Alternative Summer Of Code From China
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 12 May 2021

There's a new scheme for paying university-aged students to become involved in open-source software development. It comes from the Institute of Software Chinese Academy of Sciences  in cooperation with openEuler. Summer 2021 is its second program and it is recruiting both open source projects and students over 18 years old.


Students who want to spend their summer break "flipping bits not burgers", to quote the Google of Summer of Code motto, now have another option for finding an open source project to contribute to in return for a stipend. Called the "Summer 2021 of Open Source Promotion Plan", this initiative is open to students around the world. However, the languages used are English and Chinese with some participating open source projects only supporting the latter. 

To apply to be a participating organization all that is required is that the project is under an OSI-approved software license. As well as coding, other projects conducive to open source community development, such as translation of technical documents are supported although the total proportion of non-development projects must not exceed 20%. Mentors, who can oversee up to three projects each, will be paid a bonus of RMB 5,000 (around $775 US, £550) per successfully completed project.

The deadline for application is May 20 and currently around 80 organizations are listed including Debian, Nebula Graph; XMake and ZStack; numerous Apache sub-projects, the Chinese communities of Emacs, Jenkins, Julia, PostgreSQL and Ubuntu; plus other Chinese-only open-source projects. As well as being one of the scheme's Host organizations, openEuler, the open source version of its Linux distribution released  by Huawei, is itself one of the participating Communities, but all 110 of the projects it has listed are in Chinese only.


As far as students are concerned, the application period to have a proposal accepted runs from May 24 to June 13, but already students can sign up and be picking the projects they are interested in and communicating with the relevant mentors. While mentors cannot help with code once the development process is underway they are expected to help students with their proposals and also to on-board them into the community. Or as the guidelines put it:

Instruct students how to become a member of the community and use common communication tools (E-mail, IRC, mailing lists, etc.) ... follow the rules of the community and use the community's code management platform and other tools.

This is seen as an important part of the mentoring role as a feature of the program is that:

In addition to encouraging students to contribute to the community, the organizing committee hopes to introduce the concept of open source to the students and help them understand the open source culture and participate in the open source community.


To encourage more students to participate projects are at three levels of difficulty, with different funding levels accordingly: Low (6000 RMB); Medium (9000 RMB and High (12000 RMB). There are no gender/nationality restrictions for participation, but students must be at least eighteen years old.

The actual program for accepted students runs from 1 July to 30 September. It has two phases with a Mid-Term review after six weeks to discover that the project is on-schedule and code and output has been submitted as planned. Those who pass this assessment, which is evaluated by the community, will receive half their stipend (called a bonus). Any who fail cease participating. The second phase is more about project evaluation than further coding and there's a final assessment which must the passed for payment of the remainder of the bonus. See the Student Guide for more details.

On the whole this seems to be a great extra opportunity for Chinese-speaking students, just as Outreachy is, intentionally, biased in favor of women. As applications for this year's Google Summer of Code and Outreachy are both over, if you are a student still looking for a coding opportunity its worth seeing where you might be able to participate. 

As for open source organizations are concerned if you have a coding project that would be suitable for a single student to complete over a period of 6 weeks or not much longer - or have technical documentation to translate from or into Chinese, this could be a valuable opportunity and one that might prove to be longer lasting than just three months of summer 2021.


More Information

Summer 2021 of Open Source Promotion Plan.


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 May 2021 )