Having experienced the ups and downs of the First Commit program that was started to fill the gap in how people use vs contribute to FOSS, focusing mainly on the student community, I’ve observed that the way ahead for an initiative that encourages FOSS contributions from first timers is probably through something that is of the shape of GSoC/Outreachy, while being a bit different to take into account the realities of India, focusing on supporting communities that are far detached from the metropolitan mainstream.
We can think of many things, maybe the incentives should be better aligned to those who really need it and stipends should be opt-in, be it for the contributors or the maintainers, as both parties invest significant chunks of time into helping each other and thus the FOSS community prosper, but mandating equal compensation for all, I feel, would limit the number of project in each cohort if that funding is to come from the organization alone. We also have to think about how these funds will be raised in a sustainable manner, will it come from sponsorships or be raised from the grassroots(community members)?
Please share your ideas on how this idea can be implemented and if FOSS United is the right platform/community to make this happen!
In 2018, inspired from GSoC, we did the ERPNext summer of code. Even then there was a tremendous demand for this. In hindsight, we took too many students and were not able to mentor effectively.
On stipends, if students achieve milestones, I think most projects have some funds to give. It could be as little as 10k for a milestone - but giving some money will make it more serious. GSoC had 2 milestones (one month each). In our case, not many people achieved those milestones. Designing and mentoring is also a skill projects will have to learn which will take multiple iterations for them to figure.
This is a great idea (love the name “Season of commits” as well), and there is no doubt that we should implement it. @Devdutt happy to support if you are willing to lead it. In my head - the fossunited.org platform should be the place for projects and students to apply. The projects can do their own acceptance. So once the “portal is setup”, its must a matter of evangelising the program.
This is a great idea. We can also draw some inspiration from Outreachy. Here’s a rough sketch of how I think we could operationalize this initiative.
- Develop a detailed structure of the program, encompassing the selection process, mentorship model, and evaluation criteria.
- Define the goals, timeline, and anticipated outcomes of the program.
- Reach out to existing FOSS projects that are interested in welcoming new contributors.
- Alternatively, identify new project ideas that address existing challenges or opportunities within the FOSS community.
- Create a platform or a portal where project maintainers can submit their projects for inclusion in the initiative.
- Establish clear guidelines for project submission, including project description, goals, technical requirements, and mentor availability.
Review and Approval:
- Set up a review committee to evaluate project submissions based on predefined criteria.
- Approve projects that align with the goals of the initiative and have the capacity to support new contributors.
Project Page Creation:
- Create individual pages or profiles for each approved project on the platform.
- Include detailed information about the project, including its objectives, tech stack, mentor contact information, and how to get started.
- Assign mentors to projects, ensuring they have the necessary expertise and are committed to supporting new contributors.
- Establish clear guidelines for mentorship, including communication channels, regular check-ins, and feedback mechanisms.
Communication and Collaboration Platforms:
Platform Selection (we can use discourse as well)
- Define a flexible stipend system to cater to the varied needs of participants.
- Explore additional incentives like certification, which could add value to the participant’s portfolio.
Funding: (if applicable)
- Identify potential sponsors and donors who resonate with our mission.
- Kickstart fundraising campaigns, delving into both grassroots fundraising and corporate sponsorships.
- Allocate funds judiciously for stipends, operational costs, community events, training materials, and so forth.
Community Engagement and Outreach:
- Forge partnerships with educational institutions, tech companies, and other relevant stakeholders.
- Engage with existing FOSS communities to understand their challenges and needs which would provide a rich context for our initiative (can be helpful for the next edition in case folks are looking for community projects to get listed).
- Start small campaigns to amplify awareness about the program and the overarching benefits of contributing to FOSS.
Call for Applications:
- Roll out the application process, inviting interested individuals to apply.
- Establish a robust selection process to shortlist promising candidates.
- Host a kick-off event to introduce participants, mentors, and stakeholders, creating a sense of community.
- Share the vision, goals, and expectations of the program to align everyone towards a common objective.
Monitoring and Support:
- Keep an eye on the progress of participants and projects, ensuring they are on the right track.
- Get feedback to understand the challenges faced and provide the necessary support.
Evaluation and Feedback:
- Assess the outcomes of the projects against set goals and criteria, recognizing and celebrating the achievements of participants.
- Collect the feedback from participants, mentors,
- Delve into what worked well, what didn’t, and the areas that necessitate improvement.
Documentation and Sharing Learnings:
- Share success stories, shedding light on the impact of the program on individuals and communities.
Sharing Learning and Insights:
- Share the accumulated learnings and insights with the broader FOSS community.
- Encourage participants to share their experiences and contribute to the improvement of the program.
The above-outlined points are not in order or organized sequentially; they’re merely a rough collection of ideas that can be included as needed.
I am open to engaging in collaborative brainstorming if that’s helpful