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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 15:19:57 UTC 2014

On Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 6:14 PM, Heidi Ellis <ellis at> wrote:

> Hi Folks,
> Sumana's post has caused me to think and also generated some questions.  I
> know Mel, Shauna, and Sumana at least a bit, Mel better than Shauna and
> Sumana. However, all three of these folks have what I might call an
> outgoing spirit.  In group settings, you all actively engage people and are
> very good at asking the right questions to get people (and newbies) to talk
> with you. I have seen all three of you successfully convince people that
> they can contribute to open source projects in useful ways and I am in awe
> of your abilities in this area.
> So now the questions.  Do you think that this willingness to engage people
> and active interaction is a necessary condition for at least the initial
> stages of mentoring?  How does this willingness play out in mentoring?  And
> does this play out differently in face-to-face meetings versus online?
I think it probably depends on the mentee - there are certainly introverted
people who'd prefer a calmer, quieter approach than I'd instinctively
provide them - but yes, I think *generally* speaking the ability to be
outgoing and actively engaged, is important.  Is it more important than
other abilities, such as empathy, creativity, and the ability to explain
things well?  I'm not sure.

I also think you're right to differentiate online and in person mentoring
on this dimension.  I think more quiet, passive mentors might be able to
push themselves to interact and ask questions via online mediums in a way
that's hard to in person.  One can also introduce easier-to-evaluate
metrics that way, by asking a mentor, "How many email threads have you
initiated?" "How many questions has your mentee asked you?" "What kinds of
questions does your mentee tend to ask?" etc.  There's more opportunity for
reflection because you have the record of communication.

> It makes me wonder about the synergy between personality styles and
> learning styles.
> Heidi
> -----Original Message-----
> From: osctc-planning-bounces at [mailto:
> osctc-planning-bounces at] On Behalf Of Sumana
> Harihareswara
> Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2014 11:59 AM
> To: Planning for Open Source Comes to Campus
> Subject: Re: [OSCTC-planning] mentorship and other ways to follow up with
> Open Source Comes to Campus attendees
> 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.
> 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.
> My PyCon poster (mentorship lessons I learned from Hacker School)
> might be a useful thing to look at.
> 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.)
> 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.
> Looking forward to hearing what others have to say,
> rambly Sumana
> --
> Sumana Harihareswara
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