[Soc-coordination] Status update for Debian in SoC 2008

Steve McIntyre steve at einval.com
Sat Apr 12 01:00:30 UTC 2008

Hi folks,

Apologies for the length of this mail. It's a busy time, and quite a
lot is going on. Status updates, and some guidelines for mentors.

The student application deadline has passed (as of 7th April). This
year, we received 53 eligible applications and 10 ineligible. We also
saw quite a large number (maybe 30 or so, I don't have exact figures)
that were just nothing to do with Debian - we assigned those to
Google, as requested. We've now had several mentors work their way
through the list of eligible applications, adding their comments and
scores as appropriate.  There is still some time remaining for more
mentor reviews - please help out if you can! If you're ready and
willing to act as mentor for an app, please say so and (ideally)
mention it here as well, if you haven't already done so.

Google's closing date for mentor reviews and rankings is the 18th
April 07:00 UTC (next Friday). I don't want us to be taken unawares by
that deadline. To give us some time to sort the final rankings of our
applications, I want to close mentor reviews on Wednesday 16th by
07:00 UTC. That gives us just over 4 days from this point.

On (or by) Wednesday evening (UTC) I want us to decide on the exact
ordering of projects. If it's not entirely clear by then, we'll
probably end up with an IRC discussion.

Clearly(!) it won't then be possible for all our applicants to be
successful. Some will be disappointed, and so also will some of our
mentors. That's the way life is. We have quite a range of types of
application, covering just about all of our project suggestions. It's
unlikely that all of our ideas will therefore be covered. The final
decision over how to prioritise our slots will be up to the admins,
using guidance from information on the mailing list and in the
applications themselves. If you have strong opinions over which
projects should be accepted, please let us know in advance of that

Google have already released *preliminary* estimates of slots per
organisation for 2008. These are expected to change a little at the
end of next week, but should be seen as a reasonable guideline. In
that estimate list, we were given 10 (ten) projects. We should bear
that number in mind when we sort our applications. My own first
assessment of our applications suggested that we had roughly 15 very
good applications that I thought would work for us, so I've asked for
15 slots in the final allocation. Fingers crossed, we'll get a couple

Google will make their decisions on the accepted projects and let the
world know on 21st April. Once we know which students are accepted, we
get a month's time to get them up to speed and working on code.

If you're a student and still reading this far down, then you may as
well stop now. The stuff below here will probably just bore you... :-)

In terms of mentors, we are only allowed to have *one* official mentor
per application. That's a hard limit in Google's rules. However, it is
recommended that where possible we have backup mentors ready to help
when needed. It's entirely reasonable to have two people agree to
split the mentoring work for a project (even if only one of them can
listed officially). 

So, what do we need from mentors? Quite simply, we need you to be
available for the summer and ready to help! Time to make that more

Things that the *students* are going to want from the mentors:

 * guidance and moral support

 * suggestions on how to do things

 * suggestions on who else to talk to for specific help

 * code reviews and testing of their initial code

 * sponsored uploads into Debian (maybe, depending on project)

Things that the *admins* will want from the mentors:

 * Mid-term and full-term reports on the students' work (as supplied
   to Google) - we'd like copies too. Also, summaries at various
   points - we will probably want to make press releases describing
   the projects as we start and end the SoC, and don't expect the
   admins to know enough to be able to do that without your help.

 * Regular reports on how things are going. At least once every 2
   weeks please, unless you've got a good reason not to. It's up to
   you to spend enough time with the student so that you have a good
   idea of progress. It will also be up to you to decide on the goals
   and milestones for the project.

 * To be available: if you're going on vacation or you're ill (or
   whatever), please let us know so that we don't panic and guess that
   you're dead! We may need to ask you questions from time to time...

 * To be honest: if there are problems in the project, please let us
   and the student know ASAP so that we can try and help. We don't
   want to hear in the last week that the project basically failed in
   week 3, but you've not told us about it!

If those lists are enough to scare you, good! :-)

This is not a small undertaking. Experience from past years tells us
that a good mentoring job will take 5-10 hours per week of your time
on average. Some of the times will be busier than others (e.g. the
half-time and full-time reports will take some time), but on average
it will take a fair amount of your time. Agreeing to share the load
with another developer may well be a good thing to do - talk to us
about it as/when/if you need.

But this effort should be worth it in the end - we're expecting some
good code and some good new contributors. Woo!

All done for now, I think. If you have any questions about this stuff,
you know where to find us... :-)

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve at einval.com
  Getting a SCSI chain working is perfectly simple if you remember that there
  must be exactly three terminations: one on one end of the cable, one on the
  far end, and the goat, terminated over the SCSI chain with a silver-handled
  knife whilst burning *black* candles. --- Anthony DeBoer
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