Frequently Asked Questions

  • Google Code-in Frequently Asked Questions

    Contest Overview

    1. What is Google Code-in?

    Google Code-in is a contest for pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school students) with the aim of encouraging young people to participate in open source. We work with open source organizations, each of whom will provide a list of tasks to be completed by student contestants. Tasks can be anything a project needs help with, from bug fixes to writing documentation to user experience research.

    2. What are the goals of this contest?

    Google Code-in (GCI) is intended to help students who may have wanted to get involved in open source but didn't know where to start. By working through the tasks suggested by organizations, contestants will be given the opportunity to engage with the open source community and get involved. The participating open source projects gain the benefit of additional contributions to their project, often in important areas that may get overlooked for whatever reason. It is Google's not so secret hope that the student contestants of today will be long-term contributors to these and other open source projects in the future.

    3. How does it work?

        1. Participating open source projects create a list of tasks and other contest information pages on

        2. Students claim ownership of a particular task and submit their work for assessment according to the instructions for each task.

        3. Representatives from the open source project evaluate the work submitted.

          1. If the work is accepted, the task is closed.

          2. If the work needs polishing, the task remains open and the organization representative may give the student additional time and guidance on improving their work.

          3. If the work does not meet expectations, the task can be reopened for another student participant to claim and work on.

    4. When does the contest begin?

    The contest begins at 12:00 AM Pacific Time (08:00 UTC) on November 21, 2011. Make sure that you take the time to read through the contest rules and familiarize yourself with the introductory information provided by a particular open source project before starting work on a task. Please have your parent or legal guardian read the official rules as well as they will need to provide their consent before you can participate in the contest. Check out the full contest timeline, too.

    5. What are the eligibility requirements for the contest?

    The contest is open to all students who are at least thirteen (13) years of age and no older than seventeen (17) years of age on November 21, 2011. Students must be enrolled in a pre-university program, e.g. high school, secondary school, or educational institution. All contestants will need to have their parent or guardian's consent to participate where applicable, and we will ask for proof of consent before you can claim any prizes. For full details, see the contest official rules. Remember, by participating in the contest you are agreeing to abide by these rules, so go ahead and take a few minutes now to carefully read through them.

    6.  If I’m homeschooled can I participate in Google Code-in?

    Yes. When your first task is marked as completed you will need to submit the appropriate documentation to indicate your status as a homeschooled student.

    7. What are the prizes?

    At the conclusion of the contest, contestants will receive a t-shirt and certificate for completing at least one task (maximum of one shirt & one certificate per contestant) and 100 USD for every three tasks completed (maximum 500 USD per contestant).

    Additionally, there will be ten (10) grand prize winners. They will receive a trip to Google's Mountain View, California, USA Headquarters for an award ceremony for themselves and one parent or guardian. For full details, see the contest official rules.

    8. How were the participating open source projects chosen?

    We will choose open source projects from a pool of applications. The organizations have all participated in Google Summer of Code, and are accustomed to mentoring students online and across timezones. The participating projects will be announced on November 9, 2011.

    9. How do students choose which organizations to work with?

    Students can work with one organization or with multiple organizations during the contest.

    Contest Details

    1. How do I decide what task to work on?

    Take a look at the participating open source projects on the Google Code-in contest page and decide which one(s) are doing work that is interesting to you. Click on the name of the open source project and you'll be taken to its individual contest page, which will give you information about the project and resources for learning even more. You can then browse available tasks in the Issue Tracker session of the project's contest page.

    Each task will be labeled with descriptors like "documentation" or "training," which will further help you narrow down your choices of what task to choose. Take a look at the requirements for an individual task and, if you're up to that particular challenge, claim the task and start working on it.

    2. How do I claim and complete a particular task?

        1. Sign in to your Google Account. If you do not have a Google Account, you can create one without charge from Google. If you already have a GMail address, you can just sign in to your GMail account.

        2. You'll need to sign up for a Melange profile as well. You can do so as soon as you are logged in and have completed a task, under the “Register” link.

