How to become a long-term contributor

As we near the end of GSoC 2021, I want to highlight something:

It’s a primary goal of Google Summer of Code that the student participants stick around long after the program has ended and continue contributing to their
project communities.
– Google mentor guide.

Let’s be realistic though. Donating hours of effort to a project every week is hard. You’ll be continuing to study, looking for work and whatever else - so how can you become a long-time contributor?

The good news is that even with a tiny time commitment you can still contribute a lot to GNOME. You’ve just spent 3 months becoming an expert on at least one part of GNOME. Here are some ideas to make the most of that expertise

  • Stay in touch: Here on Discourse, you can watch tags that interest you instead of checking every day. On Matrix and IRC, you can “lurk” and join in the conversation whenever you get time.

  • Subscribe to the project: On Gitlab you can subscribe to email notifications for your project. You’ll receive a lot of email from gitlab-issues@gnome.org, so set up an email filter to separate that from your regular email. Now you can keep an eye on what’s happening in the project just by checking your email.

  • Promote the project: Many folk aren’t aware what GNOME can do or how to get started with a Linux distribution. You can contribute by promoting the tools you love in your university, your friends and family and your future employers.

  • Provide reviews: There’s no official process to begin reviewing merge requests in GNOME. If you touched some code, you can provide useful review comments to future developers who propose changes.

  • Open detailed issues: A well written issue report provides a good starting point for future newcomers. Think about what info was helpful for you when you got started. As well as new issues, you can add questions and comments on existing issues to clarify things that might not be obvious.

If you do have more free time and want to get further involved GNOME then we have plenty to do! Besides adding features, we always need help with automated testing, bug fixing and documentation of the existing code. If you want to jump in somewhere completely new, the Initiatives list and merge requests in need of attention give starting points.

You can work at your own pace. In a volunteer-driven project, it’s normal that a feature which looks simple might be developed in pieces over months or years. It’s important to keep detailed notes on the relevant issue tracker during the process.

Of course there’s no obligation to contribute once GSOC is over, but I hope I’ve shown that it can be easy to stay involved in GNOME. Remember that if you can demonstrate ongoing contributions,however modest they are, you can apply to be a GNOME Foundation member. Whenever you’re ready, speak to a Foundation member such as your mentor - we will be glad to hear from you :slight_smile:

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Great post!

Also, last year I published a blog post in a similar topic Summertime sadness – Felipe Borges
It has some tips for our interns that are interested in starting a professional career in FOSS.

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Nice post. Indeed I was wondering about the GSoC people myself just some days ago. I could remember that Gnome got some accepted projects for 2021 again, as in the years before. That people are generally nearly invisible for the community. I saw a few introducing blog posts of some of them, but they never appeared on the old mailing list or on the forum. Well maybe they have been seen on IRC? My feeling is that these people generally do it only for their resume and for some bucks, so the final benefit zero or maybe even negative. Why negative? Because maybe they were a burden for their mentors/tutors, and because they may demotivate others to work for free: That guys get money from Google, so why should I fix bugs for free? Other projects have the same problem, I can still remember Mr A. Blake who created the first topological rubberband router attempt for the gEDA project a decade ago. For Nim language we did not even create project proposals for GSoC in the last years, as it generally just makes no sense.

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Summer of Code and Outreachy interns are encouraged to blog, and their posts are syndicated on Planet GNOME. Additionally, all interns present their work during GUADEC during a lightning talk session. And, of course, they are around on IRC/Matrix. So, no: they are not invisible to the community, unless you define “community” as the strict subset of places where you hang out.

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@StefanSalewski You can read our interns blogs in https://planet.gnome.org They are expected to blog at least once every two weeks. They were also presenting about their work in GUADEC, at the intern lightning talks session.

Regarding your comment about people doing it only for their resume/CV, this is a unfair generalization. There are cases where this is indeed true, but there’s also another aspect that is that historically most of our interns are from developing countries, where most people cannot afford to work for free when they are actually struggling to make ends meet. This was my case when I was an intern and I know of others. Luckily I managed to get a job opportunity that allows me to work on GNOME. Not everyone is this privileged.

GNOME is lucky to have outstanding contributors like Carlos Soriano, Debarshi Ray, Adrien Plazas, Georges Basile Stavracas Neto, Bastian Ilso, and many more that are former GSoC/Outreachy interns. See Outreach/SummerOfCode/Statistics - GNOME Wiki! (which looks a bit outdated).

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Florian Muller

That person wasn’t an intern :stuck_out_tongue:

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My experience is that you usually encounter interns in the context-appropriate area of the community. I think I’ve seen every GJS-related intern for the last few years in #javascript, for example. I think that makes a lot sense, since our community can be deceptively large and probably overwhelming.

I also see a lot of interns that end up being a bigger part of the engagement sub-community than the topic of their internship, because that’s where their most positive experiences were (which is a really good sign).

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Just to follow up more about why Foundation membership is a good thing, here is a list of benefits! MembershipCommittee/MembershipBenefits - GNOME Wiki!

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