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I'm nominally involved in co-mentoring or cheerleading 5 Google Summer of Code projects this summer, and several of the students have the same problem: they send me one big e-mail (or post one big blog entry), every few weeks, asking for input.

This imposes a big energetic barrier to me. In order to answer their question(s) or look at their code, I need to come up to speed with all the changes they've made to their project since the last time they asked for help. (And because I'm busy, this often means I don't get to it at all. Mea culpa.)

I think this might be a consequence of the learning process the good students learn in school: "try to figure everything out yourself, and only come ask for help if you're really stuck." That, or they just don't want to bother me with "trivia", even though that's what I actually want -- to be bother with small-sized stuff, not big chunks!

Anyway, the message is: ask me to look at small things every now and then, and make them easy to look at (VCS rather than attachments, some form of docs, etc.). I'll rub the corners off of your code base more regularly and I can be much more helpful on that basis than on the big chunk/every month basis.

Paranthetically, one of the joys of this GSoC has been watching several students plow through the work without really any input or oversight from me. Eden Elos, Eric Pruitt, Shuaib Khan, Zach Riggle, and Yang Yang (and... who am I missing?) have all really stepped up to the plate, or at least allowed themselves to be inexorably moved towards the plate and assumed plate-occupying responsibility.

--titus


Legacy Comments

Posted by Owen on 2009-08-07 at 14:29.

Duly noted, Bossman.

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