How open source organizations can prepare for Season of Docs

Last week Google announced a new program, Season of Docs (g.co/seasonofdocs). The program provides a framework for technical writers and open source organizations to work together on a specific documentation project chosen by the open source organization and the tech writer concerned. From April 2, interested open source organizations can start applying for this year’s Season of Docs. Exciting news indeed! But what happens before April 2? I decided to blog about some ways you can get started with Season of Docs right now.

Open source organizations can start planning the documentation projects they’d like help with, and letting technical writers know about those projects. Get the conversation going, and build up excitement amongst your open source community and amongst the technical writing community.

The first step is to think about a good project or projects that a technical writer can help you with. The Season of Docs website provides some generic ideas for doc projects. You should to craft a specific project or two, based on the actual doc needs of your project. Include links to the relevant docs or other resources within your open source repository or on your website. I’d recommend that you propose a a few different project types, because different tasks may be of interest to different tech writers. For example, you could offer one project to refactor your existing docs, another to create a specific tutorial, and so on.

Your goal is to attract tech writers by making them feel comfortable about approaching your organization and excited about what they can achieve in collaboration with your mentors during Season of Docs.

It’s a good idea to find out who in your community wants to be a mentor. The mentors don’t need to be tech writers. There’s help about the mentors’ role on the Season of Docs website too.

When you’ve gathered some project ideas, blog about the fact that your organization is putting forward an application to participate in Season of Docs. Use the blog post to tell tech writers about your ideas and ask for input. You don’t need to wait for applications to open. You can get a head start by kicking off the discussion now.

Use the tag #SeasonOfDocs when promoting your ideas on social media. To include the tech writing and open source communities, add #WriteTheDocs, #techcomm, #TechnicalWriting, and #OpenSource.

About Sarah Maddox

Technical writer, author and blogger in Sydney

Posted on 17 March 2019, in Google, open source, Season of Docs, technical writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Sarah, I am very anxious to get involved in the world of APIs and to develop a portfolio project. The Google Season of Docs program seems like an excellent place to develop a project. My problem is: I am just starting to take some api tutorials (Peter Gruenbaum has one on Udemy) and learn some of the fundamentals of api documentation. I was a tech writer some years back, but left the profession and have just recently re-entered.

    So, I think I am 1 to 2 months away before I can reasonably start an open source api project. Since that is probably too late for this one, could you suggest for someone like myself where to develop a project about 2 months down the road when I have some of the fundamentals down and understand the basic terminology?

    Thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

    Sincerely,
    Mike Gemmell
    mmgemmell86@gmail.com

    • Hallo Mike

      It’s great to hear that you’re so keen on the world of API docs. The timing of Season of Docs may be right for you. We’re about to publish the list of participating open source organizations, in just a few hours from now. Then come two months in which technical writers can explore the project ideas and put together their applications. If you decide to take part, you must submit your application before June 28th. See the Season of Docs timeline.

      If the timing doesn’t work for you, then I’d recommend that you keep an eye on the project ideas of all the participating organizations and compare them with the list of actual projects for this year’s program, which we’ll publish on July 30. It’s quite likely that the organizations will have listed additional project ideas that no tech writer has taken up for this year’s program. You and others can approach the open source organizations and offer to do some of that work.

      Also keep an eye or ear on the discussions around Season of Docs, in the mailing lists and on Slack – chatting to others is a great way of learning more about the open source universe.

      Best of luck!
      Cheers
      Sarah

  2. Mike Gemmell

    Hi Sarah,

    Thank you for this additional information. Given the 2 months you mention until June 28th (application deadline), I should have enough time to get up to speed a bit on API documentation. So, I will follow your advice here and get ready to apply by that time, and if for some reason my application is not accepted plan to follow up later with the participating companies on other projects. I may have some additional questions between now and then, so I hope it’s ok to send those as well. Thanks again for your help!

    Best regards,
    Mike Gemmell

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