum Viable ProductMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia (MVPMinimum Viable Product "A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers, and to provide feedback for future product development." - WikiPedia) for this program. Once the MVP is ready and proposed, the group will start assigning roles and will formally start working on this program.

The group will work meet on April 13th, 2023 (Thursday) at 12:00 UTC (EMEA) and 21:00 UTC (AMER) for its next chat, and will discuss an MVP for the Mentorship Program by then and move on to the next steps.

The new timings of the group chat will be announced soon on a blog post in the Make/Community blog, as there was a conflict with the Community Team Training.

#contributor-working-group #mentorship-program #wpcontributors

#mentorship-chat, #mentorship-chat-recap