For this year, and this holds for our previous participations too, our mentors have volunteered to work with GSoC. This means that they primarily want to be involved in the program and that they are not dragged in to participate. Moreover, they have all been contributors to ScummVM for a long time. They feel comfortable around the ScummVM code and can guide students to perform their tasks. The majority of the mentors have also participated in past ScummVM GSoCs so they know their way around the procedures and have also refined their mentoring style. Some of them are/have been part of academia, guiding real students. They have seen the student mentalité in-action and have experience helping people along. We are drawing the best available from our pool of developers to mentor GSoC students this year.
=== What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students? Please be as specific as possible. ===
We know that the students can do that. We learned this the hard way the first time 'round the GSoC ride :-) The measures we set in place during the previous years almost eradicated this problem.
As in the last few years, we will again be sure to enforce certain rules at the program start; we will clearly explain that this work should be considered as full-time, and if that is in any doubt, we will not let the student enter the program.
We have also introduced the policy that students have to provide status to their mentors on a bi-daily basis at most. If a student disappears for more than 3 days without notifying his/her mentor, the student will fail the project. The students will be made immediately aware of this during their applications. We have positively identified that frequent and meaningful communication goes a long way in keeping the students engaged and interested.
Of course, comprehensive timelines will be required as usual, and we will accept only those of the students which will set realistic goals, thus minimizing the risk of getting intimidated. This factor too frequently leads to the student disappearing.
During the program, we will make sure that the students will feel comfortable with their tasks. Our mentors already have experience with that. Moreover, in difficult situations in the past there was not just a single person feeling responsible for a particular student, but rather the whole project was trying to help when needed. These reflexes on behalf of the mentor group but also on behalf of the active team members of ScummVM have proven to be a pretty good "tool" and we are going to do our best this year too.
Based on our more negative experience two years ago, we will also make sure that internal project tensions stay internal and under control, since they were an identified cause of demotivation of our disappearing student in 2011. The current project management structure should make sure that it will not as easily happen in the future.
=== What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors? Please be as specific as possible. ===