This thread is related to a talk I had with Flaburgan on #diaspora-fr IRC chan and is inspired from my experiences in contributing to the Mageia Linux distribution.
Summary : The wiki is a great asset to collect informations but in my humble opinion not the most efficient resource to guide the new contributors. A mentoring system could be created to easily attract new contributors.
My way of thinking is the following : the wiki is great to give general informations on how the community work to the newcommers, but not the best way to guide them in contributing. This is related to the way I think the newcommers come to us. IMHO, usually, the new contributors come to us with a specific goal : they found a bug or a lacking feature that disturb them and want to correct it. So, they come to the wiki that encourage them to fix easy bugs and will find no useful informations on how to achieve their goal. Most of them will give up at this step. This is what happened to me : I wanted to contribute because I was annoyed d* didn’t have a chat and I find no useful information on how to do that in the wiki. I only started to contribute when Zauberstuhl called for help because I had a little part of the solution (Jappix Mini).
I think that the wiki gives too general-wide informations and is more demotivating than helpful. I think that establish a mentoring system would be more efficient in new contributor welcoming. On Mageia Linux, if you want to submit a new package, you must first find a mentor. They have a dedicated IRC chan for that. This mentor will be in charge of welcome you, give you the useful material and guide you to the submitting process. He is the one that you must ask if you face a problem and the one that reviews your code and explains you the coding rules. When you’re finished with your work, he is the one that validate it and submit it to the central repo. This is a very reassuring and comfortable way of working.
Propositions : Any new contributor will be guided by a mentor. He will be the one in charge of giving him the guidelines in contributing and review his code. He will also be the one to talk to in priority when facing a technical problem. He will guide the newcomer to achieve what he wants to do or discourage him if the goal is too complicated. The newcommer will fork the mentor’s repo and PR it. When the mentor considers the work is good he will be in charge of PR the upstream. When the mentor considers his padawan is ready, he will be allowed to PR the upstream himself. Any newcommer will be able to find a mentor on a dedicated IRC chan.
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