Should there be a mentor system

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Should there be a mentor system in forums?

Poll ended at 2008-04-08 05:59

Yes, it would be nice!
10
30%
No, too much work!!
9
27%
Banish all newbies
2
6%
Whatever, as long as I don't have to bothered
12
36%
 
Total votes : 33

Should there be a mentor system

Postby Red-guy » 2008-04-01 05:59

While reading many of the topics here at forums.debian.net it has struck me that maybe many of the newer users could benefit from a mentor system. It is very frustrating for many of our newer members (and the older members) to try and look for help. They muster up the courage and ask questions that are ill formed. The older members either try to extract the right information from them and then try to best explain the answer/direct the OP.

I wonder if there was a place where new users could post a desire for a mentor to help them, and could be paired with someone willing to try to help, it would help to foster a more personal level of knowledge ...help those looking to convert to Linux/Debain. Those not so interested in newbie questions would then be spared if you will. The whole system would be all strictly voluntary. Once a person had gotten their basics better, they in turn would ask more prepared questions and we as a community would be better.
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Postby roseway » 2008-04-01 06:53

I can't really choose any of the options in your poll. The whole thing would depend on whether there were enough experienced people willing to commit themselves as mentors, which I rather doubt. Having done it a few times for friends, I can't say that I would want to take on such an open ended commitment for someone unknown to me.
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Postby edbarx » 2008-04-01 06:56

The system as it is presently is satisfying the need of beginners, although the latter may need more time to get the best answer for their difficulties. I don't think there is the need of having mentors in this forum: everyone can help -after all, Debain is based on the concept of having a community. Having elites goes against the ideal of having a unified community.
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Postby Mikuro » 2008-04-01 12:54

On a Mac site I visit (www.macosx.com), they have a one-on-one volunteer tech support area in addition to the forum. Anyone can post a question there, and then if one of the volunteers thinks they can help, they claim the ticket and follow it through until either it's solved (usually), or until they determine they can't help (in which case they re-open the ticket so other volunteers can claim it). Tickets are automatically posted to the general forum after a certain amount of time if they receive no answers.

I spend most of my time in the regular forum, but the volunteer support area is perfectly busy, so it seems like a lot of people looking for help find that more appealing. Occasionally I answer a ticket there, too.

I'm not sure if such a system would be appropriate here. I'm just throwing the idea out there.
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Postby MeanDean » 2008-04-01 13:15

sounds very interesting...just not sure it would work around here :)
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Postby AdrianTM » 2008-04-01 13:18

But there's already a mentor system, it's called RTFM.
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Postby Lavene » 2008-04-01 18:37

AdrianTM wrote:But there's already a mentor system, it's called RTFM.

That system has a nasty tendency to break down... usually between the pro and con people.
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Postby simen » 2008-04-01 19:16

I think the idea is nice, but I wouldn't have the time to spend myself. "Whatever, as long as I don't have to..." Mostly just lurking in the forums these days, not LiNux-ing so much at the moment. I ask myself, what level of noobness every mentor would be willing to take, as regards to which noobs would sign up for the thing. Personally, I have a few converts in my social environment, feels like it's finally spreading to the inherently non-techie people at the moment. But of course, they're all (pretty much happily) running Ubuntu, and basically not touching the command line, for instance. Maybe some nice articles could be written for the howto section as a part of a project like this? Eg. a map of the Unix/Debian file system.

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Postby GNU.Wasabi » 2008-04-01 19:46

Dear readers,

I think that rather than utilizing a mentor system, it would be much better to manage a Wiki specialized for the community. In this Wiki everyone could sign up and submit guides or tips they know and think the rest of the community could benefit from. Utilizing the embedded talk system in the Wiki, the community could discuss about changes in the Wiki documents and hold democratic conferences about the decision of the persons to moderate the Wiki. The work that moderators need to do is to verify that all submitted material is useful and actually related to Debian GNU/Linux. The reason why we would have a separate Wiki from the actual Debian Wiki is that in this separate Wiki the community is managing and contributing to it and therefore allowing for subjects to be submitted that are not in the Debian Wiki. The Debian Wiki concentrates more on Debian GNU/Linux itself by providing useful information on installing and debugging a Debian GNU/Linux system from the ground up to an X server. Because of this fashion I highly doubt it that there are going to be guides in the Debian Wiki on how to compile the latest Wine or setup ALSA with software mixing for example.

