Hello strangers Google is now taking applications for…

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.

#code-in, #google

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.

#code-in, #google

Unexpectedly, Google’s Melange site (th…

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.

#code-in, #google, #gsoc

We have been accepted as a participating…

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.

#code-in, #google, #gsoc, #mentorship

We’ll probably apply to be a participat…

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.

#code-in, #google, #gsoc, #mentorship, #students