Journey to GSoC

How did you start contributing to the Wikimedia foundation?

I woke up to this message on my LinkedIn profile. Luckily, I had a free weekend and was looking for a topic to write a blog about. So here goes my journey to the GSoC Mentee at Wikimedia foundation.

Let us time travel back to this particular workshop in August 2019, it was my first year at NITW, titled ‘Open-source and GSoC’. Our seniors introduced us to the open source in that workshop, we made our GitHub Profiles, opening the door to this fascinating world of collaboration and contribution. The talk about GSoC from at the end of the session caught my attention. It was not the first time I heard this buzzword, my friends told me about it but I did not know much about it. At the end of this session, I talked to a senior to know more about GSoC, I was advised to learn a skill, gain some experience from open source and finally apply for GSoC.

I explored different domains in my freshmen year of college and finally learned android development. I followed courses on Coursera, Udemy and with the help of YouTube and ‘Google’ made some apps.

Fast forward one year, it was October 2020. The pandemic was at its peak and I decided to start preparing for GSoC. I had contributed to some open-source projects and was learning git at that moment. Reading through dozens of articles, blogs, and Quora posts about how to crack GSoC, I stumbled upon an informative, well-written answer titled ‘How to prepare for GSoC’. I followed the answer, its approximate timeline was a perfect match and it highlighted the true insights into the mind of an individual when surrounded by a plethora of intimidating information on GSoC. I’ve read this one answer an uncountable number of times and it had helped me a lot during my journey to GSoC at Wikimedia foundation.

Around November 2020, I started looking for organizations to contribute to, I would find myself switching between my excel sheet and browser listing down the organizations having a project on android. Besides android development, I listed the projects dealing with C++ or Java in general as I had a good grasp of these languages. The number of good first issues, no of years participated, and possible first issue were some of the columns of this excel sheet. Undoubtedly, Wikimedia was one organization that caught my attention, it had a good no of beginner-friendly good first issues with a great history of participation in GSoC.

I read through the contribution guideline and explored the beginner issues Commons repository to get started. I recall, my first comment on the Wikimedia organization was on a beginner-friendly issue. I had done my homework on the issue and presented my solution requesting to get assigned to the issue. As I remember, it was Nicolas Raoul who welcomed me to the project and assigned me to the issue. Thus started the endless cycle of Issue-PR-Review-Repeat. After that, I contributed regularly to the repository by creating issues, fixing bugs, and reviewing pull requests. It was the welcoming community of Wikimedia Commons that made me stick to it, I enjoyed discovering bugs, solving issues, and helping other members of the organization. I believe this is the hardest part of starting to contribute to an organization, but as soon as you post that ‘one little comment’ requesting to get assigned to an issue, you are already ahead of more than 50% of the candidates aspiring to work as a GSoC mentee.

In the contribution phase, sometimes I would submit an unworthy PR or propose a not-so-good solution to the bug, but the organization collaborators would guide me towards the solution and help me solve critical bugs that made a huge impact on my proposal. Over the final months of the contribution, I reviewed some pull requests by fellow contributors.

Not to mention, this was not the only organization I was contributing to during the Contribution Period. Just to have a backup, over the final months before the application deadline I contributed to Anki-Droid. But finally, I submitted only one well-written proposal to Wikimedia commons for the custom selector.

Finally, my proposal was accepted and I successfully completed the GSoC project for Wikimedia Commons.

PS: for those waiting for the link to the Quora article follow here. I’d be waiting for that ‘One Little comment’ on the commons repository.

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