Objective Review: Everyone in Fedora has a mentor, and everyone in Fedora is a mentor

We’re working on Fedora Strategy 2028 — our next five-year plan. We are now reviewing those Objectives and their associated Impact. Read this guide for details on the current planning phase.

This Objective is part of the Theme “Fedora leads in Linux distribution development” and the Focus Area Community Sustainability. For general discussion of this focus area, please see the topic Fedora Strategy 2028: Focus area review (Community Sustainability).

Objective and Impact

Objective: Everyone in Fedora has a mentor, and everyone in Fedora is a mentor.
Impact: Better onboarding. Growth for current contributors. Continuity of expertise and reduced lottery factor.

A mentor is someone with experience and knowledge in an area who helps someone else learn and grow. Some parts of the project, like ambassadors-team, have had mentorship programs in the past, with both success and difficulties. We also have the mentored-projects-team, which handles Outreachy and similar programs. And, the join-sig mentors newcomers through initial onboarding.

We think that growing this practice to the entire project is a key to our future success.

When new people show up, they often need a lot of guidance to figure out how to fit into everything we’ve built up and sometimes take for granted in Fedora’s almost-20-year history. Right now, when someone is through the initial Join Fedora process or comes through whatcanidoforfedora.org or just shows up here looking to help, it takes a certain persistence to get to the next level and become a long-term contributor. While that kind of persistence is valuable, it shouldn’t be required — we’re filtering people out who could become amazing Fedora community members with a little more help.

The practice of mentoring also helps the mentor learn and grow as well, and will help create lasting connections through and across the project. We can have subject-focused mentors — but also mentorships that reach across the “mindshare” and “engineering” divide.

And, of course, mentorship can help grow the next generation, making sure that we have continuity of knowledge and expertise in crucial areas, reducing bottlenecks and burnout, and expanding pride of individual accomplishment to pride in advancing a whole team.

As mentioned, we already have some experience in this area — and some investment through the Mentor Summit. Let’s build on that and make mentorship a fundamental part of Fedora’s culture.

Our goal now

For this Objective and related Impact, validate that:

  1. If the Impact is achieved, it’s reasonable to expect an increase in active Fedora contributors.
  2. Success in the Objective logically results in the intended Impact.
  3. That link is reasonably sufficient — that is, it represents everything needed to have the Impact.
  4. While there might be other ways to have similar Impact, the chosen Objective is the right one for Fedora right now.
  5. The wording is precise and clear. The Objective is concrete, and the Impact is (at least a little bit) inspirational. Together, they fit into this Focus Area.

Bonus. If you can improve the longer explanatory paragraphs at the top of this post, that’s helpful too!

As outlined in the roadmap, this post will close in one month.


I think we need to know actual stories of how people started to become a long-term contributor by collecting those ones from existing Fedora people. Then we can know what factors are necessary to be a long term contributors. because I am not sure how much important the mentors or helpful people are in the purpose.

In my experience, I joined Fedora project 7 years ago and became a long term contributors. Because as contributing Fedora was/is a part of my job, I can have a time to contribute for Fedora project. I also maintains some RPM packages related to computing biology as my private activity. But the activity is quite moderate, even when I know some way to solve issues by asking helpful people on the mailing list, or forum and I know helpful people can help me. In another case of upstream Ruby language project (www.ruby-lang.org) that I am joining as a member, some members are active because their belonging company needs them to do it, and they have a time to contribute. So, the point is how can we create an environment where companies or organizations want their employees to use and contribute to the Fedora.

After starting to use Fedora Linux in my private laptop, it gave me to contribute to Fedora Linux (and the upstream projects) such as reporting issues. So, I assume that one of the factors to be a long term contributor is to use Fedora Linux in their private laptop as a daily driver.

Again I am curious about people’s stories of how they became a long term contributors.

If my comment doesn’t fit this thread’s topic, feel free to move it. Thanks.

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My experience has proven to me in a number of ways how important mentorship is, in both the mentee and mentor capacity. I am sure that plenty of people contribute to Fedora because of their jobs, or hobbies, or other more “concrete” reasons. I would guess that those contributions slant towards coding over other areas of contributions. And from my own subjective position, I think we have more coding contributors than say, Marketing, Outreach(Ambassadors, Join SIG, Advocates), or even Design (which we do pretty well with, because of mentorship!).

