On 11/30/2011 01:48 AM, wikimediaindia-l-requ...@lists.wikimedia.org wrote:
> Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 12:00:00 +0530
> From: Srikanth Lakshmanan <srik....@gmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Wikimediaindia-l] Wikimedia's participation in Google
>       Summer  of Code
> To: Wikimedia India Community list
>       <wikimediaindia-l@lists.wikimedia.org>
> Message-ID:
>       <ca+30auneu4ikx61222z+vvnndgxz1zwdqgdhv5ypwvhm5vl...@mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> On Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 01:53, Sumana Harihareswara
> <suma...@wikimedia.org>wrote:
>> > I managed MediaWiki's participation in Google Summer of Code this year,
>> > and could talk with anyone interested in participating, anyone
>> > researching it, and anyone who is curious.  :-)  We try to document our
>> > participation on mediawiki.org wiki pages.
>> >
> Thanks Sumana for posting the summary voluntarily, was good to read them.

Glad I could help!

> At the risk of sounding foolish comparing content creation and software
> development, I have few questions. Feel free to ignore them if they are
> foolish ones :)

Yes, it is a very big difference, comparing content creation and
software development.  It might be more useful to try to look at other
*writing* projects or other similar projects for comparison, such as
essay contests and Wiki Loves Monuments.

Also, GSoC is a FULL-TIME project for participants; they work 40
hours/week for three months.  So you might want to consider Google
Code-In as another model to compare
.  Code-In asks for code, documentation, and other contributions in the
form of smaller tasks.  Similarly OpenHatch http://openhatch.org/blog/
has the goal of bringing new people into open source with bite-size
tutorials and tasks.

You've asked some huge questions.  I shall answer them as well as I can.

> 1. Do students come up with own project proposals / take up community's
> ideas and work on them. Whats the level of motivation / ownership between
> the two. I am asking this just to compare GEP's model of asking students to
> write on designated topics and if it has an impact on motivation.

The answer is "both".
give more details.  Basically, open source communities have basic ideas
that they offer the students.  Students applying for GSoC have to choose
among 175 open source projects, which vary in population, codebase size,
language, platform, etc., etc., and create proposals for the tasks
they'll spend 3 months working on. The students, in applying to work
with any project, have to write proposals detailing what they will do
and how.  The timeline from 2011:


You probably also want to read
http://en.flossmanuals.net/GSoCMentoring/defining-a-project/ .  The
mentors who have written that manual have a lot of experience regarding
encouraging students.

Different projects have different processes for soliciting proposals and
managing proposal submissions.

> 2. What factors do you think make students to continue contributing to the
> opensource community?

This is a big and open question and many people are trying to figure it
out.  Some thoughts on this from the GSoC mentors' manual:

There are many factors; some of them are probably very long-term, and
some of them are easier to affect.  Experts Leslie Hawthorn and Mel Chua
think we have to work in terms of engineering education -- Hawthorn is
working on ensuring that kids around the ages of 11-14 know that they
have the power to tinker with software, and Chua has done a lot of work
on bringing open source work into the undergraduate computer science
curriculum via http://teachingopensource.org/index.php/POSSE .

I think it helps if a student has free time to contribute to open source
even during the academic year.  So, having to earn money via part-time
jobs, or having family responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, caretaking,
etc.), or having parents who don't understand and scorn this hobby ("you
should be studying instead!" "why are you working for free?") decreases
the likelihood of continued contribution.

It helps a lot, I think, if students make personal connections, feel
that their work is valued, can see that their work makes a difference,
and can see a career path that open source contribution helps with.
These are factors that Google Summer of Code and similar programs can
help with.

This is not a comprehensive list.  There are people writing
dissertations about this topic!  :)

> 3. How crucial is the role of mentors in it. Who are the mentors
> usually(WMF staff / community members?), how do they join as mentors?. I am
> asking this particularly since I see mentors' involvement among reasons for
> failure.

I hesitate to get in the middle of an argument about another project,
especially one I was not involved in and do not know very well.  So
please do not take what I say as implying anything about any other programs.

Please read
http://en.flossmanuals.net/GSoCMentoring/what-makes-a-good-mentor/ and
other parts of that instruction guide that give best practices for
mentoring students in GSoC.

Just to be clear: the Google Summer of Code project for MediaWiki aims
to work on MediaWiki *as a whole* and is not restricted to projects that
directly benefit the Wikimedia project or the Wikimedia Foundation.

Mentors are very important.  For MediaWiki's GSoC project, some are
Wikimedia Foundation staff and some are not.  You can see that here:


Mentors need to be people who know the part of the codebase that the
student will be working on, who are eager to help the student achieve
their goal, and who are kind and diligent.

Sometimes the project's GSoC administrator (in this case, me) recruits
mentors, and sometimes the mentors initiate the conversation to
volunteer.  Some people volunteer but are not suitable and thus the
project's GSoC administrator must reject them.

Different projects have different criteria for choosing their mentors
and have different processes for orienting and starting them.

> You need not restrict to mediawiki as org, can you share your experiences
> from opensource world too.

Thank you.  I'm glad I could help a little bit, but when it comes to
encouraging specifically *student* participation, I know MediaWiki best.
 You are asking questions about GSoC in general that you might want to
ask Carol Smith, who runs the Google Summer of Code program and Google
Code-In, and who has access to lots of lessons learned.  She is at
<car...@google.com>.  Other resources for you to check out:

The GNOME Outreach Program for Women:

Open Source at Oregon State University: http://osuosl.org/students

Mel Chua on how to teach open source skills in college:

> -- Regards Srikanth.L


Sumana Harihareswara
Volunteer Development Coordinator
Wikimedia Foundation

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