Information for Mentors and Org Admins for GCI 2014

Below are some handy tips for Mentors and Org Admins. Please read the following information carefully.

Developing tasks for Google Code-in 2014

Spend quality time considering the initial tasks that you will open up to students on December 1st. Our decision on which organizations will be accepted into GCI 2014 will  partially depend on the number and quality of tasks in the org’s application (similar to the Ideas Page for Google Summer of Code). We suggest you have at least five of each type of task (coding, documentation/training, UI, outreach/research and quality assurance) for us to review in your org app.

Be prepared to create "beginner" tasks for students to work on. Over the past few years we have had thousands of students register for GCI but many are discouraged from participating when they open up the task list and can’t even understand the task name.  This year we have implemented a system in Melange to indicate which tasks you consider beginner level (they may still take 3-5 hours to complete but they are less technical in nature). You also may consider creating a "Hello World" type of task. These were quite popular for some of last year’s orgs and helped students understand their code base quickly (and still earn a point for their work). Students will only be allowed to complete two beginner tasks total in the contest (they can complete one beginner task with two orgs or two beginner tasks with one org). Melange will prevent the students from claiming more than two tasks so you do not need to track this.

Org admins will be able to add tasks throughout the contest period up until January 18, 2015 (this is the day before the contest closes for student submissions).  We would like each organization to have at least 50 tasks with at least five from each of the five categories by the start of the program on December 1st. Depending on the response from students, you may need to continue to add tasks every few days to your list, especially during the first two to three weeks. We strongly encourage your organization to have 100+ tasks available for students to choose from on December 1st.

Never have less than 25 tasks open for students to claim at any time. If a student sees you only have a few tasks available and none of those tasks interest them then they will move on to another organization and likely not come back to look at your organization again.  It is key to have a large group of tasks loaded up before the contest begins on December 1st and it will make your organization administrator’s life a lot easier.

Each task will be worth 1 point — please try to make tasks as "equal" as possible. When designing your tasks, please try to think about the time and difficulty involved in the each one and do your best to make the tasks equivalent. As a metric, consider how long a task would take an experienced project member and do your best to make the estimated task completion time for an experienced developer around two hours. This may mean breaking a coding project into smaller chunks or adding more work to a documentation effort, etc. We realize most tasks will take students 3-5 hours to complete depending on their familiarity with the coding language, etc. As students become more familiar with your org a task that would have taken them five hours the first week of the contest could take them two by the end of the contest, this is normal.

Do not combine translation tasks into documentation tasks. We specifically are not having translation tasks be any part of this year's contest.

Your org chooses finalists and two grand prize winners. Each participating organization will evaluate the work of the ten students with the highest number of completed tasks. Orgs will then choose five students as Finalists that they believe had the most comprehensive body of work during the contest. From those five the organization will choose two Grand Prize Winners.


The GCI program isn’t like a mini GSoC: tasks will need to be independent activities (not part of a larger project as would be the case in GSoC).  Also, GCI is open to all 13-17 year old students, so there isn’t a barrier to entry for them to participate in the contest. Their work might reflect this. It is perfectly acceptable to tell a student their work doesn’t meet the standards your org expects for the task. Please tell the student promptly that their task needs work and be clear on what you want them to fix/add so they can go back and try and fix their work, or "unclaim" the task and move on to another task that might be more in their skill set.

Scheduling Mentors/Org admins to cover winter holidays

GCI runs over the winter holidays for many areas of the world. Please be sure to assign a mentor/org admin to be responsible for the tasks should another mentor be on holiday during the winter break. Because students must have a task approved before they can claim another task, time is an important factor for this contest (much more so than in Google Summer of Code). We expect a 36 hour or less turnaround for review of each completed task submitted by a student.

Please be sure to have at least one person from your organization covering each day even on major holidays (Religious Holidays, New Year’s Day, etc...).

The students are very young and may need some support

GCI students are 13-17 years old, much younger than the Google Summer of Code students (18+) and this contest will likely be the first experience with open source development. And in most cases this is their first ‘real world’ involvement in any kind of software project. There may be a learning curve especially related to group discussion, IRC and version control systems so please remember that a student may be acting in a way that experienced developers find inappropriate (such as using all caps or many exclamation points) but likely don’t realize their behavior is not appropriate. Please help teach them to the appropriate way to communicate, etc. in a professional manner.

Enjoy the contest!

GCI is designed to get young students interested and involved in open source software. We hope that many of the students will continue to work on open source projects throughout their lives. The experience they have with mentors and org admins is what will make them want to continue contributing to your community or to other open source projects in the future.

We understand GCI is a lot of work for the orgs and it comes right after GSoC wraps up - it can be difficult for some smaller organizations. That said, we have heard from many past organizations and mentors that the amount of work these students completed in just seven weeks far exceeded their expectations and they really enjoyed working with these young, enthusiastic students. We have quite a few students who have gone on to become mentors for GSoC or committers on the projects they worked with. We expect this trend to continue as students get older and enter university.