Open Academy Mentorship Progam

Hi all. It was suggested by a community member that we participate in the upcoming Facebook Open Academy mentorship program round the way we participate in GSoC. Since I’m on my way out, I wouldn’t be the organization contact for this, and someone would need to step up from the team to take point if y’all want to be a mentoring organization. Here’s some info:

  • This is a Facebook program, run in conjunction with a dozen or so universities around the world and a handful of OS projects.
  • It sounds like they are looking for the mentor to work with the students using Agile sprints.
  • No set time for specific projects, could last anywhere from 8 weeks to 5 months.
  • You set the specific projects in advance students can apply for, no “send us your ideas” like GSoC.
  • Their application asks how many students we can take, must be a minimum of four, but doesn’t have a way to list out all potential mentors up front unless so am not sure if they want each one to fill in the whole application (we’d probably want to have everyone use the same boilerplate for the ‘about the project’ bits), or if they want only one official mentor and everyone else would be unofficial.
  • Mentors must be available to fly to the opening weekend sprint Jan 30-Feb 1 (Facebook pays travel).
  • Students get college credit toward their CS degrees, not money.

General Information
FAQ
Application

If you want to participate, it would be good to have one person be the program administrator to keep track of applications etc. If you decide to do it and want any help from the community team, let me know.

#mentorship, #open-academy

GSoC 2014

It’s that time of year again, when all good* core developers start thinking about whether or not they’re up for mentoring a GSoC student this year. Many in this group know the drill, but there quite a few involved core contribs active this cycle who haven’t been involved with GSoC before, so here’s the deal:

  • Google pays for a program that gives college students summer jobs creating open source code under the mentorship of an organization (like WordPress).
  • We apply to be a mentoring organization and put up a list with a bunch of potential summer project ideas and identify who the mentors might be.
  • If we’re chosen to participate, we get a certain number of slots to fill, and students submit applications to work with us.
  • All the potential mentors rate/rank the proposals, and decide if there’s someone they’d like to mentor.
  • In game of chance-meets-requests dizzy enough to rival medical school matches, we put together our wish list for mentor-student matchups. 2 mentors per student, to provide coverage and make things more collaborative.
  • We hope that none of our top picks also applied to other orgs who accepted them, and wind up with our student roster.
  • We provide volunteer mentors to work one-on-one with the kids on projects that they applied to do over a 3-month period.
  • Open source code is released into the wild.

I’ll be putting together our application to be a mentoring organization this week, so it’s time to start thinking of project ideas we could suggest on the Ideas page that we need for the application (the more ideas the better) and who wants to be a mentor. The application deadline is February 14, so I’d like to get the Ideas list in solid shape (along with mentor bios) by Feb 10 (a week from Monday).

If you have an idea or are interested in being a mentor, please leave a comment on this post. At the end of the dev chat after 3.9 business is out of the way, we can discuss some of the ideas and I can answer any questions people have about mentoring.

Related: I’m also going to be posting soon about starting up a regular mentorship program, as outlined here. But that can wait for another day.

*Where good means both skilled and kind and generous with their time.

#gsoc, #mentorship

WordCamp Portland is also doing a hack day…

WordCamp Portland is also doing a hack day, this coming weekend on Sunday, August 19 from 12-6pm Portland time (Pacific). Theirs will have more stuff going on, but a core hackers team is likely to emerge, especially if there are known “please work on this” requests from core team and a couple of core people ready to be on irc to answer questions.

#hack-day, #mentorship, #wcpdx, #wordcamp

Hi everyone WordCamp São Paulo is going to…

Hi everyone! WordCamp São Paulo is going to be doing a hack day on Sunday, August 26th starting at 11am their time, which is -3GMT. It would be great if the core dev team could do the same thing for them they did for WCSF’s hack day: identify a couple of things that need help, and have a core person on hand to answer questions, brainstorm, and make sure that folks are working in the right direction. I know we’d all love to go to Brazil for the weekend, but as a distributed project, I think we can make do with IRC and/or a couple of Google hangouts.

So, @nacin and the gang: What areas should people work on, and who might be able to be online that Sunday to mentor? Vinicius Massuchetto and Cátia Kitahara are the contacts for the hack day and WC.

