Proposal: Creating a WordPress Contributor Mentorship Program

In January 2023, I published a blog post requesting feedback from the community on the contributor journey for the WordPress open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. project. There was extensive feedback from contributors around the world who identified gaps in the WordPress contribution flow. Upon analyzing the comments, two major action items stood out as potential solutions to fix these gaps: 

  • To improve the overall onboarding process in the WordPress project
  • To offer more mentorship opportunities in WordPress

WordPress is an open source project that relies heavily on its community of volunteer contributors for its existence. Better onboarding and more mentorship opportunities will go a long way in fostering a vibrant community of committed volunteer contributors. By offering direct support for such contributors, we provide them with a unique learning opportunity that will help them grow as both leaders in the project and professionals in their fields while helping WordPress succeed. 

To achieve this goal, I propose a project-wide WordPress contributor mentorship program that aims to empower new and aspiring contributors by helping them succeed in (and with) the project through mentorship.

This initial concept was born out of past discussions with contributors and feedback from the contributor journey blog post. Mentorship in WordPress is not a radically new idea –  it has been discussed several times in past community summits and was formally proposed a few years back (in the form of an onboarding team). While the idea did not get a lot of traction in the past, feedback from contributors makes me feel that the time is right to launch such a program. I strongly feel that it will help us build the next generation of WordPress leaders we need to take our project forward through the future. This also ties to one of the big-picture goals for WordPress in 2023, which is to “Establish contributor and mentor programs.” 

There are so many moving parts to any mentorship program and several factors that should be considered in order to make it happen. For starters, what will mentorship look like in WordPress? What kind of support do new contributors need? What type of mentorship works best? How can such an idea create a long-term impact? So many questions! Clearly, the idea behind a contributor mentorship program is complex. It should be a cross-team effort and needs the broader support of our global community to make it happen. 

A dedicated working group will be needed for a project-wide WordPress contributor mentorship program. To that end, if this proposal moves forward, I’d love to revive the Contributor Working Group under the Make/Community Team. 

The working group was founded in September 2020 and led by the amazing @amethystanswers. The group, with an original focus on improving the onboarding process, enhancing new contributor experience, and coordinating with Make/Teams, did a lot of good work such as suggesting improved onboarding flows, and organizing online contributor day events, even as the world struggled from the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope to build on the excellent contributions of the group and its members to kick off work on creating a contributor mentorship program for WordPress and finding ways to improve our onboarding flow. 

Request for Feedback

  • What are your thoughts on a Mentorship program for WordPress? 
  • Assuming this proposal gets support from the community, what would we need to make such a mentorship program successful?
  • What are your thoughts on restarting the contributor working group?
  • And finally – would you like to be a part of this working group to help build a mentorship program for WordPress? 

Please share your feedback in the comments by F̶e̶b̶r̶u̶a̶r̶y̶ ̶2̶0̶,̶ ̶2̶0̶2̶3̶ February 27, 2023.

The following folks contributed to or reviewed this post: @angelasjin @cbringmann @tacoverdo @unintended8 @peiraisotta

#5ftf, #five-for-the-future, #proposal