Mentoring in Open Source Communities: What Works? What Doesn’t?

Esther Schindler wrote: 

Open source offers amazing opportunities with almost no barriers to entry. If you want to try creating a new-to-you kind of application or use the latest technology, you can just barrel right in with an open source project and get involved. Once you become proficient, you can apply those skills in the next phase of your career. Even better, you can choose a community with a comfortable culture where your contributions matter. 

However, because FOSS is so self-motivated, there aren't always a lot of opportunities to consciously improve your skills, except on your own. In a regular office, you might be lucky enough to work with someone who'll take you under her wing, and give you specific advice about how to improve your code. 

Many open source communities do mentoring, even if they don't think of it with that label; others don't. Some make a concerted effort to connect newbies with more experienced people. They provide opportunities for people to work together in smaller teams such as in sprints. 

For a feature article at, I want to hear about your FOSS mentoring experiences. My goal here is to explore what's involved in a successful mentoring effort, and also find out what DOESN'T work. I hope this can help open source communities that want to attract more participants.

Specific questions: 

* What have been your mentoring experiences in FOSS communities? 

* If you developed mentoring relationships in a FOSS community, how did they come about? Was it a deliberate effort to connect people (how did that work?) or did it evolve on its own (how?)? 

* What did you learn? What did you hope to learn? 

* Knowing what you do now, what would you do differently? 

* What advice would you give FOSS communities in regard to mentoring?

Please identify: 

* your FOSS project(s) with optional URL 

* your name, role/title, and company in the way you prefer me to refer to you.