Open-Source Documentation: in search of user-driven, just-in-time writing
2001 (English)In: Proceedings of SIGDOC 2001, October 21– 24, 2001 in Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fee, NM: ACM , 2001, 132-141 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Iterative development models allow developers to respond quickly to changing user requirements, but place increasing demands on writers who must handle increasing amounts of change with ever-decreasing resources. In the software development world, one solution to this problem is open-source development: allowing the users to set requirements and priorities by actually contributing to the development of the software. This results in just-in-time software improvements that are explicitly user-driven, since they are actually developed by users.In this article we will discuss how the open source model can be extended to the development of documentation. In many open-source projects, the role of writer has remained unchanged: documentation development remains a specialized activity, owned by a single writer or group of writers, who work as best they can with key developers and frequently out-of-date specification documents. However, a potentially more rewarding approach is to open the development of the documentation to the same sort of community involvement that gives rise to the software: using forums and mailing lists as the tools for developing documentation, driven by debate and dialogue among the actual users and developers.Just as open-source development blurs the line between user and developer, open-source documentation will blur the line between reader and writer. Someone who is a novice reader in one area may be an expert author in another. Two key activities emerge for the technical writer in such a model: as gatekeeper and moderator for FAQs and formal documentation, and as literate expert user of the system they are documenting.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Santa Fee, NM: ACM , 2001. 132-141 p.
Engineering and Technology Computer Science
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-13492DOI: 10.1145/501516.501543OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-13492DiVA: diva2:20860