The most unseen and unspoken TechNet Wiki roles: The mentor Role

In the past I wrote about “Defining the Role of a TechNet Wiki Editor”, today I'll get back to the role topic but this time about the most unseen and unspoken roles that we can find in the TechNet Wiki.

Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentoree) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional and personal growth, however if we search for the definition of “mentor” in a dictionary you may find the following definition: “…a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, or an influential senior sponsor or supporter…”.

In TechNet Wiki context, Mentors may offer counsel; provide information; act as advisers by providing guides, define “policies” and best practices; advocates in a variety of formalized and less formal contexts to mentorees and in certain situations serve as role models. They may provide any or all of the following functions:

  • Diminish the fear that comes from having to go it alone, sometimes some people are afraid (maybe not the best word) or are shy to give the first step. They don’t want to start writing in the TechNet Wiki because they don’t know well the platform, they don’t know the benefits, the range, or simply they don’t want to change other people articles.
  • Provide support for developing quality content, TechNet Wiki has a very intuitive interface, nevertheless, some challenges may appear, for example implementing and fixing the TOC, working with images, fixing the article appearance and so on. Eventually the mentoree will have materials of his/her own, but that first preparation can be extremely time-consuming; anything that can be done to ease the initial endeavor is worthwhile.
  • Provide timely and constructive feedback, on the mentorees or to the general member of the TechNet Wiki where they can or think that is appropriate. A good example of this is the “The Microsoft TechNet Guru Awards”.
  • Define “policies” and best practices, sometimes is difficult to understand own things works. How can we achieve certain tasks? How can I delete an article? What are tags and what I can use? It can be the mentors function to provide some of this basic best practices and content.
  • Encourage the mentoree to be self-reliant. The mentor should not encourage the mentoree to try to become independent, to teach to someone else and more important to provide new ideas.
  • Be a colleague. Mentors may have internalized their knowledge to the extent that it may be difficult for them to put themselves in the role of the mentorees, having forgotten how much there is to learn. On the other hand, the mentee may be overwhelmed by how much is to be learned or too inexperienced to know what questions to ask. This is an opportunity to develop the role of “mentor as colleague”, where both mentor and mentoree learn from each other. Further, the mentoree may be able to provide the mentor new ideas from the perspective of someone doing everything for the first time.

Original source to some of this definitions: Mentor's Role

But in TechNet Wiki there is nothing that will stop you for being a Mentor and a Mentoree at the same time.


 The visible mentor vs the unseen mentor

In my personal opinion, there are two types of TechNet Wiki Mentors

  • The visible mentor;
  • And the unseen mentor;

We can define the “visible mentor” type when the access to him, or to his contributions are open to all of TechNet Community members and the outcomes are measured. Some of his task are:

But one important thing that they have in common, they are measured and the mentors are awarded points or achievements at significant milestones and vary based on contributions.

On the otherwise, the contributions of the “unseen mentor” type cannot be measured, the goals of the relationship between the Mentor and the Mentoree are specified and the access to him can be limited or sometimes exclusive. Some of his task are:

  • Recruiting new TechNet Community member in their community, in my case for example: trying to recruit new Portuguese community members to the TechNet Wiki.
  • Be a colleague!
    • By helping new members by privately provide feedback or helping in some concerns or doubts;
    • Helping in decision-making
    • And so on…

Once again, this contributions are unmeasured and therefore they are not awarded by points or achievements.

Nevertheless, one type doesn’t invalidate the other and a person or Mentor can be both, seen and unseen.

Despite of being one of the most unseen and unspoken TechNet Wiki roles, the mentor Role is in my personal opinion on of the most important roles and without trying to be unfair, I have to give a special emphasis to the unseen mentors out there, and I know a few of them.

BizTalk Wiki Ninja Sandro Pereira (Blog, Wiki, Twitter, Profile)