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Organising a Mozilla community (II)

This post is a continuation of the previous one, Organising a Mozilla (I), if you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you to take at look first at it and then return here ;)

(Versión en español del artículo en breve)

During these first half of 2012, we’ve being improving Mozilla Hispano tools for contributors, so I want to share again what have worked for us.

The importance of the mentorship program

As explained in the first post, we have a mentorship program where each newcomer has a person to guide him during his first steps contributing to Mozilla. This has been a key part for organizing people, since newcomers get less overwhelmed with information when they first reach us.

Update: In September 2013 we modified the procedure based on our experience to be able to handle a big amount of inquires, please check that instead.

I’m going to explain the workflow for newcomers and mentors:

  1. A person that wants to contribute gets to our contribute page and automatically gets a few mentors emails where to write (there are different mentors for different areas). We are currently rethinking this page layout.
  2. Once a mentor gets an email, he has a SOP about how to proceed and email templates with all relevant information.
  3. The mentor helps the new contributor to subscribe to our community mailing list and show him our resources page and projects for the area.
  4. The mentor will introduce the newcomer to the people in charge or the projects he’s interested in so he can being his work. If is not interested in any active project, the mentor will help him to figure out a new one.

Once the new contributor starts helping, his mentor will help him to create a profile on the wiki to be able to track his progress. We decided to create profiles after start working to avoid situations where people creates a profile and then disappears ;)

The mentor will contact his mentoree from time to time to see how the things are going, and once he gets enough experience in the community, the mentor will propose him to “graduate”, where we remove the “learner” badge from his profile and announce it on our mailing list. This is a great way to empower people, so they can know their work worths.

Also, every month we write an article on the front page for “The contributors of the month“, where we feature best contributors (newcomers or not) to award their work and empower them.

Internal relationships

If a contributor feels part of a group, part of a small family, he will be in better mood to contribute with more passion.

We want everyone to feel part of the community, and the contributor map page is a key part. It gives more visibility to contributors and place them in a nice map to get a better idea about where the Spanish community is present. Also it’s very important to update this list regularly to add or remove active/inactive people.

Because we love to take care of relationships between people, we extended our internal communication channels to non-mozilla stuff. We opened an off-topic facebook group where people can share funny or interesting stuff not related with mozilla and also we opened a private meme tumblr to have a fun time making internal jokes about the work we do in the community.

Keeping this two channels private just for contributors it’s important to separate our public work for mozilla and our spare time.

Another way to improve how people get in touch with the rest is to improve how we talk with each others. So we are experimenting doing some of our meetings using video, starting with the monthly general community meeting. If you are able to see the other side, it’s more complicate to misunderstand what he is saying ;)

Even with all of these, in a big group of people like us, you will always have misunderstandings or conflicts between people, and for that reason we have established an “Internal relationships mediation group” where you can contact if you have any personal problem or conflict you can’t solve yourself.

Keep everything tidy

As I explained on the previous post, we are able to have project pages and tasks for each project, we have been promoting this as a key part to organize ourselves.

Currently we are writing a draft about how and what to do before creating a project, to have clear steps and avoid creating more projects than we can handle, resources are limited. You need to clearly define objectives, goals, planning, dates and people interested before proceed. This will guarantee the success of your project.

A task for every action: If you create a task for every action needed, it will be impossible to forget it. Since every task has a person in charge and due date, we have set up an automated script that mail people once their tasks expire. Project coordinators are in charge of keep an eye on this and reassign, update or delete them.

Question? Leave a comment, ping me on irc (Nukeador), Twitter or via email (nukeador at mozilla-hispano dot org).

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