Friday, March 2, 2012

Enjoy your summer with GSOC

Since most of the students ask from me "How to get in to GSOC", I though to write down some important facts which will help you when applying for a GSOC project.

First of all if you need to get more detailed description on GSOC you can refer this set of slides which were prepared by Kathiravelu Pradeeban.

GSOC is full of competition. People who have more commitment on it successfully finish it. It's not a matter of your knowledge on technologies, capacity on academics or fluency on language. Its all about you commitment to that project. It's not just the money you get or the package you receive, it's about your enthusiasm towards the opensource world. So ready your backpack to join the memorable journey.


Selecting an Organization

When you are in the competition, selecting an organization for the project plays a major role in your success path. Most people lost their enthusiasm on the competing as soon as they realize the difficulty on selecting a proper organization. Don't be silly. There are few simple steps you can follow to get rid of this headache.

  • Find out what are the organizations which were acted as mentoring organizations in the last GSOC competition. Most of the organizations which were at the last competition will be repeatedly get selected to the next upcoming sessions. So rather than searching here and there, you can directly refer the last years GSOC web page for the information. You can find last years mentoring organizations in that list. Now you get an idea about what kind of organizations participate for this competition and what are the relevant technologies they use.
  • Now you can shortlist some of the organizations according to your awareness on those technologies. But it is not necessary to be an expert on those technologies. It's okay to select it even though you know nothing about mentioned technologies, you have few more weeks to get ready with that. In this page you can find how many project slots those organizations got last year. If you select organizations which get more slots, you can be assure that your project idea will not get thrown off at the last moment. Now you have couple of targets on your head.
Selecting a Project

Now you are done with selecting organizations. Next step id to select an project idea.
  • Search for the 2012 GSOC ideas of those organizations. As an example if you select PhpMyadmin as an organization, you can google for "phpmyadmin 2012 gsoc ideas". It will give you set of links which are related to that topic. Among those you can find this wiki page which solves half of your problems.
  • Now you can find what are the latest project ideas they have, who are the assigned mentors for those ideas and what are the technologies they expect from you. If those project ideas match with your expectations you can proceed, or else you can find for other organizations. Assume that you are interested on an idea which was in the Phpmyadmin wiki page.
  • Then you can find whether this is a continuation of a previous GSOC project or a new one using the gsoc project list which I have mentioned above. If it is a continuation your are lucky. You have person to ask. So find who was the last student and drop him mail to get more information. It's okay to drop one or two private mails to him for more information but not too much.
Dropping your first mail
  • Since this a project with a community your visibility to that community is a crucial factor when they select students for their project. So your private mails add less advantage on the competition. So find what is the developer mailing list and the IRC channel of that organization. Then subscribe to them. Now you are ready to put your first mail to the organization which will get a reply with a warm welcome to the community.
  • In the first mail you can introduce your self to the community and mention that your are willing to participate on gsoc with that organization. You need to specifically mention the project idea which is in your focus on that mail and ask for more information.
  • Then you'll get a reply with related information, links to students guides and many more useful things for that project. Now your have to read them and follow them to be prepared for the project. As always you can ask questions on the mailing list for more details.
  • Since all the community people help you voluntarily, you should not bother them asking quick replies for your mails. If they have a time they will definitely reply you. So be patient and polite on the IRC and the mailing list.
Continue with the community
  • You have work with the community and impress them before applying for the project. Most of the communities expect students to fix some bugs which are listed on their bug tracks to make sure that the student is committed to this project.
  • So you can select some easy bugs from the bug list and try to resolve them. You can ask for more help on the mailing list.
  • You can suggest your own ideas to the project and discuss them on the mailing list.
Early bird gets the worm
  • Since this is highly competitive, more and more students will try to get the same project. Most of projects get huge number of request at the last moment. So it is better to active on the project earlier and be on safe side.
  • One other advantage of being active on the community is get rid of unnecessary competition. Most of the students look at an idea from the list and then go and check in the mailing list to make sure someone is not active on that project idea. If they see that there are many number of mail threads related to that project which were sent by you, they will think twice to compete with you. They may think it's better to move on to a another project which will be more easy to drag.
Get ready your proposal

By the time of your proposal submission, you'll have sound knowledge on the project as well as the community. It's better to prepare it couple of days before the deadline and get your proposal reviewed by the community and the mentor. It will enhance the quality of your proposal as well as avoid unnecessary changes during the project time.

Now you are done with the proposal submission and if you correctly follow these steps you'll definitely get selected to the project. After that the project success is all depend on your commitment.

We warmly welcome you to GSOC. Enjoy your summer.

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