Non-MOTU as MOTU Mentors and bad advice

Scott Kitterman ubuntu at
Tue Nov 11 18:42:58 GMT 2008

On Tuesday 11 November 2008 10:26, Emmet Hikory wrote:
> Charliej wrote:
> > On Mon, 2008-11-10 at 22:39 -0500, Scott Kitterman wrote:
> >> I will confess that I don't pay as much attention to the Mentors program
> >> as I probably should.  I had no idea we were allowing people who weren't
> >> MOTU to act formally as mentors.
> >
> > It is my understanding that UUC's are only allowed to mentor in the
> > junior program.  The senior program is strictly for MOTU as these are
> > MOTU hopefuls
> >
> >> This is a stunningly bad idea and should stop.  I just finished trying
> >> to help a novice mentee who was trying to upgrade his system to Jaunty
> >> because his mentor told him too.
> >
> > IMHO (this is only my opinion and may not be the opinion of the MOTU
> > Mentoring Reception Team) I disagree!
>     As much as I agree with Scott that in this case the provided advice
> was flat-out wrong, and that the value of having those who have not
> received technical review being recommended as mentors for development
> is at best highly questionable, I wonder if establishing some set of
> criteria by which mentors are judged (whether it be they being MOTU or
> something else) is perhaps solving the wrong issue.
>     The Mentoring Program page (1) states that a mentor in the Junior
> Mentoring Program will "guide the new contributor (mentee) to find
> his/her way into the community, present the different teams and guide
> him/her through: [stunningly large list of technical tasks elided]".  If
> we are granting those without technical review the opportunity to act as
> a Mentor, would it not be better to focus on the social aspects
> (introduction to community, IRC best practices, team organisations,
> common useful resources, etc.), and then concentrate the technical
> training collaboratively in the #ubuntu-motu channel?
>     By having each mentor individually lead each mentee through this
> vast list of activities, we're surely creating a lot of duplicated
> training activity, which would probably be better concentrated in one
> place.  This has the advantages that many people can learn from each
> explanation, those more junior can feel comfortable giving advice
> knowing those more senior will provide additional detail if required,
> and each new person gains greater familiarity with each of the
> participating developers, increasing the strength of the team.
>     Further, with such regular discussions of technical tips & tricks,
> those MOTU who may have forgotten some detail will have it refreshed,
> and those providing training can build practice to better participate in
> MOTU School sessions.
>     To me, the important part of the mentoring process is that any
> mentee has someone to turn to as a last resort when other resources are
> insufficient, and someone who can provide advice as to possible avenues
> for them to investigate.  By structuring the program to encourage more
> communication using existing channels, and encouraging mentors to
> provide good links to useful shared documentation, we accomplish these
> goals, while also improving our shared knowledge, building stronger
> relationships, and sorting out much of the documentation that is
> suffering from bitrot.
>     Ideally, except with dealing with social issues, or helping find
> something to do, or other relatively personal matters, most mentors
> should be directing their mentees to high-quality shared documentation
> explaining the concepts in question, and encouraging them to use typical
> communications fora to explore any questions or concerns that may be
> raised.  In such an environment, I don't see any issue with trusting any
> Ubuntu Member to provide useful guidance, as there is some reasonable
> assurance that the provided advice matches current best practices and
> that further discussion forms part of the shared culture that makes us
> so effective.

I think this is an excellent proposal.  It gives UUC a role appropriate to 
what they are vetted for and works to bring people to our community, not 
separate people from it.

Scott K

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