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[OSCTC-planning] mentorship and other ways to follow up with Open Source Comes to Campus attendees

Shauna Gordon-McKeon shaunagm at
Mon Jul 21 15:15:13 UTC 2014

On Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 11:58 AM, Sumana Harihareswara <sumanah at>

> Hey, I'm sorry it's taken a while for me to say on list something I said
> to Shauna earlier. This is rambly and not necessarily apposite but I
> figure it's better to make sure I've said it here!
> One Perl/OpenBSD person who'd just attended his first PyCon said:
> > The common theme I notice at #PyCon is the focus that community will
> > bring technical excellence rather than the other way in #Perl and
> > #BSD
> which rings true to me.
> I'm sure Mel can talk our ears off about cognitive apprenticeship,
> legitimate peripheral participation,
> and other key concepts in creating learning environments.

Are there some specific readings you'd suggest for legitimate peripheral
participation?  Other than just generally reading Mel's blog, which I like
to do as often as possible.  :)

> I totally agree that socialization and identity formation are KEY in
> helping people contribute to FLOSS, or develop any new hobby. I'd love
> for us to research best practices in
> missiology/Communism/Amway/dissident movements/skateboarding/garage
> rock/Zumba/etc. so we could use them in FLOSS. We aren't the first to
> need to do this.

Join the Club ( is
a good book on this topic.  It focuses a great deal on building friendships
and peer networks, which is why I've been thinking of having a mentorship
program with a cohort model.  However I worry that it is difficult to build
cohorts remotely.  If we can get enough students from the same geographical
area, in person meetings might be an option...

> Mentors in FOSS need to help mentees learn *what is normal* in a world
> that's upside-down for most folks, and they need to be able to help
> extremely diverse new folks bootstrap. (We aim to give people something
> real to do as they bootstrap - what? There's one evergreen task that a
> mentor can give - writing a discovery report on installation or new dev
> environment setup or something like that
> - and SpinachCon looks promising.)

I've identified a few additional evergreen tasks that we're going to be
folding in to OSCTC events, during the Contributions Workshop.  They

1) giving feedback on installation and setup, as you mentioned.  very rough
draft off online guide is here:
2) testing project websites for accessibility.  very rough draft is here:
3) bug triage: going through trackers that need weeding and reproducing
bugs, testing patches, and doing basic code review.  no draft yet, inspired
4)  user tests: working in pairs to do user tests of open source projects.
 inspired by Jen Davidson's talk at OS Bridge.

I'm actually *really* thrilled about this model - I think it will solve a
number of problems, including:
- helping students get quick wins
- finding concrete ways for OSCTC students to help projects, which I think
will make more projects to want to engage with us and with the people
approaching their projects
- teaching them a relatively project-independent task, which means they can
contribute to a variety of projects that interest them (not just the ones
we've picked for the event)
- providing a more structured contributions workshop, which many, many
people have asked for

I also think there are additional newcomer tasks I haven't identified yet,
so I'm looking forward to expanding this.

Once I've one or more of the task guides polished, I'm going to make a blog
post about the new model.

> The people who are hesitant about applying to OPW/GSoC because they
> don't know whether they are ready enough: some subset of those people
> have impostor syndrome and need actual facts so they can measure
> themselves against objective criteria. Maybe OH can help them
> self-assess on FLOSS skills.

I definitely want to address impostor syndrome and other forms of
psychological obstacles through the mentorship program.  It's perhaps my
biggest priority.

> Looking forward to hearing what others have to say,
> rambly Sumana
> --
> Sumana Harihareswara
> _______________________________________________
> OSCTC-planning mailing list
> OSCTC-planning at
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