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From Julian Hyde <jh...@apache.org>
Subject [DISCUSS] Absent mentors
Date Wed, 28 Mar 2018 22:20:12 GMT
The incubator has an ongoing problem with lack of mentor engagement. Mentors are a crucial
component of the incubation process. Incubation is the time when projects learn the Apache
Way, and they cannot learn in a vacuum.

I’d like to discuss possible solutions to this problem. I’d like to hear from both podlings
(PPMC members) and from IPMC members.

(By the way, it’s not just a problem for podlings. As a mentor, I am demoralized when I
feel my co-mentors are not pulling their weight, and I get a little closer to burn-out.)

How to detect deadbeat mentors? One solution that has been discussed before is counting mentor
sign-offs on podlings’ quarterly reports. Any project that received one or two sign-offs
was deemed to be doing just fine. This is an imperfect metric.

Another remedy is to require podlings to be proactive: if they are not receiving adequate
supervision, they should reach out to the IPMC and demand a change in mentors. The problem
is, podlings have by definition not been through incubation before, so do not know what to
expect. They don’t want to rock the boat.

I propose another solution. Let’s add a question to the podling report template, as follows:

> Have your mentors been helpful and responsive? If not, describe what advice or help
> you needed, or need:

It isn't too onerous for the podling, and only embarrasses mentors who deserve to be embarrassed.

What to do about deadbeat mentors? The current thinking is that every project should have
three mentors, and if at least one of them is active, that’s OK. I think that the “rule
of 3” actually makes the problem worse. It’s difficult to find three motivated individuals
(or find enough work for them to do), so a podling will inevitably have one or two inactive
mentors. It has become the norm that most mentors are inactive.

I propose that we get rid of the rule of 3. If mentors are not active, they should be encouraged
to step down, and if they don’t, the IPMC should remove them. If this leaves the podling
with zero or one mentors, then IPMC can step in and appoint new mentors. A podling with two
active mentors is probably doing just fine.

Is this problem as serious as I think it is? Would my proposed solutions help?

Julian


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