What is Smogon Mentorship?

By Hulavuta. Art by Bummer.
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Hello. Ever wanted to get involved with something on Smogon, but didn't know where to start? Ever hesitate from starting a project or writing an analysis for fear you'd embarrass yourself from lack of experience? Or perhaps you are just a new member who is confused by all of the inside jokes and references. Fear no longer, as the Smogon Mentorship Program is here to help you out!

What is the Smogon Mentorship Program?

The Smogon Mentorship Program, as its name suggests, is a system for newer members to be mentored by experienced community members with the goal of helping the newer members become integrated within Smogon's unique culture. As a very new part of Smogon, the inception and creation of the program has a very distinct history. The original idea for the program, amongst other ideas for the site, was originally conceived by bojangles. He wanted a program to help new members grow accustomed to Smogon and overcome the steep learning curve set by Smogon's existing regular users.

Ultimately, bojangles approached Birkal to directly start and lead the program. Birkal was ecstatic about the opportunity, as he had always wanted more support for newer members. They worked together for a while until finally, in late March of 2013, the Mentorship Program was officially launched. A multitude of badged members from all over Smogon signed up to become mentors and help out new members as part of this program.

In essence, the Mentorship Program is a hotline for whatever kinds of questions regarding Smogon you may have. There are many mentors so pretty much every area of Smogon is covered. Whether you want to write an article, get into Team Rating, start a forum project, or even just get advice on how to integrate yourself into the community without making a fool out of yourself, there is most likely someone there to help you out. As a fairly new program, the mentors are itching to answer your questions and give advice!

As many newcomers to Smogon are also usually new to battling, questions on teambuilding and battling are by far the most common questions asked to mentors. For this reason, it's important to note that the Mentorship Program is more than just a Rate My Team service. Don't get me wrong; most of the mentors are experienced in battling and would be more than happy to help you out. However, in general, the more personalized and in-depth teaching experience of Battling 101 is your best option for learning how to improve at battling and building teams. In other words, although mentors are knowledgeable about the metagames and are fine giving rudimentary battling advice, the primary focus of the Mentorship Program is the community and website of Smogon.

How to get involved

If you're a new member to Smogon, hopefully at this point you're interested in getting mentored! So, after you've made a forum account, here's what you should know to get involved:

The Mentorship Program operates on two main platforms. The first, as you probably guessed, is the Smogon forums itself. Mentors on the forums are easily distinguished by a green tag in their profiles and post bits. Or, for quick reference, a full list of mentors can be found here. You can message any of these people for help in whatever areas you are interested in. Also on the site is the Introduce Yourself! thread. This thread, as its name suggests, is the only thread on the forum where you should be introducing yourself. After you post in the thread, people may greet you with visitor messages on your profile, or if you specified an area you'd like to get involved in, you might even get a personal visitor message from a mentor in that area! You will also see the posts of the new members who joined around the same time as you, so all in all, the thread is a good place to meet other members of the site.

The second and most useful way to get in contact with a mentor is to join the IRC channel #mentor on the SynIRC network. IRC in general is a great way to get to know and join the social culture of Smogon, so joining other Smogon-owned IRC channels, like the metagame discussion channels, or even my personal favorite, #orangeislands, is not a bad idea. If you don't want to download an IRC client, then free web clients like Mibbit and KiwiIRC will do the job fine.

As for the channel #mentor itself, most of the mentors who use IRC will be there, so it is a great resource for contacting and chatting live with the mentors who are currently available. However, due to the nature of IRC, you won't always get a response immediately. Often, a new user will ask a question in the channel and get no answer for a while. Someone will notice it half an hour later, but the new user usually gets impatient and leaves. Because of this issue, I recommend seeking the mentors directly. Simply open the list of mentors and find one you like that mentors the area you're interested in, and then highlight them (say their entire username in the chat) or send them a private message with your questions. This is the best way to get a quick response.


I guess that before I end this, I should tell you a little bit about my own experience in this program. I joined Smogon almost a year ago, in September of 2012. I didn't really do much on Smogon before the program was launched and I decided to use it to get help. Through it, I learned a lot about the different parts of Smogon and it was a great way to meet a bunch of cool people and make new friends! I was always able to turn to someone with any questions I had, like for example, how to go about writing this article. And, at the risk of sounding manipulative, it never hurts to have friends in high places! For these reasons, I think the program is absolutely doing its job and accomplishing the goal it was made for. All it needs is more people who want to learn. If you are a new member of Smogon, or even an old member who just has never gotten involved, definitely consider checking out the Smogon Mentorship Program!

And shout-out to my #1 mentor Superpowerdude!

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