Strategies to Fight Documentation Inertia


I'm a non-developer working with a community including a bunch of mostly-volunteer developers, and for years our developer documentation wiki was quiet and mostly static. I didn't touch it, since I don't know enough to work on developer resources, right? Wait, no! I realized that even if I can't update it all myself, I can help the developers with it, including a bit of persuading them.

I'll explain some of my strategies for making working on documentation more appealing and rewarding for developers, including by lending it some aspects of the quick feedback that people get when writing code.

This includes things like: Ways to make the wiki feel active and alive, since nobody likes to hang out in a ghost town. Good questions to ask that encourage people to write things down. How to make first edits easy with bite-sized tasks and prominent "todos" that entice people to click that edit button. Finding people who prefer to ask permission first before making changes, and being there to give them permission! And the best "trick": advice for effective ways to thank people a lot, publicly and specifically.