I will share my experience with Fedora to help illustrate the importance of mentorship, especially as a non-code contributor. I began contributing to Fedora in 2013 as an Outreachy intern working on Fedora Badges Design. The application period and the internship went so well. It was really a wonderful opportunity and experience based on the efforts of my mentor @duffy. Not only did I get a ton of experience designing and illustrating, but the folks requesting the badges were so appreciative of the work I was doing.

It could have ended there, but @duffy encouraged me to submit a session for Flock in 2014… I wasn’t sure, but she affirmed that this was the thing to do, and that I was the perfect fit for this conference. At that time I hadn’t even been to a conference, let alone a tech conference, so sort of needless to say: I was very nervous about applying.

To my surprise, I was accepted and funded to go to Flock 2014 in Prague, Czech Republic. It’s there where I got to meet folks in person and learn more about the Fedora Project. Going to Flock was also overwhelming, and listening in to all the very code focused conversations was a bit intimidating. The thing that made it worth it was I began friendships with people across the world that I would have never met just doing what I was doing (freelance graphic design and retail work in upstate NY).

I continued to contribute to badges as much as I could, and I had some friendships continue to grow after Flock. Then, thanks to my mentor, I had the chance to go to Boston to work on Fedora design for a couple days. Then, I went to a Fedora Design Team FAD.

At that FAD, I remember asking @duffy about something I wanted to do with Badges design, and she said to me “sure, but you don’t need to ask my permission… you run that sub project!” That one sentence empowered me to have the confidence to improve the process for badge requests, improve the quality of badge designs, and ultimately, to feel like Fedora was a place I belong. I sometimes wonder if she remembers saying it to me, lol, but it had a profound impact on me.

I contributed for 6+ years solely as a Design & Badge Teams contributor, running workshops, hackfests, helping to design Fedora wallpapers, and going to Flock. As my professional life evolved independently, I realized the place I felt most fulfilled and appreciated was in the Fedora Project. That’s when I started applying to Red Hat :sweat_smile: I bet you can guess who gave me a glowing recommendation (it brought tears to my eyes, :smiling_face_with_tear:)- it was @duffy. I served as Fedora’s Community Action and Impact Coordinator(FCAIC) for 3 years (2019-2022).

Throughout my time as FCAIC I mentored four interns through Outreachy to work on a variety of design projects. I am in touch with most of them, and most of them still contribute to a varying degree. I hope it is not presumptuous to say, but I think I had an impact on @smeragoel experience with Fedora and Open Source Design - who is now the Mentored Projects rep to Mindshare, a presenter at Fedora Hatch in 2022, and most recently represented Fedora at FOSDEM 2023. (@smeragoel do you want to add to this thread? :hugs: )

After leaving the FCAIC position, I have continued to contribute- most recently helping to coordinate the Creative Freedom Summit hosted by the Fedora Design Team, and I am co-mentoring a Fedora Badge Design intern with @smeragoel in the upcoming cohort of Outreachy.

I realize that my experience is my own, and that others might have different or even bad mentor/mentee experiences. Contributing to Fedora wasn’t something that I did because of my $dayjob, it was the friendship and a sense of fulfillment I experienced. I would not have made it past that original internship without having a wonderful, encouraging, and supportive mentor in Fedora. And that made all the difference in the world to me :fedora: :blue_heart:


@riecatnor Thank you for sharing your experience! I assume when you worked as a professional, you had a limited time to contribute for Fedora project. And perhaps there might be other communities or groups or opportunities outside the Fedora project to utilize your skills, feeling it as your home. What was the reason that you continued to contribute as a Design & Badge Teams contributor for 6+ years?

To be clear, is “everyone” to be taken literally here or are we talking about asymptotically approaching “everyone”? I don’t know how we’d measure it, so as an objective maybe it’s not ideal. It’s definitely a vision, though. (Yes, I realize I could have said this months ago, but it occurred to me now.) I do think it’s critically important to the focus area (and our overall Directional Star™), so maybe it’s okay to have it be more visionary and less concrete.

