Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GNU is Not Unix

Open Source Writers Group 15

Posted by Hemos
from the writing-for-free-hire dept.
dria writes "The Open Source Writers Group (OSWG) is a project started to help writers find OS projects for which they can volunteer, and to help OS projects find the writers they need. Writers and editors who are willing and able to volunteer their efforts similarly find it difficult to identify OS projects that need them. This indicates a communications gap that must be addressed. The OSWG project has been created to help fill that gap. " I think we all realize that the Open Source world needs more of this-we've got a some rough edges, and people like this are needed.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Open Source Writers Group

Comments Filter:
  • Posted by polar_bear:

    That's a great idea - I wonder how you could translate that to print though?
    Don't cut down on the sugar!
  • Posted by polar_bear:

    And those who can't read between the lines...

    I was one of the people who signed up, and I listed my tech skills so people would realize that I could understand the concepts of OS projects even if I'm not a coder.
    I listed my degrees because I wanted people to know that I can write docs that anyone could read. Instead of bitching about it why don't you join the project and suggest something?
  • Good idea.

    Every major publisher in this business is willing to pay you to write books with Open Source Licenses, if you are willing to write them.

    You'll need a writing sample for these publishers. Produce your writing samples, and hone your skills, by writing documentation "gratis" for an Open Source project. This group will help you do it!

    Thanks

    Bruce

  • by Stargazer (4144) on Wednesday June 09, 1999 @01:31PM (#1859106)
    ... those who can count and those who can't. :)

    In all seriousness, though, I think that every project in this community needs to consider what kind of documentation they need to write. I'm sure you've noticed a stark difference in the documentation of Windows and Linux programs. This is because the Windows community seems to have collectively decided that the geeks can fend for themselves; they're writing for the people who fear that clicking any button causes an irrevocable change in the computer that will mess it up.

    Unfortunately, the Linux community seems to have collectively decided to write for the people who know very well how to work a computer, and want to know how to do the real juicy shtuff faster and better. The Linux Documentation Project is full of examples of these. Mind you, many of the HOWTOs on there are great, and easy for me to understand with minimal Linux experience -- but I've been comfortable with a computer since I was four years old, and I have no problem placing ideas of real objects with the abstract terms. I have a feeling that there are many people whom would be confused by even the most basic of HOWTOs (humourous ones excepted :) ), let alone the trickier ones.

    Browsing through the list of writers who have applied for the job, it doesn't seem like this project is making any attempt to fix this problem. For their biographies, they note things like degrees, almost any technical experience, and listings of programs they're familiar with. Unfortunately, none of them speak of their ability to communicate simply and easily with the computer illiterate.

    Advanced documentation is great. Otherwise, nobody would get sendmail configured. However, if we want people to consider free operating systems, we don't need to dumb them down -- we need to make our documentation "user-friendly." I would much prefer to see a real attempt to address larger problems than provide another means to ease communication between geeks who want to write for geeks.

    • Stargazer
  • I would like to encourage you to join the OSWG. What you can do is volunteer to help out with the docs on a project, and when you've done up a draft, offer it to the other (possibly more experienced) members of the group for critique and commentary. This way you can not only help with the Open Source movement, you will also learn a whole lot about tech writing, and in the end you'll end up with valuable writing experience and a polished writing sample. Experience & writing samples will get you a job if you stick with it.

    None of the tech writers I personally know actually have technical degrees. I have a degree in Sociology, and I'm a tech writer. I've only got 2 years tech writing experience, yet here I am heading up a project which should probably be run by someone with 10x my experience.

    That's the beauty of the Open Source movement. If you want to contribute, you can. Everyone has valuable skills & time.

    Please, join the OSWG mailing list. Take a look at some of the projects. Try writing or rewriting a HOWTO or something small to start.

    It's really a lot of fun.

    - deb (founder of the OSWG)

  • by dria (9758) on Wednesday June 09, 1999 @05:06PM (#1859108)
    Browsing through the list of writers who have applied for the job, it doesn't seem like this project is making any attempt to fix this problem. For their biographies, they note things like degrees, almost any technical experience, and listings of programs they're familiar with. Unfortunately, none of them speak of their ability to communicate simply and easily with the computer illiterate.

    One of the main skills most technical writers must first develop is the ability to write clear, concise, user-oriented documentation (in the software industry, at least). I think perhaps none of us have put this in our mini-bios on the OSWG site because for us (experienced tech writers) this sort of thing almost "goes without saying". It is a valid point, of course, and I'll bring it up on the list to see if any of the writers/editors wants to add this sort of information to their bio.


    - deb

  • We've hosted several open source projects ( Linux [unc.edu], Linux Documentation Project [unc.edu], GGI [ggi-project.org] and more -- even WAIS and Mosaic in ancient days).
    We're open to supporting more projects. So if you have some that need www, ftp, mailing lists etc, drop us a note at webmaster@MetaLab.unc.edu [mailto]
  • See James Burke's THE PINBALL EFFECT for a simple, and _incomplete_ example of how this might translate. It's not the only way, of course.

    A highly recommended book in any case ( 0-316-11602-5 ) though not quite as good as the previous ones.


    --

  • We need, essentially, documentation that can be approached in many ways, with assistance for newbies of differing levels that doesn't get in the way of the main document itself. Isn't this what hypertext is good for?

    I'm keeping getting this vision of an intensely-linked set of documentation. In some ways, [Everything] has some of the same look and feel. Of course, its charter is completely different.

    Or maybe I should cut down on the sugar.

    --

  • We need, essentially, documentation that can be approached in many ways, with assistance for newbies of differing levels that doesn't get in the way of the main document itself. Isn't this what hypertext is good for?
    We also need documentation that is accessible to people who don't have any OS running on their machines yet, or who haven't configured X properly yet, or who don't know why the shell is saying "man: command not found".
  • Have you visited the FSF?

    If not this link my please you :)
    http://www.fsf.org/help/help.html

    HAve fun :)

    Ells
  • I'm with you there. I too have a great deal more enthusiasm than useful experience. I joined the list anyway, if only to lurk and learn from the pros. I invite you to do the same. --adric@adric.com "Impossible is a word you humans use entirely too often" -Seven, Star Trek: Voyager
  • In computers there is a range of ease of use going from, say, the MacOS on one side to those old computers that where programmed by placing wires in the correct location.

    Before we can much wory about the newbie reading the docs, we must worry about the newbie being able to use the program. Less, the docs will look like:

    If thou willst thy Sendmail program to printeth the queue, shalt thou passeth the "-bp" option, unless thou wilt useth thy mailq command.

    After reading such docs, the only thing a newbie will be doing is running for a (ak!) Windows '98 CD. And we all do not want that!

    While we no doubt understand the use of Sendmail by now, to the newbie, it is quite incomprehensible. And if that newbie can't manage to understand the software, what is the point of scaring him with a large manual?

    Would it not of been easier to -- at least the first time you did it -- to configure sendmail with a simple preferences screen, in which as you drag the mouse over the checkboxes, it gave you help text in a box below? And then when you hit "OK" it configured sendmail?

    Feel free to mail me any comments; I may miss them if only posted here.

A computer scientist is someone who fixes things that aren't broken.

Working...