I gave a short talk today about new coders and contributors to developer documentation today. Here are my notes!
Me: Selena Deckelmann Data Architect, Mozilla Major contributor to PostgreSQL, PyLadies organizer in Portland, OR
Focusing on Documentation, Teaching and Outreach
Two main forks of thought around teaching and outreach: 1. Brand new coders: PyLadies, Software Carpentry and University are the main communities represented 2. New contributors to Python & ecosystem
1. Brand new coders: PyLadies, Software Carpentry and University are the main communities represented
(a) Information architecture of the website
Where do you go if you are a teacher or want to teach a workshop? Totally unclear on python.org. Really could use a section on the website for this, microsite.
Version 2 vs 3 is very confusing for new developers. Most workshops default to 2, some workshops now require 3. Maybe mark clearly on all workshops which version. Generally this is a very confusing issue when encountering the site for the first time.
Possible solution: Completely separate “brand new coder” tutorial. Jessica McKellar would like to write this.
(b) Packaging and Installation problems — see earlier long conversation in this meeting about this. Many problems linked to having to compile C code while installing with pip
(c) New coder contribution can come through documenting of issues around install and setup. We could make this easier — maybe direct initial reports to stack overflow, and then float solutions to bugs.python.org
2. New contributors to Python & ecosystem — with a focus on things useful for keeping documentation and tutorials up-to-date and relevant
(a) GNOME Outreach Program for Women – Python is participating!
More people from core should participate as mentors! PSF is funding 2-3 students this cycle, Twisted has participated for a while and had a great experience. This program is great because:
- Supports code and non-code contribution
- Developer community seems very cohesive, participants seem to join communities and stick around
- Strong diversity support
- Participants don’t have to be students
- Participants are paid for 3 months
- Participants come from geographically diverse communities
- To participate, applicants must submit a patch or provide some other pre-defined contribution before their application is even accepted
Jessica McKellar and Lynn Root are mentors for Python itself. See them for more details about this round! Selena is a coordinator and former mentor for Mozilla’s participation and also available to answer questions.
(b) Write the Docs conference is a python-inspired community around documentation.
(c) Openstack – Anne Gentle & her blog. 3-year participant in OpenStack community and great resource for information about building technical documentation community.
(d) Better tooling for contribution could be a great vector for getting new contributors.
- Wiki is a place for information to go and die (no clear owners, neglected SEO etc) – Maybe separate documentation repos from core code repos for tutorials
- carefully consider the approval process – put the people who are most dedicated to maintaining the tutorials in charge of maintaining them
Type selection is not relevant to ‘documentation’ errors/fixes. Either remove ‘type’ from the UI or provide relevant types. I recommend removing ‘type’ as a required (or implied required) form field when entering a bug.
The larger issue here is around how we design for contribution of docs:
- What language do we use in our input systems?
- What workflow do we expect technical writers to follow to get their contributions included?
- What is the approval process?
Also see the “tooling for contribution”