        3. All the actions on the task from then on appear on the task public page. The following happens only after the Task is published, i.e. in the Open state.

          1. A student submits the action "Request to claim" the task along with an optional comment and waits for approval. The task moves to ClaimRequested state.

          2. This locks down both the task and the student to the task, meaning:

            1. No other student can request to the claim the same task.

            2. The student cannot request to claim another task. If a student is already working on a task, they cannot request to claim any other task.

          3. Organization Administrator or any Mentor of the organization (irrespective of being a mentor of that task) can do one of the following with an optional comment:

            1. Approve the request if it is valid and has met the requirements to start the task. The task moves to Claimed state.

            2. Reject the request if the request is invalid, irrelevant or a spam. The task moves to Reopened state.

        4. If the claim request is accepted the deadline is set as specified by the time to complete field and the clock starts to tick. The student begins their work on the task.

          1. If the student completes the work set out by the task before the deadline, they can submit the work by posting a comment along with the URL to the work. Note that either the comment or the URL field is mandatory. The task changes the state to NeedsReview.

          2. If the deadline passes with the student submitting no work, the deadline is automatically extended for another 24 hours. The task changes in state to ActionNeeded and the notification is sent to all the subscribers who have requested to be notified of changes including the student if they have subscribed. If the student submits the work before this deadline passes, the task reverts to the status in section 4a.

          3. If the student fails to submit the work after the extended deadline, the task will be automatically re-opened and the task status will be set to Reopened.

          4. One of the Mentors of the task reviews the submitted work. The mentor can take one of the following actions:

            1. If the mentor is satisfied by the student's work they choose the action to "Close the task" along with an optional comment thereby marking the task as closed. The task moves to one of AwaitingRegistration or Closed. See more details below.

            2. If the mentor is not satisfied with the work but thinks that it requires rework and student can fix it, they will choose the action "Needs More Work" with an optional comment. At this juncture the mentor has the option to extend the deadline for the student. The task status moves to NeedsWork. The cycle goes back to the point where student has to submit their work again.

            3. If the Mentor is completely unsatisfied with the student's work they will re-open the task. The task changes the state to Reopened. The new cycle with the same/another student requesting to claim the task begins.

          5. The student can withdraw from the task at any point in this entire workflow after they request to claim the task. In such a case the task returns to Reopened state.

    3. How are individual contest entries judged?

    Each entry is judged by contest administrators from the participating open source projects. Entries must meet the requirements for completion specified in each task write up. Google's contest administrators will make the final judgment on all entries.

    4. How are the Grand Prize Winners chosen?

    Grand Prize Winners will be determined by the points accumulated during the contest. For full details, see the contest official rules.

    5. I have already been working with one of the open source projects; am I allowed to work on their tasks for the contest?

    As long as you or a family member do not hold an official position in the open source project, such as core developer or documentation working group member, you are welcome to participate in the contest. If you are not sure, please contact Google's contest administrators for help in deciding whether your participation violates the contest rules.


    1. What is a task?

    A chunk of work in one of the task categories below, suitable for a 13-17 year old student.

    2.  What is an easy, medium, or hard task? What are the differences?

    The degree of difficulty is assigned by the organization/project based on a combination of estimated time required and prior knowledge/skill required to complete the task.

    3. What kinds of tasks will I have to choose from?

    Tasks will typically fall into the following categories:

        1. Code: Tasks related to writing or refactoring code

        2. Documentation: Tasks related to creating/editing documents

        3. Outreach: Tasks related to community management and outreach/marketing

        4. Quality Assurance: Tasks related to testing and ensuring code is of high quality

        5. Research: Tasks related to studying a problem and recommending solutions

        6. Training: Tasks related to helping others learn more

        7. Translation: Tasks related to localization

        8. User Interface: Tasks related to user experience research or user interface design and interaction

    Each task will be labeled in the Issue Tracker with at least one of these categories to help you choose which tasks to complete.

    Tasks will be available when the contest first opens on November 21, 2011 and then another set of tasks will be available on December 16, 2011.

