What happened to all the mentors?
I had this post in the Drafts for a while, but now it’s time to publish it since the situation does not seem to be improving at all.
As you probably now, if you want to become a Gentoo developer, you need to find yourself a mentor. This used to be easy. I mean, all you had to do was to contact the teams you were interested in contributing as a developer and then one of the team members would step up and help you with your quizzes. However, lately, I find myself in the weird situation of having to become a mentor myself because potential recruits come back to recruiters and say that they could not find someone from the teams to help them. This is sub-optimal for a couple of reasons. First of all, time constrains Mentoring someone can take days, weeks or months. Recruiting someone after being trained (properly or not), can also take days, weeks or months. So somehow, I ended up spending twice as much time as I used to. So we are back to those good old days, where someone needed to wait months before we fully recruit him. Secondly, a mentor and a recruiter should be different persons. This is necessary for recruits to gain a wider and more efficient training as different people will focus on different areas during this training period.
One may wonder, why teams are not willing to spend time to train new developers. I guess, this is because training people takes quite a lot of someone’s time and people tend to prefer fixing bugs and writing code than spending time training people. Another reason could be that teams are short on manpower, so try are mostly busy with other stuff and they just can’t do both at the same time. Others just don’t feel ready to become mentors which is rather weird because every developer was once a mentee. So it’s not like they haven’t done something similar before. Truth is that this seems to be a vicious circle. No manpower to train people -> less people are trained -> Not enough manpower in the teams.
In my opinion, getting more people on board is absolutely crucial for Gentoo. I strongly believe that people must spend time training new people because a) They could offload work to them ;) and b) it’s a bit sad to have quite a few interested and motivated people out there and not spend time to train them properly and get them on board. I sincerely hope this is a temporary situation and things will become better in the future.
ps: I will be in FOSDEM this weekend. If you are there and you would like to discuss about the Gentoo recruitment process or anything else, come and find me ;)