It’s recently struck me again: There is so much creativity, generosity and enthusiasm in the technical writing community! A while ago, I let people know that I was kicking off a project called Tips via Twitter. Many technical writers commented and tweeted their encouragement and ideas. Now we’ve just started a Twitter tips stream for another of our products, and designed badges that tweeters can display on their blogs.
To encourage users to tweet tips, I would consider giving them a badge of honour which they can proudly display on their blogs or any social networking site. A badge which says “I share my Tips via Twitter. Do you?” or something similar.
Thank you so much Jay! Here’s what the badges look like:
(If you want one for your blog, grab the HTML from my Atlassian blog post.)
Highlighting the fact that people can contribute to the documentation
Larry Kunz had another great idea, that we should make the community aspects of our documentation more visible. So I’ve been creating pages called “Contributing to the xxx documentation”, where “xxx” is the product name. For example, here’s the page for our JIRA bug tracker: Contributing to the JIRA documentation, and for the Confluence wiki: Contributing to the Confluence documentation.
The “Tips via Twitter” pages are now children of those pages, and so are the “Tips of the Trade” pages, where we link out to “how to” blog posts by our customers and community.
What’s more, we now have a shiny new button in the page footers, directing people to the page about contributing to the documentation:
Thank you to the technical writing community
Innovation, passion and generosity are alive and well amongst technical writers. Thank you everyone! I’ve also added a paragraph in the Atlassian blog post, letting people know that the technical writing community rocks!
Scott Nesbitt has asked a number of technical writers, and I’m one of the privileged, if we’d like to write a guest post on the DMN Communications blog. So I did: What makes a technical writer tick?
Writing for someone else’s blog is fun! It’s also interesting.
You suddenly have all sorts of new considerations. You don’t know exactly when your post will be published. Potentially, you don’t know your audience as well as when writing on your own blog. You’re not sure how much editing the blog owner will do on your post after you’ve submitted it. You don’t have hands-on control of the formatting and you can’t make final tweaks just before publication.
Publication date arrives
I waited with bated breath. Seeing my post appear: Fun — almost as if reading it for first time. Surprise — the format is unfamiliar. Even though I’ve visited DMN Communications often before, it was still odd to see my words up there in that format. When writing on your own blog, you write in a WYSIWYG editor. You craft the appearance along with the words.
Hmmm. That’s the way most of us operate in our day jobs too. This made me think again about the trend towards content reuse and single sourcing, such as via DITA, where you need to write format-agnostic content. It’s difficult!
From the point of view of the blog host
On the subject of inviting guests to blog on your site, Scott has written some interesting notes from his perspective.
Scott added some headings into my post. That was a good editorial decision. He also let me know that he had done it before he published the post. He added the image at the top, and then added my fish image at the bottom when I emailed it to him later. Awesome to-ing and fro-ing. Scott also let me know how much extra traffic my post had generated. That was cool. Thanks Scott!
Comments from readers
I’m thoroughly enjoying the comments other technical writers are leaving on the post. Who can resist the “fish called Rhonda“? Bring on the puns, guys and gals! And if you want to add more serious stuff, well, that’s OK too 😉
Technical writers are simply the best. Better than all the rest. With another bow to Douglas Adams: It is a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance.