Pidgin/Finch/libpurple/Instant Messaging Freedom, Inc. didn’t apply to be an organization in Google’s Summer of Code (GSoC) this year.
Why not? The short answer is that I didn’t feel we had enough developers willing to mentor students for it to be worthwhile.
The long answer is a little more complicated. I feel very lucky that Pidgin has been able to participate in GSoC for the previous 6 years. GSoC is an amazing program and it gives me a warm feeling that Google has consistently funded it, and I hope they continue long into the future. I think I’m a better person for having mentored some students and for having been our organization administrator a few years.
Pidgin has certainly benefited. Heck, Finch itself was a GSoC student project. And the developer went on to be an integral part of our development team. Other benefits: Our UPnP implementation for peer to peer connections. SIP/SIMPLE/STUN. A D-Bus interface. Performance improvements. MSN, ICQ and Yahoo! maintenance. The MySpace protocol plugin. Our certificate manager.
But mentoring students does take time. Five hours per week per student is a reasonable approximation. Some students need less guidance. Some students are so productive they need more help, having their code reviewed, getting feedback on implementation ideas, etc. Reading through and ranking all the student applications takes time. There’s also a mid-term and final evaluation survey that must be filled out. The time required for all this isn’t particularly unreasonable, but many of us developers have very little time to start with.
I tried to get a verbal commitment from some developers this year on whether they’d be able to mentor and the response was pretty limited. In general people expect to be pretty busy this year, and it didn’t seem appropriate for us to commit to GSoC when we may not be able to give our students the level of attention they deserve.
And so it is with a sad heart that I decided not to submit our application this year. It seems likely we’ll apply again in 2012. Also, please don’t get the idea that we don’t want contributions—we love patches and new contributors!
I hope the next GSoC will develop new features in Pidgin :)