Mentoring in World/Français
by gregwitz

Arcade MozillaWorld/Français has developed its own system for mentoring new editors, which is in fact a sort of mix between the "Welcome Wagon" and the "Find a Mentor" programs. It was developed because senior editors in World/Français had the impression that lots of new editors live their own "ODP life", having little or no contact with other editors. Therefore it was decided to develop a system in which every new editor has a mentor assigned at the beginning of their ODP career.

A template letter is sent to every new editor. This letter contains some links to documentation, to the New Editors forum inviting them to introduce themselves, and to the parts of the forum concerning the branch containing their category. It also includes a link to the profile of a member of the Comité d'accueil, and, if the category has already an editor, to the profile of that editor. The member of the "Comité d'accueil" also receives a copy of this letter.

Members of the "Comité d'accueil" have different degrees of experience and permission level. Some are cateditall+, others category editors, some edit in a large number of categories, and others are specialized in a small branch of the directory, but in all cases they volunteered to be a mentor in their area of activity, and their candidatures were reviewed by a meta or a catmod to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to do the job.

This system ensures that every new editor knows which part of the forum they can go to to find information about their category, where they can ask questions, and the name of a person who is willing to help them. It also gives the mentor the feeling of being responsible for helping their new editors to integrate with the ODP community, and familiarize them with the ODP philosophy.

Speaking of my own experience as a new editor before this mentoring program was started, it took me about three months to find the link to the forum (I saw it every time I logged in to my dashboard, but never thought it could be useful.) I discovered a place where I could ask questions and obtain friendly answers. This discovery boosted my interest in the ODP, and made me want to edit more and in broader areas. I don't know if I would still be an editor if I had never followed the link to the forums.

Six months after the "Comité d'accueil" was started, I was asked if I would like to join the team, and I accepted. At the beginning, I had some problems figuring out how I should mentor: Should I wait for the new editor to contact me, or should I make the first step? How to write a good feedback pointing out some problems needing to be corrected, but not discouraging the new editor? With time, and after reading the experiences of other mentors, I chose to contact new editors after their first edits. I regularly check their profiles to see if they have edited, and when I see they did, I send them a feedback congratulating them for joining ODP, giving some feedback about their first edits, and telling them they can contact me, or use the forums, if they have questions, proposals or remarks. Most of them are thankful that somebody takes care of them and answers in a positive manner; it is then easier to teach them the basics of the guidelines and to try to motivate them to use the forums.

I have to admit that mentoring new editors is a great experience, and my greatest reward was when an editor that I mentored became a catmod -- it was as if his new permissions were mine.


- gregwitz

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