How to be a successful contributor

Stephen John Smoogen smooge at
Mon Jul 12 15:16:49 UTC 2010

On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 10:36 AM, Greg DeKoenigsberg
<greg.dekoenigsberg at> wrote:
> On Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 11:54 AM, susmit shannigrahi
> <thinklinux.ssh at> wrote:
>> > 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.
>> Such listings for important teams will be very helpful for new people.
>> On the other hand, mentors *will* be inundated by mentoring requests.
>> So, a balanced approach, such as a task list as a first filter and
>> then proceeding with mentoring may be suitable.
> We've tried this approach in the past -- but mentor/mentee relationships are
> a lot more complex than one party saying "hey, will you be my mentor?" and
> the other party saying "sure."
> I think that if we look closely at Fedora, we will find that most mentorship
> is organic, and arises when a busy mentor sees an opportunity to offload
> work to someone who has shown an aptitude for that same work.  But the
> "mentee" first has to demonstrate that aptitude.
> I continue to think that concentrating on ideas like OpenHatch is the way to
> go.  Focus on the work, and the mentorship will follow.  It's way easier to
> mentor someone when they say "I'm trying to do X, and when I do Y, Z
> happens, why isn't it doing Q?" is way easier than mentoring someone when
> they say "hi, I want to be a contributor, what do I do now?"

Hmmm I don't think I had ever heard of OpenHatch before this.. which I think is part of the
beginning contributor problem: I might want to start something, but
where in the world do I start? The internet is very very huge so you
end up going to places via word of mouth..Iif all your friends say oh
I hang out on Ubuntu then you will probably go there... If my friends
told me openhatch you would go there... in our smattering of cases we
have people end up at Fedora looking for things.

To possibly take Greg's boat and tack it into a different direction...
mentor relationships work differently in different areas. In the
ambassadorship world you are doing sales... and you want to make sure
the people you are selling the product are looking at long term goals
versus short term gains. In that case a strong 1:1 starting
relationship works very well.

 The system administrations world is a lot like plumbing and
electrical work. If you get plumbers from two different trade schools
working on a building you end up with a lot of clogged toilets..
because each has their own idea of where air releases should go etc.
The same happens with systems administration, slap together one set of
application layouts with another and poof 2 am pages that no one

Development on the other hand is much more like Zen monks. A good
developer looks at the 'virtual universe' and finds their place of Zen
in it. Put your school in the city and you will have a thousand
students at your door who take up your time and all seem to fail. Put
your school at the top of a mountain, and only those who really wanted
to learn make it there and while they may fail.. you arent as bothered
:). In the end though, most of the teaching of a developer at that
point is pointing out the point where enlightenment might occur.

So to conclude, I do not believe there is going to be any one method
for groups to follow. However since Fedora's brand is really
"Developer development" the Zen Monk method might make more sense to
put resources in.

> --g
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Stephen J Smoogen.
“The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.”
Randy Nelson, President of Pixar University.
"We have a strategic plan. It's called doing things.""
— Herb Kelleher, founder Southwest Airlines

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