Bayard Bell wrote:
I’ve had some questions about what’s involved, so let me provide some
feedback on issues. I’ve already hit this in terms of the long-term,
but let me try to provide a bottom line for this summer:
1) Mentors can go to the GSoC mentor summit in the fall at Google HQ.
Google provides a reasonable amount of reimbursement for travel (it
was $2500 per attendee last year) plus two nights in a hotel ad
transportation to Mountain View. The mentor summit is a weekend-long
unconference that lets mentors talk about whatever interests them:
recruiting contributors, minority open-source operating systems (we’re
trying to make that more of a track this year than a single session,
as we turned out to have a lot to talk about), contribution process,
testing, toolchain refreshes, or why the music industry’s business
model needs to be rebooted. Maybe I’ve been underconferenced lately,
but a conference consisting almost exclusively of dedicated
contributors is better than most.
2) Google pays a pro forma stipend (I believe it’s still $500 per
mentor) that will be donated as seed money to the foundation (many
organizations do this, in part to avoid all the tax paperwork to
3) To put it very simply: GSoC is our system of reproduction. (I’d
cite the lyrics to “The Greatest Love of All” ironically if the timing
weren’t a bit off.) We’ve done a great job of putting together a
community of mature contributors. We need to make a concerted and
sustained effort at recruiting and shaping a next generation. Much
like parenting, this requires a basic 2:1 ratio of mentors to
students. More solid mentors means more students with a solid
experience who are thus more likely to stick with us.
4) Even if you’re not an expert in the subject matter for any
particular idea from the list, students need generalist support.
Students show WIPs to mentors weekly, but they need small touches
throughout the week. Backup mentors means they have committed support
from the community rather than an individual, who usually has to mind
a day job. Back-up mentors help us prevent under-mentoring, which
almost invariably results in students not passing and thus not
committing because they didn’t have assistance when they needed it or
went over the side without being noticed and pulled back in the boat.
Having backup mentors is crucial to giving students a positive
5) For similar reasons, the size of our mentor bench is a factor in
deciding how many student slots we are allocated. Mentoring is
coverage-intensive. We don’t want more slots than we have qualified
students, but with all of our commercial supporters digging in, we may
have a lot of primary mentor capacity that needs rounding out from
backups. If you work for one of our commercial supporters, your boss
and/or community manager is probably already telling to sign up. If
you’re from elsewhere in the community, we need you, too. We are
recruiting and shaping potential long-term contributors, and those
people should be exposed to both professional and volunteer supporters
to demonstrate that both paths are open and viable.
6) If not enough people sign up, there will be more mails like this
over the next two weeks.