GSoC Organization Admin Tips

Thanks for being an Organization Administrator for your open source org/project for Google Summer of Code. Your behind-the-scenes efforts are vital to keeping everyone in your org informed and on the same page throughout the program. We have made some changes to the program for 2021, so it is important to read this document whether it's your first time or tenth.

Much of this information is mentioned in the Roles and Responsibilities doc but we wanted to go into more detail on some important points.

If you haven’t read the GSoC Mentor Guide please go read it now. It’s a quick read and delves into important aspects and phases of the program. Please make sure all of your mentors have read the Mentor Guide and Roles and Responsibilities docs before accepting them into the program so they know what to expect.

As an Org Admin you are the primary liaison between your Org and Google. Orgs may have between 2 and 5 admins, who should be in regular communication and agree upon roles (communications, payments, checking in on mentors and students, checking that evals are being completed, resolving interpersonal issues, responding to the Wrap Up survey Google will send at the end of the program, etc.). From Google's perspective, all Org Admins are equivalent, there isn’t a primary Org Admin.

Defining Success

What are your org’s goals going into GSoC 2021? At the end of this year’s GSoC, what will your org consider to determine if it has been a successful GSoC program for your org?

This is a question we hope you consider each year you participate in the program as the answers will likely vary year to year. Different orgs want different things. For example:

  • more new long-term contributors
  • more code written
  • specific features built
  • opportunity to mentor excited students
  • more awareness of your project, etc.

and many more.

Please take some time to think about what your org really wants out of GSoC, and for returning orgs, if you didn't achieve those goals, what you could have done differently.

Deadlines

GSoC happens on a schedule. Deadlines are numerous and firm. Org Admins are responsible for reading all the emails and keeping track of upcoming deadlines to make sure they are not missed.

Metrics

What metrics is your org tracking?

Your Org should be keeping some metrics on your participation in GSoC. Org Admins can change from year to year and if the previous Org Admin doesn’t share the metrics with others in the org they could be lost forever, please be sure to share your metrics with multiple folks in your org.

You should track these metrics (at the very least):

  • Number of students that started the program with your org
  • Number of your students that successfully passed the program
  • Number of mentors actively mentoring students

You will also need to figure out your own system to see how long your students are staying involved after their GSoC ends in August/September (do most students leave your community within a month of the end of their GSoC, do they stick around for 6 months, do they come back after a year or two?) You may want to talk to the folks who stick around and get a little more insight into what it was your org did (or maybe didn’t do) that made them want to continue being a part of your community.

We will also be asking for the above metrics in a short, required survey we’ll send to all Org admins at the end of GSoC, and then at the 6 month and 1 year post-GSoC mark.

These stats should help your org see if GSoC is helping your community grow and become more sustainable. We encourage you to track other metrics you might find interesting too.

These metrics can help you determine where you may want to make some adjustments- if no students are sticking around -- why not? Can you help them find another project within your organization? Is it easy for the student to find a way to contribute and still get that same sense of accomplishment? Is your project so complicated or bureaucratic that it drives people away?

There are many reasons students don’t stick around - sometimes they just wanted the money or they got too busy with other things. But it's important for you to know why so that you can try and counteract it.

Reviewing Student Proposals

All ranking of Student proposals takes place outside the GSoC webapp. Depending on the size of your org you may be able to handle the review with a simple shared spreadsheet. Some organizations have implemented more complex workflows.

Many orgs start with an initial filtering pass:

  • Spam (if it’s clear someone just threw random things into a proposal - or they just submitted a generic proposal, etc.)
  • Didn’t meet requirements (if your org required the student to do a PR or some other task and they didn’t do it).

Once the obvious "no"s are out, you can focus on the rest of the proposals by applying a rubric or grading scale to separate the great proposals from the good and from the poor.

For every excellent student proposal you need at least 1 committed mentor (two is better!). There’s nothing worse than accepting a great student project and then not having the right mentor for it. It becomes a bad experience for everyone.

