Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Current phase:
Organization applications open. See timeline.

General

Is Season of Docs a recruiting program?

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

What are the 2021 Season of Docs changes?

Season of Docs 2021 has significant changes from prior years, including:

  • Technical writers no longer apply through Google to be matched with organizations
  • Organizations submit project proposals as part of their application, including a budget and proposed metrics
  • Accepted organizations receive grants, which they use to pay technical writers
  • Organizations submit final project reports and case studies

Why did Season of Docs make these changes?

At Google, our mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. By refocusing Season of Docs to emphasize learning about effective documentation practices in open source, we hope to make a bigger impact in the long term.

Our organization would like to participate in the 2021 Season of Docs, but we don’t know where to start!

Check out our full list of project ideas! You can also reach out to the technical writing community (try the #season-of-docs channel in the Write the Docs Slack or on your social media channels to ask for help or proposals).

What types of projects can organizations propose?

Here are some ideas:

  • Build a documentation site on a platform to be decided by the technical writer and open source organization, 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. Make sure the video requirements are well scoped and be aware that production of a high-quality video takes significant time and resources.

Is a documentation audit a reasonable project for Season of Docs?

A documentation audit is a great project for Season of Docs. Be mindful of how much documentation you already have; if you have a lot, you may need to reduce the scope (for example, just auditing tutorial content). If you have little or no documentation, you may want to include creating the highest-priority missing documentation as part of your project.

Are there documentation templates available for organizations and technical writers to use?

Season of Docs has a GitHub repo with a template and checklist for performing documentation audits. We hope to add other templates as they are created.

The Good Docs Project is working to create some minimum viable documentation templates for open source.

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

No. Occasionally, projects don't turn out as expected, or requirements change. We don't require organizations to use the documentation or other materials produced, but we do expect that the final report and case study will include a discussion of why the documentation was not used, and how the project made the decision not to use the documentation or other materials.

Can I submit an organization application to create documentation for an open source project as an individual? I'd like to create a series of blog posts, videos, or other materials on how to use an open source project or tool, but I'm not part of or contributor to the project.

No, you should only submit a proposal if you are able to receive funds on behalf of the open source project. We encourage you to reach out to the project and collaborate on an application proposal.

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.

Are there any statistics you can share about the 2019 and 2020 Seasons of Docs?

Yes, our Season of Docs results for the 2019 program can be viewed here, and our 2020 program results can be viewed here.

Will I get a Season of Docs T-shirt?

No, due to international shipping constraints, we will no longer be able to provide T-shirts to participants who successfully complete their Season of Docs project.

What if I have more questions?

Take a look at the organization administrator guide and technical writer 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 the discussion list. See the information about discussion channels and how to contact us.

How can I be a mentor for Season of Docs?

The 2021 Season of Docs does not have a formal mentor role. Organizations should specify how technical writers will be onboarded and supported and how their documentation contributions will be reviewed and approved as part of the organization application. If you are interested in mentoring technical writers as part of Season of Docs, we encourage you to work with your organization administrators to volunteer.

Is Season of Docs like Google Summer of Code?

No. Season of Docs is intended for people with some technical writing experience, it is not designed as a mentoring program like Google Summer of Code.

For technical writers

When can technical writers apply for Season of Docs?

The 2021 Season of Docs does not have a formal technical writer application. To participate in the 2021 Season of Docs as a technical writer, contact open source organizations directly, using the instructions on their Season of Docs program page. You can also express your interest by adding yourself to the Season of Docs Technical Writer Directory. See the technical writer guide for more information.

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 the 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 projects?

Depending on the nature of your documentation project, you may need to be familiar 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 technical writers already working on an open source project continue to work on it as part of Season of Docs?

Yes, but the organization should note the technical writer's previous or ongoing relationship with the project in their proposal.

What are the eligibility requirements for participation?

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 statement of interest to an organization, 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 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 grants to the accepted organizations to use to employ technical writers.

What does a good technical writer statement of interest look like?

The best statements of interest are from technical writers who take the time to interact with and discuss their ideas with their chosen open source organization before submitting their statements. See the guide to creating your statement of interest.

How much time does Season of Docs participation take?