What do you think about my idea? Of course the Wiki has to be well-organized and categorized in detail to allow new users, and especially users converting to Debian GNU/Linux from an another operating system, to find what they need. I am also thinking about a very useful feature to allow guests to contact the author of an article for further help. For example, if I had written an article about compiling Wine from source, but have not mentioned the possibility to compile it with support for DirectX 9, the guest could send a message to me asking for this. Then it will be my responsibility to either find the answer by myself, or talk about the issue in the Wiki talk to get help from other members of the Wiki. This way there will always be a connection between the user and the community. By estabilishing this kind of connection it will be much more convenient for the more experienced users to help the newer users, and when the newer users have gained enough skill they can sign up and help the rest of the community by themselves with the community.

To me it is a great thought, but should be considered at least twice as it will be much work to set up the Wiki in the first days. Regardless of the way you see my idea I agree that there should be more efficient solutions to help new users. "Google" and "RTFM" do not fit in the policy of helping each other. We can however make new users understand afterwards that there can be useful guides or tips on the internet easily found with the aid of Google. Note that the keyword is afterwards, do not say "RTFM" directly to a person who is asking a simple question, no matter how dumb the question might seem to you.

Best regards,
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Postby industrialpunk » 2008-04-01 20:58

Honestly, someone who wants to use linux needs to learn the system. They should have the drive and time to learn and they need the initiative to try to find answers for themselves. We should never see a question like "How do I install software in Debian?" Online documentation is integral to the *nix community. The internet is their best mentor.

This is an example of someone who hasn't taken the time to google three little words that would lead them to apt: "debian software install"

http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?t=25601&highlight=
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Postby AdrianTM » 2008-04-01 21:43

Besides, noobs use Ubuntu, right?
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Postby edbarx » 2008-04-02 06:15

industrialpunk wrote:Honestly, someone who wants to use linux needs to learn the system. They should have the drive and time to learn and they need the initiative to try to find answers for themselves. We should never see a question like "How do I install software in Debian?" Online documentation is integral to the *nix community. The internet is their best mentor.

This is an example of someone who hasn't taken the time to google three little words that would lead them to apt: "debian software install"


I think, beginners need more than just instructions. Learning is more complicated than reading and memorizing facts. Apparently, many people think that learning only involves the assimilation of new knowledge. However, things are not all that simple. I think, this forum being based on two way communication, has a very positive point worth conserving. This helps beginners feel "at home" here which helps them gain confidence. In my humble opinion, the emotional aspect of human beings, is not given enough weight by some contributers of this forum. Feeling confident is extremely important for beginners, because it boosts their motivation by providing the feeling of being accepted and the feeling of success. This provides positive feedback which is extremely important in every learning process.
A bootloader worthy of its name should be managed independently of any installed OS.
Debian = {freedom, reliability, stability, configurability, flexibility, security}
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Postby Lavene » 2008-04-02 07:21

For a one on one mentor kind of help I'm not sure a webforum is the best thing. I would rather suggest IRC. If you feel like taking someone by the hand why not hang out on #debian and be a counterweight to all the RTFMs. The great advantage is that it's in real time.
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Postby canci » 2008-04-02 11:00

I guess it's enough to make a pop-up window in all support threads which says: 1. Google, 2. search boards, 3. THEN ask question! That's all it takes...
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Postby GNU.Wasabi » 2008-04-02 15:51

Dear readers,

Looks like everyone has jumped over my reply. All the time I spent writing... Oh well I will get to #debian someday too :lol:

Best regards,
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