I hope Joshua won’t get mad at me, but I have to write about this, maybe it will act as a good way to get the mistake noticed.
I’m afraid this year’s SoC is going to follow the path that the previous two instances took already. What makes me afraid of this is that there is little to no coordination between parts.
First off, the announcement for SoC was pretty late, GMN didn’t talk about that at all, which is already a negative bonus. Considering the short timeframe that applicants have to submit their ideas, it isn’t a very nice idea at all. For what it’s worth, it wasn’t even listed in the LWN announcements.
The official SoC ideas page got some new additions, but they came pretty late, not soon enough to give time to the students to start thinking of what to do, and maybe discussing it with the contacts.
There is also a shortage of mentors. I’m afraid this had to be foreseen, there is little to no incentive for mentors to actually do their work, there is little project spirit around lately, and I do understand it. Finding a way to actually get more mentors next year is not going to be an easy thing to solve, so I think we should start looking into that already.
And even with the very few mentors that are around, I can’t see much coordination. I’m not on IRC at the moment as I’m from the laptop, but I got Jabber and my mail client open, neither gave me any information about being accepted as a mentor or about the URL of the mentor’s dashboard to see the applications!
I don’t see any email@example.com alias or anything like that, and that is also a bad thing: I got a few users contacting me for some ideas, because I actually blog (and care) about Summer of Code. I had to refer them to other developers because I can’t handle them, not my area, or just not something I’d feel comfortable to mentor. Having a single alias that users could write to would allow all the developers interested in SoC to answer as they see fit. Yeah sure there is the mailing list, but you can guess that most people wouldn’t like to make their application’s details public, after all, they are not public even after SoC closes.
The deadlines, short as they are, were not posted on the recently created Gentoo Calendar (at Google of course); while just recently born, it would be a nice addition for this kind of stuff.
Up to now I listed the problems that should have been avoided by the SoC team itself (note to self: try to cut away more time next year so you can be part of the team and make the changes), but the biggest problem of all I wanted to leave last.
I think that both me and Donnie tried to make this point before, but Gentoo developers should really try to blog more. In today’s status of Free Software, blogs are often used to share and bounce around ideas, and to make projects and subprojects more advertised. Try to compare Planet Gnome with Planet Gentoo, and let me know.
In particular, there is just no material on Summer of Code in Planet Gentoo! Just me, Luca and Joshua blogged about it, as far as I can see. I’ve been trying Google Reader in the past weeks (which turned out to be quite good now that I don’t have my Akregator at hand), and I’ve started tagging all the posts I seen (not even read fully!) who wrote about Summer of Code. The result is right now 45 items, and please be known that I started on March 19th, with the exception of one post I was interested in and decided to look up afterward. The vast majority of the posts come from Planet Gnome, which I named before, but there are many posts from Planet KDE too.
I’m sure there are way more posts about Summer of Code around, I just probably don’t follow a lot of blogs of other projects involved, but the fact that Gentoo is not so much on that list is not something I like.
This entry will add to the list, though I’m not happy with this. I really really really hope next year we can avoid these mistakes.. at least I can say I tried though.