Requesting Student Slots and Assigning Mentors to Projects

One of your most important roles is to organize your org so that you know which mentor has committed to mentoring a particular project. This will help you decide how many student slots to request from Google. Then once you have received your allocation from Google you can assign the mentors to the student projects.

Org Payments

As Org Admin it is your responsibility to determine if your org wishes to accept the $400 stipend per student mentored or not. Your org may have another person who acts as treasurer, accountant, or general finance person. It's your responsibility to make sure they complete the processes to receive funds.

Conflict

Org Admins are responsible for addressing any major conflicts among participants in your org. This can include conflicts between students, between mentors, or between students and mentors. Sometimes mentors who are mentoring the same student disagree on what the student should be working on or if they should pass or fail. You need to adjudicate this.

Occasionally you may encounter code of conduct issues within your community (from students or mentors). This is your community so you know the norms and what is expected and what crosses a line into harassment or other unacceptable behavior. Google expects all participants to use professional and courteous conduct during the program.

Kickoff

Send an Intro Email to your Accepted Mentors

Before students are announced, communicate with the mentors:

  • You will likely have many mentors new to GSoC so please remind them to read the Mentor Guide and the Roles and Responsibilities.
  • Make sure your mentors understand they must complete the 2 student evaluations by the required deadlines. Please make sure you stress the importance of these evals for the students and your org (you'll lose the $400 stipend if an eval is missed).
  • Let them know what your org’s expectations are for communicating with their assigned students (we highly recommend having communications at least 2 times a week and if one of those can be a virtual meeting that is usually ideal).
  • Let mentors know that they can reach out to you if they are having issues with another mentor or their student (they have disappeared, are rude, harassing others, etc.). Encourage them to reach out early about issues and not wait until the last couple of days before an evaluation.
  • Be sure to give mentors the contact info of the org admin or org admin group email your org may have created to reach out to with their concerns.
  • Let mentors know to reach out to you if they have to suddenly step away from GSoC for 2+ days for whatever reason (illness, sudden work issue, family concerns, etc.) so that you can be sure another mentor (or you) is checking in with the student.

After students are announced, you should send an email to your students and mentors welcoming them into your community and informing them about:

  • Your Code of Conduct. If you don’t have a formal code, that's ok, but it's still important to set some expectations as to what is expected of all community members.
  • How, when and why they should contact an Org Admin during the program (their mentor has disappeared, mentor is acting inappropriately, mentor suddenly changed their entire project, another student is behaving inappropriately, etc.)
  • Any requirements around project standards, best practices, licensing, etc. -- mentors should discuss this as well directly with the student but if you mention it, it will help solidify its importance.

Have a virtual introductory meeting with all of the accepted students and mentors in May to help welcome everyone and help them feel more like part of the community.

  • We received feedback from many 2020 students that they would have liked to know more about the goals of their open source organization so they can better understand where their project fits in.
  • Students also wanted to know who the other GSoC students were in their community so they could support one another. Personal connections are a great way to keep people involved post-GSoC.
  • If you have former students that are now mentors or have stayed involved in your community having them talk briefly about their experience can also be helpful to your new students.

Communicate Regularly

Many Org Admins send reminders to their mentors about evaluation deadlines and some require their mentors complete the evaluation at least 24-48 hours before the Google deadline so if the mentor misses the deadline the Org Admin can go in and complete it for them (or have another of the assigned mentors do it).

We had a record number of mentors miss evals in 2020. We don’t want that to be the case in 2021, so please be sure to keep track of your mentors and their evaluations.

In Conclusion

We hope these tips help you understand your role and responsibilities as a GSoC 2021 Org Admin.

Feel free to contact us at gsoc-support@google.com if you have any further questions or you can email the GSoC mentor group list if you think it’s a question the community can help you with or that others may be interested in knowing an answer to.

Thanks for being a GSoC Org Admin!