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Re: Metaproblem, part 3

From: João Távora
Subject: Re: Metaproblem, part 3
Date: Fri, 05 Dec 2014 10:27:49 +0000
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.4 (windows-nt)

Eli Zaretskii <address@hidden> writes:

>> From: address@hidden (João Távora)
>> Date: Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:32:23 +0000
>> Cc: address@hidden, address@hidden
>> address@hidden (Phillip Lord) writes:
>> > Cheesy as it sounds, perhaps, what is needed is "mentors". So, someone
>> > wants to fix something or change something about Emacs, they get a short
>> > term mentor to help them through the process (both at a code level, and
>> > at a rules of community level). So, the first piece of advice in
>> > contribute wouldn't be "do this, do that", it would be "think of a
>> > problem, ask for a mentor".
>> +1 to this. In every software project I've worked on, some form of
>> mentorship has proven essential in every first-time
>> contribution. Including projects that I started, and including Emacs
>> (thanks Stefan!).
> I also think that we have mentoring here, so I don't understand what
> exactly is this gripe about.  People ask questions, both here and on
> bug-gnu-emacs, and get helpful answers and guidance even when the
> questions are only tangentially related to Emacs (or even not at
> all).  What exactly is missing?

As you pointed out, mentorship happens on emacs-devel and on
bug-gnu-emacs. But also as you pointed out, a lot of effort goes into
questions only tangentially related to Emacs.

The proposed mentoring would be targeted at first time code
contributions only and administered by anyone with a reasonably solid
grasp of Emacs's and GNU's red tape.

>From my (limited) perspective this is frequently channeled to Stefan,
who is really good at it, but is possibly overloaded.

So what is being proposed, or what at least what I understood from
Phillip's message, is that a new broad guideline is added to the top of
the contribution guide [1] reading something like:

  "If this is your first time contributing to Emacs, ask for a mentor on
  emacs-devel first. A mentor can be anyone who has contributed to Emacs
  at least once, and will guide you through the instructions [linked]
  below, as well as any extra documentation. He/she can also answer
  specific questions about copyright assignment, version control,
  changelogs, coding style, etc."

The phrasing could be improved of course, I'm not a native
speaker. Also, perhaps the ideas of "friendliness" and "tolerance" could
be made explicit there, though "mentorship" should imply them.

Note that I'm *not* saying that having a mentor guarantees code quality
or pertinence (indeed, ideally, the mentor should be reasonably agnostic
about the contribution's pertinence, unless it really *is* a waste of
time :-) ). This is to say that reviews and discussion still take place,
but at the very least the boring bits will be taken care of, and more
frequently the first-time contributor will be on the right track.

> Or maybe I don't understand what "mentoring" is being alluded to here.

Your idea of mentoring described earlier is pretty much the same as


[1]: either
or in the linked etc/CONTRIBUTE file

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