Getting into GSoC 2015

Apr 30, 2015

After much nail-biting and mashing of the F5 key last Monday, I was greeted with the news that my proposal for GSoC 2015 was accepted. After celebrating and some procrastination, I decided that it would be a good idea to document my progress through the program, along with some tips and details on how I was able to get into it in the first place. The organization I submitted my proposal to, Copyleft Games, is considered to be a fairly strict organization when it comes to accepting proposals, so if you follow all these tips you may have a good chance of getting accepted!

First and foremost, I recommend submitting only one proposal to a single organization. If you split your time between multiple proposals, quality will suffer and you’ll have less time to discuss your proposal with mentors/other people from the organization. I can’t emphasize how important this is - while it’s easy to pump out three or four written proposals, it’s nearly impossible to stay involved with the community of each organization without overworking yourself.

Do research on -every- organization on the list, and pick the one you want to apply to carefully. You want to choose an organization/project that meshes with your skill set, so don’t just apply to the first organization/project that strikes your fancy. Choose a project suggested by the organization on its ideas page, and make sure it’s within your skill level.

Use the correct proposal formatting that the organization requires. Most orgs have their own format for proposals, and one of the fastest ways of getting rejected is by not following the formatting guidelines. After removing spam proposals, the first thing most orgs do to weed out proposals is to remove ones with incorrect formatting.

Talk with the mentors! If the org has an IRC channel, join it. If they don’t or it’s inactive, crawl the internet and find their email address and shoot them a message. It’s important to keep dialog open between you and the mentors so you aren’t just some random applicant when they go through the proposals.

Get involved with the community. JOIN THE IRC, subscribe to the mailing list, answer people’s questions, help other students, submit patches, etc. When evaluating your proposal, the mentors ask themselves “Will this person be a valuable contributor to this project after GSoC?”, it’s your job to prove that you’re capable as an open source developer and can help people work through problems.

Don’t expect mentors to hold your hand. There’s dozens, if not hundreds of other students barraging the mentors with questions that could be solved through a quick google search - dont be that student! Before asking a mentor, try to answer your question with a google search. If you still can’t answer it, do a quick scroll through the IRC/mailing list logs to see if another student has already asked the question and received an answer. If all else fails, then go ahead and ask your question.

Familiarize yourself with the source code. It’s really obvious who has and hasn’t looked at the source code before writing up the technical details of their proposal. When writing your proposal, you’ll want to have a good idea of the modules you’ll be changing/adding, how it will affect other components, and other detail-related tidbits.

That pretty much sums it up. Next up I’ll be going over the technical details of my proposal, the changes I’ve made, and some other interesting tidbits before the coding phase of GSoC begins.