Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Current phase:
The 2019 Season of Docs program finished on March 6, 2020. See timeline.


Is Season of Docs a recruiting program?

No. If you are interested in working for Google, please visit the Google jobs website.

Is Season of Docs considered an internship, a job, or any form of employment?

No. Season of Docs is an activity that the technical writer performs as an independent technical writer for which they are paid a stipend. Technical writers may choose to opt out of receiving the stipend.

Why should I take part in Season of Docs?

The goal of Season of Docs is to foster collaboration between open source organizations and technical writers. We think this program will:

  • Give technical writers an opportunity to gain experience in contributing to open source projects and to learn about open source code.
  • Give open source projects the opportunity to engage the technical writing community, and hence to improve their open source docs.
  • Raise awareness of open source docs and of technical writing.

Benefits for open source organizations:

  • Experience working with a technical writer.
  • Improved docs.
  • The potential for ongoing collaboration with technical writers after Season of Docs is over.
  • Improved processes for documenting your projects.
  • Increased awareness of open source docs amongst the technical writing community.

Benefits for technical writers:

  • Experience contributing to an open source project.
  • Experience working with developer-focused docs and with code.
  • Credit and recognition for the work done.
  • Something to add to your resume.
  • The potential for ongoing collaboration with the open source project after Season of Docs is over
  • Increased awareness in open source communities of the value technical writers can bring.

What types of projects can technical writers tackle?

Here are some ideas:

  • Build a documentation site on a platform to be decided by the technical writer and open source mentor, and publish an initial set of basic documents on the site. Examples of platforms include:

  • Refactor the open source project's existing documentation to provide an improved user experience or a more accessible information architecture.

  • Write a conceptual overview of, or introduction to, a product or feature. Often a team creates their technical documentation from the bottom up, with the result that there's a lot of detail but it's hard to understand the product as a whole. A technical writer can fix this.

  • Create a tutorial for a high-profile use case.

  • Create a set of focused how-to guides for specific tasks.

  • Create a contributor’s guide that includes basic information about getting started as a contributor to the open source project, as well as any rules around licence agreements, processes for pull requests and reviews, building the project, and so on.

Is a video a possible project for Season of Docs?

Yes. It's up to the open source organization to publish project ideas and to choose a project proposal submitted by a technical writer. If a video satisfies the requirements of the open source organization then you can submit the video as a Season of Docs project, provided it’s a technical instruction video. Make sure the video requirements are well scoped and be aware that production of a high-quality video takes a time and resources.

Are mentoring organizations required to use the documents produced by technical writers?

No. While we hope that all the documentation and code that come out of this program will find a happy home, we don’t require organizations to use the technical writers' docs or code.

Where does Season of Docs occur?

Season of Docs occurs entirely online. There is no requirement to travel as part of the program.

How can I stay informed about Season of Docs?

Visit the announcement mailing list at season-of-docs-announce for the latest updates and announcements related to Season of Docs. Join the group to receive updates via email.

What can I do to help spread the word about Season of Docs?

You can tweet about the program, write blog posts, publish videos, or host a meetup or information session in your area. We have some sample content and resources that you can use to distribute to your community (organization, writers group, and other contacts).

How do I organize or host a Season of Docs information session or meetup?

You are welcome to schedule a meetup at whatever time and place is convenient for you! Please review the program rules and use the sample content.

Can I participate in Season of Docs as both a mentor and a technical writer?

No. We want to make sure that each project and technical writer receives sufficient attention, and we feel this could create a bad experience for those involved. Please choose whether participation as a mentor or a technical writer is more appealing to you and plan to apply accordingly.

Will I get a Season of Docs T-shirt?

Yes! Participants in successfully-completed projects will receive a Season of Docs T-shirt. This year's T-shirt will be the inaugural program T-shirt.

When will my T-shirt arrive?

As a result of the Covid-19 situation, we currently don't have an estimate for when you'll receive your T-shirt. Google has engaged a vendor to produce the T-shirts and handle the logistics of shipping them around the world. Google program administrators will email you a unique access code to select your T-shirt style/size and enter your shipping details once production is possible. Producing and shipping the T-shirts typically takes a few weeks.

What if I have more questions?

Take a look at the technical writer guide, the mentor guide, and the organization administrator guide.

If after reading through all the documentation you still don't have an answer please consider discussing your questions with the Season of Docs community on Slack or the discussion list. See the information about discussion channels and how to contact us.

For technical writers

When can technical writers apply for Season of Docs?

The technical writer application phase runs from May 29, 2019 to June 28, 2019. See the program timeline and the technical writer guide.

What documentation tools and frameworks should I know to participate in Season of Docs?

The documentation tools and frameworks that you will use depend on the organization that you're interested in working with. Part of the goal of Season of Docs is for the open source projects to help technical writers learn more about the tools and frameworks involved in documenting open source products. For that reason, it's usually not a requirement that you have detailed knowledge of specific documentation platforms before you start your Season of Docs project.

That said, most open source organizations use some flavor of Markdown or another markup language for their documentation. We recommend that you find out which language your chosen organization uses and become familiar with the syntax. Markdown is a good start, as GitHub README files use a flavor of Markdown. See the GitHub guide to Markdown.

Find out if your chosen organization already hosts their documentation on a website, and if so what platform they use. The platform may be a static site generator such as Jekyll, Sphinx or Hugo, or the organization may host their docs on Read the Docs or GitHub Pages. When you've found out what platform organization uses, explore and experiment with the relevant language and framework. This helps you get started quickly with your open source project, and puts you in a good place to provide sound advice to the open source project of your choice.

What programming language(s) should I know to participate in Season of Docs?

Depending on the nature of your documentation project, you may need to be familar with a programming language. Bear this in mind when choosing and proposing a documentation project, and consult the open source organization about the level of familiarity required.

