5 Lessons I’ve Learned as A Project Administrator in GirlScript Summer of Code

5 Lessons I’ve Learned as A Project Administrator in GirlScript Summer of Code

A Hard Question

If I had to pick the highlight of my summer, it would be participating as a Project Administrator for LinksHub during GirlScript Summer of Code(GSSOC). Now my friends, before you raise your eyebrows and ask, “Chrissy, what the heck are you talking about?”, let me break it down for you.

What is GirlScript Summer of Code?

Imagine a three-month-long online summer program where open source maintainers worldwide(including yours truly) come together as Project Administrators to achieve one goal: Take bright-eyed tech students from across the globe and turn them into open source wizards. It’s basically like we’re training the next generation of the tech Avengers and Justice League. Pretty cool right? Now, before I start babbling about how awesome GSSOC is, grab your favorite snack and join me in reminiscing about the very lessons I learned in training the next generation of open source contributors.

Lesson 1: Use Jargon Sporadically

As cool as saying “PR” or “LGTM” are, it’s better to say their full names and phrases. In the beginning, I would write “LGTM” as a comment of approval for pull requests, but it hit me “What if the contributors are scratching their heads and wondering what this means?” So like a chameleon changing its stripes, I changed my language to a more beginner-friendly level. I started using simple phrases like “Great Job!” and “You did it!”. It was like magic – suddenly, the contributors responded with “Thank You!”, using high-five and heart emojis. Let me tell you, it warmed my heart to see this little corner of open source turning into an inclusive hangout. Oh great my eyes are starting to get misty, so let’s move on to the next lesson before the waterworks really start.

Lesson 2: Set Boundaries

As awesome and extraordinary maintainers are, we’re mere humans at the end of day. In the earlier months of GSSOC, I would do late night sessions of merging and reviewing pull requests like the Energizer Bunny on coffee. I’d even stop whatever I was doing to answer GitHub notifications like they were meteors falling to Earth. It was so overwhelming that my head started to spin like a merry-go-round. So, to save whatever shred of sanity I had left, I did the following:

  • Assign myself to only do maintainer duties on the weekends.

  • Give a friendly reminder to participants to be patient whenever they send me frantic messages

  • Silence GitHub notifications on my phone before I go to bed.

As simple as these strategies were, they helped me stay zen and reminded me of the purpose of GSSOC: to bring more people into the open source community. Now, these boundary-setting tricks are just one nugget of wisdom GSSOC has gifted me. Buckle up, 'cause we're cruising right into the next one! 😊

Lesson 3: Show an Eagerness to Learn

You know the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”? Guess what? Turns out, I ain't just an old dog; I'm an old dog acing some snazzy new moves, all thanks to my GSSOC escapade. This program isn't just a launchpad for open-source newbies; it's a springboard for us maintainers to level up too. For instance, I have always wanted to work with a GitHub Action but I never knew how it could be applied. And then it hit me, why not add a GitHub Action that helps check for spelling errors? Now, here's the kicker: I'd be lying if I said I didn't stumble over a couple of coding roadblocks. I mean, who knew spelling was gonna be the tricky part? Classic, right? But no sweat, I did a draft pull request and teamed up with one of the GSSOC participants, who in my opinion is like the Yoda of coding. We tinkered, tested, and ta-da! With patience that rivals monks on mountaintops, I learned that open source contributions are like food. You have to taste it (or in this case, test your code) and make adjustments before sharing it with others. Now before you run off to get more snacks, brace yourselves for my next nugget of wisdom! 🎬

Lesson 4: Be Constructive with Your Feedback

As cliché as the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” is, words truly are powerful. How a maintainer interacts with a first-time contributor can heavily impact their open source experience. Speaking from experience, my trusty pull request reviewing technique involves pointing out contributors’ strengths and providing suggestions on how to further improve them whether it's recommending Grammarly for proofreading or using different elements to make their code more accessible. Now if they request a second review and there are still improvements that need to be made, I give more pointers, words of encouragement, etc. And when all's said and done, it's time for my signature mic-drop moment…a big, fat "Yay you did it! 🥳" or a warm yet formal "Thank you for contributing! We hope to see you again soon!" You won't believe it, but one time, a participant said this after their pull request got merged: "This is my first time contributing to open source. Thank you so much for making it wonderful!” Seeing messages like this was very reassuring. It’s a sign that my approaches to maintaining are positively impacting people’s experience in open source. Now before you go, there's another golden nugget from my GSSOC escapade that I'm just dying to share. Let’s get right to it, folks! 🎉

Lesson 5: Stay Connected

It’s one thing to work with new contributors, but staying buddy-buddy with them? That's a whole new ball game. Throughout my time at GSSOC, there were so many wonderful individuals that I have worked with and learned from. For instance, there are two contributors, Deepaksingh Kushwah and Anmol Baranwal. They have been my partners in crime in reviewing pull requests and always encouraging me and Rupali to think outside the box, and guess what? They are now on the maintainer team! Watching them go from open source newbies to maintenance wizards right before my eyes has been a wonder to witness, and I look forward to seeing what else they will come up with.

Thank you for the ride!

GirlScript Summer of Code has been an absolute blast. It turned my outlook on open source upside down and inside out, giving me a backstage pass to the maintainer-contribution tango. So, to all the maintainer mavericks out there hungry for growth and ready to be mentors, join this program! Trust me, it’s a showstopper. Summer has just ended and I'm already dreaming about next year’s program.

Speaking of dreaming, if you have been dreaming of contributing to an open source (and I’m sure you have 😉), dive into my other posts and subscribe to my blog for some juicy updates. Also, catch me on BioDrop if you need someone to cheer you on as you blaze your own trail in tech! Let’s help each other! 😊


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