Writing Open Source

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(Inglis Falls, just outside of Owen Sound, Ontario)

My head is still spinning after 3 days at woscon09.

I learned so much and met so many great people. Over the coming days and weeks I’ll be blogging more about it.

Some key things I left with (in no particular order):

  • Know your audience. (True in marketing, and also true in doc writing). Develop personas for your audience.
  • Plan, plan, plan
  • Tons of community management stuff, such as make it easy to get involved, and have tasks ready that are simple (think stuffing envelopes)
  • Speaking of community, we all have similar challenges, no matter the project
  • Mallard exists!
  • Owen Sound is a beautiful small town.
  • I knew this already, but it was reinforced: hacking in person is much more fun
  • I’d rather clean up bugzilla one bug at a time when they come in, rather than spending hours sifting through old bugs
  • There are a ton of things we can do to improve upstream and downstream communication and collaboration.
  • Topic based documentation is much better than task based documentation.
  • Re-writing GNOME docs as topic based help is a mammoth sized task.
  • A few years from now, I’m going to look back and say, “I was there when it first started”.

Lastly: Write every day. You can expect more blog posts, documentation updates, and contributions to GNOME marketing and the web content with that in mind.

And those are just off the top of my head! There was so much more. And if you were following along on Twitter or identi.ca Saturday night, you may not have gotten the jokes without the context of being there, but trust me, I haven’t laughed that hard in a log time.

Thanks again to Emma for conceiving woscon09 and hosting. If you are interested in technical writing, check out the Writing Open Source website, where this brand new community is just getting started. Contribute, read our forums, or read our Planet to learn more about writing docs for free software projects.

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