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

    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 8:43 pm on October 17, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , google   

    Google Code-in 

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


    • 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…


    • 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. :)

  • Jen 11:35 am on November 22, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , google,   

    Unexpectedly, Google’s Melange site (the app used to maange GSoC and Code-in) has removed all the mentor information from GSoC. Can anyone willing to mentor on a code-in task or two please give me their google ID in the comments? Also, I’ve been hitting repeated server errors trying to get tasks into the system, so it’s taking forever. Hope to have a first round of tasks available for students today (contest opened a couple of hours ago), but in meantime, we can hang out in #wordpress-gsoc to just kids direction if they are ready to start sooner.

  • Jen 5:20 pm on November 5, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , google, ,   

    We have been accepted as a participating organization for the Google Code-in. This coming week we need to firm up a task list so students can check it out before the contest begins.

  • Jen 1:01 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , google, , ,   

    We’ll probably apply to be a participating organization for the Google Code-in coming up next month. It’s a student program a la GSoC, but for pre-university students age 13-18. Instead of one long one-on-one project, Code-in is a “contest” rather a dedicated mentorship. The way it works is that the organizations (like us) make a list of tasks that students could work on during the 6-week contest period, falling into a variety of categories:

    Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code
    Documentation: Tasks related to creating/editing documents
    Outreach: Tasks related to community management and outreach/marketing
    Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality
    Research: Tasks related to studying a problem and recommending solutions
    Training: Tasks related to helping others learn more
    Translation: Tasks related to localization
    User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

    Unlike GSoC, where students proposed projects based on our suggestions, for Code-in students do not suggest projects, but work from our pre-defined task list. Students sign up to work on one task at a time (we can accept for reject the assignment). They can complete up to 15 tasks, and will be awarded $100 for every three completed tasks. Since prizes are based on # of tasks, we will need to make sure that the task list we come up with is even — that is, we need to break things down so that each task should take about the same amount of time/effort.

    Students can ask questions (though they are expected to look for answers themselves first), and can collaborate with community members on their tasks as appropriate. This format makes mentorship a much easier thing to commit to than with GSoC, as the amount of time you mentor is flexible and on an as-needed basis.

    If we are chosen to participate, then we’ll likely use the #wordpress-gsoc channel for the code-in students to seek help/guidance, and could set up a group blog as well if it seems like it would be useful.

    In the comments, feel free to make some preliminary suggestions for tasks that middle/high school students between the ages of 13 and 18 would be able to do. The application for organization participation is in a week or so, and the students get involved later in November.

    • Aaron D. Campbell 4:52 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It’s definitely harder to come up with coding projects for this group (especially when we need to keep them all roughly the same size). My first thought was coding standards cleanup. It might be hard to divide that into evenly sized tasks, but it would be nice. Especially if we clean up our coding standards some by then.

      Also, since the contest goes from November (to January?), the code will be going in post PHP 5 change. Maybe they could identify places where PHP 5.2+ would be most beneficial? For example, we use is_email() all over the place, but with PHP 5.2 we could use filter_var($user_email, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL);. That same function has FILTER_SANITIZE_EMAIL that could replace sanitize_email(), FILTER_SANITIZE_URL that could replace esc_url(), etc. All this assumes that server configurations have those functions, so there’d be some research involved first.

      • Denis 7:57 am on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        There is a slight issue in using built-in security features, however, according to security junkies. In short it goes something along the lines of: if you rely on them and they’re broken, they’ll remain broken until PHP gets updated; and even then, you can’t count on PHP to be up to date on your end users’ platforms.

        Thus, if we actually get to the point of using filter_var(), we should also do our homework and keep an eye on PHP security issues that might relate to them — in order to work around them using WP code.

    • arena 4:54 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Next will be a Google Senior of Code for 50+ !

    • Gautam 6:12 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hey, I’ll definitely participate in this! I’ll be 15 on 20 October. I’d like if there are some bbPress-related projects too.. maybe related to the new plugin.. (I’m working on a standalone fork, as the standalone version would no longer be supported).

    • Paul Gibbs 6:55 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I would be interested in working with students on BuddyPress projects. I will give some thoughts as to tasks.

    • Aaron Jorbin 8:11 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Many of the files in wp-admin/includes/ could use some documentation help. I would happily mentor a student that wanted to take on the task of documenting the undocumented (and under-documented) functions and classes in that directory. I think we should divide the functions up into groups and each group could then be a task in order to keep it even. We would just have to figure out how many hours a task is equal to and I could try to divide them up accordingly. Since it’s 3 tasks to a pay check, perhaps we could divide them up so that each task was about 1.5 – 2 hours?

      • Jane Wells 8:43 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        As a point of reference: If a task is 1.5 hours, then a 13 year old would be getting $100 for 4.5 hours of work, or over $22/hr. Maybe something that would be 1.5 hours for one of our regulars, but would take longer for a student? I’ll talk to other orgs and see about how much time they are estimating for each task.

        • Aaron Jorbin 8:58 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Perhaps I didn’t think about the fact that it is 13 year olds. I like your idea of talking with some other orgs and estimating based on commonly agreed about figures.

        • Aaron D. Campbell 9:03 pm on October 10, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          To be fair, it’s going to be 13 – 18, and there’s not going to be any fair way to adjust the pay along that scale. I really like Aaron’s suggestion:

          Base the tasks on what one of our developers (documenters, translators, etc) could do in a given amount of time. Then if it takes them twice as long they make half as much per hour, and if it takes them 10x as long they make 1/10th as much per hour.

          It seems not only fair, but also as close the “real world” as possible (people that are better at what they do are faster and make more per hour…in a perfect world at least).

        • Ryan McCue 11:54 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          As a note, I’ve been charging $35/hr since around the age of 14.

    • Wojtek Szkutnik 10:06 am on October 12, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It’s not exactly true, that students can complete up to 15 tasks. They are paid for the first 15 tasks, that’s all. My high score from GHOP (which was the first edition of Google Code-In) was 29 tasks, so we can probably expect a few students to complete about 20 or more.

      About mentorship – as far as I know, every task has an assigned reviewer, who is obligated to take care of the student and evaluate his work on this particular work.

    • Ryan McCue 11:52 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If I have time, I’m in. I don’t agree that the tasks necessarily need to be easier or given a longer time. I’m very confident that I could complete a task in the same time as another developer. (Having programmed for several years)

      • Ryan McCue 11:56 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Forgot to mention: one task I’d love to undertake is to actually document api.wordpress.org instead of leaving it with Dion’s little “note”.

        I’d think of more tasks, but even just going through bugs would be fun enough for me. :)

      • Gautam 11:56 am on October 20, 2010 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Same here.

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