When you should contact the mentor – GSoC

Students who are looking for taking GSoC may wonder how should be the effective communication can be made with the mentor/ community. Therefore this post will give you a basic and general idea about how the effective communication should be carried out in the GSoC plus FOSS ecosystem.

IMO, the communication between the student and the mentor, student and the organization are vital. However the student should be wise enough to distinguish who and how the communication should be made.

Here are some tips !

If you are new to any FOSS organization and would like to join with a interested project idea, then the best thing is to contact the mentor who is assigned to the idea. The mentors contact details can be found at the idea page of many organizations, for example refer to the Fedora’s idea page[1]. Introduce you as the first step. That may include a little background about you in general and some specific information about your education plus experience with Free Software projects/ organizations.

At the mean time get subscribed for the mailing list as instructed. Most of the time developer’s mailing lists are a good choice. Some organizations may maintain a separate list for summer coding as well. For an example the Fedora project do have a summer-coding mailing list[2].

Once you will be introduced to the mentor and inform him/her your interested about the idea, he/she will send you the required info and places to look at and how to get started and more. What the student should do is follow the instructions, refer to the content pointed and do some individual research himself.

When you are interacting with the source you may in need of some help to overcome the situation. At such scenario the best thing a student can do is;

  1. Google the need, may be your question has been already answered !
  2. If no clue then try the #IRC channel if you are in hurry.
  3. If no hurry, the better thing a student can do is forward the request in-detail to the mailing list and CC the mentor as well.

By forwarding the mail to the list make sure that your question is being answered soon and you are not making the mentor busy, may be he/ she is mentoring more than one student. CCing the mail to the mentors ensures that your mentor knows what is happening and even if he gets any free time he/she can consider answering your question. Specially making your mentor aware what is happening around would be a plus point when it comes to evaluation. Therefore try to keep the mentor aware while you seek help from others as well.

Mentor is a human who is already dealing with his/her day job. He/she doesent have time to solve your problems. If you have a problem don’t ask your mentor to solve it. Ask the place/ content where the answer can be found out. That is the idea behind the learning of GSoC.

Further, DO NOT;

  • Forward questions with less information; be specific as much as possible and detailed. (If there is a bug a screenshot would be far better than a verbose description)
  •  If you have obtained anything cite the reference.
  • If you have searched for answers note the places where you looked into.
  • If you are try fixing it note the things/ steps you have taken.
  • Note anything you think relevant to serve your need.
  • If you are not answered be patient, do not forward the same mail OR criticize !
  • One last thing, bare mind when you use a public mailing list always, once a mail sent you cant delete or reverse it. Therefore be careful a lot !

I do hope above tips will help you soon you start communicating with your mentor.

Enjoy !!!

[1] https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Summer_coding_ideas_for_2012

[2] https://admin.fedoraproject.org/mailman/listinfo/summer-coding

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