Jan 152012

During the Engagement team work week last week, the four on-staff Mozilla developer documentation writers (myself, Janet Swisher, Jean-Yves Perrier, and Will Bamberg) had a sit-down to talk. This was a big deal since it was Jean-Yves’s first time meeting with us in person since joining Mozilla on December 1, and Will’s first time meeting with us since he’s been largely off doing fairly separate stuff documenting the Jetpack SDK.

We had a long discussion about a wide variety of things, and I figured I’d blog about it, to share those ideas and thoughts with the wider Mozilla community — and to flesh out the ideas from the outline format I took the notes in.

Let’s start by talking documentation sprints.

Ideas for growing doc sprints

After successfully launching our doc sprints program last year, we have plans to try to make them even better. The ways in which we’ll accomplish that are still a bit up in the air, but we’re working on it. One thing we would like to do is look at the possibility of attaching some of them to MozCamp events; that is, adding a couple of days before or after a MozCamp dedicated to doc sprinting. This would let us share event planning resources with those events, likely saving money and making the preparation easier and quicker.

One thing we do want to do in order to improve the results of future doc sprints is do a better job of setting goals for each event. Janet will continue to spearhead the doc sprints for the time being, and is going to talk to other event planners in the Mozilla community to get ideas for how they go about setting goals. She’s also going to look over the output from past sprints to see how we did and how we can get better.

Doc sprint planning

It may be too late to look at attaching a doc sprint to the Buenos Aires MozCamp taking place in April; however, we can and should look into future MozCamp events to see if we can do that.

In addition, when we don’t attach to MozCamps, we would like to make use of Mozilla Spaces whenever possible. This would help bring Mozillians together in a great way, and would help give our writers and volunteers more access to engineers in a lot of cases. Right now, the most likely candidates for this are obviously Mountain View and Toronto, but as we build out more Spaces, this list will grow.

We’ll also be continuing to alternate between virtual and in-person sprints. In fact, our next virtual sprint is in a week: from January 20-21.

Helping communities run their own doc sprints

We also want to encourage local communities to hold their own doc sprint events. These can be either general documentation events, where local teams of folks get together to write new content, or localization events, where regional groups of Mozillians come together to translate content. Both of these kinds of local events are worthwhile goals, and we want to be sure to encourage that.

One way we’re going to do that is by assembling a documentation sprint planning guide. This will provide information about how to announce, organize, and manage doc sprints. It’ll also provide tips on finding a location (such as how to arrange to use a Mozilla Space, for example, or how to find another site if your local area doesn’t have one). On top of that, information will be provided as to how to get swag to hand out to participants and how to promote your event.

In addition, at least sometimes, we can help get subject-matter experts involved, especially when there are some already in your area.

The community of Mozillian writers and translators is growing, and my goal as the doc team lead is to ensure it keeps doing that, partly through helping organize things, but at least as importantly by enabling other Mozillians to continue to push our already great documentation forward. Let’s make 2012 a great year by working together!

 Posted by at 6:59 PM