GSoC at Wikimedia (Part 1 of 3)

Introduction

This is part 1 of 3 of my blog post about my experience as a GSoC student with the Wikimedia Foundation. This section will answer 3 fundamental questions as a GSoC participant in the Wikimedia Foundation such as; What is Google Summer of Code, Why did I apply for GSoC and Why the Wikimedia Foundation?

What is Google Summer of Code?

Google Summer of Code (GSoC) is an annual international program where Google awards stipends of US$5,500 to students who successfully complete their requested work on a free and open-source projects during the summer. The summer of code in this light is a period of 3 months that spans from May to August (which is the actual coding period) where students work with mentors on accepted free and open-source projects.

Google Summer of Code started in 2005 and from that time, the program has been running for 11 years and so far, 103 countries, 515 open-source organisations and 11,000 students were involved and over 50 million lines of code have been written by participants. Wikimedia Foundation has been always participating for the GSoC since it 2009 (from the GSoC archive now on the Google Melange website) making 8 years of participation. This program is a very exciting one and builds the career path of students who participate since they get the opportunity to work on real world projects and see how people around the world use their code to solve real life problems.

For more information about Google Summer of Code here are some pointers to help you get started;

Why did I apply for the GSoC?

First of all, this is my 3rd year applying in the GSoC program, and the first year I was selected. The program begins with a competitive application process, and my proposal was to build Automated Testing and Integration of IFTTT support to Wikidata” project.

I applied for the GSoC program because:

  • My passion for contributing to open source communities and projects has always been a continuous burning flame and my dream is to one day work for an open source community as maybe their software engineer (since I am studying software engineering in school — B.Eng) or working under the IT department in the community. So, I figured that GSoC is a good place to starts with, carrying out this internship with them and proving myself of being able to work on their projects.
  • I hope to be able to measure my programming skills with that of an active programming community working on real world projects. I felt like my skills are not used as expected in my university and wanted to work on projects that are even stronger, than the mini projects I do in school.
  • I wanted to work on software that many other programmers are working on at the same time. Create contacts with other great programmers and get to know deeply how open source communities work so I can build an open source community in my local community and bring in more open source contributors into the program.
  • Finally, the US$5,500 that Google gives as award to all students who complete the program is a great motivation for who ever wants to venture into a study-work program as a student. I found out that doing this can really help cater for some issues faced as a student and also help finance my education in a better way which will in effect boost my educational and career path. Thanks to Google.

Why the Wikimedia Foundation?

After the non-acceptance into GSoC for my first 2 years of application, probably because I wanted to work on very difficult projects which I was not skilled enough for, I sat back and decided to think about the next step to take. I found out that even in school, I was always tutoring many lower level students in programming and making knowledge available to them (for free). I loved the feeling of helping people and make them succeed without asking anything back from them so I decided to follow that path and looked for an organization that does something almost similar to what I do in school.

I found the Wikimedia Foundation, an organisation that focuses on encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual, educational content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge, is an organisation worth working with to make my continent (Africa) — and especially Cameroon — aware of such organisations. These are projects which enrich knowledge to the society for free. This will go a long way to improve my community and Africa including the world as a whole in terms of education and academics “for free”.

In as much as I am interested making knowledge free to people and other students, my main point of focus in Wikimedia is not just making knowledge free but “how to make knowledge free”. I wanted to see how the community uses programming and software technologies to power free knowledge to the whole world. In addition, I was already very proficient in the technologies and programming languages and technologies used in Wikimedia such as PHP, CSS and JavaScript, jQuery, JSON, Python, SQL, HTML5, Github, Git/Gerrit. Since I was already good with these technologies, I was very positive that if I apply for a project with the Wikimedia Foundation, I might be selected for a project during the summer.

Finally, in addition to the above mentioned points, I had also done a lot of contributions to many extensions in the MediaWiki software and also mentored in the Google Code-In 2015 program for the Wikimedia Foundation so this was my main motivations for applying for this community for GSoC 2016.

Conclusion

In the next blog post, I will write about how my project (Automated testing and Integration of IFTTT support to Wikidata) was carried out, how the project looked like, what I did during the Summer of Code and how the Wikimedia community members can help me enhance the project.