WordPress Contributor Mentorship Program: Pilot Program Proposal

In February 2023, I proposed a project-wide WordPress mentorship program. Positive feedback and support from our community led to the revitalization of the WordPress contributor working group in March 2023, which has since been working on building a mentorship program for our project. Based on feedback from our chats thus far, our group decided to test this idea of project-wide mentorship by running a pilot program. 

I’m excited to announce that the contributor working group has now prepared a first draft for a project-wide mentorship program! Read on to find out more.

What is the Contributor Mentorship Program?

The Contributor Mentorship Program aims to provide cohort-based and 1:1 mentorship to new and aspiring contributors. The program is intended as a pathway to help new contributors find their way into WordPress contributions.

It aims to set new contributors up for success by providing them the necessary guidance, skills, and knowledge around the project and helping them make their first contributions.

In its ideal form, the program will:

  • Help and inspire its participants to make ongoing contributions to the WordPress project
  • Explain the different areas of contribution in the WordPress project to participants
  • Help participants to successfully select their area of participation in the WordPress project
  • Provide necessary guidance and community connections that will help participants be successful with their contributions
  • Help participants find success in their career through successful 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. contributions

A Brief Overview of the Program Plan

The flowchart below offers a high-level pictorial representation of the program flow, which I have tried to explain in brief through this post. A detailed description of the program can also be found in its white paper prepared jointly by the working group.

A flowchart depicting the contribution flow of the proposed mentorship program
  • A call for mentees (participants) goes out and from the pool of applicants, 10 mentees are selected (primarily new contributors). Mentors are handpicked from a pool of experienced contributors and working group members. Selected mentees and mentors answer a pre-event survey to gauge their knowledge, interest in contribution areas, and confidence-levels. Mentors will receive specific guidance on guiding mentees through the program. 
  • We invite all Make/Teams to take active part in this initiative to bring contributors to their respective teams. Interested teams can propose their team members as mentors to the program.
  • A short cohort of new contributors (not more than 10 mentees) and experienced contributors (not less than five mentors) are to be brought together in a dedicated space (potentially a SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. channel in Make/WordPress) to work together for a certain period (about four weeks or one month)
  • During this time, mentees will learn pre-prepared training material (existing contributor courses in Learn WordPress).
  • Each mentee will be assigned a mentor depending on multiple factors such as their locale, time zones, contribution interest, etc. Mentors and mentees will have at least two 1:1 mentoring sessions (over text chat and/or video) throughout the course of the mentorship. 
  • Additionally, the group will have at least three group mentoring sessions on broad contribution topics (over text or video). Each week, mentees will also report their progress in the Slack channel and will have the space to interact with each other too. 
  • Once mentees are done with the broad contributor training courses in Learn WordPress (ideally in the first two weeks of the mentorship program), they work with mentors to identify contributor teams of their choice (if not clear already before joining the program) and go on to make a certain number of contributions (depending on the team they select). They will have completed these contributions by the end of the mentorship program. Optionally, should they wish to, mentees will create a three-month contribution and learning plan with their chosen mentor. 
  • Once all the courses and training sessions are complete, and once mentees have made their initial contributions, they graduate from the program, and the mentorship program wraps up. Mentees will be recognized for their contributions in public on an official WordPress space. 
  • Once the program concludes, Mentees will continue working with the Make/Team(s) of their choice, and will be connected to multiple team members from their chosen team for ongoing guidance as they continue their contributor journey. 
  • Post-wrap-up, mentees can continue to reach out to their cohort and mentors for ongoing guidance and support.

To find out about the proposed mentorship program in detail, please check out its white paper by clicking the button below:

How do we measure the success of this program?

The program will be considered extremely successful if:

  • At least 80% of the participants of the initial cohort graduate from the program (they complete the course, required lessons, make their initial contributions, and create their three-month plan)
  • At least 50% of the participants make ongoing contributions to WordPress as per their contribution plan, three months after completing the mentorship program

Other areas to measure impact:

  • Improved confidence after the mentorship program (measured through surveys)
  • Improved knowledge after the mentorship program (measured through surveys)
  • Feeling of belonging and commitment to WordPress (measured through surveys)

Action Items and Request for Feedback

Request to Make/Teams: The contributor working group invites Make/WordPress Teams to join our pilot program as mentors. If you contribute to a Make/Team and wish to be involved in building this program, please express your interest in the comments.

  • First of all, what do you think about this program in its current form? Please share your feedback in the comments of this post. 
  • You will notice that this post only explains the program in brief. The working group has prepared a white paper that explains the program in detail. Please review it and share your feedback – either as comments in the document or as comments on this blog post.
  • Does this program excite you? Would you like to be a part of building a mentorship program for WordPress? We could use your help – Join the WordPress Contributor Working Group –  participate in one of our mentorship chats, comment on this post expressing your interest, or 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.” me in Make/WordPress Slack (I‘m @harishanker over there).

Big thanks to all members of the contributor working group in helping draft this proposal!

This post was jointly-written by members of the contributor working group: @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 @unintended8 @desrosj @askdesign @webtechpooja @webcommsat @kcristiano @leonnugraha and @evarlese

#5ftf, #five-for-the-future, #proposal #contributor-working-group #wpcontributors #mentorship-program

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