Re: Finding an open source project

Subject: Re: Finding an open source project
From: Janet Swisher <jmswisher -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: T S <tens00 -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 16:00:31 -0500

On Tue, Sep 15, 2009 at 8:43 PM, T S <tens00 -at- gmail -dot- com> wrote:
> Hello! I am a technical writer who has been in the business in various ways
> for over 15 years. I am currently unemployed and am considering contributing
> my documentation skills to an open source project. Has anyone does this? If
> so, what is the best way to find a project that needs help? I did some
> googling but didn't come up with anything very useful yet. Any information
> would be greatly appreciated.

I have participated documentation efforts for a few open source
projects. Most large, well-organized open source projects have some
kind of documentation sub-project, though it may or may not be called
that. For example, until recently, the Firefox project has most of its
content in a "Knowledge Base", and only recently has started
organizing that material into "manuals".

So, in general, if there an open source product that you use and are
excited about, go to its website and look for a section called
"contribute" or "community", and poke around for info about helping
with the documentation. Frankly, if the project is not organized
enough to advertise how to help, it is probably not organized enough
to support you in helping it.

FLOSS Manuals is a community of people who are interested in
documenting open source software. Some of them are there because they
care about a particular piece of software, some because of what they
are trying to do with open source software (e.g., run a community
computer center), and some because they just like writing
documentation. Because the docs are hosted on the FLOSS Manuals site,
you can use the site's WYSIWYG HTML editor, and not worry about having
to use the sometimes arcane tools that some open source projects
adopt. FLOSS Manuals occasionally runs "book sprints" where a bunch of
people collaborate to write a manual in a few days; the live
gatherings for book sprints tend to be in Europe, because that's where
the group is based, but you can participate remotely as well.

Visit my blog at:

Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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Finding an open source project: From: T S

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