The International Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories (MSR) is celebrated every year co-located with the International Conference on Software Engineering. MSR started as yet-another workshop, but soon it began to attract attention, I believe partly because of the very interesting MSR Challenge.
Software engineering conferences are full of empirical studies about different software projects, but often these studies are not useful for practitioners, and their predictions cannot be tested against the real world due to the publication cycles in this conferences. Moreover, libre (free / open source) software projects are sometimes annoyed when mined in search of data because the conclusion of the empirical studies are not perceived as useful for them.
MSR challenge is the solution to all these drawbacks. Each year, MSR chooses a couple of targets for the challenge, usually libre software projects, and sometimes this is done in collaboration with the libre software projects themselves. Another possibility is to submit a prediction for the evolution of a libre software project. The prediction must be done for the months elapsed between the submission and the conference dates. In the conference, the best predictions are announced, with a lot of emotion and intrigue. The winners of the best challenge report are decided between the attendees after the presentations, and the winners usually receive a gift.
This is a great opportunity to show what you are capable of, and to help libre software projects with insightful reports, so receiving something back in exchange of the invaluable data and software repositories that they provide.
This year, the deadline for challenge papers is Feb 16th 2011. If you submit something to the challenge, you may consider submitting also a paper for the conference (after all, you have to go there, so take the opportunity and submit also a paper :-). For regular papers, the deadline is Jan 26th 2011. You can find more details in the Important dates page and in the Call for papers.