Dec 172012

Given our ongoing documentation-needed overload, we’ve decided to look into contracting out some writing work to help catch up our Firefox developer documentation. Basically, we’ve not been able to keep up with our Firefox X for developers documentation (see Firefox 17 for developers, for instance). While stuff gets listed, the list is often not complete, and even where items are put on the list, they’re usually not actually documented.

This is, frankly, embarrassing.

However, the staff writers, and even most of our community of writers, have been very busy with Firefox OS and other documentation, leaving Firefox itself rather strapped for attention. That’s got to change.

So the other day, I talked to Ali (my boss) and we agreed that we should see about contracting someone to go through all of these documents, from Firefox 13 onward, and get them fully up to date, and try to document the technologies and changes as needed.

There are some skills required:

  • You need to be proficient in JavaScript — at least well enough to read code without needing a lot of help, and to throw little snippets together as needed to demonstrate new features.
  • Likewise, you should be competent with HTML and CSS, at least well enough to sort things out without hand-holding.
  • If you have experience reading the IDL that describes DOM interfaces, that’s a big help, but we can help you figure it out (it’s not hard).
  • You should feel comfortable talking to developers by email and in IRC. You’ll have questions and being able to interface with these guys will be a huge help.

You won’t be in this alone, of course. Our existing community of writers hangs out in #devmo on and we’ll be there to offer encouragement, advice, and some help.

If you’re interested, let me know. We haven’t opened up this contract yet, but I’d like to start getting a handle on who might be interested, so I can have a list of possible candidates ready to go once that happens.

This is important work that’s sadly fallen by the wayside due to limited resources and conflicting priorities. Help us make the Firefox developer documentation excellent again!

 Posted by at 1:01 PM

  10 Responses to “Love Firefox? Love writing? Read on!”

  1. I am interested.
    * FireFox is my favorite browser.
    * I have used JavaScript and am reading “JavaScript: the Good Parts”.
    * I know HTML and CSS.
    * I have over 10 years experience writing for developers.
    * I have a Computer Science degree.

  2. Hello, I am also interested in that !
    I’ve been a huge fan of the Mozilla Foundation works for years, and I can not express how thankful I am of all the doc you wrote around the web ( particularly the MDN ).

    I am a web developer, working mostly with JS and know my way around with HTML / CSS. I have over 5 years of intensive usage of those technologies at work and at home. I am proficient in both english and french ( which is my native language ).

    Please let me know.

  3. I’m guessing that it’s fairly easy for someone to check that newly-written documentation is correct (ignoring subtle errors that would creep in anyway), and there seem to be a bunch of people who could write it but are too lazy, so why not offer bounties on documentation? That’s the model that e.g. Google Code-In uses. They also have a point-to-payment structure to encourage new contributors but pay out significant amounts only to the top contributors, which would probably fit in well with the Mozilla community.

  4. Also, although I don’t know how many pageviews it gets, you could move the “Documentation and Writing” item on nearer to the top and revise to be more oriented towards filling in dev-doc-needed pages.

  5. Mathnerd314,

    There are a couple of reasons we don’t use a bounty system. We did look at it, but it turns out there are legal concerns (especially if the contributors are from certain countries) when bounties are involved, and the overhead is more than we can take on right now from a workload standpoint.

    Contracting work out is actually easier, and is usually more effective.

    Instead of bounties, for general work, we choose to encourage participation by bringing our biggest and best contributors to events and so forth (several of our big contributors actually get invited to our staff meetings to discuss future development plans, for example).

  6. Mathnerd314,

    Fixing up the so-called “onboarding” documentation is on our shortlist of things to do soon. You’re totally right; it needs to be improved! Thanks for your reminder!

  7. I’m interested. I’ve been using Firefox since just about the beginning, I’ve written a number of extensions, I know JS well (I wrote the engine for Parchment, a JS-only virtual machine), I’m entirely proficient in HTML and CSS, and I’ve worked remotely on free software for years.

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