How to be a successful contributor

inode0 inode0 at
Sun Jul 11 18:21:56 UTC 2010

On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 10:37 AM, Jeroen van Meeuwen
<kanarip at> wrote:
> Mike McGrath wrote:
>> With the help of some others I've put this document together:
>> I intend on having it be required reading for new members of the
>> Infrastructure team as part of our GettingStarted page.  I thought I'd
>> mention it here in case others would like to make it part of their sign up
>> process.
>> Questions / comments welcome.
> Reading this page for the first time...
> It looks like a better title would be:
>  "How to *become* a successful contributor"

No objection. It is about becoming a contributor.

> Further, the page isn't written very well; Who thinks it's suitable to say to
> a new, potential contributor:
>  "It is your job to ..."
>  "This step is both incredibly difficult and important."
>  "The single biggest mistake new contributors make"
> It just sounds way too negative, and I'm thinking for a prominent page to be
> put in front of many new, potentially very valuable contributors, it should be
> motivating, a brochure to close the sale.

Well, honestly, it is very easy to motivate potential contributors. In
the Ambassador program that you seem to think is a good model we
reject over 90% of those we attract. Most of that failure seems to be
related to incoming people not being grounded in reality and not
having reasonable expectations.

> So, in effect, where we say "incredibly difficult to find a mentor", what we
> should be asking ourselves is "why is it difficult to find a mentor and more
> importantly, what can we do about it?". A solution as simple as a wiki page
> listing mentors and their location (physical proximity helps) might just solve
> that problem.

We have been asking those questions too. Aren't they what motivated
the new Ambassador mentoring program? Other groups have also been
struggling with those questions. The common theme across groups seems
to be an overwhelming failure rate, even for groups that do mentoring.

We can thank the volunteer mentors for the help they give to
successful new contributors. We need to also respect their time and do
what we can to greatly reduce the failure rate. The 9 in 10 who don't
pan out bring with them a cost that piles up.

Having one document for potential contributors to read that gives them
a realistic expectation of what lies ahead really shouldn't discourage
many who fall into the small pool of candidates that become active
contributors. But it might help dissuade the majority who are either
coming to us for the wrong reason or who don't really have the
commitment necessary to succeed.


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