The ideal GSoC applicant

This is our first year participating in Google Summer of Code. In short, if you're a student with some Rails & Ember skills, you should check out our GSoC profile and consider applying for a chance to do paid work on Discourse under the mentorship of the core team this summer. We'll be taking applications during 14. - 25. of March. With that out of the way, we'd like to take a moment to explain what we're looking for in a GSoC student.


Since our admission into the GSoC program, we've already heard from a handful of students, and they all ask the same recurring question:

Should I contribute to the project before applying?

Talking to students so far we’ve been a bit hesitant to outright demand prior contributions. But truth be told, we would have preferred it if you contributed to Discourse yesterday.

When the applications start rolling in on March 15th, we’ll keep an open mind and sincerely consider all applicants, regardless of community involvement prior to GSoC. However, while an absolutely kick-ass application might still win through in the end, prior contributions is undoubtedly the best way to get to the top of the pile.

We’re not looking for drive-by contributors

If you see this through the lens of a job interview, it’s a big ask. Basically we want you to put in hours of free work just to have a shot at getting the paid position. That’s the wrong way to look at it though. We don’t think of GSoC as a part-time employment, we see it as a reward for your passion.

Google has gifted us with an opportunity to reward passion, just like Mozilla did with their MOSS grant and as we do ourselves when our budget allows it.

Over the course of a few years, my personal engagement with Discourse roughly went like this:

  • 100% passion work
  • 95% passion work, 5% paid work (one-off paid gigs)
  • 80% passion work, 20% paid work (some regular freelance gigs)
  • 20% passion work, 80% paid work (full time employment)

Most of the paid work I do now is the type of work I would readily do for free, but getting paid enables me to do way more of it. I was perfectly happy at all stages of my engagement with Discourse; which stage you’re shooting for is up to you. The point is, if your level of engagement with Discourse looks like this:

  • 0% passion work, X% paid work

Then we’ll have a hard time working together. We’re just not cut from the same cloth. We’ll have a hard time understanding one another’s drive and motivations. Most critically, we’re not passionate about the same thing.

Are you passionate about Discourse? Please consider applying for one of Discourse’s projects in GSoC 2016!