It was on Feb 10 that I sent an email to Sage Ross, the mentor of Wiki Education Dashboard, asking for some help in finding some good first issues.
And on May 20, some 4 months later, I get the email that every GSoC contributor dreams about
It was just after I started college that I heard about GSoC from one of my seniors. I don’t remember exactly why but back then I never really gave much thought to GSoC. Maybe it was because none of the projects interested me. Maybe the whole thing felt too difficult. Or maybe it was because I thought I wasn’t good enough or didn’t have the required skills. But whatever it was, for almost a year I didn’t think about GSoC again. Until one of my friends(Rushikesh) got selected.
I would like to think that I wasn’t jealous but from that day I looked at GSoC with a lot more intent. Up until that point, all I knew was some basic HTML, CSS, and JS. I had also worked with Express but that was about it. For the next few months, I spent a lot of time playing with React and its ecosystem. But by January when it was time for GSoC again, I didn’t know if I wanted to participate.
I knew I wanted to start contributing early to an organization. I felt that doing that would give me the best chance of getting selected. But selecting an organization was a lot more difficult than I imagined. The official list still wasn’t out so I was looking at the organizations from GSoC 2021. Even when an organization’s tech stack matched with the stuff I knew, the work didn’t excite me.
And somehow, I stumbled upon Wikimedia Foundation. Wiki Edu Dashboard hadn’t participated in 2021, but I found it on the New Developers page on MediaWiki.
The technologies it used didn’t match perfectly. I had never used Ruby before but I felt that I was pretty comfortable in React. Setting up the environment was a pain but after a day of hard work, I thought I had been able to get everything up and running. Well, I already wrote about what happened next. I sent Sage an email and he replied soon after, linking me to some Ruby issue I could get started with.
Over the next few months, I worked on the Dashboard on what I hope were increasingly non-trivial and difficult issues. While I still had GSoC in the back of my mind, I was starting to enjoy the process itself - the collaboration, the code reviews, and the amazing feeling you get when your PR gets merged.
With the help of my mentor Sage, I was able to draft what I hope was a decent proposal. I remember constantly nagging Sage for his thoughts on every other idea I had for the project. On April 19, the application deadline closed and it was going to be a month before I would find out if my proposal got accepted.
After a month of waiting, the day had finally arrived. The result was supposed to be out at 23:30 IST but the GSoC website had crashed. It was after midnight that I finally got the email. The first thing I did was thank Sage - I couldn’t have asked for anyone better to guide me through this. Ever since I first joined the Slack channel, he’s been friendly and cheerful and was always there to offer his help.
Later that day, Sage informed me that Dhruvdutt Jadhav would be a co-mentor on my project. As he’s also been a GSoC intern in the past, I’m excited about working with him.
I also can’t fail to mention Rushikesh. He not only helped me in finding good organizations but even proofread my proposals and helped improve them. He was also the one who answered the proverbial “I know it’s a stupid question” questions(ones I was afraid of asking Sage) and I really can’t thank him enough.
The community bonding period was mostly about getting to know the other interns and the people at Wikimedia. The community is the best thing about open-source software - hearing people talk passionately about what they do is an enriching experience.
Group photo taken at a welcome session organized for Wikimedia’s GSoC 2022 and Outreachy Round 24 interns. I’m the one whose face is being covered by his name :-(
Of course, this is all just the start.
The actual coding period starts today(June 12) and I couldn’t be more excited to see where this internship takes me - both as a developer and as a person!