Old Project Mentor

Project Mentor FAQ

Following the announcement of my work on Project Mentor, I've received a lot of inquiries concerning the project's exact nature. Rather than type my ass off repeatedly, I decided to post a FAQ. Enjoy. 

What is Project Mentor?
Anyone who's spent more than five minutes of their life in front of a computer should know that there is, for all practical purposes, an infinite amount of information available on the Internet. Those who have been around long enough to observe the Internet's expansion over time accept this as its nature, and generally understand how to find what they're looking for. For newcomers, this is not the case. Even aspiring young hackers today and in the future will have a hard time getting a grip on the Internet and other technologies due to their evolving complexity. 

Hence, Project Mentor. My goal is to build an online learning environment from the ground up, in order to help newbs help themselves. You'll notice I didn't say "school" and I didn't say "hack." There is no intent to make anyone seem 1337 here, but there is a need for a collaborative effort in helping younger generations of hackers understand what experiences they've missed out on, good and bad. 

You're stupid, that'll never work
The only true limitation to the idea is the availability of valuable contributors. I've built and will maintain the core of the site, as well as contribute content, but by no means do I imagine I can do this on my own. The reality is that it will take the work and dedication of a community to make Mentor a success. 

It's been tried a thousand times
The difference with Mentor is that I already have available the necessary resources and skills to maintain such a project. And, given the initial response to my first mention of the project, there is a good amount of people interested in contributing. 

But hacking is illegal! What if you get caught?
You're a dumbass. Hacking is NOT an illegal activity, and this assertion irritates me to no end. By its very definition, hacking is solving a problem through unconventional means to reach an end result. Whether your goal is learning C++ or committing bank fraud is up to you. Unfortunately, its portrayal by the media has for years enforced a negative stereotype regarding the realm of computer security. 

What is this school supposed to teach?
It's not a school, it's an interactive online community. 

Fine, what is this interactive online community supposed to teach?
Mentor is based on a tiered user hierarchy. New users start at level one and work their way up by completing courses assigned to that level. Courses are created and moderated by veteran members of higher levels. Courses are organized by subject area, although each level will encompass a variety of subjects. For example, at a beginning level, the user may complete a course on networking fundamentals. At higher levels, they would move on to TCP/IP operation, network monitoring, and so forth. 

It is important to note that courses aren't meant to be formal. Some of the basic courses will likely be traditional classes in the read-review-test format, with a user taking a graded exam at the end to complete the course. However, most courses will end through a means relative to the subject material. For example, a class on information retrieval might have the student complete a Google scavenger hunt. A course on web server administration would likely have the user install and configure a functional web server, to be verified by a live moderator. 

How is the user base to be arranged?

n00b - Initial users reside here for a short time while they complete a few introductory classes to familiarize them with the system.

Recruit - Recruits begin basic training, covering the areas of IT history, OS basics, web basics, general terminology, and useful references.

Novice - As a novice, the user will be exposed to more in-depth material, including an OS of their choice, networking basics, hardware basics, and an introduction to programming languages.

Student - The student tier is where the user can begin selecting custom courses, based on their interests, as well as the general classes. One interested in programming, for instance, might choose C/C++, Perl, and Math courses, all at a basic level.

Senior Student - Classes at this level should parallel those in the level below, introducing more advanced areas of study. Progression to the level of Graduate will depend on the completion of some type of end-of-course project, be it a custom application, network layout, website design, etc.

Graduate - Within 2-3 months of registering, active users should achieve graduation. At this point they are considered regular users, and are asked to contribute on the forums, and perhaps retrace their class history and complete some classes they opted out of. This and the next level are where the majority of users are predicted to reside.

Guru - Gurus are graduates that actively contribute to the community. This level is awarded pending submission of new classes and other content. Note that this level is dynamic; if the user falls idle for a given period of time (several months), Guru status will be rescinded and the user demoted to Graduate.

Mentor - Mentorship is the last step of the normal user hierarchy. After maintaining the Guru rank for a sufficient period of time and at the referral of a moderator, the user becomes a Mentor. Mentors adopt users at the Student level or below and assist them where needed. Like the Guru, if a Mentor is without an apprentice for an extended period of time (several months), he is demoted to the level below.

Moderator - Moderators act as Mentors, but are also charged with the responsibility of reviewing content submissions and moderating the forums. Moderators have the power to promote users to the Guru and Mentor levels. Moderator status does not expire unless revoked by an Administrator.

Administrator - Only very few users will administrate the site at any given time. Administrators have the power to promote users to Moderator.

When will Project Mentor be open?
When I feel the site has reached a mature stage, I'll be taking it online on a temporary domain for a select number of beta testers to experiment with. Specifically, these will be the people who have volunteered to submit preliminary content and help improve the site. I expect to accomplish this some time in June. Some time after all the kinks have been worked out, Mentor will be opened to the public. 

How can I help?
Content. We need content, and lots of it. If you have an idea for a course, and are genuinely interested in working hard to produce high quality material, go for it. Courses will be integrated as typical HTML pages, however extraneous and embedded content is supported as well. If you'd like to submit content of a different format, please let me know. If it will benefit the users, I'm willing to alter the site to support it. Also, please keep in mind, those users who submit valuable initial content will likely be asked to serve as moderators upon Mentor's opening. 

What subject areas will be covered?
Everything we can produce content for. The core subjects we're looking to fill initially include the following: history, programming, networking, Internet services, web administration, cryptography, security, malware, Windows, UNIX/Linux, and Mac. 

When will you be accepting content submissions, and where?
Right now, and here. All content submissions can be sent to me directly at l0gic@l0gic.net until Mentor is brought online. 

I have a question that wasn't answered here
Please, let me know