[tc] The future of the "Help most needed" list

Colleen Murphy colleen at gazlene.net
Thu Jan 31 20:31:55 UTC 2019

On Thu, Jan 31, 2019, at 7:00 PM, Jill Rouleau wrote:
> + openstack-mentoringOn Thu, 2019-01-31 at 11:45 +0100, Thierry Carrez wrote:
> > Hi everyone,
> > 
> > The "Help most needed" list[1] was created by the Technical Committee
> > to 
> > clearly describe areas of the OpenStack open source project which
> > were 
> > in the most need of urgent help. This was done partly to facilitate 
> > communications with corporate sponsors and engineering managers, and
> > be 
> > able to point them to an official statement of need from "the
> > project".
> > 
> > [1] https://governance.openstack.org/tc/reference/help-most-
> > needed.html
> TIL - will start sharing this with our mentees when they sign up.
> > This list encounters two issues. First it's hard to limit entries: a
> > lot 
> > of projects teams, SIGs and other forms of working groups could use 
> > extra help. But more importantly, this list has had a very limited 
> > impact -- new contributors did not exactly magically show up in the 
> > areas we designated as in most need of help.
> > 
> > When we raised that topic (again) at a Board+TC meeting, a suggestion 
> > was made that we should turn the list more into a "job description" 
> > style that would make it more palatable to the corporate world. I
> > fear 
> > that would not really solve the underlying issue (which is that at
> > our 
> > stage of the hype curve, no organization really has spare
> > contributors 
> > to throw at random hard problems).
> > 
> > So I wonder if we should not reframe the list and make it less "this 
> > team needs help" and more "I offer peer-mentoring in this team". A
> > list 
> > of contributor internships offers, rather than a call for corporate
> > help 
> > in the dark. I feel like that would be more of a win-win offer, and
> > more 
> > likely to appeal to students, or OpenStack users trying to contribute
> > back.
> We've got a list of folks now who have volunteered to be mentors for
> various topics but we've struggled to get mentees and mentors engaged
> with each other and the program.  There seems to be a hurdle between "I
> need/want to help" and active participation.  A list of "this team needs
> this specific help" might actually be beneficial to getting people
> active, whereas I don't know that we'd gain much from another list of
> people who are generally open to helping (as much as that willingness to
> help is appreciated).

This is a good point, I think for this reason it would be nice of the list was sort of a combination of the "job description" and peer-mentoring offer. It should be specific enough that people know beforehand whether it's something they would be interested in, and it should include specific objectives so people have something concrete to work towards and to measure their success against as they are working with their mentor.

> > 
> > Proper 1:1 mentoring takes a lot of time, and I'm not underestimating 
> > that. Only people that are ready to dedicate mentoring time should
> > show 
> > up on this new "list"... which is why it should really list
> > identified 
> > individuals rather than anonymous teams. It should also probably be 
> > one-off offers -- once taken, the offer should probably go off the
> > list.
> > Thoughts on that? Do you think reframing help-needed as 
> > mentoring-offered could help? Do you have alternate suggestions?
> Hopefully some of the folks who have signed up for the cohort mentoring
> program can share their thoughts here.

As an Outreachy mentor I agree that 1:1 mentoring is a lot of work, and coming up with small-scope tasks for new people is really challenging. The problem with Outreachy is that often the interns go away when their internship is over, so something like this that encourages long-term growing of new contributors will ultimately be more rewarding for the community.


> -jill
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