GSoC Mentor App - 2008

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This is a draft of the text to send to Google to apply for mentoring status. The below text is exactly what we submitted when we applied in March 2008. Note about Q11: in 2008, Google literally pasted our answer about the address of our student application template into their web app. So if we apply in 2009 and the system is the same, it may be best to actually paste the template itself into the question, so that it's in the app.


1. Organization's Name: Audacity

2. Organization's Homepage:

3. Describe your organization.

We are developers of the Audacity® sound editor which runs on Linux, Windows and Mac.

Audacity is widely used:

  • Around 15 million downloads in the past year, and a total of more than 37 million, from Sourceforge ( Consistently in the top 10 downloads on Sourceforge, which hosts more than 100,000 projects.

Audacity won Best Project for Multimedia in the Sourceforge 2007 Community Choice Awards (, and Project of the Month for July 2004. Audacity was chosen as Audio Authoring Application of the Year ( in the 2007 Members Choice poll. Audacity has been featured widely in the media, including (, and a reference in a New York Times article.

Audacity is a flagship application of the wxWidgets ( cross-platform toolkit and it is widely admired as one of the only multimedia applications that runs beautifully on all three major platforms. Care has been taken to make Audacity work with screen readers for visually impaired users. Audacity has been translated into almost 30 languages, and nearly half of Audacity users use it in a language other than English.

Perhaps most importantly, Audacity has a large and vibrant developer community. There are no full-time developers, but about a dozen team members who have been with the project for several years act as the leaders of the community, setting the direction and coordinating releases, but many contributions come from the dozens of other developers who have contributed small features, bug fixes, or other patches, and hundreds of other developers who participate on the mailing lists and help test and track down bugs. In addition, dozens of volunteers help with documentation, technical support, language translation, community support, and more.

The Audacity developer team has been one of the most welcoming open-source projects, and in fact we attribute much of our success to that attitude. Some of our best contributions have come from young developers with very little prior experience. Even though the quality of their code might not be up to our standards at first, we've found that it's better to accept patches and let the code improve over time, each time gaining us a new developer who will grow and mature, rather than trying to keep it an exclusive club.

From discussions on the developer list, we already have a list of five students ( who have expressed interest in working on Audacity for Google Summer of Code 2008.

4. Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2008? What do you hope to gain by participating?

GSoC looks to be a very effective way to get a developer giving full time attention to Audacity, coding on a focused task. It looks to be win-win, good for the student and good for us. As well as the direct improvements to Audacity from the student, which would be hugely welcome, we also hope to interest more people in contributing, through the publicity around GSoC.

5. Did your organization participate in GSoC 2005, 2006 or 2007? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and failures of your student projects.


6. If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)?

Yes. We applied in 2007, but we didn't make the cut. This time round we're getting more of the developer community involved in the application process so as to make a better and hopefully successful pitch.

7. What license does your project use?

All of it is GNU GPL V2 compatible. We deliberately release some framework code under the wxWidgets license so that it can migrate to wxWidgets in due course and so be of benefit to other projects.

8. URL for your ideas page (and

9. What is the main development mailing list for your organization?

[email protected]

10. Where is the main IRC channel for your organization?

#audacity on

11. Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now.

Yes. See "" for the draft template.

12. Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please include Google Account information.

Alexandre Proukoudine, Richard Ash.


1. What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.

All of our mentors have extensive experience in Audacity and software in general. More information available at "".

2. Who will your mentors be? Please include Google Account Information.

   * James Crook
   * Leland Lucius
   * Richard Ash
   * Roger Dannenberg (for Nyquist)
   * Vaughan Johnson
   * Federico Grau (for Rivendell, Linux)
   * (backup) Dominic Mazzoni
   * (backup) Martyn Shaw
   * (possible) Chris Cannam (for VAMP)
   * (possible) Markus Meyer

About the Program

1. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

Certainly repeated pinging is the first response. We plan to target a ratio of 4 mentors to 3 students. If we have student applicants we have to exclude for the reason of maintaining that ratio, and the disappearing students disappear early, we might be able to replace them.

2. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

Our targeted ratio of 4 mentors to 3 students should provide sufficient backup.

Note that Roger has raised a concern about the indemnity clause in the application, the "Mentor agreement terms" thread on the GSoC Google group ( We are confident Google will do the right thing in resolving this.

3. What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

  • (Before) We already have a few students talking with us about possible projects. This happened through having several pages on our Wiki relating to GSoC and an invitation to start discussion on the devel list.
  • We are discussing a hackathon (social) for early in the GSoC process, so that we might have an opportunity to meet some of the potential students face to face.

4. What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?

At student selection stage, we look for evidence that the student has a real interest in our project, 'Do they actually use it?' rather than just choosing some project that is part of GSoC. That should be somewhat predictive. Also, our past experience has been that Audacity is a very popular and interesting project, with endless opportunities for new features and directions. There's such a large user base and so many ideas get discussed on the mailing list that losing interest is not a big problem!

We will make a special effort to stay in touch with our GSoC students, possibly provide a new forum (, and more hackathon meetings.