A community of technology community managers, leaders, and builders.

Getting contributors to write documentation


By Ian Tien and Andy Oram

4:30 Saturday, 2016 forum

Don Day: DITA
Andy Oram: O’Reilly Media, documentation is like government funding, no one wants to contribute to it but everyone wants it to be there when they need it
Hope: knowledge management administrator at South West, wants to hear more about how to harvest knowledge contribute by community
Chris: Drupal and documentation tooling consulting company,
Rod; director of training at Maudi, just left Open Source Training, interested in video training and documentation , done close to 800 training videos for Drupal, almost 1M views on YouTube
Duke Spear: contributor to 2 open source CMS projects, working on sobriety startup, trademark manager for Drupal project
Dru: writes user guides
Nuritzi: leads localization for mentalist computers, works on GNOME docs, interested in docs from community, especially on-boarding documentation

Use hashtags to flag content that should be documented

Difference between documentation in code and end user docs

  • Joomla! requires documentataion
  • Latest to submit PR for release is 5 weeks
  • Bounce back if not 100% test coverage
  • Must be done 2 weeks before release
  • 2-3 peer reviews
  • Joomla! doesn’t require community testing for modules added

Working with FLOSS Manuals: started with a high quality first chapter, which inspired other people to contribute chapters of high quality

Can create documentation templates for users to add documentation

Style guide

  • Begin with “Don’t let anything in this guide discourage you from writing”

There was some success telling end-users that they could get access to developers to help give them the information to contribute documentation. A few users were excited by the opportunity to talk to developers.

“Code sprint: and “docs sprint” - come and help us make it better, normally hold at conferences - let the community come build together.

At a code print/doc sprint there will sometimes be mentors who can help. It’s fun watching people come in nervous and leaving confident. They get their PR in and leave with their merge requests in.

Don’t over-focus on developers, there are other people who can contribute to documentation, and other types of documentation.

At events, Joomla! takes middle hours of conference to break into rooms on many topics: docs, marketing, governance, etc., so everyone who is attending has a chance to contribute.

Important to have tools where users can contribute, wiki, Zendesk, etc., need someone advocating.

One participant trying to understand how to harvest information coming in via tickets for technical policy, knowledge base, and everything technology.

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