#hack-day, #mentorship, #wordcamp

GSoC/Summer/3.5

Normally we don’t start talking about the next release until the current one is out the door, or at least in beta/RC, so this post jumps the gun a bit, but for a good reason: the GSoC deadline. There are two approaches we could take toward our participation in GSoC this year, and one of them is tied closely to 3.5.

Historically

  • Good GSoC mentoring takes time. Time is hard to come by at the best of times, even harder for many during the summer.
  • Many of our previous GSoC mentors have held the position for several years and could use a break from trying to mentor while simultaneously working on features for a regular release.
  • Almost none of our GSoC projects have actually made it into core. A few because they were plugins, but most because once GSoC is over there hasn’t been a concerted effort to follow up on these projects.
  • We often run late on dev cycles.

Since 3.4

  • We have ramped up several core contributors to more responsible/trusted roles as a result of the 3.4 process experiment (teams, cycles, updates, etc). This could mean more mentors.
  • We are running late in our dev cycle, and with SXSW about to eat a week, I’m thinking we’re about to get even more behind. My guess is we’re looking at a May launch, not April.
  • The stated intention of having all feature dev for the cycle tied to a central goal of making it easier to customize your site didn’t really happen. There were at least 3 teams working on features that had nothing to do with this, and another couple that were related, but not smack in the middle of it. Good features all, but we failed in sticking to that goal as a unifying concept.

Proposal

What if for 3.5, instead of it being a “regular” cycle, we made it a mentoring cycle tied to the GSoC schedule (shorter than normal)? If we assume 3.4 will launch sometime at the end of April or early May (and if it does happen earlier, awesome), that would put us in a position to start working on 3.5 right when the GSoC accepted students are announced.

If we chose a “release concept” (like customizing your theme, but something different) and outlined every feature/enhancement/bug that’s related, we could make those things be the potential GSoC projects. We could work in teams like in 3.4, but in this case each team would have a student or two working on things with them closely. Since these would be the only features being worked on (additional bug-fixing always ongoing, obviously),

  • Students would be guaranteed mentor attention and working with core
  • We would be more likely to do the work necessary to get student work to commit-worthy status
  • We would target a launch for late August to coincide with the end of GSoC (so we could do one more small release before end of year)
  • We could do additional outreach to include new contributors who do not qualify for GSoC (too young, too old, not in college, etc), improve our mentoring skills and processes
  • At the end of this mentorship-focused summer, we would not only have the features developed by mentees, but we would have an ideal pool of people to help us create documentation to help new contributors.

I’m thinking that what might make sense would be for there to be a team or two that doesn’t mentor or work on a feature for 3.5, but begins working on one of the more complex things we keep putting off, so that it could be the first thing into 3.6 (like gallery management or something similar).

Deciding on a release concept that could be done in a 2.5-3 month cycle would be important. I’m thinking maybe it could be the feedback loop — improving comments and communication with readers via html emails, forms, etc on the front end and a UI facelift of the comments/related screens on the back end, putting something cool into Twenty Twelve around this (or just support for something in core related to same), etc. There are a number of projects around this that have been done in the past that could be looked to for inspiration and/or what not to do, it’s needed attention for some time, and it’s not as complicated as something like media or multisite.

Thoughts? Specifically, thoughts on:

  • Doing a mentorship-focused release timed to GSoC
  • Potential areas of focus for 3.5 if we were to do this
  • Mentoring in teams like 3.4
  • Wanting to mentor in this case
  • How many students you think we could take on if we used teams like in 3.4

Comment here today, and tomorrow I’l round up the core team to see what people think based on the conversation so we can make a decision and I can update our application before the application deadline if needed. If we don’t do something like this, then I’m planning on reducing our GSoC student allotment to 5-6 students (we’ve asked for up to 15 in the past) to ensure enough mentors and adequate attention/follow-up on projects.

Thanks for your input!

#3-4, #3-5, #gsoc, #mentorship

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

I submitted our application to be a part…

I submitted our application to be a participating organization in the Google Code-in.

We need to compile the task list. I put in some high-level placeholders for now, but people should go ahead and add suggestions for tasks. Note that the final task list will be pruned down to those tasks that are approved by the core leads and that have appropriate people available to oversee them, to ensure a positive outcome for the students and that we’re not wasting anyone’s time. If you want to suggest a task, leave it in a comment here. Specify if you are also offering to mentor any student taking on that task, or if it’s just something you think should get done. As tasks are agreed upon and have mentors assigned to them, I’ll add them to the codex page.

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

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