A list of open source projects with volunteer documentation opportunities

(This is an update to my original post from 2018)

People who are trying to get technical writing experience are often told to find an open source project and volunteer to write their documentation. Writing documentation for an open source project can give you valuable experience that you can use as a starting point for a technical writing career. If nothing else, it will help you figure out if technical writing is a good career choice for you.

However, finding an open source project to volunteer for can be a daunting task. This is a list of various open source projects looking for volunteers in order to help you find a way to contribute.

Read this first for background: How to Contribute to Open Source – https://opensource.guide/how-to-contribute/

The Write the Docs Slack workspace – https://www.writethedocs.org/slack/ will sometimes have volunteer opportunities listed in their #community-help-wanted channel. The #open-source channel has opportunities listed from time to time too. