Hi, I’m George!
I’m your mentor!
If you wonder that I call myself this name you have not seen Dries’s Amsterdam keynote yet probably. Being “George” means to be an active contributor of Drupal. And being a mentor is a special case of contributing when you help others become “George”. That is what I did first time at DrupalCon Amsterdam.
After signing up but before DrupalCon I just collected some information about this “mentoring thing”. The real “work” started in Amsterdam at the mentor orientation session. It was led by seasoned mentor Cathy Theys (YesCT) who gave an excellent talk about what mentoring involves and what to expect.
I was amazed how much she knows the traits of our target group and how clear goals the Mentored Core Sprint had. It is not (just) about getting a lot of stuff done by a lot of new people but much more about to help these new contributors to have good experiences and a sense of achievement while they’re learning together the ways of contributing to Drupal in practice.
Issue triage was also a completely new but interesting thing to me. It is about preparing issues to the Mentored Core Sprints. While a novice contributor is unlikely to complete a whole issue on her own, but issues can contain tasks, that they can do. E.g. providing steps to reproduce a problem, taking screen shots, updating issue summaries, manually test a patch etc. are all good examples. So we checked issues if they contains possible tasks suitable for novice contributors.
Another mentor task before the Mentored Core Sprint on Friday was to stay at the Mentor Booth (or more realistically: at the Mentor Desk) in Exhibit Hall. I was lucky enough to be paired—and meet the first time—with patrickd who is the creator and maintainer of the fantastic Simplytest.me service! It was a great opportunity to say a big “thank you” to him in person!
It was Wednesday morning, the time of Cory Doctorow’s keynote. And while we was waiting to the first visitors Patrick realized that Drupal 8 Beta1 was released so he posted (one of?) the first tweet(s) about it! ☺
I was a little bit skeptic if anyone comes to our table. But after the keynote we had no rest: fortunately many attendees asked us about contributing, about the sprint day or were kind enough not to run away if we asked them about their Friday plans. ☺ Our task was to encourage inquiring people to attend the »
Mentored Core Sprint
On Friday morning I just arrived (wearing my orange mentor tee) and some minutes later I found myself talking about how to find right tasks, how to install dreditor and why it is useful, how to manually test a patch and so on. My first “audience” were some developers (from the same company) who worked with Drupal before, had a development environment and Drupal 8 installed. They “just” had to be taken to the right track (see above).
I’ve never imagined how much people interested in Mentored Core Sprint. But we quickly run out of the seats and had to ask Amsterdam RAI people for some more tables and chairs to have a place for everyone. When my table had no more empty seats, I talked to everyone and they all worked on something I moved to an other table. Sometimes I has to look for puzzled faces and sometimes I just had to be there and the new contributors asked me.
I can’t remember all the discussions I had all the day but there were more memorable situations.
Generally we recommended newcomers to search for issues tagged “Novice” and choose one which contains a task they feel comfortable with. But sometimes this was not enough. YesCT—who mentored us too—recommended that in this situations I (we, mentors) should delegate a task from one of the issues I worked on earlier and know enough.
None of us is as smart as all of us
Of course no one can answer everything. But there were a lot of mentors so I just looked for someone else if it was needed. E.g. a novice contributor had an issue comment from @WimLeers he did not understand. Since I knew that Wim was one of the mentors it was easy to introduce them to each other so they moved the issue forward together.
It was also important to encourage novices to ask not just the mentors but join their forces and work together. IMHO this is the spirit of the code sprints. Sprint is the place where you can “stay for the community” so there is no reason to work alone that you can do anywhere else.
The CEO and the “hopeless”
Wednesday when I stayed at the Mentor Booth in Exhibit Hall I was talking about sprinting to our CEO, @kulcsi too. He was interested in the topic and joined us on Friday. Of course I was his mentor and helped him to find some issues to deal with. He was impressed how complex an issue “lifecycle” can be and was satisfied with learning new things.
While we was discussing I discovered an attendee next to us. She did not asked anything but seemed to have problems. When I asked if I could help the answer was “Nobody can help me.” Uhh!
It turned out that she lost her way while setting up her development environment. So we went step by step identifying and resolving problems. During Drupal 8 installation we got an error message which printed out some html tags. Because we did not find an issue about it she created one which was her first issue. So she just contributed to Drupal 8 by identifying and reporting a problem! She become happy and were no more hopeless. Do you remember the goals I mentioned when I wrote about the mentor orientation?
Unfortunately I missed the Mentor Dinner ‘cause we had to catch our flight to home. So mentoring ended suddenly for me.
But some days later when I had a needs review issue I got this comment from Andrzej Wieczorkiewicz (marabak):
“you’ve shown me how to review a patch at Drupalcon Amsterdam, so i must be very careful since my mentor is watching :D”
Sure he was somehow joking but in the same time he made me proud!
To summarize it was a great adventure for me to be a mentor and I’m very thankful to Integral Vision for making it possible by sponsoring my travel and accommodation!
If you’ve not contributed before, come to the Mentored Core Sprint at the next DrupalCon. I’ll sign up to be a mentor again and I’ll wait for you. ;)