TPF and SoC 2007

A few people have raised questions about TPF's lack of involvement in this year's Google Summer of Code, wondering if TPF simply decided not to participate, or if there was more to the story. There is, and I hope this post will help answer the questions.
The short version: We submitted an application to be a mentoring organization, but we weren't accepted.

The longer version starts back in 2005, when TPF was part of the first Summer of Code program. Although I wasn't directly involved in the day-to-day SoC activities, I remember how upbeat people were about the program; Google was making a huge show of support for Open Source, and we were glad to be a part of it. There was a lot of energy and excitement, and everything seemed to be going well.

Things didn't stay so positive, however. There were early mentor/student communication and coordination issues that, frankly, we just didn't deal with effectively. While these issues were eventually resolved -- mostly through the heroic efforts of Curtis Poe (a.k.a., Ovid) -- we never really overcame that poor first impression. Google was left with a pretty dim view of TPF.

It's fair to say that the only reason we were involved in the 2006 Summer of Code program at all was because Robert S, a Google employee that also was a member of TPF, served as a "proxy" for TPF. Robert asked the SoC organizers directly to allow us to participate, and offered to coordinate. Apart from Robert, there was actually very little direct TPF involvement in SoC 2006. (I certainly don't claim that this was a perfect situation, but it did give a number of students an opportunity to work on interesting projects and contribute to Perl. It's very unlikely it would've happened otherwise.)

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of assuming that the same thing would happen again this year, and I was wrong. By the time I learned that, due to other commitments, Robert wouldn't be able to serve as the TPF / SoC liaison in 2007, we were up against the deadline. I quickly assembled and submitted an application, knowing that it was unlikely to be accepted. It wasn't.

I'm sure it's clear by now that I'm not happy about this situation, and I apologize for letting it happen. While it's not the end of the world, it's disappointing; SoC is a worthwhile program, with the potential for a lot of positive exposure for Perl. As difficult as TPF involvement in SoC has often been, I'd certainly still prefer that we were participating.

Looking Ahead

Fortunately, the story doesn't end here. Many of the folks that were gearing up for SoC (both within and outside of TPF) are loathe to just set that motivation aside, and are exploring alternatives. Whether these alternatives take the form of an SoC-like program, or something more appropriate to our community, is under discussion right now. (It's a discussion I encourage you to join; comments are open.)

So as unhappy as I am about all of this, I'm also hopeful that moving forward with one or more of these alternatives will result in some very positive activities in the Perl community. We'll make announcements here soon as these discussions resolve into specific plans and programs.

Thanks for reading.




Last year I contacted Robert to participate as mentor. My project was not accepted (as expected, as it was quite academic), but I think other projects went running and with interesting results (at least the parrot related ones).

This year it is too late. Probably the best is to forget Google SoC and (if possible) suggest Perl-related projects using other mentoring organizations.

I think we should start thinking on an approach to add TPF back as a mentoring organization for 2008.

So is the title of president just nominal, and no real leadership exists?

Hi Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Commenter,

Could Bill have been more on the ball? Sure. Could *you*? Yup!

Volunteer organization and all that - what comes out is roughly proportional to what comes in.

There are plenty who talk and talk and suggest and suggest and debate and debate ENDLESSLY. Preciously few who actually come and do ANYTHING AT ALL.

- ask


TPF should try to become a mentoring organisation in SoC 2008 - definitely! As SoC is a well known event, good Perl projects can mean good publicity.

"Whether these alternatives take the form of an SoC-like program, or something more appropriate to our community, is under discussion right now. (It's a discussion I encourage you to join; comments are open.)" (Bill)

So you think about such a program just for 2007 or for the future?

I don't like the idea of a "TPF-only" program:
*) We have the Grants - that is one ability to work on interesting Perl projects. And that will compete against the other program.
*) The number of people who will notice this program is not that big.

This is a problem that lots of Perl project have. They are well-known in the Perl community but nobody outside the community knows it.

Just my 0.02 EUR


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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Bill Odom published on March 20, 2007 9:17 AM.

Parrot Grant Update - December, 2006 and January, 2007 was the previous entry in this blog.

Best Practical sponsors Perl 6 Microgrants is the next entry in this blog.

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