Feb 072014

If you’re a contributor to the Firefox project—or even a casual reader of the Mozilla Developer Network documentation content—you will almost certainly at times come upon something that needs to be documented. Maybe you’re reading the site and discover that what you’re looking for simply isn’t available on MDN. Or maybe you’re implementing an entire new API in Gecko and want to be sure that developers know about it.

Let’s take a look at the ways that you can make this happen.

Requesting documentation team attention

In order to ensure something is covered on MDN, you need to get the attention of the writing team. There are two official methods to do this; which you use depends on various factors, including personal preference and the scope of the work to be done.

The dev-doc-needed keyword

For several years now, we’ve made great use of the dev-doc-needed keyword on bugs. Any bug that you think even might benefit from (or require) a documentation update should have this keyword added to it. Full stop.

Important: The sooner you add the dev-doc-needed keyword, the better. Don’t wait until the patch lands to add it! If we know about the change that’s on the way, we can plan for it in our documentation schedule more efficiently, which will reduce lag time in getting the writing done! Also, be sure to add dev-doc-needed keyword to bugs for enabling an API that was previously preffed off. Otherwise we may miss this important documentation change.

Documentation request bugs

The other way to request developer documentation is to file a documentation request bug. This can be used for anything from simple tweaks to documentation to requesting that entirely new suites of content be written. This can be especially useful if the documentation you feel needs to be created encompasses multiple bugs, but, again, can be used for any type of documentation that needs to be written.

Getting ahead: how to get your request to the top of the pile

Just flagging bugs or filing documentation requests is a great start! By doing either (or both) of those things, you’ve gotten onto our list of things to do. But we have a lot of documentation to write: as of the date of this blog post, we have 1233 open documentation requests. As such, prioritization becomes an important factor.

You can help boost your request’s chances of moving toward the top of the to-do list! Here are some tips:

  • If your technology is an important one to Mozilla’s mission, be sure to say so in your request. Let us know it’s important, and why.
  • Give us lots of information! Be sure we have links to specifications and design documents. Make sure it’s clear what needs to be done. The less we have to hunt for information, the easier the work is to get finished, and the sooner we’re likely to pick your request off the heap.
  • Ping us in IRC on #mdn. Ideally, find the MDN staff member in charge of curating your topic area, or the topic driver for the content area your technology falls under, and talk to them about it.
  • Email the appropriate MDN staff member, or ping the dev-mdc mailing list, to let us know about your request.
  • For large new features or technologies, try to break up your request into multiple, more manageable pieces. If we can document your technology in chunks, we can prioritize sections of it among other requests, making it easier to manage your request efficiently.

I’ll blog again soon with a more complete guide to writing good documentation requests.


Be sure to check out the article “Getting documentation updated” on MDN; this covers much of what I’ve said here.  Upcoming posts will go over how to decide if something should be covered on MDN at all, and how to communicate with the developer documentation team in order to make sure that the documentation we produce is as good as possible.

 Posted by at 11:49 AM

  One Response to “Getting on the developer documentation team’s radar”

  1. […] On Friday, I blogged about how to go about ensuring that material that needs to be documented on the Mozilla Developer Network site gets taken care of. Today, I’m going to go over how you can tell if something should be documented on MDN. Believe it or not, it’s not really that hard to figure out! […]

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