Technical writer guide

Current phase:
The 2020 Season of Docs program finished on March 15, 2021. See timeline.

This page contains the guide for technical writers who take part in Season of Docs.


Welcome to Season of Docs! This guide tells you a bit about your participation in Season of Docs and helps you with the activities you should undertake at each phase of the program.

Eligibility to participate in Season of Docs

To participate in Season of Docs as a technical writer, you must be:

  • At least 18 years old at time of registration.
  • Able to demonstrate prior technical writing experience by submitting role descriptions and work samples.
  • Eligible to work in their country of residence during duration of program.
  • A resident of a country not currently embargoed by the United States. See the Sanctions Programs and Country Information from the US Treasury.

See the full technical writer terms.

Your open source mentors

Season of Docs mentors are not necessarily technical writers, and they may have little experience in technical communication. They're members of the open source organization who know the value of good documentation and who are experienced in open source processes and tools.

The relationship between you and your mentors is a collaboration. You bring documentation experience and skills to the open source organization. Your mentors contribute their knowledge of open source and code. Together, you can develop technical documentation and improve the open source project's processes.

Program announcement and organization application phases

The announcement date for Season of Docs is March 23, 2020. Interested open source organizations can apply to take part in Season of Docs between April 13, 2020 and May 4, 2020. The Google program administrators publish the list of successful organizations on May 11, 2020.

During the period between the program announcement and the publication of participating open source organizations, you should keep an eye out for news. You can return to this website, and also watch for blog posts or other news on the Web. Some of the open source organizations may share their ideas even during the organization application phase.

We also invite you to spread the word about Season of Docs and why you're interested in the program. Take a look at the promotional material for graphics and ideas.

Technical writer exploration phase

The technical writer exploration phase runs from May 11 - June 8, 2020. During this period, you can explore the list of participating organizations and their project ideas. This is an open call for technical writers -- you do not need approval from Season of Docs to get started. Bear in mind, though, the eligibility requirements above.

When you find one or more projects that interest you, you should approach the relevant open source organization directly to discuss project ideas.

Your tasks as technical writer during this phase

Explore the list of participating open source organizations and their project ideas.

Examine the list to find an open source organization that you'd like to work with. Look at the technical writing projects that the organizations have proposed and decide which projects suit you. You may apply to more than one organization. At this stage of Season of Docs it's a good idea to explore more than one option. The final selection process accepts only one project per technical writer.

Participating open source organizations

Discuss project ideas with open source organizations.

You may discuss project ideas with any of the participating organizations. To make contact, use the organization's email address shown in the list of participating organizations. Early discussions help you put together a good project proposal for submission to the Google program administrators during the technical writer application phase. The initial project ideas may come from the ideas list that the organization has proposed. You may propose your own ideas too.

Participating open source organizations

Ideas for technical writing projects

Technical writer application phase

The technical writer application phase runs from June 9, 2020 - July 9, 2020. During this period, you can apply to take part in Season of Docs. The Google program administrators forward the relevant details from your application to your chosen open source organization. The open source organization administrators and mentors then select the projects they want to mentor.

Your tasks as technical writer applicant during this phase

Submit your application to take part in Season of Docs.

Submit your application for Season of Docs before July 9, 2020.

Creating your application

2020 Season of Docs technical writer applications are now closed. Join the announcement mailing list at season-of-docs-announce to stay informed.

Community bonding phase

The community bonding phase runs from August 17 - September 13, 2020. During this period, the open source mentors help you become familiar with the open source project and community.

Your tasks as technical writer during this phase

Set up communication channels.

Make contact with your mentor(s) in the open source organization that you've chosen to work with. Ensure that you have a reliable way of communicating directly with your mentor and with the organization administrators—the latter are the members of the open source organization who act as the principal Season of Docs contact for their organization.

Your responsibilities

Your mentors' responsibilities

The mentors' guide to working with technical writers

Become involved in the open source project and community.

Ask your mentor questions about the tools and processes that the open source organization uses. Introduce yourself on the open source community's mailing lists, chat, Slack channel, and any other shared communication channel.

Gain an understanding of the product as a whole.

Ask your mentor to explain the product (especially conceptually) that you're soon to document. Discuss the audience of the documentation in detail.

Set goals and expectations.

Work with your mentor to refine the goals for your technical writing project and to set expectations on both sides. Setting these goals and expectations now is a good way of ensuring the success of your project.

Doc development phase

The doc development phase runs from September 14, 2020 - November 30, 2020. (The end date is different for long-running projects.) During this period, you work on your project under close consultation with your mentors.

Your tasks as technical writer during this phase

Work with your mentor to complete your project.

Work closely with your mentor to complete your project. Follow the open source community's procedures to request reviews of the resulting documentation and to submit the updates to the open source repository. For example, open source projects hosted on GitHub add or update files by creating a pull request for review and submission.

Raise any concerns with the organization administrator.

If you have any concerns about communication with your mentors or run into any other problems that may affect the successful completion of your project, let the open source organization administrator know.

Your responsibilities

Complete any survey from the Google program administrators.

The Google program administrators may send out a mid-project survey to assess progress. Complete the survey and submit your answers to the Google program administrators as instructed on the survey document.

Project finalization and evaluation phase

The project finalization phase runs from November 30 - December 5, 2020, and the evaluation phase runs from December 3 - 10, 2020. (The dates are different for long-running projects.) During the project finalization period, you submit your project report, also called your final work products. During the evaluation phase, you submit your evaluation of your mentor(s) and of your experience as a participant in Season of Docs.

Your tasks as technical writer during this phase

Write your project report.

Write your project report (sometimes called your work product). The project report includes a description of the work you've done during Season of Docs and any relevant links.

Creating your project report

Long-running project finalization phase has closed.

Ask your mentor to review your project report.

Your mentor may have valuable insight into how to describe your achievements. Also, coming to a shared understanding of the state of the project is useful at this stage, before your mentor marks the project as successfully completed or not.

Finalize your project report.

Finalize your project report by March 8, 2021 at 18:00 UTC. The form is editable, but you must submit the final version by the given date.

Long-running project finalization phase has closed.

Write and submit your evaluation of your mentor and your experience of Season of Docs.

Complete and submit your evaluation by March 12, 2021 at 18:00 UTC.

Evaluations by technical writers

Your responsibilities

Long-running project evaluation phase has closed.

Long-running projects

For standard-length technical writing projects in Season of Docs, the doc development phase runs from September 14, 2020 - November 30, 2020. However, some technical writers may apply for a long-running project under consultation with the open source organization. For a long-running project, the doc development phase runs from September 14, 2020 - March 1, 2021.

The project finalization and evaluation period for long-running projects is March 1 - 8, 2021.

Your tasks and responsibilities are the same as described on this page for standard-length technical writing projects, except that the dates for project finalization and evaluations are later.