May 22 - 24, 2016 in Portland, Oregon

Welcome Wagon


We’re your Welcome Wagon, and we’re glad you’re coming to the 2016 Write the Docs conference! Feel free to tweet us @canncrochet and @runleonarun and look for Christy and Leona at the conference to say hello! In the meantime, you can email Christy or Leona if we can help make your first time at the conference easier. Come say hello to us at the conference.

We’ve gathered important stuff here that will help you navigate the conference like a pro, make you feel more at home, and help you to manage the constant flow of information. The Welcome Wagon events warm up new attendees and connect them with people, both veterans and other first-timers. Strategies and pro tips provide ways you can make the most of the conference. The FAQs strive to answer questions before you even have them.

Welcome Wagon events

  • Our Welcome Wagon events are still being planned for this year.

Pro Tips

  • You don’t need to go to every talk. Look through the schedule of events before you arrive or while you are eating or taking a break. Figure out which talks you want to see the most. Spread out your time between talks, unconference sessions, networking, and breaks.
  • Speaking of breaks–conferences are exhilarating, but can also be exhausting. Give your brain a break! Grab a quiet spot in Lola’s Room or take a quick walk. Play a board game on your lunch break. Come back invigorated.
  • Starting Monday morning, check the unconference schedule in Lola’s Room to see if there are any sessions you are interested in attending. New sessions are added all the time, so check back periodically.
  • Eat! You can use the energy.
  • Are you looking for a job or is there an opening at your company? Check out the job board in Lola’s Room.


Where is everything?

The conference main stage is in the Crystal Ballroom on the third floor at 1332 West Burnside Street.

The unconference takes place directly below the Crystal Ballroom, in Lola’s Room.

Most of the other events take place within a few blocks of the Crystal Ballroom:

  • Writing Day documentation sprints happen at the CENTRL office at 1335 NW Everett Street, which is 4 blocks from the conference venue.
  • Write the Docs party is at the Jack Knife, 614 SW 11th Ave.

If you are joining in the hike on Saturday, you’ll meet the other hikers at the Macleay Park Entrance at 2960 NW Upshur Street. You can take public transportation or a taxi there.

How should I get around?

How should I dress?

  • Portland is a casual-dress town and so is the Write the Docs conference. You’ll be meeting business colleagues at this conference, though, so neat and comfortable are good dress guidelines.
  • If you are going on the Write the Docs hike on Saturday, be sure to bring appropriate hiking clothes and shoes. This time of year, the Pacific Northwest tends to be muddy or raining with occasional swaths of blue skies. Layering is usually the way to go.

What will I eat?

  • Drinks and food are provided for you on conference days, so you can focus on the talks and meeting people and don’t have to worry about where to get your morning coffee.
  • Coffee, tea, and water are always available in the Crystal Ballroom. Bring a water bottle to make it easier for you to stay hydrated.
  • Food is provided on Monday and Tuesday in the Crystal Ballroom. There is a light breakfast, a solid lunch, and snacks on each conference day.
  • On Saturday, Sunday, and in the evening on Monday and Tuesday, explore Portland’s amazing food scene. Invite someone you just met to join you! If you are invited to dinner, say yes! Making connections over dinner is a great way to get to know more people.
  • If you need grocery items, there is a Whole Foods just down the street from the conference venue at 1210 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209.

Where should I sit?

  • The Crystal Ballroom will have round tables next to the main stage and rows of seats behind them.
  • There are no reserved seats; feel free to sit anywhere.
  • If you can, show up early to the conference each morning to grab a seat at one of the round tables. Introducing yourself to your neighbors is one of the easiest way to meet people.

What should I do during the talks?

Conference talks in the Crystal Ballroom

  • The time between talks is for meeting your colleagues or taking a break. During the talks, listen and take in as much as you can.
  • There is a lot of great information at this conference, but don’t worry if you miss something! All talks are videotaped, so you can review them later.
  • If you have a question during a talk, make a note of it and use it as a conversation starter with the speaker.
  • After a talk, feel free to tweet about it with the hashtag #writethedocs. Try not to “watch” the conference through Twitter and other social media, though. You are attending the conference, so live in it as much as you can!

