Google Summer of Code Do’s and Don’ts

Since a lot of people wanted to get some advice on Google Summer of Code, I decided to pen down some important pointers with regard to Google Summer of Code. Apart from the main guidelines given by Google, there are few pointers I learnt through my personal experience

  1. Email Ethics

My writing was not the best during my GSOC days. When I read through some of the emails I sent those days, I wonder why some even bothered to reply. It is very important to read your email twice before you send it to your mentor or the organization. The email you send to the organization will be viewed by many, therefore make sure to make a good impression when you are sending it. Here is a useful link that you could read to learn about email ethics.

2. IRC Ethics

A lot of OpenSource organizations use Internet Relay Chat(IRC)[Update: Most of them have moved on to different methods now, but some still use them]. This is the place where developers can get real-time answers with regard to their issues as well as talk about other concerns with regard to the software. You should always call the other developers by their names.

For Example: “Hi Jack, …..”

You should not call them sir, bro, yo, whats-up etc. It is a friendly circle but it is a professional circle as well. Therefore be mindful of the way you speak.

There is a detailed description of IRC communication etiquette.

3. Do use “Google”

Google is your best friend when it comes to coding, therefore it is always wise to do some Googling before you head to ask something from the community. There is a high chance that someone else has got the same problem that you face and it is not nice to show that you haven’t put any effort to find the answer. For example, If the solutions to the question you ask can be found from the first Google Search you do, the community might not consider you as a good contributor. They always like to see people who can manage to work on their own and only seek help when you really need it, not because you are lazy.

4. Good Communication is a MUST

Good communication is vital before and after the Google Summer of Code acceptance. You should be able to communicate yourself well not just in GSOC, but also in real life. Whenever you have some deadlines going on with your university it is always good to inform your mentor about it. If you are stuck with some issue, it is advisable to communicate that to the mentor or the community so that they know that you are working as well as they might help you with regard to the issue. Always keep your mentor updated.

5. Contribute to the Community

Some organizations make it a must for you to fix a bug in their code base before submitting a proposal but some do not. Your chances are always high if you can fix a bug in the code. This implies few things to the organization. One is that you are competent enough to work with their codebase. The other thing is that you have really taken this work seriously and not just a mere talker.

6. Digital Footprint

You are a computer science undergraduate/graduate, therefore you need to have some solid digital footprint with regard to your skills. Whenever someone searches your name on Google (most of the organizations would do this), it should give some promising results for them. Few pointers would be to have an active GitHub account, write your own blog, maintain your website and have an updated LinkedIn profile.

7. Start early

It is always good to start early. There is this Sinhala(Sinhala is my mother tongue) saying “අපායට ගියත් කලින් යන්න” which means that you have to go early even if you go to hell. So make sure you start early. GSOC has a very large support system apart from the software foundation itself. You always can reach out to past Google Summer of Code Students and even lectures in your university to get help.

Good luck with GSOC and let me know when you get selected.

PhD Candidate in Usable Privacy in Cyber-Physical Systems

PhD Candidate in Usable Privacy in Cyber-Physical Systems