A Retrospective: WordPress 5.6 Simone Mentor Program

The WordPress 5.6 release (WP5.6) was historic due to its women and non-binary identifying cohort. Following an initial call for interest, fifty contributors committed to participating in the release and to trial an inaugural mentor program. As part of this program, the newly formed 5.6 release squad shadowed the 5.5 release and had paired mentors to act as a resource throughout their own release process. 

To inform future releases, twenty-three of the 5.6 team agreed to provide feedback on the mentor program in the form of a short survey. 


While most responses were positive, the release squad’s wonderfully large size limited mentor efficacy. Should we reprise this model, we will incorporate the following feedback. 

A note that we will revisit the contributor engagement of this cohort per release cycle. A big thanks to those who provided their feedback on this program and for your future release participation.


How would you rate your experience thus far? 

Were release coordinators available to answer your questions? 

Time spent with my mentor was valuable.

Do you anticipate contributing to future releases? 

Are you spending more or less time than you expected on this release? 

What improvements to the mentor format would you like to see? A few responses.

Honestly, I personally need more hand-holding. it would be great to have someone walk new contributors through each step a few times until they have it down.

On the whole, it seems to have been a really positive process having the mini-cohorts.

[My mentor] has been working alongside me and pulled a lot of weight. I have hugely appreciated that and wanted to let you all know. As a mentor, she has been amazingly available, always quick to answer my questions. For a future release, I think buddying could be more valuable if we had clearer workflows in place. 

I love to see many people involved in 5.6 and that was the goal for this release, but I’m not sure having so many people in the release squad is super efficient. It doesn’t mean we should not keep the cohorts model: maybe just keep the focus lead and mentor positions.