Recap of Contributor Working Group’s Mentorship Chat on April 20, 2023

In attendance: @adityakane @nao @oglekler @yoga1103  @kirasong @st810amaze @onealtr @carl-alberto @tobifjellner @javiercasares @sz786 @meher @courane01 @jeffpaul @sereedmedia @cbringmann @angelasjin @juliarosia @askdesign @nomadskateboarding  @harishanker @javiercasares @gounder @unintended8 @webtechpooja @thewebprincess @fitehal @desrosj @askdesign @nikita22 @nomadskateboarding 

Notes: @harishanker


Meeting Start



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) of the Proposed Mentorship Program 

The primary agenda of the chat was to discuss an MVP of the proposed Mentorship Program. Based on feedback from the last chat, @harishanker (I) prepared a draft plan for an MVP, which is as follows: 

  • A short cohort of new contributors (mentees) and experienced contributors (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.) are to be brought together in a dedicated space (potentially a SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at channel in Make/WordPress) to work together for a certain period (two to four weeks)
  • During this time, mentees will learn pre-prepared training material (we can start with existing contributor courses in Learn WordPress)
  • Each mentee will be assigned a 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., with whom they will be having at least two 1:1 mentoring sessions (over text chat and/or video). 
  • Additionally, the group will have at least three group mentoring sessions on broad contribution topics (over text or video)
  • Optionally, they will create a three-month contribution and learning plan with their chosen mentor. 
  • Once all the courses and training sessions are complete, mentees graduate from the program, and are pointed to the Make/Team of their choosing for further contribution. Ideally, they are also connected with a contributor (or group of contributors) from the Make/Team of their choice who will go on to support them (informally) in their contributor journey. 
  • While the mentorship program will wrap up after the period, mentees can continue to reach out to their cohort and mentors for ongoing guidance and support. 

At the chat, group members shared the following feedback on the program: 

  • Folks generally were in agreement with the program, and we decided to move ahead. 
  • Starting somewhere is the most important part. It was suggested that we try something, find out what’s missing or what doesn’t work and then iterate. 
  • The fact that proceeding without everything in place is usually helpful for an MVP was also shared. As long as mentors and mentees are willing to work through the kinks and growing pains, this helps us identify where we are lacking and where we are strong. Even when we know what we are strong or weak. This intentional incompleteness will help folks provide feedback which will help us iterate further.

Next steps

Distilling feedback from this chat, @harishanker will create a detailed draft MVP document for this program that will be shared with all group members. After making any necessary changes to the document based on the feedback, the proposal will be shared in public. Based on the MVP, the group will start assigning roles and will formally start working on this program.

We also informally asked if any group members would like to be mentors, many folks signed up for the same.

At this chat, the group also decided to keep meeting on the third Thursday of each month, at the same timings (07:00 UTC and 16:00 UTC), while attempting to work asynchronously to address any group needs.

Note: In addition to the points mentioned above, there was a detailed discussion on various aspects of the program MVP. Read on to find out more about the summary of the discussion.

Discussion Details

Since we had a long discussion, I’m sharing details of all we discussed as detailed notes below. 

Matching mentees to mentors

  • Mentors could be matched with timezones, geographical locations, and languages.
  • Availability around preferred time of day to meet could also be important.
  • Interests and experience (working with different teams) could also be a factor in assigning a mentor to a team.

Supporting Mentors

  • Concerns were raised on how the program could be intense for mentors – will there be enough mentors to match mentees, how do mentors handle drop-offs, and whether something that is intensive for mentors will be scalable.
  • Giving mentors a “playbook” was shared as a helpful idea to address this – as an example, a script that covers details on how to chat with mentees, what questions to ask, and so forth could be considered. It could be a great place for folks who want to become mentors to also level up their skills too.
  • It could be easier to help navigate or guide folks around after the onboarding. Also mentees do not feel the need to only stick with Mentors but can feed their own curiosity a bit. Something structured but with enough hackability (for a lack of better word) so it could scale a bit more and be a bit less intense.
  • Some mentees could have lots of energy the first 1-2 weeks and probably will check everywhere, so it could be good for them to have someone to just ‘answer questions’ that start appearing. This could be iterated and improved upon with the help of playbook/guidelines, etc

Learning Material

  • The program is going to rely on Learn WordPress for education, but the Learn platform does not have a lot of educational content specific to Make/Teams. As this learning content gets added, Learn can be used for general guidance, and mentors can rely on Make/Teams handbooks for guidance.
  • It was also recommended that we don’t want to spend time creating content for Learn as part of this. It was suggested that we try and leverage existing Learn courses, existing documentation in handbooks, etc. It could help to test out the mentee/mentorship process with existing structures and not spend time trying to build those structures in the MVP phase.
  • Newer onboarding paths that have been updated and released within the past 6 weeks on teams such as Training and CoreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress., could be helpful for this project.
  • It was also recommended that any training provided for this program may not necessarily be for skills, but for understanding the teams. While certain skills are important, wayfinding in the project is also a major part of this program and the distinction needs to be made. 

Types of Mentoring

  • Check-ins by mentees can be in team chats more than 1-1 with mentors. That way they also become known to the rest of the team.
  • Training in groups rather than 1-1 with mentors will help in consistency. We also need to make sure that the effect of dropouts disrupting the process will be lower. In a 1-1 session, if one drops out the mentorship could be over, but in a group it can still continue.
  • The biggest barrier to contribution at present is a general confusion or difficulty around contribution that has contributors not coming back or continuing to contribute, which is something the program should try to address through mentorship.
  • The pandemic had a big hit on in-person contributor days which used to bring in contributors and resulted in folks making one-time or “drive by” contributions. Even as we’re rebuilding in-person contributor days, we still very much need to supplement with a mentor approach. It would help folks not feel confused/lost and therefore more present with the teams in an ongoing manner.
  • Creating a welcome channel for new contributors or improving the The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. content were also shared as potential ideas for the long run.
  • Another idea was proposed on how onboarding could be solved with regular online team-based contributor days/hours every couple of months!

Selecting Mentees

  • Mentee selection might be a bit trickier to ensure it’s transparent, fair, equitable.  This might require some sort of written input of responding to a couple gating questions so whoever is selecting mentees has some data to go on.  Perhaps one person/group to gather the submissions and make the data PII-less (e.g. no name, location, gender, etc.) and a second person/group to review that PII-less mentee submissions to select candidates?
  • It was also suggested that mentor selection needs to be a  structure yet to the mentee application process, and it needs to be open, transparent, and proactive to avoid controversy. 
  • For the MVP though, another suggestion came in on how the MVP can be a little less rigid and have a smaller group of handpicked mentees. While it was suggested that we be transparent, it was suggested that over-processing that selection process might not be valuable as that doesn’t address concerns of the MVP.

Measuring Impact/Collecting Feedback on the Program

  • Metrics or goals or other assessment criteria for post-pilot analysis would be important to measure the success of this program and it was agreed that this needs to be considered for the MVP too.
  • Multiple assessment approaches were suggested. Some clear groups that will have different goals/experiences: Mentees, mentors, and the Make teams that are receiving the mentees. 
  • Also, there needs to be a few clear points of measurement: prior to start, after the initial 2-4 week mentee-mentor work, and then after the three month contribution plan.
  • Some open questions for the team to identify areas of impact:  What are the problems that we are solving for? How will we know we have achieved the desired outcome?
  • Identifying what success would look like for the program in definite time periods (e.g. one month, six months, one year etc) would be valuable. Additionally, accounting for contributor capacity, as well as, feedback would be from the contributor as well as team reps or welcoming committee members could also be valuable.
  • Using surveys and also checking in some intervals to see how many folks are still around in their respective teams, or WordPress contribution in general could be a great way to see how mentees are doing in the program. Caveat: relying solely on surveys as our metric may be risky as they are subjective. Having some objective data points/goals to track (such as contribution results), would be a great balance to that.
  • It was also suggested that the program try pre and post-event surveys and compare responses.
  • Going over those specific teams onboarding at the beginning for the mentee, and following up at the end to see if they now know the proper places. Who 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.”, where to look, etc. (this could be a survey question)
  • An important flag on the difference between a mentee saying “That was great, just what I needed!” and a mentee actually contributing weeks/months down the line was raised. Rather than mentee satisfaction, our metric should be contributions from mentees. 
  • For the MVP the measure of success could really just be feedback from mentees/mentors initially after the mentorship timeline and then again weeks/months later. However, the measure of the program longer term can be the continued contributions over time; however, that doesn’t have to be the measure of the MVP.

Mentee Journey and Connecting Contributors to Make/Teams

  • The program was originally envisioned to have cleared a pathway towards the first contribution, but suggestions were made on how contribution should naturally be a part of the mentorship program.
  • It should be important that whoever we consider “graduated” has contributed enough (even if it’s just once or twice) that the folks in the teams are familiar with them.
  • If someone isn’t comfortable contributing by themselves, they haven’t reached the point where they don’t still need to be mentored.
  • Contribution to be a significant part of a mentorship program long term. For minimum viable, it’s a little different, and maybe one is enough. “Graduation”ideally needs folks to have contributed at least once.
  • We also brainstormed how mentorship would look like – it could suggest with orienting someone to the project and then move on to contributing to the team. There are different entry points, and multiple pathways of mentorship should be offered. Rather than having multiple mentors for onboarding mentees generally and in a team-specific way, it was also suggested that there are mentees supported by mentors working on the same team they want to join. Consistency in mentorship was also suggested.
  • It was suggested that a good mix of large teams, small teams, active teams, and less active teams be involved in the mentorship program for hand-off. Those with robust onboarding that can be expanded with mentors, such as Training, and those new to creating onboarding, such as pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party-review. For the initial attempt, it was recommended that we keep it to a smaller focus to see what works / does not work to then iterate on before attempting more broadly across make teams.
  • A question was asked on which teams could be a part of the MVP as a test – it was suggested that we look at teams which have mentors that self-nominate and see what structures they feel exist to support mentees/new contributors. If the MVP highlights certain teams need more of “something” to help new contributors then that’s helpful too (though maybe not so helpful to the mentees going through mentorship with that team)
  • It was also shared that mentees could keep iterating on their contribution journey. Once the mentee is determined to try a team, then they can graduate. They can always go back to the mentor if that doesn’t work as well as they expected. Which means, in essence, consulting with the mentor and deciding the team to join (unless they know where to go already!)
  • Building visual journeys of mentee roadmaps using tools like: was also suggested.
  • A high level contributor journey as part of this program was tentatively identified:
    • High-level overview of how WP contributions work, how to find the teams that need the skills you are seeking to use when contributing, how to join, etc.
    • Then on to specific team onboarding courses
    • Finally on to team contributor ladders – what are the roles, what do folks need to do per role.
  • While the program is aimed at a high level contribution, specifically – we also decided that it will address some sort of initial contribution as well. 

Recognition for Mentees

  • An e-certificate was suggested as it has cultural significance in Asia. 
  • Profile badges were also suggested – both for mentors and mentees
  • Having posts were mentors and mentees are described could also be a valid credential. 
  • Regarding certificates, there are difficulties around the same, but it was discussed that having certificates (at leas informally) might have value, akin to the ones issued by other projects, such as AWS, Hubspot etc. 

Relaunching the Contributor Orientation Tool

We all agreed on the formal relaunch of the Contribution Orientation tool (originally used by WCEUWCEU WordCamp Europe. The European flagship WordCamp event. but also at use for WC Asia 2023). It was suggested that this tool be merged into the WordPress infrastructure and be added to the Get involved or Contribute tab for the About page.

Five for the Future Contributors and Mentorship

A question was asked on whether WordPress companies or Five for the Future agencies fit into this program if they want to put a cohort of their staff on rotation for the same. In the discussion it was identified as a great way to contribute. Newer contributors from companies could join as companies and veteran contributors could be sponsored to mentor. With that said, strong feedback was raised on how such contributors should focus on volunteers, and it was agreed upon. We agreed that the main focus of this program will be for volunteer/self-sponsored contributors as mentees, with some seats reserved for 5ftF contributors. Company sponsored contributors could always be mentors too, as they may have more time and ability to contribute.

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

#mentorship-chat, #mentorship-chat-recap