How Debian revitalized the "mentors" list*
Debian is a project famous for being harsh to newcomers. Learn how Debian changed the culture on the debian-mentors list, and how this doubled traffic and dropped unanswered threads by 90%
Mentorship in free software projects is tricky. In Debian, how can we avoid burnout while generating new, active contributors? How can we get packages reviewed in a reasonable time-frame in an all-volunteer project?
We set a goal of four days maximum latency: the new goal was that any email to the debian-mentors list would be replied-to within four days. Perhaps the reply would be a package review; perhaps it would be an apology for no such review being done.
The result was a more vibrant debian-mentors mailing list: new contributors began to mentor each other. The traffic on the mailing list doubled, and the number of unanswered threads decreased by 90%. This experiment began as a follow-up to a “Debian for Shy People” birds-of-a-feather session at Debconf in 2010.
The discussion will conclude with Q&A to discover how to apply the core principles to your own free software projects.
Asheesh loves growing camaraderie among geeks. He chaired the Johns Hopkins Association for Computing Machinery and taught Python classes at Noisebridge, San Francisco’s hackerspace. He realizes that most of the work that makes projects successful is hidden underneath the surface.
He has volunteered his technical skills for the UN in Uganda, the EFF, and Students for Free Culture, and is a Developer in Debian. Today, he lives in San Francisco, working on OpenHatch.
- Title: Learn Open Source Skills Without Embarrassing Yourself
- Track: Culture
- Room: B301
- Time: 1:30 – 2:15pm
New contributors are often intimidated the first time they appear in public to share a tarball, submit a patch, or open an IRC client. What if they could practice within “training levels” for open source contribution? This talk introduces the OpenHatch training missions, an open-source, interactive, entertaining way to learn the tools and culture of our community.
- Speakers: Asheesh Laroia