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[Session] Tool Sustainability Through Mentorship: Engaging Wikimedia Tool Creators
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  • Title of session: Tool Sustainability Through Mentorship: Engaging Wikimedia Tool Creators
  • Session description: This session aims to address the challenges of tool sustainability within the Wikimedia community by exploring the role of mentorship. We will focus on interactive discussions about the vital role experienced tool developers can contribute to the longevity and effectiveness of Wikimedia tools by serving as mentors.
  • Username for contact: Udehb-WMF
  • Session duration (25 or 50 min): 25 mins
  • Session type (presentation, workshop, discussion, etc.): discussion
  • Language of session (English, Arabic, etc.): English
  • Prerequisites (some Python, etc.): Familiarity with Wikimedia tool development is beneficial but not required.
  • Any other details to share?:
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  • Tools include user scripts and other types of tools
  • Maintaining tools is more difficult than creating tools
  • How can we make it easier to maintain tools?


  • Defined as the relationship between a more experienced person and a less experiences person
  • Mentorship is important because it helps to expand knowledge and skills
  • Helps people know where to start
  • Brings people together
  • Wiki Mentor Africa is an example of a mentorship program that transfers knowledge about maintaining tools
  • Story: A tool creator started out with Wiki Mentor Africa by creating a tool that integrates iNaturalist with Wikipedia. This tool expanded to several Wikipedias and was updated by other tool developers.

Challenges to tool sustainability

  • Co-maintainers: Mentorship helps create co-maintainers. In mentorship programs, we encourage participants to maintain existing tools instead of creating new tools.
  • Lack of motivation for maintaining tools: Wiki Mentor Africa averages 150 people per session. These are people who are interested; they just need someone with the time to mentor them.
  • Time: The need for tool maintenance can outlive the motivation of the original creators.
  • Question: What is the time commitment for this type of mentorship? How do you manage the time requirements?
  • Answer: We ask that mentors don't take on more than 5 people to mentor. If they selected more people, they wouldn't have time to mentor them all. We allow mentors to choose criteria and methods that work for them. We find people who are of like minds and connect them.
  • Lack of tutorials for managing tools efficiently: In Wiki Mentor Africa, there is a programming track and a technical documentation track. In Africa, there are a lot of different languages.

Resources and support needed to thrive as a mentor

  • Teach what you know
  • Need support in how to mentor
  • Feelings of frustration
  • You don't need to be an expert in mentorship; you just need the willingness to mentor


What do you see as the biggest challenges to tool sustainability within Wikimedia projects?

  • Keeping up with updates on the tool
  • finding co-maintainers
  • Lack of motivation to maintain other peoples' tools unless you are also a user of them
  • tools are used very long time, but original tool creators motivation and need for the tool changes
  • Lack of tutorials for how to manage tools with as little effort as possible
  • Lack of devops resources like easy CI/CD setups

What resources or support do you think you will need to thrive as a mentor?

  • More knowledge outside my own projects (the big picture and the best practises)
  • Limited time, already mentoring through other initiatives like Outreachy
  • clear layout of inputs and outputs, timelines, KPIs
  • I am currently doing techical mentoring and skill transfer - this in Finnish persons, so limited time. However, idea generally is great.
  • a human relations mentor (support for the mentors), I'm dev not pm

What strategies have you found effective in mentoring newcomers to the Wikimedia tech community?

  • None =(
  • it takes time
  • Helps to have a co-mentor

How can we continue to encourage a culture of mentorship in the Wikimedia tech community?

  • Provide grants for mentoring work

Event Timeline

Hello! 👋 The 2024 Hackathon Program is now open for scheduling! If you are still interested in organizing a session, you can claim a slot on a first-come, first-serve basis by adding your session to the daily program, following these instructions. We look forward to hearing your presentation!

debt triaged this task as Medium priority.Apr 25 2024, 8:03 PM
apaskulin updated the task description. (Show Details)