My first Drupal mentoring & contributing experience
Submitted by Johanna Anthes on Tuesday, 18. September, 2018 - 10:00.
I’ve joined the Drupal mentoring team for the first time last week at Drupal Europe.
In this post, I’ll share how and why this contribution changed the way I think about Drupal events and the Drupal Community.
The bigger picture
Joining a Drupal group and contribute in any kind of way - be it by mentoring, developing, marketing, or simply assisting - gave me a real-life insight into what it really means to give something back to the community and find solutions. It changes your point of view, as you face the challenges of a bigger picture and not only those of your own company or team.
“Contribute Today” - I’ve never felt addressed to this call because I had no idea what contribution could mean. I just filed that information under “okay, I don’t fit into the idea of contribution”.
And left it in this drawer until Balazs encouraged me to join Drupal Europe as a mentor.
So, I came to the congress center Darmstadtium on Monday, Sept. 10th, and had hardly an idea of what I will do as a mentor - what are “typical” tasks of a mentor, what skills are required? And so on. I tried to figure it out and checked the Drupal mentoring slack channel, asked lovely mentor old hands, but - let’s be honest - everyone just had to figure out their stuff as well so I was still left with questions marks in my head, but I knew they will be cleared somehow.
That’s the lesson no. 1, by the way: ASK. Just ask. Ask often, ask everyone, ask the channels, ask your team, ask. Everyone will be happy to help you.
What it means to mentor and contribute
During the next days until Friday, I was helping by keeping an eye on the mentoring booth, but I focused on my team and marketing as well so the question marks for Contribution-Friday just got pushed back somewhere in my brain. A quick mentor meetup informed me about the time I need to arrive on Contribution-Friday and encouraged me that everyone is qualified to be a mentor.
Lesson 2: Open your mind - I’ve learned that mentoring was not just about helping others to code or contribute to the Drupal core.
And then Contribution-Friday dawned and I met with the group of mentors, which were welcomed warmly by Rachel.
My first task was simple but important so everyone felt welcomed: Balazs, Merel and I guided all arrivals and ensured that they’ll find their way to the right contribution room.
Simply put, there were two rooms: One room that offers mentored groups, recommendable for contribution newbies, and one room for those who already know what issues they want to solve or how they want to contribute, so let’s say the old hands.
Mentoring means to ensure that people work together in those guided contribution spaces. You don’t have to know every answer to a question, you don’t have to know how to code. You can always ask those people who know the right answer to those questions. The most important thing about greenhorn mentoring & contributing is to ensure that people start with an easy issue to understand the process of contribution. It’s about understanding what it means to find a solution together, in a team, for the bigger picture. You don’t need to be a developer, there are so many issues that address non-developers or work that can to be done by non-devs so the developers can achieve the next step within an issue (e.g. testing, giving feedback etc).
So, my question marks about what it will require to be a mentor were resolved.
My personal contribution experience
After a few time of welcoming people, I was asked by Rachel if I want to contribute as a non-developer with a marketing background. Of course, I wanted to! So we headed together with Gabor to the mentored contribution room where I was introduced to Billy and Billy from the University of Edinburgh, to Karlo from Burda, and also Baddy Breidert and Elli Ludwigson were there again.
The main purpose of this group was to find out the main hubs where people fail to get involved as mentors or contributors in general - and to talk about solutions for it.
Within this discussion, Karlo & I submitted our first issue on drupal.org ever, yippie!! The issue addresses the problems of newbies when they first attend a Drupal event and don’t know anything about contribution options etc. Check “Arriving at DrupalCon as a Newbie Non-Developer” and help us to find solutions! After focusing on this important first step, that determines whether you win a contributor (or mentor) or not, and submitting the issue successfully, I felt that highly motivating feeling of “I can change something”. This issue addresses a huge group of people that I am - or was - part of: the newbies without any clue, with the mindset that “contribute today” was about coding and for developers.
Furthermore, we discussed possibilities to support the process of encouraging people to mentor and how the mentor group can be supported in general (stay tuned, we have big plans!!).
All in all, it made me realize lesson 3: Join contribution-Friday, join a group, be open to utilize your skills and be a little bit bold! Everybody has something that is worth it to be contributed.
I arrived with some question-mark-salad in my brain and left Drupal Europe with the proud feeling that I contributed to this community, that I now understand what kind of issues this community also faces and that I really can help to find solutions for those issues as well.
I am a part of it, so I will contribute.
And last but not least: Being super hyped after a Drupal event is great, it fills you with anticipation, so you can’t wait for the next Drupal event and the next issues. Simultaneously, let’s stick to the issues we just started, let’s bring it to the next level and maybe even solve it completely!
Gateway to get involved:
Talk to your team or Drupal friends about their contribution - maybe you’re interested in the same topic(s)!
Check out https://www.drupal.org/contribute
Come to Drupal events and join the contribution sprints on Friday!