Can I submit more than one project proposal?

Yes, but only one project proposal per technical writer will be accepted. See the guide to creating your application.

Can technical writers already working on an open source project continue to work on it as part of Season of Docs?

Yes, but you should note your previous relationship with the project in your proposal.

Can a group submit a proposal together to work on a single project?

No, only an individual may work on a given project.

Can I contact the mentoring organizations directly before submitting a proposal to Season of Docs?

Yes, you can communicate directly with the open source organization that you're interested in working with, before submitting your application for Season of Docs. The open source mentors can help you to refine your project idea.

What are the eligibility requirements for participation?

  • You must be at least 18 years of age when you register.
  • You must be eligible to work in the country you will reside in during the program.
  • You must reside in a country that is not currently embargoed by the United States. See the program rules and the Sanctions Programs and Country Information from the US Treasury.

Will you make an exception to the eligibility requirements for me?

No. We cannot make an exceptions if you do not meet the eligibility requirements, no matter how talented or interested you are. Making an exception for you wouldn't be fair to the other technical writers who apply for participation in Season of Docs.

What forms will I need to provide?

Accepted participants will need to provide appropriate tax forms.

Do I need prior experience or training as a technical writer?

Prior technical writing experience or training is preferable but not essential. When you submit a project proposal, you can describe your experience and/or training in technical writing. You should be able to provide some evidence that shows your interest in technical documentation or open source documentation, including examples of documentation you've written. The Season of Docs program aims to partner experienced or in-training technical writers with open source mentors, so that each can learn from the other. The open source organization will look for technical writers with the level of experience that the organization needs, to ensure successful completion of their Season of Docs projects.

Will I be paid for participating in Season of Docs?

Yes. Google will provide a stipend to those technical writers who successfully complete the program. You can choose to opt out of receiving the stipend. See the details of the technical writer stipend.

Will I be paid even if the organization does not use my documentation or code?

Yes, provided your project passes the final evaluation by the open source mentor. Whether or not the open source project uses the produced documentation or code does not impact the payment of the technical writer stipend.

What does a good technical writer proposal look like?

The best proposals are from technical writers who take the time to interact with and discuss their ideas with their chosen open source organization before submitting their Season of Docs applications. See the guide to creating your application.

How much time does Season of Docs participation take?

The amount of time you spend depends on the nature of the project that you've agreed with your mentor organization. The requirement for number of hours is deliberately flexible, to allow for different types of project and different working styles.

Before submitting your project proposal, you should assess the project and discuss a time estimate with the open source organization. If it's difficult for you to spend the agreed amount of time due to other commitments, there's an option to complete the project in a longer period of time, and still receive the stipend and acknowledgment of work done. When you submit your Season of Docs application, specify the option for a long-running project.

I'm studying technical communication but don't yet have any work experience. Can I still participate?

Yes. When submitting your project proposal, list your university or college courses in the section for prior work experience.

I am an accepted student in the United States on an F1 visa. How do I get authorization to participate?

Please talk to your school's international student affairs office for more details. Google can not provide you with any kind of CPT or OPT authorization.

All accepted participants will receive an email confirmation of acceptance. We do not offer customized letters.

How does Season of Docs use the information from my application form?

The Google program administrators pass some of the information from your application through to the administrators of your chosen open source organization, so that the organization can assess your project proposal.

If your project is accepted into the program, Season of Docs publishes the project details on the website.

See the description of data usage in the guide to the technical writer application form.

For open source mentors and organization administrators

I want to learn more about participating as a mentor in Season of Docs. Where can I find more information?

Read the mentor's guide and the program rules for more information on becoming a Season of Docs mentor.

What are the eligibility requirements for a mentoring organization?

To be eligible to participate as a mentoring organization, you must be a group running an active free/open source software project, such as BRL-CAD. The project does not need to be a legally incorporated entity. Mentoring organizations must have already produced and released software under an Open Source Initiative approved license and have at least two contributors to serve as organization administrators and/or mentors for the entire Season of Docs program in order to participate in the program.

Refer also to the eligibility requirements described in the program rules and the Sanctions Programs and Country Information from the US Treasury.

Do organizations receive any money for participating in Season of Docs?

Organizations in good standing will receive a stipend per accepted technical writer at the end of the program. This is regardless of whether the technical writer's project is successful or not. Organizations are free to use these funds as they wish.

How do the Google program administrators allocate slots for technical writing projects?

The 2019 pilot of Season of Docs is limited to a maximum of 50 technical writing projects in total.

As a guideline, we expect to accept a maximum of 2 projects per organization, so that we don't end up with too many accepted projects. However, if the free selection process doesn't fill all the slots, the Google program administrators may allocate additional slots to some organizations.

When sending in your selection of technical writing projects, you can therefore select more than 2 projects. Make sure that you list your selections in order of priority, with your top priority at the top of the list.

In your communications with the technical writers, you should make it clear that the project is not accepted until the Google program administrators publish the list of accepted projects on the program website.

Can I participate in Season of Docs as both an organization administrator and a mentor?

Yes. An organization administrator can be a mentor as well. You don't need to fill in a separate mentor form. When filling in the organization application form, or the alternative administrator form, you should use the option on that form to indicate that you're also acting as a mentor.

Can I participate as an organization administrator or a mentor in both Season of Docs and Google Summer of Code?

Yes. Season of Docs and Google Summer of Code are separate programs. If you have the bandwidth to participate in both programs, that's fine.

Can I participate as an organization administrator or a mentor in both Season of Docs and Google Code-in?

Yes. Season of Docs and Google Code-in are separate programs. If you have the bandwidth to participate in both programs, that's fine.

Archived data

How do I remove my information from the Season of Docs archive?

Contact us to have your information removed.