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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: Getting Started with AOO book
Date Sat, 05 May 2012 22:28:08 GMT
On Tue, May 1, 2012 at 9:22 PM, Jean Weber <> wrote:
> On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:29 AM, Rob Weir <> wrote:
>> I think the trick is finding the right people, of connecting
>> volunteers with volunteer opportunities.  Realistically, if someone
>> was really interested in tech writing, they probably would not be on
>> this list.  The traffic level and the topics covered would make this
>> list nearly unbearable to someone unless they were interested in the
>> project in general.   I don't think it is necessarily lack of interest
>> or lack of writers.  It could just be a question of finding them.
>> So instead of having posts lost in the ocean of ooo-dev,  maybe we'd
>> have better luck with:
>> 1) Adding some specific ODF Authors call for volunteers info on our
>> "help wanted" page;
> I'm actually surprised that you are suggesting calling for techwriters
> to join ODFAuthors instead of trying to get them involved with
> "official" Apache-licensed user docs. I'm not objecting, mind you, but
> I am surprised.

Well, I'm surprised that you are "surprised",  since we've discussed
this repeatedly for 9 months.

The 3.4 User Guides are created by you and your volunteers with
ODFAuthors.  That is an external group, not part of Apache.  That is
fine.   The broader OpenOffice ecosystem includes many similar
efforts.  Why shouldn't I encourage volunteers to work with you?

As we've discussed before,  moving that effort to Apache is possible,
but only if the work is done under the Apache license.  But that does
not seem possible because of the diverse and scattered authorship and
license regimes of the existing guides.

So I can only see two options.

1) Continue as you are, at ODFAuthors, using your own website, lists, etc..

2) Start fresh at Apache with whatever materials can be brought in
under ALv2.  This might be nothing.

Do you see any other options?

I think option #1 is the easiest one.  If you want to push for #2,
then you are welcome to do that, but it will require much more effort.

>> 2) cc'ing ooo-users on a "call for volunteers" (or reviewers) post.
>> (ooo-users is more power users than normal users)
>> 3) Write a blog post on the project blog, explaining the documentation
>> program you have in general, what you've accomplished and then explain
>> how interested parties can get involved.  We can promote that post via
>> social networking sites and get thousands of views,  This is probably
>> your best bet.
> We don't actually have a documentation program at this point. All the
> official stuff is still under discussion as to which way to go, what
> to do, where to do it.

Depends on who "we" is.

If you mean ODFAuthors, then certainly you have a documentation program.

If you mean AOO users, then certainly they have access to this documentation.

If you mean an official documentation project, hosted at Apache, using
Apache lists, with source docs stored in Subversion and PDF's included
in our releases, then you are correct.  But does that really
necessary?   The guides were not part of the installs before with OOo,
were they?  So why would it be different now?

As for discussion, yes we can discuss as long as you want.  But the
fact is you've made  progress with doing the 3.4 guides with
volunteers at ODFAuthors.  Why shouldn't you want to build on that

>> 4) In general, promote the idea of volunteering.  For example, imagine
>> something like this:
>> "Just in time for the release of Apache OpenOffice 3.4 we have
>> refreshed content for the User Guides.   Technical writers with the
>> ODF Authors project have worked hard to create these updates, but we
>> need to your help to review these new guides.  Both technical and
>> editorial reviews are valuable.   This is a great opportunity for new
>> volunteers on the project, since it assumes no previous knowledge
>> about OpenOffice, and in fact you will learn a lot about it in the
>> process!
>> To volunteer, please join the following mailing list XXXXXX and
>> introduce yourself.   Our editors are standing by."
>> See?  Make it interesting, exciting and actionable.
> Over the years I've done quite a bit of that type of recruitment. My
> experience is that such efforts mostly bring forth a collection of
> wannabe writers who waste enormous amounts of my time and produce
> nothing useful, and reviewers who nitpick but don't notice actual
> errors in content. The few productive members of the ODFAuthors team
> appear to have come on their own, and those few make great
> contributions.

Yes, you need to filter, and not every one who volunteers will work
out in the project.   In that regard a documentation effort is the
same as every other part of OpenOffice, or indeed every other open
source project, or indeed every commercial software development

> For the various reasons mentioned above, I personally am not motivated
> to do any of the sort of recruitment you suggest at this time. If
> someone else wants to do so, that's fine.

Another approach, which can work with a project with such a large
established user population, is to think of a pyramid with users at
the base.  If you want more help with something, then start with
getting more users of something.  So if you want more help with user
guides then start with making more users aware of the users guides.
Blog posts, posts to ooo-users, announce list, social networks, etc.
At the same time indicate how users can submit corrections.  Small
steps.  A certain percentage of users will do that.  That is the next
level of the pyramid, the casual contributors.  Then you work on
getting them into
steady contributors.   You thank them, give them credit, etc.  When
you have a new draft, make sure you notify those who had contributor
before.   Steady contributors of course become Committers and PPMC
members, and you have the top of the pyramid.

> I totally agree with your comment in the first paragraph about
> techwriters probably not being on this list. I think we need a
> separate list. But every time the topic has come up, it's been lost in
> the "wait until the traffic gets high enough and then we'll consider a
> separate list" syndrome (not specifically about a docs list). No, I'm
> not going to attempt to look up when I brought up the subject.

IMHO, you'll get even poorer results with an empty list.  it is not
"build it and they will come".



> --Jean

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