2024 Summer of Nix: Call for mob facilitators

We are looking for mob facilitators to run 160 hours of remote mob programming sessions over 13 weeks between May and September 2024 for this year’s Summer of Nix.

Your task will be to assemble a team who may have no experience with mob programming and guide them into successful collaboration and productivity. You will be in charge of the process, including keeping to the schedule and following software development best practices — as well as the outcome of the team’s work: getting selected free and open source software (FOSS) to work reliably on a whim.

Requirements

You must meet the general eligibility requirements. You should have extensive experience with mob programming. This requires leadership and programming skills. Extended Nix experience is a bonus.

An optimal applicant would have:

  • Command of at least two widely-used programming languages
  • Firm grasp of software development best practices
  • Excellent control of Git, including rewriting history and conflict resolution
  • Team coaching experience
  • Fluency with the Nix language and related tools

Compensation and benefits

The Summer of Nix motto is work, learn, and meet:

  • You will receive a stipend:
  • You will likely learn many things about the Nix ecosystem
  • You will expand your professional network
  • You will get a free ticket for NixCon 2024
  • Your blog posts, talks, or public appearances related to Summer of Nix will find an audience in the Nix community

Working conditions

  • You will publish an introduction of yourself as a facilitator, and set a schedule for your future mob.
  • You will process mob member applications and select four people for your mob.
  • You will facilitate mob programming sessions on your schedule.
  • You will ensure that your mob is aligned with the program by participating in regular check-ins with program organisers and other mobs.
  • Due to the nature of this project’s collaboration model, your work results, including your contributions to technical discussion, will appear in publicly accessible places on the internet, such as GitHub, and remain there indefinitely.

Check the 2023 Summer of Nix program updates for impressions of what to expect.

Application process

People from anywhere in the world can apply, regardless of background. We strive to have a collaboration environment that is safe, constructive, friendly, and diverse.

  • Message Shahar “Dawn” Or until 2024-03-24.
  • Explain briefly how you meet or exceed the requirements.
  • If you are deemed to fit the profile, you will have a video call with Dawn.
  • Dawn will select candidates based on the information available.
  • You will get a reply with the result by 2023-04-01.

Mob facilitators will be selected taking geographic, cultural, and gender diversity into account. This is in order to allow for diversity among mob members, who will be selected by facilitators.

In 2023 we had 7 applicants and 2 were selected. In 2024 we aim to have 5 facilitators.

5 Likes

Hello,
I’m very glad that summer of Nix is happening this year again, I feel that it is a very good opportunity for new people that want to learn Nix to do it in great conditions.
I really like teaching, especially Nix and I have acquired a lot of experience in the domain by writing teaching material and giving Nix formations in professional contexts.
I am also an experienced NixOS developer and I have the commit bit on nixpkgs, which makes me a good candidate, I think.

However, I don’t want to “facilitate mobs”. This is not the way I work. I don’t think mobs are an effective way to learn something as challenging as Nix. I think mob programming makes it easy to think you understand something when you are actually very dependent on your teammates. I don’t like that mob programmers are taking very short shifts of code, as learning requires sustained concentration. Learning Nix requires to be able to think by yourself, to take the time needed to find the way forward and make it “click”. This is of course only my opinion, and also a matter of personal preference, but I am not willing to teach this way.

As a consequence, I am a candidate to be a SoN facilitator, but I do not intend to manager my “team” as a mob. I would instead provide 1 to 1 mentorship to help each member of my team reach their potential by adapting myself to their level and learning methods, and make them package projects adapted to their level.
I understand if that makes my application moot, but I am not sure to understand why the SoN organization is making such a structural choice on how mentors should handle their mentee.

12 Likes

Hi Julien, and thanks for your input.

Even though previous editions included mentor roles, Summer of Nix is not a mentorship program per se. It has a tradition of self-organisation and mutual support, which we strive to continue. Last year we added more structure, and tried to find a healthy balance between avoiding disorientation, leaving freedom for how to go about things, and achieving delivery goals. But there is no classical teacher-student relationship, and no classical management relationship.

There are asterisks and fine print to this in practice, and I can expand on it on request, but that’s the general idea.

Last year’s participants ramped up very quickly. Our experience confirms that mob programming works very well for knowledge sharing. I attribute that to the short feedback cycle you have within a group that works synchronously for prolonged periods of time.

That said, @mightyiam, Ronny, and me had very serious discussions on the relative merits of mob programming, when reviewing results and feedback from last year. Of course, mob programming is not a solution to all problems, and it’s not for everyone for various reasons such as work habits, learning preferences, or availability. There are also trade-offs to be made in terms of cost effectiveness: On the one hand, some things take longer as a group; on the other hand, often code quality is better and more people end up being familiar with the specifics.

We decided to continue with mob programming because we deem that this is what will most likely make for consistent outcomes and continuity of maintenance, possibly even beyond the funding period.

What would you suggest to accommodate your – and other community members’ – experience and enthusiasm into this year’s program?

3 Likes

It’s really interesting to me to read about this. I look forward to seeing what exciting developments will come out of this and who it might bring into the Nix fold :slight_smile:

The first part puzzled me somewhat: “You should have extensive experience with mob programming.” This is the first I’ve heard of mob programming; it doesn’t strike me as a particularly common way of working, different from the norms both in community FOSS projects as well as commercial operations. I see that last year you only expected ‘familiarity’ with mob programming from applicants, so I’m curious to know whether you expect to receive enough applications this year considering the necessarily smaller set of potential applicants with the new, more stringent requirements.

6 Likes

We’re happy to announce that @JulienMalka @Janik and @jleightcap will lead this year’s Summer of Nix teams!

For anyone interested in participating as a team member, please subscribe to the Matrix room where facilitators will introduce themselves in the coming days.

3 Likes