Google dangles open-source prizes at young coders

A Google contest aims to entice teenagers into the open-source programming realm.

Hook 'em while they're young and impressionable.

Such is the general idea behind a contest Google announced Wednesday designed to get students who haven't yet begun college or university interested in open-source programming. Contest tasks will focus not just on programming, but also on documentation, research, outreach, quality assurance, training, translation, and user interface work, Google said.

Various open-source organizations, including the Apache Software Foundation, GNOME, Joomla, and Mono, are providing the tasks. "We hope that students who participate will be long-term contributors to these and other open source projects in the future," Google said in a statement.

I don't see any contests around to introduce budding programmers to the concept of proprietary software, but courting coders is nothing new for the industry overall. Microsoft built a powerful business out of its Windows operating system in part by working hard to keep programmers engaged.

The contest awards cash, T-shirts, and a trip to Google, according to a posting on the Google Code Blog announcing the contest. Students must be at least 13 years old.

Google also has been trying to involve college students through its Summer of Code program, which began three years ago.

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