On Monday this week Google announced the students accepted into the 2008 Google Summer of Code, and therefore also those for our participation, dubbed the Phyloinformatics Summer of Code. We received 34 applications in total, which is about half as many as in 2007. However, unlike last year, only 1 of those was what we (and presumably Google) consider “spam,” and two have been withdrawn (one of which unfortunately was a really strong application, but the student needed a summer job and the deadline extension made it no longer an option to wait for the Summer of Code acceptance).
Of the remaining 31, about 80% were between reasonable to really strong, which presents a remarkable difference to last year, when the fraction of those was more around 25%. So in contrast to the total number of applications, we had more quality applications this year than we had last year.
By itself that’s a great development, though it already foreshadowed that we would have to make some tough decisions. On top of that, because our “popularity” (as measured by fraction of total applications received by all organizations) is only about half of last year’s, our current allocation of slots by Google is only 5, about half of what it was last year. Given that we offered 14 project ideas ourselves already (11 of which received strong applications), inevitably students ended up competing not only with those who applied for the same idea, but also with those who applied for other ideas. For many other participating organizations that may be the norm, but this level of competition was a bit new for us. Continue reading