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  • Jen Mylo 5:39 pm on October 22, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: gci,   

    Hello, strangers!

    Google is now taking applications for Google code-In, the winter holiday contest for high school kids. http://code.google.com/gci

    I’m not interested in being the administrator for it, so if someone else is….
    For the record, all the reasons I thought we shouldn’t participate last year still stand.

     
  • Jen Mylo 8:43 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: gci   

    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.

     
    • Aaron D. Campbell 9:02 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’m definitely one of the mentors that didn’t care for the program. I expected something similar to GSoC and my schedule made me almost useless for GCI. I don’t think it’s worth it.

    • Eric Mann 9:07 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The “turnaround time is in hours, not months” was what made it a hard sell last year. That’s something I didn’t quite understand going in to things, and the time difference made it very hard to respond to requests for clarification and follow up on tasks as they were completed.

      I’m all for participating again if there’s interest, though. It’s great exposure for the community and has the potential to cross a lot of items off the global to-do list … but the timing with holidays and the release of 3.3 might make it a non-starter.

    • arena 9:08 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Why not using Google Code-In for delimited tasks such as :

      • developping twentytwelve theme
      • Jane Wells 11:10 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Because the core team and Matt personally oversee this, it is the face of WordPress sites everywhere, and is far too big a project — and requires a cohesive view — to be split up into a bunch of 2-day tasks that 13 year olds with no WordPress experience can do.

    • Peter Westwood 9:16 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I would pass, mentoring GCI tasks became almost a full time job

    • Leo 9:29 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      +1 to arena’s suggestion.

    • Ryan McCue 12:54 pm on October 18, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As a participant last year, I figured I’d offer a perspective on the program. Personally, I both liked and disliked the program. The monetary incentive was nice, but I contribute to WordPress because I want to, not because of any benefit I get. The mentors I worked with (Westi, mainly) were great in terms of feedback.

      However, I felt as though there were no tasks I could really tackle. The limited time scope meant that I couldn’t cover everything I needed to for some tasks, while others were trivial. In addition, none of the tasks were particularly challenging (just time consuming, and tedious for some), so I became bored rather quickly (and hence why I didn’t do more tasks). The timezones also became a slight issue, with Westi in the UK and myself being in Australia, the only time we could discuss issues was fairly late here (and fairly early for Westi). A form of asynchronous communication (P2 anyone?) would have been a better option, since the Melange software that Google uses is, quite frankly, crap.

      As for the timing issues of GCI as a whole, this is the best time for southern hemisphere students. We have our major holidays over the Christmas period (being summer here), so we are able to devote plenty of time to it. This is one of the things I’ve disliked about GSoC, so it’s a welcome change for us.

      So, a summary of what I’d like to see if WP does decide to participate in GCI:

      Some more challenging tasks – GCI is for students from 13 all the way up to 17. Understand that there are 17 year olds that are capable of serious tasks, and have tasks available for them.
      Take action on the tasks – The tasks I worked on, as far as I’m aware, are still waiting to be merged into trunk, despite having been almost a year. For students, seeing their work actually become a part of the software is an inspiring thing. Personally, I’m too busy with other projects to care much anyway, but it can be disappointing at the least to see your work having achieved nothing.
      Improve communication – IRC is great, but real time, which is horrible when dealing with timezones. Google’s Melange software is horrible, period. A P2 instance for discussion between mentors and students would be great for enabling communication to sit somewhere between the two.

      I’m sure I’ll think of more, but no more come to mind at the moment. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to participate this year (I just miss the age requirements), but I’d personally be happy to be around to help any mentors out.

    • Chip Bennett 2:42 pm on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Something like Google Code-In could be a good opportunity clear out a bunch of Plugin-Territory ideas in the Ideas forum. Since these are things that will never go into core, are tightly scoped, and have at least a modicum of demand, they could be a good way to introduce young programmers to WordPress contribution.

      Of course, that still doesn’t address the major problem regarding the time demands on mentors.

      • Jane Wells 2:59 pm on October 19, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        The structure of code-in means they want fast tasks that take a few hours or a day or two at most (they have to do as many tasks as possible to win). In general, rush jobs don’t tend to yield high-quality work we’d want to promote. Even for plugins, if it’s sponsored by the official project, it needs to be pretty solid. Not saying a couple of students couldn’t pull it off, but having to manage hundreds of students and tasks with time pressures and a format people didn’t like to hopefully get those one or two successes seems like not a great ROI. There’s probably a more efficient way to provide mentorship/encourage young students to get involved. That said, using ‘plugin territory’ ideas as an entry point is a good idea.

    • Gautam 5:03 pm on October 22, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Time zone conflicts and pre-creating the task list (time conflicts could have been avoided by not posting the tasks by those mentors at that time, but at that time (~new year), it would be the second wave and some mentors could probably opt out) are the two big cons that I see. The pros is that definitely other students, who got to know about the program later, once it had finished and who are also good coders would be participating this time. That would probably mean a better quality of code. Just my humble opinion. :)

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