Write the Docs Community Kickoff - January 2021

Hey folks, Eric Holscher here, one of the co-founders of Write the Docs. This is the January edition of the newsletter, which has a community update to give the newsletter team the month off.

A new year

A new year comes with many expectations: hoping for change, setting new goals, and feeling optimistic about the fresh year that has just begun.

Sadly this year that optimism has been dashed in record time. We have written many times throughout 2020 that we hope you’re okay, and we’re continuing that tradition once more in our first newsletter of 2021.

We hope you’re okay, and we hope that the storm we have been engulfed in will soon pass.

A heartfelt thanks

We had a lot of big plans for last year, but most of those had to be put on hold in March as we scrambled to move our community fully online. Getting to see all the happy faces at our in-person events is one of the largest motivators for people who organize events. Sadly this year, we weren’t able to make that happen.

2020 has shown that the love and care we put into the community will be returned back to us when needed. When we moved the conferences online, we were genuinely worried about the health and longevity of Write the Docs. As we noted in our ticket choices page for Portland, we had a lot of outstanding debts and we didn’t know how much support we would get with our online conferences. It was easy to see a worst case scenario where our venues didn’t refund us and people didn’t support the online events.

We are happy to report that we received overwhelming support from our vendors, sponsors, speakers, team, and attendees:

  • Most of our vendors refunded our down payments in full. Our A/V and captioning folks adapted perfectly to the new format.
  • Only 1 of our sponsors canceled because of the transition to a virtual event.
  • Our speakers pulled together to record videos and handle live online Q&A.
  • Our team pulled together to run virtual events that exceeded our expectations for what those events could be.
  • Our attendees, most importantly, made our virtual events feel like our conferences, with a supportive and generous spirit.

2020 has been a hard year, but we wanted to take this chance to give thanks to those who made 2020 a special year. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to support this wonderful community, and we look forward to making 2021 the best year yet, with your help.

Looking forward

One of the largest things we noticed in 2020 was how much more support our community needed. As we scrambled to move our events online, people were also adjusting to working remotely for the first time. We saw lots of activity in our Slack network, as people were trying to connect online. Meetups slowly adjusted, trying to move online and keep some momentum going.

Write the Docs itself was able to provide similar value as in the past, but we had limited resources to adjust to the changing world. The profits from our conferences pay for everything we do, which constrains our ability to adjust to events as they happen.

We are planning a way for our community to support the organization directly. We are proud that all the content that Write the Docs produces is free to everyone, and we don’t plan to change that any time soon. The goal for 2021 is to be able to provide additional support to our community, funded by members in that community, who are able to contribute.

We’re still working out the details, and will be posting a Write the Docs Enhancement Proposal (WEP) soon to ask the community for feedback. We hope that you’ll support us in building a community that is better able to support you.

Write the Docs Quorum Meetups

One of the first things we’re excited about this year is an evolution of our meetups: Quorum meetups. These quarterly, remote, “super” meetups are an hour long and include a presentation by a speaker followed by breakout networking.

Write the Docs is running three Quorum pilot programs for 2021:

Events are free and open to all. Quarterly meetups will typically occur at 7PM local time on a Monday through Thursday evening.

If you are a local meetup organizer in the these timezones who would like to learn more about what is required to participate, or are located in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and would like to know if the program expands to your time zones, contact Alyssa Rock on the Write the Docs Slack network.

You can read more about these meetups in the quorum meetups GitHub repository.

Other community updates

We have shared our high-level community stats for the past 4 years, and will continue to do it each year going forward. You can view our 2020 stats on our blog at Write the Docs 2020 Stats.

We’re still accepting talk proposals for our virtual Portland conference, April 25-27. Especially if you’ve not been able to attend due to travel logistics, or if you’ve not spoken before we’d love to hear your voice. The virtual conference format means you can speak from anywhere, though it’s ideal if you are close to the local time in Portland.

Submit your talk proposals by January 25th, If accepted, we’ll ask you to put together a 30 min talk video by the end of March. If you need feedback or help with your talk proposal, some of our meetups are hosting a proposal workshop. The proposal workshop will happen January 20th from 4-6PM PST (UTC-8).

Given the increased usage of our Slack network, we have also seen the need for increased formalization of our moderation. We will be proposing a WEP to formalize our process around moderation. Look for announcements of that in the newsletter if you want to contribute.

We are also working to get our 2020 Salary Survey analyzed and published. The plan for this year is to have a few different reports, one that comes out each month looking at different aspects of the data. We’re hoping to have the first report out for our February newsletter.

From our sponsor

This month’s newsletter is sponsored by Paligo:

Paligo is an all-in-one cloud-based CCMS platform. Authoring, versioning, branching, release workflows, publishing, translation management, and more - all updated continuously in the cloud. No more worrying about locally installed software and deployment!

Read the case study to learn more.


Interested in sponsoring the newsletter? Take a look at our sponsorship prospectus.

Thanks again

All these numbers remind us of the scale and impact of our work. Thanks again for being part of our journey.

To a better 2021,

The Write the Docs team