Apr 6

Summer of Code Mentor Observations for 2009 – Part 1

Category: joomla,soc

A few observations I have from applications so far this year (I’ve done around 40 so far):

  1. Don’t copy and paste
    This includes two things: don’t copy from the ideas page because it just looks bad (plus it makes it look like you’re padding your content out) and don’t copy from your other proposals. I’ve seen a few where I’ve seen things copied and pasted between proposals and it just cheapens the proposals. Not the boring “who am I” crap but stuff like time lines and other stuff that could easily be unique.
  2. The boring crap about you as a person can live else where.
    I don’t personally bother with referees or so much what you’ve done because at the end of the day if I think your proposal sucks then I’m not going to bother. Once I’ve gone through and found a proposal I like I’ll grill at that point, or even ones I don’t like but have a passing interest in.
  3. Your proposal in your words should be the majority
    I’ve also seen a few proposals where the actually interesting bit of what you think you’re going to do is maybe a third of the proposal (or even half) with the rest of the space taken up with things that aren’t relevant like references and their CV. See point 3, this is stuff you can reference.
  4. Don’t use Word
    The worst thing about this is that the rich text editor seems to not properly handle the Word crap, which is unfortunate. I’ve had proposals where the ‘font definitions’ from Microsoft Office (you can easily identify them by their ‘mso-‘ prefix for things) spams up the page and in one case was longer than the proposal. Please don’t use Word, use Notepad or some other text editor. Hopefully something with a spell checker or at least if you have to write it in Word copy it through Notepad and reapply your formatting.
  5. Put emotion into your proposal and demonstrate understanding of the problem
    There were a number of proposals that seemed to miss the point of the idea and more that seemed to not understand the root problem the idea was trying to address. Try to understand the problem and perhaps have some form of emotional attachment and look at the problem and provide depth. Show you’ve at least done a cursory study of the problem instead of saying you’ll start solving the problem in week 4 of your SoC.
  6. Community Bonding is when you learn stuff
    There are tonnes of proposals where they spend a month before they start writing code instead working on research, planning and learning how the system goes together. There is over a month of time _before_ SoC starts but _after_ you’ve been accepted where you can spend the time learning the system, setting goals and preparing to get started from day one. You can even start coding during this period to give you a head start though I’d personally understand if you didn’t want to do that. Eating a month into coding time trying to work out what you’re going to do with the other period of time isn’t good enough. SoC is already time limited without you creating even more work for yourself.
  7. Put the slack at the end not at the start
    The other issue with number six is that the slack is pushed at the start when you think you have time. So you plan there but why would you have a timeline in your proposal if not to plan? So far I’ve only seen one, perhaps two, projects that had their slack time at the end of the project not at the start of the project. Slack time is where you catch up on the deadlines you know you reached. You need it. You really do. Even if you don’t think you do, you will. And if you waste it in the first month by ‘planning’ or ‘designing’ what you’re going to do in the next two months then you’re already behind the person who had it in part planned at proposal time, solidified their plans in the month after they were accepted and started from day one writing code.
  8. Be different
    A carry on from number 5 is being different. Propose something relevant (check with the mentors first) that isn’t on the list but you’re passionate about or interested in. Doing something unique will set you aside from masses who just went for the publicised ideas. Also try to keep your own idea to yourself to minimise your competition: SoC is still after all a competition so you want to maximise your changes. Doing something new and different is a breathe of fresh air. Already I have two categories so far with 9 proposals and 6 proposals respectively vying for attention. This doesn’t mean you just apply for one and you can’t apply for ones from the ideas page, but it does mean that you should try something that isn’t necessarily on the ideas page – something you can be passionate about.

I’m sure I’ll have more to come but that is a good start for me so far.

No comments

No Comments

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: