The Google Highly Open Participation Contest Frequently Asked Questions

The first Google Highly Open Participation Contest concluded on February 4, 2008. We've left up the contest FAQs for those wishing to learn more about the initiative.

Contest Overview

1. What is the Google Highly Open Participation™ Contest?

Following on from the success of the Google Summer of Code program, Google is holding a contest for pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school students) with the aim of encouraging young people to participate in open source. We will work with ten open source organizations for this pilot effort, each of whom will provide a list of tasks to be completed by student contestants. Tasks can be anything a project needs help with, from bug fixes to writing documentation to user experience research.

2. What are the goals of this contest?

The Google Highly Open Participation Contest (GHOP) is intended to offer an opportunity to students who may have wanted to get involved in open source but didn't know where to start. By working through the tasks suggested by organizations, contestants will be given the opportunity to engage with the open source community and get involved at a far earlier time than they might otherwise think they could. The participating open source projects gain the benefit of additional contributions to their project, often in important areas that may get overlooked for whatever reason.

It's Google's not so secret hope that the student contestants of today will be long-term contributors to these and other open source projects in the future.

3. Can I get an overview of the contest mechanics?

  1. Participating open source projects create a list of tasks and other contest information pages on code.google.com
  2. Students claim ownership of a particular task and submit their work for assessment according to the instructions for each task
  3. Representatives from the open source project evaluate the work submitted
    1. If the work is accepted, the task is closed
    2. If the work needs polishing, the task remains open and the organization representative gives student guidance on improving the work
    3. If the work does not meet expectations, the task can be reopened for claiming and work by another student participant

4. When can I start participating in the contest?

The contest begins at 12:00 AM Pacific Time (08:00 UTC) on November 27, 2007. Make sure that you take the time to read through the contest rules and familiarize yourself with the introductory information provided by a particular open source project before starting work on a task. Also, if you are under the age of 18, please have your parent or legal guardian read the official rules as well because they will need to provide their consent for you to participate.

Check out the full contest timeline, too.

5. What are the eligibility requirements for the contest?

The contest is open to all students who are thirteen (13) years of age or older on November 27, 2007. Students must be enrolled in a pre-university, e.g. high school or secondary school, educational institution. All contestants will need to have their parent or guardian's consent to participate where applicable, and we will ask for proof of consent before you can claim any prizes.

For full details, see the contest official rules. Remember, by participating in the contest you are agreeing to abide by these rules, so go ahead and take a few minutes now to throughly read through them.

6. What are the prizes?

At the conclusion of the contest, contestants will receive a t-shirt and certificate for completing at least one task (maximum of one shirt & certificate per contestant) and 100 USD for every three tasks completed (maximum 500 USD per contestant).

Additionally, there will be ten grand prize winners. They will receive a trip to Google's Mountain View, California, USA Headquarters for an award's ceremony for themselves and one parent or guardian.

For full details, see the contest official rules.

7. How were the participating open source projects chosen?

We chose the organizations from successful participants in the Google Summer of Code program. Each project has a fairly low barrier to entry, which creates more opportunities for students to get involved. Plus, since we've worked with these folks before, we're confident that they'll do a fantastic job meeting the needs of our student contestants when they ask for help.

8. Why are the participating open source projects using Google's infrastructure instead of their own?

Everyone needs to use the same tools in order for judging to be fair across the board. We encourage projects to link over to their own infrastructure where appropriate, to allow maximum student participation within the respective communities.

Also, using Google's infrastructure makes our lawyers happy, and we want them to be happy because they make it possible for us to do exciting things like this contest. You can help us make our lawers happy right now by reading through the contest official rules.

Contest Details

1. How do I decide what task to work on?

Take a look at the participating open source projects on the GHOP contest page and decide which one(s) are doing work that is interesting to you. Click on the name of the open source project and you'll be taken to its individual contest page, which will give you even more information about the project and resources for learning more. You can then browse available tasks in the Issue Tracker session of the project's contest page.

Each task will be labeled with descriptors like "documentation" or "training," which will further help you narrow down your choices of what to task to choose. Take a look at the requirements for an individual task and, if you're up to that particular challenge, claim the task and start working on it.

2. How do I claim and complete a particular task?

  1. Sign in to your Google Account. If you do not have a Google Account, you can create one free of charge. If you already have a GMail address, you can just sign in to your GMail account.
  2. Go to the task entry that you'd like to complete. It will be clear from each task entry what the expectations are for an entry to be judged complete and in what time frame it must be completed.
  3. In the "Add a Comment or Make Changes" text field, enter this phrase exactly: "I claim this task."
  4. Start working! Each task has an allotted time frame for completion, so make sure to submit your entry in a timely fashion.
  5. Submit your work on the task for review by attaching your work to the task entry in the Issue Tracker. The open source projects may have additional requirements for submitting work on each task as detailed in the task entry.
  6. Assuming your work meets the expectations of the contest judges, the task will be considered completed and the task entry will be closed.

Please note that if your work does not meet expectations, the open source project's evaluators may ask you to make revisions or may reopen the task for claiming by other participants. If you do not turn in your work for a particular task in a timely fashion, the task may be reopened for claiming by other participants.

3. How are individual contest entries judged?

Each entry is judged by contest administrators from the participating open source projects. Entries must meet the requirements for completion specified in each task write up. Google's contest administrators will make the final judgment on all entries.