Measurements come next, when we get to Outcomes (“Key Results”). I think it’s okay to have this be phrased in an aspirational way…

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Objective: Everyone in Fedora has a mentor, and everyone in Fedora is a mentor.
Impact: Better onboarding. Growth for current contributors. Continuity of expertise and reduced lottery factor.

Mentorship in corporate, sporting world, or academia was formed around 1 on 1 (or many) relationship. There is some sort of unwritten pledge to nurture someone you care and challenge them to the next level.

In FOSS, I thought offline, personal contact or 1 on 1 knowledge sharing is not encouraged because it takes away opportunities for others to learn.

As aspirational goal in FOSS projects, if we include other form of mentorship (such as offering good feedback on PR and help troubleshooting bugs, or pointing to relevant articles, help editing tutorials), I think the objective to impact our community is right.

Better onboarding: clear and timely feedback from the editors, peers and the board was a deciding factor for me to stay and search for areas to contribute. In return, welcoming atmosphere helped me read the room and build rapport until I find sweet spot in my favorite communication channel - a mixture of Pagure/GitLab comments and Fedora chat.

Growth for current contributors: this is really personal. Learning more toolchain may be a growth for some. We need clear signpost to show growth paths and talk about experience in our community events and magazine posts. A serial post in the Magazine ‘how do you Fedora’ looks epitome of contributors’ achievement.

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The reasons I listed in my post, for sure:

  • having a great mentor
  • professional fulfillment
  • having fun illustrating
  • seeing the world
  • exposure to different cultures
  • experience organizing
  • making friends!

There are probably more reasons but these are the ones that pop into my head right away…

I think the point I was making in my original post was that I would not have been introduced to Fedora or Open Source without Outreachy. A program that pairs mentors and mentees in Open Source. I would not have stayed in Fedora without guidance and support from my mentor. I might or might not have started a career in Open Source solely based on mentorship, but my mentor still helped me start that career with a great recommendation.


Thanks for the explanation! I can understand the reasons and how the Outreachy and the mentoring were important for you in the context!

Yeah, I was going to share the same concern/issue. :slight_smile:

Basically, I think mentoring is awesome and it would be wonderful if we could have a dedicated mentor for every contributor, but I don’t think thats really practical or even possible. :frowning:

Take for example Infra and Releng. I am 100% happy to help other folks do things, but how do I choose 1 person to mentor? Doesn’t that make other people feel left out? We have always operated on the idea of the entire team/group mentoring. Don’t ask me specifically something, ask the group, everyone can learn, you can get a faster answer and people can improve the answer you get/build on it… the open source way!

Now some people might be reluctant to ask a group something, but we should fix that and make the group more safe and welcoming if thats the case.

I think in some groups/areas 1x1 mentoring might make perfect sense and be doable, but in others it’s much harder to dedicate 1x1.


Absolutely, everyone can learn, compared to mentorship.

Whatever team dynamics is settled in, traditional mentoring mindset does not scale well with distributed nature of Open Source project. Team and group mentoring are scalable as your experience with Infra and Releng. And from my brief bedding-in period in Docs team, I think the way I found my place is to read the room, which requires ubiquitous social awareness. It is not much about one or two person’s mentorship.

We don’t have to elevate expectation so high that everyone has pain-free onboarding process. It varies, really.

Create and correct your path as you go. It doesn’t have to be a clean path laid out by a dedicated mentor. That’s ok. There is a group of people who gives me advice across various channels, so I don’t go astray. Even if I waste time to fix something, that’s fine, too. What I learned from troubleshooting sticks in my head once I discovered why. So I can give it back when someone asks.

Maybe this can be better language to include the kind of group mentoring that @hankuoffroad and @kevin describe:

Every contributor is looking to mentor and looking to be mentored, whether that’s in one on one or group settings, in the way that works best for them.

This proposal shifts the idea from being a mentor, as in holding a certain relationship with someone, to one of mentoring as a mindset, similar to how we have Friends as a foundational value we keep in mind. Mentoring is always on the brain, so I can look to mentor and be mentored in various ways depending on what makes sense in my context rather than looking for two individuals to have this relationship with.

Personally, I think I would implement a mixture of these two. As I’ve learned more about how to manage a social media account, I think that I could offer at least a little mentorship to someone who wanted to start proposing ideas for posts or taking on another account to manage. I could give advice to the group, but if it made sense and there was someone who was interested in being mentored more one on one, then that could happen too. On the other end, I feel like I’ve learned a lot from more experienced members in the community offering their thoughts in our Marketing chat, so I am kind of being mentored in a group context. I would want room for flexibility instead being encouraged into a rigid framework.

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Without the support of my mentors @riecatnor and @smeragoel, these last few days as an https://www.outreachy.org/ contributor would have been frustrating… MENTORSHIP is key


Yes! Thanks — this is insightful. We tend to tell people not to direct message, but instead post publicly. I think that still generally applies, but that we’re missing something too. Those programs in other areas work.

This group-learning idea can be part of it too — I know Outreachy does group activities in addition to the individual assignments. I think the Infrastructure Apprenticeship program fits into the overall objective, too.

But also, I have an answer to the concern in your example — you don’t choose. I mean, you can, but I think we should have a structured mentorship program which would include matching mentors and mentees.


I feel like “is looking” is too soft — we want participation, not merely interest.

And, I think we should encourage both 1:1 and group approaches, but not as exclusives.

All that said, not everyone is always going to have capacity or energy, and also I don’t think we really want to demand that all new contributors become mentors themselves week 1.

Maybe something like “Everyone in Fedora participates in the Fedora Mentorship Program”? (Implying the quick creation of said program!)

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So, perhaps the objective could be re-worked a bit to focus not entirely on 1x1 mentoring? But I am having trouble coming up with anything. :wink:

“Fedora provides a culture of mentorship…”

“Everyone in Fedora has a mentor (either group based or individual)…”

bah. Dunno, will ponder on it more…


Not everyone wants or needs a mentor. Common use cases are often well-handled by readily accessible information and support sources. Some use cases are not well handled and can benefit from mentoring.

The bottom line is that everyone has gaps in knowledge, Some gaps stem from a fundamental misunderstanding and some from incomplete or outdated documentation. Individuals but differ in their ability to recognize and fill in gaps. Some users are more easily mislead by outdated or incorrect advice found on the internet. Some are reluctant to ask questions. As a community, we benefit from mentors who use the 1-on-1 experience to make things easier for all users, as well as the contributions of people who join the community as a result of successful mentorship.
Mentorship can help increase diversity of personalities and use cases in the community.

I used to introduce linux to groups of PhD level scientists who needed to use software that was only available on POSIX systems. One of the take-home points was that the software could be used on any of major linux distribution (as well as macOS) , so users should find out what was being used at their home lab and establish contact with local user groups. Linux had the advantage that the software gnerally worked well on older unloved and unwanted Windows systems gathering dust in a closet.

Hi, I feel for you. I support mentorship and good practice proven by Outreachy team which is structured form of mentorship.

My point here with a sense of scepticism everyone noticed is not to dilute or tarnish efforts and benefits from mentorship. It is reasonable doubt on how to expand mentors across various team living with constraints. That’s a reality.

However, I don’t agree ‘everyone’ needs a mentor. It depends.

For practical reason, one can get on with community and volunteering work with little supervision. Sometimes, people won’t find right mentor, then need to live without it. Finding a good mentor is much harder than working with a good manager or coach. Mentorship is a privilege, not a right or entitlement of new contributors.

My managers and coach stretched me to the level I’m at mentally and physically.
In Docs and Magazine team, I’m indebted to selfless support from board members and experienced peers to get me on track and deal with documentation issues. I learn and do as I go, thanks to them. I wouldn’t call them mentors, not because I have criteria (no way).

I just don’t want to burden them for additional hand-holding. Still, I’m grateful to them @pboy @darknao @py0xc3 @alanbowman @ankursinha @glb @rlengland every day, and many more.


No one is an expert in everything, or experienced in all areas. I think there is benefit for most people of all levels.

I would like to establish a formal program, including a service where we match potential mentors and mentees. I agree it is a privilege, but it’s one I’d like us to extend to every serious contributor.

@hankuoffroad directly or indirectly that little supervision is a form of mentorship