(That headline would have sounded cooler a year ago. Oh well.)
In various conversations about the developer documentation on MDN, with people both within the Mozilla community and on the “outside”, I’ve discovered two common themes:
- Some people don’t know that MDN is a wiki that they could contribute to.
- Many people think that writing documentation is really hard.
Let me clear up these misconceptions right now:
- Yes, MDN is a wiki! We have some static landing pages on the front end, but any deeper than that, it’s a wiki. You can edit it (Hint: Look for the Edit button) — we would love it if you did.
- I may be biased, but I believe that writing is easy — it’s knowing stuff to write about that’s hard. If you know enough about a topic to talk about it to a friend, you can write about it. Don’t worry if the grammar and spelling are not perfect, or the organization could be better. Other people can help with that. But please, please share your knowledge.
- If you’re in learning mode, you can still contribute to improving MDN. You can help by:
- fixing typos or inaccuracies
- smoothing out unclear wording
- updating information as software evolves
- restructuring sections to improve the flow
- adding examples
These are all ways to improve the content without being an expert on the topic, or writing a lot from scratch.
The documentation on MDN is created and maintained by a community of people who contribute to varying degrees, depending on their skills, knowledge, availability, and interest. We invite you to join us.
We’re bringing that community together in a couple of ways:
- We’re having MDN community meetings every two weeks on Wednesdays in IRC.
- We’re holding doc sprints once in each quarter in 2011. So far, we have sprints scheduled for January and June.
There is a Google calendar for MDN-related events. You can subscribe to the feed, access it with iCal apps, or view it in a Web browser.
MDN community meetings
We have an MDN community meeting in the #devmo channel on irc.mozilla.org every other Wednesday, at 18:00 UTC (10:00 am US Pacific time). The next one will be on 19 January 2011. You can find a page for each meeting (agenda beforehand and notes afterward) on the MDN Community meetings wiki page.
Worldwide MDN Doc Sprint
Building on the success of the MDN documentation sprint in Paris in October 2010, we’re looking forward to holding about one doc sprint per quarter in 2011, alternating virtual (all online) sprints with in-person ones.
The first doc sprint of the new year will be a virtual one.
- Start time: Friday 28 January 2011, 14:00 UTC (6:00 am US Pacific time)
- End time: Saturday 29 January 2011, 23:59 UTC (or 4:00 pm US Pacific time)
Coordination during the sprint will happen in the #devmo channel on irc.mozilla.org. There has been some interest from the Spanish localization team in doing a translation sprint for MDN at the same time. Any other translators are also welcome!
For details as they develop, and to sign up, go to the planning page for the January sprint on the Mozilla wiki. As a small incentive, if you contribute actively during the January sprint, and give me a way to contact you, I’ll make sure you get a T-shirt with the MDN logo. You can also e-mail me with questions (jswisher at mozilla dot com).
MDN Doc Sprint at Open Help Conference
This doc sprint will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, 6-8 June 2011, immediately following the Open Help Conference (which is being organized by Shaun McCance of the Gnome Documentation Team). I’ll share more details as they develop.
Want to help?
You don’t have to wait for a doc sprint to contribute to MDN. You can create an account and pitch in any time. Whether you want to write new articles, or just fix a typo you noticed, all constructive contributions are welcome.
Announcements and asynchronous discussion about MDN happen on dev-mdc, which is accessible as a mailing list, Usenet news group, or Google group.
The #devmo channel is not just for meetings and doc sprints! You can drop in there any time to chat with other members of the MDN writing community. We’d love to hear from you soon.