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Re: Question to all candidates: financing of development

On Sun, Mar 14, 2010 at 05:11, Mike Hommey <mh@glandium.org> wrote:
> Note that GSoc is supposed to sponsor students to do some development
> work, preferably with the purpose of getting these people involved in a
> project they weren't involved in to begin with.

That's not, per se, accurate. From the GSoC FAQ:

Many of our past participants had never participated in an open-source
project before GSoC; others used the GSoC stipend as an opportunity to
concentrate fully on their existing open source coding activities over
the summer. Many of our 'graduates' have later become program mentors.
  -- http://socghop.appspot.com/document/show/gsoc_program/google/gsoc2010/faqs#what_is

Google only funds students, and only funds development work, but apart
from that, exactly what's worked on and what the aim is is left up to
the project.

> Considering this, I think there are good reasons GSoC didn't get the
> flames that DuncTank had.

Probably the major reason is just that Google remain much more
interested in avoiding flame wars than I was with dunc-tank. For
instance when someone criticises Google for GSoC, people will come to
its defence, even when the criticism's legitimate; nobody's made much
effort to do that for dunc-tank, including me, including when it was

There's a number of features in that vein in general: the money is
fixed as are the overall terms so there's simply no room for debate, a
lot of it's done in forum that are only open to people who are already
participating, people who do generate controversy and arguments about
it tend to not be invited to participate again next year, and there
are plenty of free and open source projects involved so there's a fair
bit of social proof that it doesn't screw up projects. Similar things
apply in Debian -- the people who get to judge the applications are
the ones who've signed up to be potential mentors, and hence have
already indicated they approve of the overall idea at least in

A major factor in avoiding the arguments, in my opinion, is also that
GSoC is restricted to students. That means a bunch of Debian
contributors naturally can't apply, which in some sense avoids the
sense of unfairness that many people who are doing good work aren't
getting funded equivalently -- "of course they aren't, they're not
students". It also avoids the concern that some people will end up
getting "jobs" via GSoC -- people generally only get to be students
for a few years, after which they can't keep being part of GSoC. To
some extent it also avoids the problem of differentiating the people
who decide who should get paid and who gets paid (you don't want
people deciding to pay themselves, generally) -- if you're a student
you apply for funding, if you're not, you're a mentor; and Google adds
a specific rule that you can't be a mentor and apply for funding to do
away with the occassional edge case.

But all that aside, GSoC still gets some "flames" on Debian lists; see
the thread on -devel from about this time last year, eg:


Out of free and open source projects, Debian isn't the most amenable
to funding and corporate sponsorship. There are (demonstrably)  ways
to manage that though, and if you're interested in stress-testing
funding ideas, well, it's a particularly good supplier of stress in
this area. ;)

As far as DPLness is concerned, I (as DPL) was an GSoC admin in the
first year Debian participated in GSoC, and I think it would've been
difficult for Debian to join without at least the DPL's support via a
prompt delegation so that someone was authorised to register the
project with Google and setup mentors and so forth. (I'm pretty sure
the lack of a quick response was what meant we missed out in
participating in the first year Google ran GSoC; that both would've
required a very quick response though, and it's possible letting other
projects try these things first and only adopting things proven to
work is a good idea anyway)


Anthony Towns <aj@erisian.com.au>

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