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Danilo Segan, who worked on Sarma, a live editor for GNOME documentation, differs from many students in that he was already involved in the FOSS communities before taking part in the SOC. Previously, Segan has been involved with Serbian translation for GNOME, and several documentation-related projects. As a result, Segan knew when he applied that he wanted to work on a GNOME project. "Also," he said, "since I have been doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes work on GNOME, I wanted something where I would test myself in user interface design as well."
Segan was more focused and more articulate than some of the students in the SOC program. "What I liked best," he said, "is the opportunity to work on free software that I love, while not worrying about real life problems. And it was also the opportunity to finally learn a few technical things I always wanted to learn. Another nice thing is the chance to get to meet a whole lot of IT/Computer Science students sharing the same ideals."
While generally satisfied with his experience, Segan noted widespread dissatisfaction with the management of the program. In particular, he mentioned that many participants were disgruntled because "most non-US students will probably be getting $3,150 because of 30% tax in the US" instead of the full $4,500. This is a problem that might have been avoided for students living in countries with which the United States has reciprocal tax agreements. According to Segan, students also complained about the slow payment and a lack of organization. "Paperwork has been lost and resent for almost everybody a couple of times," he alleged. Nor was there any online tracking system for payments. "I still don't know if I submitted enough data for electronic payment," he said, "or [whether] I will be getting cheques."
These administrative problems aside, Segan views his experience in the SOC as generally positive. He described Federico Mena Quintero, the mentor assigned to him, as "very nice and responsive," and seemed pleased that they could settle some differing ideas about the direction of the project. Segan also believes that his participation has increased his connections in the GNOME documentation project.
On a more personal level, the SOC gave Segan "a good reference on his CV" and increased his technical knowledge while providing him with money to live on for at least six months. "The Google Summer of Code is what every free software contributor dreams about: A chance to earn money working on what you love and enjoy."Next: Responses from mentoring projects