In the sequence of events caused by changes on the Developer Forum entry process, developers have brought up concerns on how New Members (especially those who got in through this new process) may misuse the platform.
Among the issues mentioned:
- Low-quality posts, development support requests that could be solved with a Google lookup, etc.
- Lack of “Developer Culture”, or whatever you call it with low quality offers on Collaboration sections.
While it’s not impossible that those kind of “bad content” was intentional, it’s also likely that they simply don’t know the unwritten rules that we follow here on the Developer Forum. And that is natural, because if nobody told them, how are they supposed to know it?
Some have suggested to restrict New Member’s post/reply permissions even further, others creating another Trust Level (which I think we can’t create a Trust Level 0.5), and others wanted to revert the change to keep post quality.
While those are all backed up by valid reasons, keeping them behind a pre-approval process in 90% of the sections (90% might be an hyperbole) is a burden for Lead Top Contributors and also a bad thing for the New Members themselves, as they got to wait until their post is approved, and while this is the old quality vs speed debate, at the moment the speed factor needs to be improved, hence why the changes happened in the first place.
It doesn’t mean however that we need to compromise the quality of the forums this far. The idea being proposed also involves participation of our fellow Members, which can go right or not.
The Mentorship Program
The idea behind this name is that upon joining, the New Member will be assigned a mentor, who will accompany, monitor, work with and help the New Member on their first weeks in the Developer Forum.
Mentors will ideally be volunteer Members, that are also able to work with the Top Contributors (those who are currently monitoring the New Members).
This said, the program should be opt-in, with some constraints (this is a draft):
- Can’t be a Top Contributor/Lead Top Contributor (so that decisions are not biased);
- It should be specified how many mentorees a mentor can handle at the same time (From two or three up to a dozen, it’s up to the mentor to decide);
- The mentor cannot “choose” his mentoree, they should be assigned randomly.
- The mentor should act as a link between the New Member and the Lead Top Contributors and Dev Engagement Team.
- Cannot drop their ongoing current mentorship “sessions” (six to ten weeks, or 1.5 to 2.5 months, may be adjusted as results come in)
The mentor will then be someone who the New Member can contact for any question regarding the Developer Forum, and ideally have a special trust to.
Goals and Duties
While we have tools to flag and send feedback messages to the users, I believe that “welcoming” them with those might not be the best approach. They will definitely commit mistakes, but forcing them to go the hard way can demoralize them to try again. That’s how I see this. (albeit it won’t happen with everyone)
The Mentor also should be able to convey the Developer Culture to the New Member (recognizing the offers, percentages, “unwritten” rules, using the DevHub, etc.), and this is the part that should be focused on.
In order to aid mentors with their goals, I propose the current set of “perks”:
- A channel specifically designed for them: Whether it is through this forum or a Discord server, it should be a place so that they can discuss their methods, cases, and ultimately help eachother doing their job on making the DevForum a better place.
- Not strictly needed, but a role in the DevForum would also help signalling other Mentors if there’s an issue where the assigned mentor is unable to help, etc.
A similar program was implemented at my college and it seemed to drastically reduce the amount of students that failed the modules in their first year. While it works there, I admit that they don’t have the problem of scalability that we have (but we’ll never know if we never try, right?), plus the sucess of it would essentially rely on the Members giving away part of their time for New Members.
I’ll leave this topic open for the discussion of the idea. What are your insights on this?