Peer writing and beyond - An experimental approach to a sustainable open-source projects




At the Good Docs project, we serendipitously discovered that peer writing is significantly more effective and efficient than traditional siloed writing for open source documentation. As we were building the APAC templates working group, one of the technical writers suggested a peer-writing approach wherein an informal group is formed to collaborate and work together to create a quickstart template. Thus began the story of global collaboration between three technical writers with diverse backgrounds. Our goal was to plan, explore, analyze, create, and publish an exemplary quickstart template.

Unlike pair programming, peer writing is often viewed with skepticism. We have often encountered intriguing questions from the community, such as:

  • How can multiple technical writers work together on a single document?
  • How did we overcome conflicts without hurting each other?
  • How did we create a haven for enthusiastic newbies to quickly contribute?
  • How did we create a culture that is non-judgemental and adopt an attitude of acceptance, genuineness, and empathy?

In this talk, on behalf of the working group, I’ll be uncovering our experiences and sharing how in this unique journey we:

  • Inspired the entire community to adopt this model
  • Created judgment-free space to share our ideas
  • Helped new tech writers onboard faster into the project
  • Applied our combined expertise to create elegant documents
  • Encouraged each other to push out of our comfort zone

We strongly believe that the peer-writing model fosters a greater sense of belonging within the community, builds resilient and empathetic teams, and enables contributors to create top-quality documentation for the project.

  • Conference: Write the Docs Portland
  • Year: 2022

About the speaker

Chris Ganta