    4. What do the values in the "Status" column of the task list mean?

        1. Open: This task has not yet been claimed.

        2. ClaimRequested: Someone has requested to claim this task.

        3. Claimed: This task has been claimed and someone is working on it.

        4. NeedsWork: This work on this Task needs a bit more brushing up. This state is followed by a Mentor review.

        5. NeedsReview: Student has submitted work for this task and it should be reviewed by a Mentor.

        6. Unapproved: When the task has been suggested by the mentor but not approved by the organization administrator.

        7. Unpublished: When the task has been suggested by the mentor and approved by the organization administrator, but not published.

        8. Reopened: If the task has been rejected by the mentor or organization administrator because it is invalid, irrelevant, or spam.

        9. ActionNeeded: When the task has not been worked on and the deadline to complete the task has been extended for 24 hours.

        10. AwaitingRegistration: If a student has completed a task but has not registered.

        11. Invalid: If the task is marked as invalid, irrelevant, or spam.

        12. Closed: Work on this task has been successfully completed.

    5. Can I work on more than one task at a time?

    No, you can only complete one task at a time.

    6. Is there a limit to the number of tasks I can complete?

    You can complete as many tasks as you would like, but the maximum cash prize is 500 USD (e.g. 15 completed tasks).

    7. Can I work on a task as part of a team?

    While we encourage you to get help where you need it, only one person will receive credit per task. Participation as a team is not possible.

    8. Can I get help from the open source project's community and still take credit for completing a task?

    Absolutely! We want you to get to know each project's community members and to understand their processes and requirements. It's totally fine to ask for help if you're stuck, but remember that you should have already tried to solve the problem yourself before getting assistance.

    To put it a different way, you've taken responsibility for accomplishing something, so it's perfectly acceptable to get it done in a collaborative fashion - that's how open source works! Just make sure the people you collaborate with are not other contestants.

    9. I started working on a task and I've realized that I don't know enough to get the work done. What should I do?

    You can withdraw from a task at any time by selecting "Withdraw" from the actions drop down on the task page.

    Don't get discouraged - find something else you're interested in working on that is a better fit for your skills and experience and try again!


    1. What is the contest timeline?

    November 9, 2011: Open Source Projects are announced

    November 21, 2011, 12:00 AM Pacific Time / 08:00 UTC: Contest opens for entries by student participants

    December 16, 2011: Organizations release second wave of tasks to students

    January 16, 2012, 12:00 AM Pacific Time / 08:00 UTC: All work stops

    February 14, 2012: Google Open Source Programs Office announces the winners via blog post

    Forms and Payments

    1. What forms will be required from student contestants?

    All student contestants will be required to send in a form demonstrating that they had parental consent to participate in the contest. Winners may also be required to submit other paperwork as well. Please see the official rules for more information.

    2. How will I receive my monetary prizes?

    We will send Citibank prepaid gift cards to either the student contestant or their parent/guardian as applicable.

    Other Questions

    1. Is there anything else I should plan to do to as part of participating in the contest?

    Subscribe to the contest announcement mailing list for updates about the contest, including information on where to submit your claim for prizes.

    If you are looking for help, you can always subscribe to the contest discussion list. If you do subscribe to the discussion list, keep in mind that many people may be sending email to it, you may want to subscribe only for a daily digest email or choose to only browse the group online.

    If you need help with Google Groups, check out the documentation.

    2. How do I get help when I have a question?

    Each open source project participating in the contest will include information about where to go to ask questions, either in the individual task entry or on one of their contest pages. If you still aren't sure where to ask for help, send a message to the contest discussion mailing list.

    3. Where can I find the contest logo?

    It’s on our wiki.

    4. I have a question that is not answered in this FAQ. Where else can I find more information?

    First of all, make sure you have read the contest official rules. Each open source project's contest pages will also have more information about where to ask questions, so also check there for more information. If you still do not have an answer to your question, please send email to the contest discussion mailing list and one of the contest administrators will be happy to point you in the right direction.