Proposal: New Contributor Guide Program


As mentioned in the post “Recap and Next Steps: Training Team Onboarding”, an optional Guide Program (similar to a mentorship or buddy program) for the Training Team could serve to support new contributors to the team. The idea is that experienced Training Team members would serve as Guides for these new team members, regularly checking in with them as they make their first contributions to the team. They would be available as a point of contact for new contributors if they have questions while completing the onboarding program.

This program can be taken at a self-chosen pace, but it is expected that it would take no longer than a month’s time. Read on for a detailed proposal on how this program could work!

Who are the Training Team Guides?

The roster of Guides would consist of experienced Training Team members. It would make sense for Faculty members to participate, but it is not required of them. Guides could be Training Team members that have been contributing consistently to the team for at least 6 months.

For the launch of the program, Guides will be chosen from existing Faculty members (preferably part or full-time sponsored, since they can maintain their commitment and access). After launch, an application and/or nomination process can be established. Faculty members (most likely Administrators) will develop a Guide handbook and provide training and support for new Guides assisted by this handbook.

How do New Contributors learn about the Guide Program?

When a new contributor joins the #Training channel, they could be greeted with an automated message that would include offering them the option to be matched with a Training Team Guide. They would be instructed to fill out an application form to be matched with a Guide.

During the weekly Training Team meetings, the Welcome Committee can also remind the new channel joinees that they can join the Guide Program, and share the application form with them.

There will likely be more pathways for new contributors to learn about the Guide Program, but for the initial launch of this program, we will start with SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at introductions.

How are new Contributors matched to Guides?

Contributors that are interested in participating in the Guide program are asked to provide the following information about themselves to ensure that they are matched with a Guide that can support them appropriately:

  • Timezone in UTC
  • Language(s) they are comfortable conversing in
  • Skills (multiple choice, based on skills utilized on the team)
  • Area(s) of contribution that they are interested in
  • Link to 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. profile (if they have one)

This form would send the contributor’s information to the Training Team’s Help Scout inbox. Faculty Administrators then review the applications and the roster of Guides to find an appropriate match for the new contributor. Guides would be prioritized for the new contributor by time zone and language. Guides should take on no more than 4 new contributors at once.

It is recommended that Guides interact individually with the new contributors that they are paired with. However, Guides can opt to form small cohorts (up to 4 people) if they are able to arrange methods of communication and times that work for everyone if they are to connect synchronously.

How does the program work?

Regular check-ins between a Guide and a new contributor can be brief, as they will also be in constant contact via asynchronous Direct Messages (DMs) on Slack. It is recommended that check-ins are done at least weekly, but the Guide and contributor can plan the schedule that works best for them.

Suggested formats for the check-ins are below.

Before the first check in

  • A Faculty member introduces the Guide and the new contributor to each other via Slack DM or email. If the Guide is a Faculty member, they can introduce themselves.
  • The new contributor and their guide discuss the cadence for their regular check-in meetings and set up a schedule. It is preferred to do these check-ins synchronously, but if schedules do not allow, they can opt to have asynchronous check-ins on Slack.
  • Before their first check-in, the Guide confirms if the contributor has valid and GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. accounts, and shares the Getting Started guide with them.

Check-in 1

  • The Guide gives the new contributor a general overview of the Training Team and a brief description of the areas of contribution.
  • The new contributor asked if they have reviewed the Getting Started Guide, if they have completed the steps, and if they have any questions.
    • Bonus: if the contributor has decided which area(s) of contribution they want to contribute to, they complete the onboarding process for that area.
  • The new contributor is also guided to attend the next Training Team meeting (Coffee Hour optional).
  • The guide will be available to the new contributor via Slack DM if any questions arise before their next check-in (this is an expectation between all subsequent check-ins).

Check-in 2

  • The new contributor and their Guide check in to discuss the self-guided onboarding process, and they discuss any questions or concerns that arose during the process.
  • If the contributor did not decide upon an area of contribution after the first check-in, the Guide discusses the roles with the contributor to help guide them in finding how they can best apply their strengths and skills to the team.
  • The Guide gives an overview of the types of tasks that their chosen area of contribution has. The Guide can show the contributor examples of the contributions so they can see real examples of what they look like. This may be best done over a screenshare on a synchronous call.
  • The new contributor and Guide go over “Quick contributions you can make now” together.
    • The contributor expresses a quick contribution that they are interested in learning how to do.
    • The Guide walks the contributor through the process of their chosen contribution. This gives the contributor the opportunity to ask questions as they work on their first contribution along with their Guide.
    • The contributor agrees to make additional contributions before their next check-in.

Check-in 3

  • The new contributor and their Guide check in to see how their first contributions went, and if they have any learnings, concerns, and/or questions to share.
  • The Guide prepares an update to share at the next Training Team meeting to introduce and acknowledge the new contributor and their area(s) of contribution.


Guides will be expected to share a brief update on their activity with their new contributors and celebrate their contributions during Training Team meetings. This can be done asynchronously if the Training Team meeting is at an inconvenient time for the Guide.


When the initial check-ins have been completed, the Guide and Contributor can choose to continue regular check-ins, and/or remain connected on the Making WordPress Slack.

It’s recommended to check in again after 3 months to evaluate how their continued contributions are going, and if they are interested in expanding their contributions (i.e., trying a new task or a different area of contribution). It also would be helpful to create a survey for new contributors 3–6 months after completion of the Guide Program to see how they are doing.

What are your thoughts?

Let’s hear what you think about this proposal in the comments! 

  • What do you think about the proposed Guide Program?
  • Do you have any suggestions for the program?
  • For experienced Training Team members: Are you interested in participating as a Guide?

Please share your thoughts by 5 July, 2023.

Thank you to @harishanker, @bsanevans, and @west7 for contributing to and reviewing this post.

#guide-program, #mentorship, #proposal