Google Code-in

We need to decide if we want to apply to be a mentoring organization for Google Code-in this year.

Pros:

  • Encourages students aged 13-17 to get involved with open source projects (including us if we participate).
  • Google’s sponsorship means participants that didn’t seek us out on their own.
  • Good PR.
  • Possibly good output from student tasks.

We had a rough go of it last year; Code-in is structured nothing like GSoC, and task turnaround time is in hours, not months, putting a heavy burden on mentors. Based on last year, here are the…

Cons:

  • Majority of student participants not qualified for tasks, and no screening process (all tasks open to any student).
  • Time zone issues create additional pressure when response times are expected within hours.
  • It’s over the winter holidays again, from Nov 21 – Jan 16. This means It will coincide with US Thanksgiving, the last-minute push and ultimate release of 3.3, core team meetup (week of Dec 12), Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Festivus, New Year’s and all the other regional/cultural/religious holidays that our contributors may celebrate. That’s a lot of time conflicts.
  • We have to pre-create the full task list, so they are all up at once (in two batches); this means we could get all of them claimed at the same time (vs doling them out a few at a time as mentors are available).
  • Tasks are to span easy/medium/hard levels as well as all of these categories: Code, Documentation, Outreach, Quality Assurance, Research, Training, Translation, User Interface. Considering how few (in some cases none) people we have working in some of these areas, creating this giant task list plus pulling contributors to work GCI over the 2 months of holiday time seems like a big imposition/burden.
  • All the mentors from last year gave the program negative feedback (largely bc of the turnaround time pressure, quality of student work (or lack thereof) and the holiday timing). The notable exception was Gautam Gupta working on bbPress with @johnjamesjacoby, who wound up in the top ten students and continued to contribute following the program.

Overall, I think we should pass this year. Given where we are in the release cycle and the points I outlined above, I don’t think we have the time or other resources to take it on. We would be better off working on pumping up our working groups, making wordpress.org a better resource, and then working on hov we can interact with younger students in 2012 when we can give them more attention. Open to differenig points of view though. Weigh in in the comments.