It has been one month since Google announced their new Open Source program, the GHOP contest (Google Highly Open Participation.) Angie Byron has written up some great progress reports on her website and on drupal.org. I have to say that I have been pretty blown away by the students we've been able to work with. Back before the contest was announced there were only a few of us who knew about it and were trying to come up with an initial task list. We kept debating on how hard we could make tasks. I mean, these are kids right? And these are supposed to be done in a few days. Can't go too hard on them. We came up with a nice variety of tasks and put 'em out there. All I can say is WOW. Seriously, the quality of work we have gotten and the enthusiasm to learn has really made me stop and think. I have learned a lot from these students.
The Drupal community is already familiar with working with students on projects through Google's Summer of Code (SoC) program. We've gotten some great work done but, more importantly, we've gained some really great contributors. The GHOP contest takes that general concept and breaks it up into smaller pieces and focuses on younger students. Just like SoC, GHOP is giving the community a LOT of quality work that we really, really need. We are also once again getting great contributors.
So, here is a little beg. ;-) Seriously, helping out with this contest is helping Drupal in so many ways. We are getting many awesome tasks done like better documentation for some high profile modules (like Views and Imagecache), lots of new Simpletests (that have resulted in finding some nice core bugs), upgrading of modules, etc. Really the list goes on. We still need more tasks since they are being snatched up as quickly as we lay them down. Just as important we *really* need folks to take a little bit of time to simply review the students' work and give them some feedback. They are willing to put the time and energy in to the work and we just need to give it a look and some guidance. For that payment we get a ton of benefit.
You don't need to be a super-coder or even crazy knowledgeable about Drupal. You just need to be willing to spend a little time and be willing to share your knowledge and maybe even learn something yourself. Writing up tasks is really thinking about things that would be great to get done that no one has had time to do yet and then writing it up in enough detail. We have guidelines for creating tasks and a pretty easy template to fill in with details. If you have an investment in the task or know a bit about it, then mentoring the task is even cooler. Mentors are the "point person" so to speak for the student but everyone in the community is helping to answer questions and review so it isn't just you hanging out there.
Even if you aren't creating tasks or formally the mentor, the whole community can help out by answering questions in the issue queue or IRC and helping review. Again, you don't have to be a Drupal coder guru for this. Many tasks our students are doing don't even involve code. Often we just need folks that can read English and give feedback on things making sense or following directions and seeing if the steps work. Code tasks need some good old fashioned code style review as well as in depth Drupal system knowledge so every little bit helps. If you want to help but aren't sure how, here is a great place to step in.
Feel free jump on the issue queue or hop on the freenode network on IRC and come to the GHOP channel at #drupal-ghop. We can find a way to use the 15 minutes you have. :-)
Aside from the community benefit, on a personal level I feel like I've gotten a jolt. I am humbled by the students' willingness to learn AND teach. This coupled with general enthusiasm about the project that many of them have brought has been very inspiring. I'm not just inspired about teaching and learning or Drupal, but I am inspired that these people are the coming leaders in my world. These students make me look at the future as a bright and hopeful place. Working side by side with them and seeing the intelligence, thoughtfulness and diligence is so heartening and hopeful. That is a great gift to me that above all else makes me thankful that I have been involved in this contest.
So, c'mon and add some spark to your day while helping the future, both Drupal's and the world's.