Recently I received an e-mail from a reader asking for helping finding a guru. This reader brought up the idea of a “Mentor Exchange” program and it got me thinking. Why couldn’t we do this here at Techrepublic? It makes perfect sense. And it is something that has been needed for a long, long time. Why? Let me tell you a little story about a newbie named Jack.

Back in ’96 I was new to Linux – very new. I managed to get Red Hat installed but there was little I could do with it. I had issues with my modem staying connected and the desktop, fvwm98, was less than appealing to me. During my searching of mailing lists I came across someone who had sucessfully done what I was trying to do. I contacted him and he gladly helped me figure out the problem. From that point on he and I exchanged daily (almost hourly) e-mails on setting up various aspects of Linux. I can safely say that without Marc’s help, I wouldn’t be writing this blog today. In fact, I might very well still be suffering through Windows without his steady guidance.

Since then I have tried to pay back the karma by trying to help new users. But it takes its toll when you’re only one person trying to help numerous new users. So for years I have thought some sort of Guru Exchange was neccesary.

My thought on this is simple: Create an evironment where those who would consider themselves of guru-level, could post themselves as available for those in need. A guru would then be taken by a new user and marked as “busy.” It’s a simple exchange. But here’s what has always been the catch – cost. The Linux guru idea has always been such that a guru helps a new user because, at one point, a guru helped them. It’s karmic payback, paying it forward – whatever you want to call it.

And as you read this, I am hoping the powers at be here at Techrepublic are discussing this very idea. I sent the idea on up the food chain, and it caught on instantly.

Now, here’s where you come in. In the spirit of open source, let’s kick around some ideas that could make this not only happen, but help to bring Linux to the forefront of forefronts. Let us know what you think, if you think the idea is sound, if you have any ways to improve the fundamental idea…just discuss what a Guru Exchange program could be.