Over the past few months, there has been quite a bit of discussion about what Mentors do. To clarify and avoid future misunderstandings, I thought this would help...
What is a Mentor?
First and foremost, Mentors are a group of special volunteers that try to see the best in every member and situation. When you are struggling with an aspect of WikiTree, no matter how long you have been on the site, they are the experienced volunteers who are happy to help you resolve your WikiTree problems!
These members are familiar with the WikiTree tutorial pages, are knowledgeable about WikiTree principles and procedures, know how to find answers to some of the tougher questions, are able to communicate with guests and new members in a friendly, helpful manner, and are a positive and helpful presence in the G2G Forum. They provide experience, share knowledge, and offer assistance where needed. They encourage, motivate, and promote balance and independence...
So the best way to describe a Mentor is - ‘Helper’, ‘Assistant’, ‘Companion’, ‘Aide’, ‘Collaborator’, ‘Colleague’, and ‘Friend’.
What do Mentors do on WikiTree?
In order to understand the role of a Mentor, it is helpful to understand their basic functions and responsibilities on WikiTree.
The first function of a Mentor is serving as a New Member contact point. They participate regularly in G2G to help answer any questions that may be asked, and they serve as a partner and assistant for any member who has questions or is seeking one-on-one assistance:
Are you struggling with inline sourcing and want to learn more on how to work with them?
Have you uploaded a GEDCOM but are struggling through the GEDCOMpare process?
Did you accidentally create a duplicate profile and need assistance with merging?
Do you need help, reassurance, or resources for applying a specific style guideline to a pre-1700 profile?
Good news! Mentors are available and listed on the Contact a Mentor page!
The second function of a Mentor is serving as a frontline helper during the first stage of the Conflict Escalation process.
“A Mentor contacted me and told me I did something
wrong! How can they be my friend?”
The responsibilities during this process are typically where most of the confusion comes into play surrounding the Mentor’s role. Since WikiTree is a multi-national site that is freely available to everyone who wants to join, well-intentioned WikiTreers may make mistakes or come into conflict with others from time to time. It's unavoidable…
Have you found some bad merges by a member that now conflate multiple persons?
Is a member creating a bunch of duplicates?
Has someone been less than courteous in a discussion with you?
In accordance with our Honor Code, we understand that mistakes and misunderstanding are inevitable, and we assume that these are unintentional. If a member sees that another member is struggling or making a mistake, and doesn't feel comfortable helping them, they may request that a Mentor help them.
The short answer is - No!
While almost all changes are relatively easy to fix such as reverting changes, editing or deleting bad comments, merging duplicates, or adding sources that were left out - Mentors also help with preventive actions. After identifying and correcting the issues, Mentors also ensure that members who made the mistake are aware of how these items can affect our shared tree and understand how to address these items in the future if they arise again.
In simple terms, the entire objective of a Mentor is to:
Identify the issue;
Explain the issue to the member so they understand how it affects our shared tree;
Provides resources, examples, and one-on-one assistance to the member to ensure they know how to correct the issue;
Provides resources to help avoid future issues; and
De-escalate any other issues or concerns before they become a major problem.
What Mentors Are Not
Mentors are not always Leaders. Any WikiTree member who is willing to assist the community, and meets certain requirements, can apply to become a Mentor.
Mentors are not Mediators. The Mediator's role in Conflict Escalation is to take a neutral look at the situation when a mentor and mentee cannot resolve the problem.
Mentors are not here for general Genealogy assistance. While they may be willing to assist in these efforts, if you have a specific genealogy question or need help breaking through a brick wall, it is best to ask for help in our community's "G2G" Q&A forum.
While understanding the roles that Mentors play on WikiTree is important, it is also equally important to understand the roles that Mentors do not play.
Above all, Mentors are not disciplinarians and do not punish other members. Mentors do not force others into a certain direction, but rather focus on support and facilitation. They do not condemn others or convey to members that honest mistakes or misunderstandings are account-altering disasters.
Positive mentoring also doesn’t ‘just happen’. It is a two-way street that requires a conscious effort and a commitment on the part of all parties involved. Most mentoring scenarios involve initial goal-setting, frequent communication, and a consistent desire on the behalf of the mentor and mentee to connect, teach, and learn.
Sometimes a mentor/mentee partnership doesn't click. If a mentor or mentee doesn't feel like they're making progress together, either the mentor or the mentee can initiate a change to a new mentor. Sometimes, that's all it takes for a mentee to learn better ways of resolving whatever the issue was. In other cases, there is nothing more that mentoring can accomplish, and the help of a Mediator is needed.