Project sizes vary, but range from a commitment of 5-30 hours per week during the program. However, the amount of time you spend depends on the nature of the project that you've agreed upon with your organization. Before committing, you should assess the project and discuss a time estimate with the open source organization.

I’m a student, am I eligible to participate in the 2021 Season of Docs? Will Season of Docs teach me to be a technical writer?

Students are eligible to work with accepted organizations, but Season of Docs is not intended to teach technical writing skills. We expect that participating technical writers will have professional technical writing skills or equivalent relevant experience. Students who wish to participate should be sure to highlight their relevant writing and editing experience when reaching out to interested organizations and projects.

Can I participate as both a technical writer in Season of Docs and a student in Google Summer of Code?

Although this is not currently against the rules, we strongly suggest that students accepted to Google Summer of Code not apply to be a Season of Docs technical writer. Students should be concentrating on Google Summer of Code work instead of applying to Season of Docs.

Moreover, Season of Docs is not intended for beginners, it is intended for people who already have solid to great technical writing skills and experience. Technical writers in Season of Docs are not mentored, and instead need to be self-organized and motivated to figure out their plan for tackling the organization's project with minimal guidance from the org admins and other community members.

For open source organization administrators

What are the eligibility requirements for an open source organization?

To be eligible to participate as an 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. 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 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.

Is 'organization' equivalent to an open source project?

An organization may have one or more open source projects. Some organizations, such as foundations, may have multiple sub-organizations that each have one or more open source projects. If your organization has independent sub-organizations, please make this clear in your application. For example, programming language “Foo” could apply for documentation for the language as a whole, as well as for any plugins, libraries, or modules used with the language.

Can an organization submit more than one proposal application?

No. Please only submit one application per organization. If your organization has sub-organizations (for example, your organization is a foundation with many individual open source projects) each project should submit their own application, even if the grant funds would be handled by the umbrella organization.

Can a group of open source projects submit a proposal together to work on a single documentation project?

One organization should submit the proposal application and be responsible for coordinating work and support from other participating projects. (For example, a group of small open source projects that are all plug-ins for a larger project who wish to work on a joint how-to guide for creating plug-ins should choose one organization to lead the project.)

How will my organization receive funds?

In order to receive funds, your organization must have an Open Collective account.

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

Organizations can include funds for administration, mentorship, or reviewing work as part of their project budgets.

Can my organization use the Season of Docs grant to pay a current contributor?

Yes. However, project proposals must be for new work (including maintenance work, revision, or upgrades to existing documentation). You may not apply for a grant to be used to pay for already-completed work.

Can my organization work with student technical writers?

You may choose to have student technical writers work on your project. If you choose to work with students, we strongly suggest that you limit participating to students who:

  • Are over 18 years old
  • Are enrolled in a technical writing or technical communications program or course
  • Have demonstrable access to technical writing mentorship through their program or course

Can my organization work with more than one technical writer?

Your organization may select and pay more than one technical writer, but all technical writers working with your organization must work on the project you proposed. Working with multiple technical writers will add more complexity to your project and require more volunteer and administration time.

Our technical writer dropped out before the end of the program. Are we still eligible to receive the remaining funds?

We strongly encourage you to attempt to find a new technical writer to complete your project before the end of the program. However, disbursement of the remaining funds is not based on project completion, but on the completion of the case study and project report.

If your project was unable to be completed, we expect your case study to examine why. For example, you might have found that your documentation tooling is very complicated and proved a barrier to onboarding a technical writer, or that your project involved testing and updating tutorials and required extensive coding experience. What would you recommend to other projects, based on your experience? Include that information in your case study.

Can an organization application be reviewed prior to the submission deadline?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide feedback on the organization application.

How should organizations scope their project proposals?

When developing project ideas, try to find the smallest projects that will deliver value to the organization (but can be expanded if time allows). Smaller is better. When creating your project proposal, we recommend sticking to smaller, more detailed projects over larger projects that are less specified. If your project requires a lot of domain expertise, try to include projects that could be worked on by someone without that background.

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

Our organization participated in previous Season of Docs programs. Are we eligible to apply again?

Yes, organizations who have participated in previous Season of Docs programs are eligible to apply again.

Archived data

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

Contact us to have your information removed.