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Grants:IdeaLab/Community Leadership Mentoring

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Mentoring contributors towards community leadership roles
We should mentor current content contributors to help them become community leaders (WikiProject coordinators, conference speakers, etc.).
contact emailSumanah
idea creator
this project needs...
project manager
community organizer
created on13:07, 10 November 2013 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

People who have already successfully contributed content often don't start contributing to policy discussions, attending conferences, mentoring other users, or making similar infrastructure contributions until they hear a personal invitation and get a helping hand. People from marginalized groups are especially likely to wait for signals that their voices are specifically wanted.

Therefore: we should set up a selective pilot program to actively mentor a diverse set of content contributors (editors, proofreaders, uploaders, programmers, etc.) to become community leaders.

The project coordinator would use existing research and resources, e.g., Amanda Menking's grant-funded findings, onwiki interest groups, prior editathons and photowalks, etc. to find several existing consistent contributors who come from demographic backgrounds currently underrepresented in Wikimedia. The coordinator would then personally invite and recruit them to be mentored in the project.

I suggest we run this as a combination online-offline project, including regular phone meetings for mentor-mentee pairs, at least one in-person meeting for each pair, and several conference calls and at least one in-person meeting for the whole cohort of mentees (probably at Wikimania). We would also make use of previous grantees' findings on Wikimedia mentorship practices (the Co-Op). We should also give mentors access to several "guest speakers" (experts in particular parts of Wikimedia) who would give virtual presentations on topics like conference organizing, scholarships, WikiProjects, and software features. This means we will have to pay a coordinator to send invitations, recruit and advise mentors, run logistics, organize phone/in-person meetings, and deal with funding.

We could start with one coordinator, fifteen mentors, fifteen mentees, and about five "guest speakers" with a three-month mentorship.

Project goals[edit]

Multiple Wikimedia wikis assent to trying this experiment, as a commitment to contributor diversity.

Thousands of Wikimedians from marginalized groups hear publicity about this program, signalling commitment to diversity and mentorship.

At the end of the project, 6 of the mentees have taken on some new leadership-related task or role in Wikimedia projects (e.g., coordinating a WikiProject, gaining extension maintainership, helping run a conference or outreach event, asking for administrator rights, becoming a Campus Ambassador or Tech Ambassador).

A year after the project, 12 of the mentees have taken on a new leadership-related task or role. Attrition is less than 25%.

Twelve of the mentors and twelve of the mentees report satisfaction with their participation in the program.

(Not sure how to suggest a good measurable goal for diversity-related impact.)

Get involved[edit]

Welcome, brainstormers! Your feedback on this idea is welcome. Please click the "discussion" link at the top of the page to start the conversation and share your thoughts.


  • This has been my experience in the Kansas and other community's: its not until you tell a content contributor that there is something else that they can do (and you spend lots of time helping them) that they realize how much they can do. More concerted mentoring (like Art+Feminism) would be a really boon to the community. Sadads (talk) 21:35, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
  • very exciting idea, with a lot of potential impact; seems like it could also be easily adapted by other projects and online communities outside of the WMF. I'm familiar with somewhat similar training programs that include a 'practicum' component -- maybe mentees could start applying teachings during the program as they transition to a leadership-related task or role? Thepwnco (talk) 01:21, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • This idea takes technology out of its traditional realm, traditionally a male-dominated field, and opens it up to a larger spectrum non-traditional voices.
Additionally, it helps to empower citizens without current technology skills while simultaneously accomplishing the goal of diversifying those who contribute to Wikipedia.
With the possibility that the skills taught to community citizens may then be taught to others, magnifying the impact of this project into the future. HighSpiritsFlutes (talk) 17:03, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Personal contact sounds promising. Let's try a randomized trial to see how it works. HLHJ (talk) 23:11, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Building up people leads to building content Ocaasi (talk) 00:20, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I would love to see a good mentoring or virtual mentorship program get off the ground. Lindybeat (talk) 00:24, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

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  • Volunteer I can easily imagine this project being effective - there are probably a lot of great potential contributors to infrastructure who just need an invitation and some mentoring and will do very well from there. I could be a mentor and help people learn about different types of contributions beyond editing, how to get started with them, and how to deal with setbacks; I've done bits of a variety of infrastructure tasks. Dreamyshade (talk) 18:11, 19 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Promoter I'll be glad to talk it up if it is implemented. Carolmooredc (talk) 16:13, 28 March 2015 (UTC)