[llvm-dev] LLVM GSOC Projects Criteria Consultation (before 2/28)

David Chisnall via llvm-dev llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org
Thu Feb 23 03:17:31 PST 2017

On 18 Feb 2017, at 02:10, Anna Zaks via llvm-dev <llvm-dev at lists.llvm.org> wrote:
> While students with previous LLVM dev experience will be more productive, GSoC is a great way of attracting newcomers to the project! So if a proposal is scoped to be completed in time even by someone not familiar with LLVM, we should still accept it.

I’d also add, from having mentored GSoC projects for several open source projects, that there are two ways of considering success for a GSoC project:

1. The student completes the work and it’s incorporated into trunk.
2. The student becomes engaged with the project and continues to contribute after the end of the GSoC.

The former treats the GSoC as an expensive way of getting a particular feature added (yes, Google pays the student, but generally the mentor time comes from somewhere and that’s not free, it’s time that would otherwise be spent contributing to the project in another way).  The second treats the GSoC as a powerful recruitment tool.  I’ve had a couple of students that succeeded in the first way, but didn’t really benefit the project, because they left at the end of the GSoC.  I’ve also had a few that managed some proof-of-concept code that ended up showing that the entire GSoC project idea was the wrong approach, but then remained active contributors for years and ended up contributing far more (good) code than I’d have written if I’d spent the time that I spent mentoring them on hacking.

I would strongly encourage treating the GSoC as a way of engaging students.  I’d also hope that the Foundation’s Women in Compilers and Tools project will help encourage this kind of participation in a way that meshes well with the GSoC.  


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