Tuesday, October 04, 2005


The Good and Grateful

There hasn't been much entries after the completion of the program (not the project - which is still undergoing work, albeit much slowly since it gets interrupted by school assignments and the like). I did want to thank Google, Python Software Foundation and my mentor Ian Bicking again for offering the opportunity and providing the help throughout the project. I learnt a lot, technical wse - considering that this was my first foray into Python web services.

That linuxgazette article

Most of the reaction from the open source developer and academic community to the SoC program has been good. Admittedly there were a few kinks here and there, but nothing less would be expected on the first run of program. It was quite successful, and I am sure this experience will help for the next one (Code of Summer, or Code of Winter?).

What left a bad taste in my mouth was this linuxgazette article covering the "aftermath" of the event - "After the Summer of Code" (no, you don't have to read it to follow my criticism). The article points out criticism to the program, for which I do give it dubious merit, its hard to come out and point an accusing finger at a popular program.

But that's a nasty piece of journalism. Rather than presenting a coherent and informative description of the program and its faults (if any), it instead throws out random complaints elicited from various web pages and mailing lists (probably without even contacting the malefactors involved to see if their complaints had been true or successfully resolved), and turn them into rants.

It starts off with:
One of the biggest noises in Open Source this year was made by Google's announcement of the Summer of Code: a project to encourage students to participate in the development of open source projects during the summer holidays.
One of the biggest noises.... right.... An article is not a blog like this.

The article proceeds to reference the experience given a mentor, who gives some very useful and honest advice to future candidates. But instead of giving a balanced summary of its contents, the linuxgazette article quotes a paragraph from the "BAD APPLICATIONS" section and presents it as _A SUMMARY_ of the selection process, not only distorting meaning but giving the idea that the informative piece was no more than a rant about the quality of applications received.

The article proceeds to contradict itself with its criticism of the amount of "reward" given, USD4500. At first it mentioned that this was far too small for 2 months work, well below what a summer intern would earn in the US. In subsequent sections, it reversed its stance and pointed out that the reward was well above what other open source organizations are offering for contributions. I guess you can't make everyone happy.

Next, it draws attention to the imbalance in scope and perceived usefulness of selected projects (which is to be expected, given the diversity of mentoring organizations and students accepted), but particularly single out WinLibre for sponsoring three similar updating projects, and termed it a waste of money. You can draw your own conclusion, but IMHO the open source development model does encourage a certain amount of redundancy. What disgusted me was the utter lack of courtesy paid to those projects, when in the list of projects to follow, instead of listing these projects by name (obtainable by simply following the link) [python_rewrite_bertrand, updater, bodq], the author lists them as [Python/XML installer/updater, Another updater, Yet another installer/updater].

Finally, the list of projects provided in the article was incomplete, and totally fails to take into account that each project's scope, name and page location has changed since the commencement of the project. Perhaps the author should have contacted Google, to obtain the information provided at the conclusion of the program.

Now I usually have some respect for experienced professionals sharing their experiences on linuxgazette, especially with articles like "Learning to Program with DrScheme" (just before the offending article) and "Optimizing Website Images with the Littleutils" (just after), but I have to say that "After the Summer of Code" falls short of expectations.


Anonymous said...

You should also buy Wilfy's shit while you are buying whatever other shit the spammers have left on your comments page!

sharon said...

Perhaps Google should really consider about creating a open-source code in automatic deletion of spam comments left in blogs.

cwho said...

In Google's defense, they actually had the image-text verification for blogs up early but I didnt enable it till much later. These few months there have been no spam from the blogs, which is about all the traffic I get :/

I guess the best code in the world is only as good as the intelligence of its user.