For this coming year, if Fedora chooses to participate in the Google Summer of Code (and I think we should), I have decided that I am not going to be involved.
This is not complete abandonment. In fact, this blog post is the first of potentially several that can be part of a package of mentoring-the-mentors as I pass on my mantle of leadership.
So if you care about the future of Fedora’s participation in Google Summer of Code (GSoC), for the love of all that you hold dear and then some beyond that, please read on.
There is always plenty of interest in bringing project ideas, being a mentor, and working as a student. We’ve had some fair interest in the marketing and branding around the program. What is always a bit harder is getting enough administrators (admins).
Benefits of being an admin:
- A great way to contribute to Fedora’s participation in a program that benefits Fedora and a number of students.
- The student’s learn how to participate in free/open source software projects, where making mistakes and improving are as much a part of the project as getting the coding done.
- Fedora has shown some great benefits from participation in this program, as I covered in this five-year round-up report.
- Brief periods of activity, then you mostly get to watch the mentors and students do the real work.
- If you are available, you are equally in the pool to attend the GSoC Mentor Summit should Fedora get invited.
- You get the GSoC t-shirt and appreciation.
- The web tools are fairly advanced by this time, so your work is much easier than “in the old days.”
Downsides of being an admin:
- No downsides … unless someone else falls in a hole and you need to jump in to save them. If a mentor disappears or has to go on vacation, you might have to fill in. You need to be prepared to back-up everyone involved in whatever way they need.
- Time: you have to keep up with the project, make sure mentors (especially) and students are getting everything in to Google on time. It is a bit of project management and whip-cracking.
- Money rides on the work, continuing participation in the program rides on it (for students all the way up to Fedora itself), sometimes our reputation rides on it.
There are several reasons I think this is the right time for me to step down from leading our GSoC participation:
- If there is a Fedora Students Contributing next summer, I expect to be too busy with that to have any presence for GSoC.
- Organization work needs to start immediately (or sooner), and I don’t have the breath to do it. We need:
- A wiki page that lists project ideas from across the Fedora community.
- Some folks need to read the application requirements and put a schedule together to meet the deadlines.
- Work all the application process to completion.
- Why start now? We didn’t last year, we got goals and methods confused, didn’t read the rules and schedule carefully, and ended up not getting a slot for Fedora and JBoss Comunity. I take direct and personal responsibility for that; not just for the nobility of it (“O! I fall on my sword!“) but because I actually am responsible. I probably suggested, and certainly promoted, the idea that we would hold-off on writing up random lists of project ideas until we’d organized better between the Fedora and JBoss community members. As it happens, the list of project ideas was an application requirement (added the previous year.) When you start making basic mistakes like, “Didn’t read the application requirements for changes from year-to-year,” it’s time to let some fresh eyes, thinking, and energy get involved.
Having freshness on these problems will be good for all involved. Also, it’s a basic tenet of the open source way, turn over project leaders regularly.