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Designed for Longevity: Why Mature Open Source Projects Need a Culture of Mentorship

Designed for Longevity: Why Mature Open Source Projects Need a Culture of Mentorship

How do established open-source projects like WordPress continue to thrive in a rapidly changing tech landscape? Leveraging insights from 20 years in the WordPress community, the speaker will delve into the transformative power of mentorship programs. The presentation will illuminate how the contributor ecosystem benefits substantially when experienced contributors advance into mentorship roles, guided by a well-defined contributor ladder. Backed by real-world evidence and community feedback from the "Five for the Future" pledge program and the pilot run of the Contributor Mentorship Program, the talk will provide a blueprint for cultivating a robust mentorship culture. Aimed at active contributors, community leaders, and businesses involved in open-source, they will walk away with practical steps for ensuring project longevity and vibrant community growth.

Open Source Summit Japan 2023, Tokyo
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KRiZR6Q7GE

Naoko Takano

December 05, 2023

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  1. Designed for Longevity Why Mature Open Source Projects Need a

    Culture of Mentorship Naoko Takano Open Source Project Manager
  2. 2 Full-time WordPress project contributor sponsored by Automattic (WordPress.com) Works

    on the Five for the Future* program to encourage contribution from user companies (hosting, agencies, product producers, etc.) * https://wordpress.org/5 Naoko Takano Open Source Project Manager, Automattic
  3. 5 WordPress Contributor Community 22 teams with tens of thousands

    of contributors Over 50 countries Diverse profiles of people
  4. 7 Core Release Stats Over 30% are first-time contributors. But

    the overall contributor count is not steadily increasing. https://jeanbaptisteaudras.com/2023/08/contribution-stats-for-wordpress-6-3-lionel/
  5. 8 New/Current Translation Editors General translation editor (maintainer) role tend

    to stay with the same people over a long period of time. Only 2.5% of the contributors were prompted to this role in the past year, of total 744 contributors.
  6. 9 Bus Factor The minimum number of team members that

    have to suddenly disappear from a project before the project stalls due to lack of knowledgeable or competent personnel.
  7. “ [...] a good rule of thumb that will scale

    with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people [...] — Matt Mullenweg, Co-founder of WordPress https://ma.tt/2014/09/five-for-the-future/
  8. 11 Five for the Future In 2019, the Community Team

    & Meta Team worked together to launch a program to encourage organizations to pledge contribution for WordPress development.
  9. 14 Currently, 15% of the companies are making high impact

    while 60% has became inactive. Company Pledge Effectiveness
  10. Challenges Goals Gaps 15 • New and mid-experience contributors struggle

    to level up in the contributor ladder • Experienced contributors burn out with increased responsibilities • Structured contributor learning pathways • Mentorship infrastructure • Resource allocation • Sustainable growth strategies • Mentorship as a high-priority focus • Repeatable framework for nurturing impactful contributors
  11. “ How can we maintain our project and bring in

    new people consistently? (and) make sure that WordPress just outlast any of us? — Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director of WordPress WordCamp US 2023 Keynote
  12. “ 19 Mentorship creates opportunities for a healthy succession of

    open source project contributions and leadership. — LFX Mentorship in Open Source Report https://www.linuxfoundation.org/research/mentorship-in-open-source
  13. 20 Virtuous Cycle Vicious Cycle Overcommitment Burnout Disengagement Turnover Balanced

    Commitment with Mentorship Effort Sustained Engagement Expansion Growth
  14. 21 Community Team Event Mentors Core Release Squad Mentorship Contributor

    Mentorship Program Training Team Guide Program
  15. 22 Community Team Event Mentors Core Release Squad Mentorship Contributor

    Mentorship Program Training Team Guide Program
  16. • 4 weeks, 13 pairs • Matched based on needs

    & experience • Activities ◦ Self-directed courses ◦ Mentee check-ins ◦ Onboarding workshop ◦ Team contribution ◦ Release cycle shadowing 23 Contributor Mentorship Program Pilot Cohort 2023 Q3, around WordPress 6.3 release
  17. 1. Program Creation Takes Resource 2. Availability is Crucial 3.

    Clarity Helps Mentors & Mentees 4. Awareness Encourages Mentorship 26
  18. 27 Even the importance of mentorship is shared in the

    community, it takes focused work to build a program. Prioritization is necessary to make it happen. Program Creation Takes Resources
  19. Consistent and mutually agreed upon availability from both mentors and

    mentees is essential for the success and continuity of the mentorship relationship. 28 Availability is Crucial
  20. Clear communication and well-defined expectations are essential for the optimal

    use of the valuable and limited resources of mentors and mentees. 29 Clarity Helps Mentors and Mentees
  21. Raising awareness about the benefits and processes of mentorship develops

    a supportive culture. 30 Awareness Encourages Mentorship
  22. 32 Cohort #2 (Q1 2024) Clearer schedule More documentation &

    resources Replicable program for teams https://make.wordpress.org/community/?p=40530
  23. Thank you. Let’s talk mentorship & sustainable contributor community! Web:

    naoko.cc Twitter/X: @naokomc Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/naoko
  24. 36 Credits Unsplash Photos: Marek Piwnicki / Kenny Eliason /

    Windows / Ali Abdul Rahman / Markus Spiske