Unconference in Lola’s Room

  • Check the schedule posted in Lola’s Room for the table number of the unconference talk you are interested in. Head to that table and have a seat.
  • The session leader will begin when the group has gathered.
  • Feel free to just listen or add your voice to the discussion. Unconference talks are designed to get everyone involved.

How do I take part in the unconference?

  • The unconference is a set of informal sessions that take place below the Crystal Ballroom in Lola’s Room on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Unconference talks focus on exchanges of ideas between participants.
  • You can attend unconference sessions, or, if you have an idea for a session, you can lead one.
  • To lead an unconference session, post a summary of your topic on a post-it note in an empty spot on the unconference schedule. Make your way down to Lola’s Room a few minutes early to introduce yourself to anyone who is attending your session. Once the group has gathered, introduce your topic and get the discussion going.

What are lightning talks, and should I give one?

  • A lightning talk is a five-minute talk where you quickly share a concept or bit of info you find interesting.
  • Lightning talks are a great way to practice public speaking, get people excited about your unconference session, and test interest in a conference proposal idea.
  • Do you have an idea, want to talk about a new tool you are learning, or review a process? Then, yes! Sign up for a lightning talk. There will be a sign-up sheet at registration.
  • If you are interested in giving a lightning talk, be prepared! There is a great guide here.

How do I make the most out of this conference?

Attend the Welcome Wagon events. Make connections with other first-time attendees and get advice from seasoned pros.

The most important part of this conference (and any conference) is the people you meet. Set a goal for yourself to meet a few, new people. Here are some tips:

  • Find out who is attending the conference before you get there. Join the Write the Docs Slack, follow the Write the Docs on Twitter, and review the list of speakers.
  • Figure out which companies will be represented at the conference. If you see a job post you’re interested in, you might want to ask them a few questions. This might be a great time to better understand what it’s like to work at certain companies.
  • Make a list of a few people you would like to meet, and write down some questions for them. If you can find contact information, email them before the conference and let them know you are looking forward to chatting.
  • Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to meet everyone. In fact, you shouldn’t. You should plan to make a few, meaningful connections. That is what the Write the Docs conference is about, so go for it! Introduce yourself.

Sample strategy for my first Write the Docs conference

  • Join the Write the Docs Slack, and participate in the Welcome Wagon chat room to start making conference connections.
  • Make a list of two people who are attending with some notes about them and questions for them. Either reach out by email before the conference to set up a meeting onsite or find them at the conference.
  • Attend the Welcome Wagon events.
  • Join in the Saturday hike.
  • Attend the Sunday writing day and volunteer to help on one of the projects being worked on.
  • Check out the talk schedule in advance and make note of the talks you don’t want to miss.
  • In the morning, or when you need a break during the day, head down to Lola’s Room to check out the unconference schedule. Make note of any unconference talks you want to attend.
  • Check out the lightning talks, and get excited about presenting one at next year’s conference.

Sample strategy for a second or higher Write the Docs conference

  • Attend the Welcome Wagon events and share your conference knowledge. You might learn something new yourself!
  • Reach out to some first-time attendees and tell them about your first conference.
  • Attend the Sunday writing day with your own project. Ask for help!
  • Check out the talk schedule in advance and make note of the talks you don’t want to miss.
  • In the morning, or when you need a break during the day, head down to Lola’s Room to check out the unconference schedule. Make note of any unconference talks you want to attend.
  • Sign up for a lightning talk or lead an unconference session.

Say hello

We’d love to say hi when you’re at the conference. Come find us and ask any questions, or just chat about the conference!






This document was inspired by other conferences doing great work in this area. In particular, these two documents were heavily used as a reference: