Google Code In

Google Code In (GCI) is a opportunity for high school students to learn about and participate in open source communities. Mentoring organizations create tasks and review the students work. Google then provides rewards for those students who do the best work. The contest runs from December through January each year.

We're hoping to participate in 2016

Ubuntu has participated as part of the following years:


Mentors help students with tasks, answer questions, and ultimately review the task to mark it as complete. As a mentor you will:

  • Create tasks for students to work on
  • Review completed tasks
  • Help students if they have questions while working on a task

The tasks will be entered on google's contest site. You will also review completed tasks using the same dashboard. You will be granted access to the dashboard upon volunteering.

Finally mentors will also have a hand in choosing who the best students were within the organization in order to assist Google with delivering prizes. There's also a guide to being a mentor.

Still not convinced? On the fence? Read this student's feedback from participating in GCI.

Mentor FAQ

What's in it for me as a mentor?

As a mentor you'll get the opportunity to help grow the greater ubuntu community and meet new contributors. In addition, you'll be able to help someone learn about ubuntu, open source, and new skills. Also remember, students will help you with tasks that need to be completed. This can provide a boost to your team.

Ohh, an a t-shirt and other goodies has been supplied in the past as a thank you from Google!

Do I have to be available 24/7?

No. And Holidays / vacations are OK too. Be proactive in communicating with students to ensure they aren't stuck working on a task you can help with. Consider getting a second or third person to be co-mentors with you on tasks for your team to ensure no one person is the sole point of contact. Our goal is to not have anyone go without a response for more than 48 hours.

Am I mentoring my tasks alone?

Of course not. You are agreeing to guide students through the tasks laid out for them and introduce them to the community. It's not expected that you will replace the entire community, or be the only outlet or source of information for a student. In short, everyone is still here to help you!

You are on the hook to review the tasks (and/or help it get reviewed) so you can mark it as completed in the tool once it's done.

What if I need help as a mentor?

The admins and other mentors are here to help you and ensure you succeed. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask another mentor, an admin, or balloons, jose, or popey for help.

How many tasks do I have to create as a mentor?

As many as you'd like. Even if you only have a single task, don't be afraid of volunteering. We need as many tasks as we can get, and we appreciate your help.

As an organization, we needed to provide at least 75 tasks to start the contest, and we'll need likely at least double that before the contest is over. Thanks for helping us reach that goal!

Can I be a mentor for multiple tasks / teams?

Of course! Be mindful of overwhelming yourself, but don't be afraid to add your name to many tasks. It's unlikely all of them will be worked at once AND require your attention. Again, being flexible and willing to mentor students on different tasks eases the workload of all mentors.


Tasks are easy to digest work items for a student to complete. Tasks are suggested to take 3-5 hours to complete by Google. Beginner tasks (1 - 2 hours) are ok too, as they can serve as an introduction to working with your team. If you create such a task, please mark it as a beginner task.

Tasks should fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Coding
  • Documentation / Training
  • Outreach and Research
  • Quality Assurance
  • User Interface

There is plenty of tasks that are not technical or coding tasks. We can always use more promotion, documentation, and testing! Design work is also much appreciated!

Note: Translation tasks are a no-no. There have been quality control issues in the past, so they are frowned upon and not accepted for GCI :'-(

Tasks FAQ

Got an example task I can look at for inspiration?

Definitely! For some example tasks to get started see Google's examples or some tasks already created for Ubuntu.

What makes a good task?

A well written task should be clear and easy to understand, especially for those who don't speak English as a native language. While writing tasks, try and make sure the description is clear and you provide links to supporting documentation and teams should the student have questions. This will help prevent you from being contact about every task you create.

What's a beginner task?

It's a simple task (1-2 hours) that is intended to serve as a introduction to your team and work. Each student is limited two beginner tasks, so although it's nice to have some beginner tasks, the bulk of the tasks you create shouldn't be tagged as beginner.

What does 'instance count' mean?

Many tasks might be able to be completed by more than one student. For instance, a task to fix a specific bug should be targeted at one person, while a task to fix a list of bugs can have an instance count of more than 1.

How many tasks do I have to create?

As many as you'd like. We appreciate any tasks you can add. As an organization, we need to deliver at least 75 tasks to start, and probably triple that or more over the course of the contest. We appreciate your help!

Is there a task I cannot create?

It seems translation tasks are frowned upon and not allowed, do to quality control issues. Otherwise, go for it. Non-technical tasks like documentation, promotion, art, etc, are all encouraged.

Can I create tasks after December 7th?

YES! And we'll need them after the start date, so don't be shy, or feel like you are late. Add the task, or ping us for help if you have a good idea for a task.

Where can I see the current tasks?

Once you are logged in to the GCI dashboard, click on Manage tasks

Why isn't my task published?

Only admins can control the publishing of the task. Once an admin reviews the task, they will publish it or follow-up with you. If your task isn't being published after more than a day or two, reach out to an admin to have them review it.

How do I create a task?

Login to the GCI dashboard, and create a new task . You'll need a title and a description for the task. In addition, add yourself as the mentor and consider adding a tag or two for the task. You'll also be asked to select a category for the task from a pre-defined list. This is intended to help students select tasks they are interested in.

Once the form is complete, hit save to save the task. Then ask the admins to publish it.

Here's an example of a task filled out:

GoogleCodeIn (last edited 2016-09-12 15:45:16 by nskaggs)