The community bonding period is the 3 weeks between GSoC contributor acceptance and the start of coding date. This is a vital time to engage with your GSoC contributor and set them up for success. Feedback from some GSoC contributors in recent years has been that their mentors and organizations didn’t do anything in the community bonding period and they didn’t understand what they should have been doing. The Community Bonding Period is the organization’s opportunity to set expectations and milestones, welcome the contributor to their community and give the GSoC contributor access to the tools they need to succeed during the coding period.

Many orgs are not using the community bonding constructively - this is direct feedback from a number of GSoC contributors. Remember, the GSoC contributor is excited to start getting involved with your community, welcome them in immediately!

Here are some of the goals of this period:

  • Prepare GSoC contributors to immediately start writing code at the official start of coding.
  • Get GSoC contributor engaged socially in the project. GSoC contributors have given very positive feedback about orgs that have had welcome video calls with the community. Having all of your GSoC contributors and mentors on the same call is a big plus for everyone. And bonus if you have a previous GSoC contributor that is still active in your community join the call to briefly chat about their experience.
  • Provide time for GSoC contributors to learn about the development practices of the organization.
  • Ensure that GSoC contributors have a development environment set up. This includes getting set up with the project version control system and reading up on necessary documentation.
  • Further refine the strategic plan for project completion. Be sure to have solid requirements for both phases particularly the end of the first phase so there is no confusion between your expectations and the GSoC contributor’s. Other milestones for the final phase can be adjusted by discussing with the GSoC contributor as needed.
  • This is a time for the GSoC contributor to get required forms filled out, such as the tax forms required by Google, any contributor license agreements, and any paperwork that your project requires.

This period was added in 2007 to help GSoC contributors integrate with their development community and so encourage them to become lifetime contributors. New contributors to a project outside of GSoC often lurk in a project’s chat channel and/or mailing lists for weeks or months before submitting their first patch. The community bonding period is an attempt to improve that experience.

Successful completion of your GSoC contributor’s GSoC project depends a lot on the bonding period. Make sure that you and your GSoC contributor make good use of this time and make significant progress on preliminary tasks. The community bonding period is also a good chance for the GSoC contributors to start interacting with each other. Early connections can help the GSoC contributors support each other during coding.

Ideally GSoC contributors are ready to start writing code at the official start of coding, and are already engaged socially. During the community bonding period GSoC contributors are expected to learn about the development processes of their organization, ensure they have a development environment set up, get set up with the project version control system, read up on necessary documentation, and further refine the strategic plan for successful project completion.

Plan weekly activities for your GSoC contributor that only take an hour or two.

Pro Tip: GSoC contributors are meant to be “in good standing with their community” to continue in the program. If you don’t hear anything at all from your accepted GSoC contributor during community bonding, or the GSoC contributor explicitly drops out, tell Google.

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