4. How are the Grand Prize Winners chosen?

Each participating open source project will select one Grand Prize Winner from their pool of completed entries. For full details, see the contest official rules.

5. I have already been working with one of the open source projects; am I allowed to work on their tasks for the contest?

As long as you or a family member do not hold an official position in the open source project, such as core developer or documentation working group member, you are welcome to participate in the contest. If you are not sure, please contact Google's contest administrators for help in deciding whether your participation violates the contest rules.

Tasks

1. What kinds of tasks will I have to choose from?

Tasks will typically fall into the following categories:

  1. Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code
  2. Documenation: Tasks related to creating/editing documents
  3. Outreach: Tasks related to community management and outreach/marketing
  4. Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality
  5. Research: Tasks related to studying a problem and recommending solutions
  6. Training: Tasks related to helping others learn more
  7. Translation: Tasks related to localization
  8. User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

Each task will be labeled in the Issue Tracker with at least one of these categories to help you choose which tasks to complete.

2. What do the values in the "Status" column of the task list mean?

  1. Open: This task has not yet been claimed.
  2. Claimed: This task has been claimed and someone is working on it.
  3. ActionNeeded: Work on this task must be submitted for review within 24 hours.
  4. Closed: Work on this task has been successfully completed.
  5. New: Please see the full FAQ entry.

Please remember that there are many more contestants than there are folks working to make the contest successful, so we may not be able to update the task status values as quickly as we'd like. If you look at a task's description and see that someone has updated it with the phrase "I claim this task", someone else is working on this task and you should look for a different one to complete.

3. I see tasks in the list with a status of "New." What does that mean? Can I work on them?

Tasks listed with "New" status are suggestions by the community for areas where the open source project needs help. We greatly appreciate the suggestions of community members and individuals from each participating open source project will review community suggestions for tasks. If the contest administrators decide that the proposed task is a good one for inclusion in the contest, they will update the task status to "Open" and any contestant may then claim the task. However, unless a task is in "Open" status, it cannot be claimed and no entry can be submitted for it.

4. Can I work on more than one task at a time?

No, you can only complete one task at a time.

5. Is there a limit to the number of tasks I can complete?

You can complete as many tasks as you would like, but the maximum cash prize is 500 USD (e.g. 15 completed tasks).

6. Can I work on a task as part of a team?

While we encourage you to get help where you need it, there can only be one winning contestant per entry. Participation as a team is not possible.

7. Can I get help from the open source project's community and still take credit for completing a task?

Absolutely! We want you to get to know each project's community members and to understand their processes and requirements. It's totally fine to ask for help if you're stuck, but remember that you should have already tried to solve the problem yourself before getting assistance.

To put it a different way, you've taken responsibility for accomplishing something, so it's perfectly acceptable to get it done in a collaborative fashion - that's how open source works!

8. I started working on a task and I've realized that I don't know enough to get the work done. What should I do?

Let the open source project know that you've decided not to complete the task and they will reopen it for other participants. Contact the individuals responsible for a particular task and make a note in the task entry in the Issue Tracker.

Don't get discouraged - find something else you're interested in working on that is a better fit for your skills and experience and try again!

Timeline

1. What is the contest timeline?

November 27, 2007, 12:00 AM Pacific Time / 08:00 UTC: Contest opens for entries by student participants

January 22, 2008, 12:00 AM Pacific Time / 08:00 UTC: No tasks can be claimed; work on claimed tasks can continue

February 4, 2008, 12:00 AM Pacific Time / 08:00 UTC: All work stops

February 4-10, 2008: Open source projects choose their Grand Prize Winners

February 11, 2008: Grand Prize Winners announced

The Awards Ceremony date will be determined based on the schedules of the winning contestants.

Forms and Payments

1. What forms will be required from winning student contestants?

All student contestants under the age of 18 will be required to send in a form demonstrating that they had parental consent to participate in the contest. We will publish full instructions for claiming prizes and submitting the parental consent form before February 1, 2008. Winners may also be required to submit other paperwork as well. Please see the official rules for more information.

2. How will I receive my monetary prizes?

We will send American Express Gift Cheque(s) to either the student contestant or her parent/guardian as applicable.

Other Questions

1. Is there anything else I should plan to do to as part of participating in the contest?

Subscribe to the contest announcement mailing list for updates about the contest, including information on where to submit your claim for prizes.

If you are looking for help, you can always subscribe to the contest discussion list. If you do subscribe to the discussion list, keep in mind that many people may be sending email to it, you may want to subscribe only for a daily digest email or choose to only browse the group online.

If you need help with Google Groups, check out the documentation.

2. How do I get help when I have a question?

Each open source project participating in the contest will include information about where to go to ask questions, either in the individual task entry or on one of their contest pages. If you still aren't sure where to ask for help, send a message to the contest discussion mailing list.

3. Where can I find the contest logo?

Download here. (78 kb jpeg)

4. I have a question that is not answered in this FAQ. Where else can I find more information?

First of all, make sure you have read the contest official rules. Each open source project's contest pages will also have more information about where to ask questions, so check there for more information. If you still do not have an answer to your question, please send email to the contest discussion mailing list and one of the contest administrators will be happy to point you in the right direction.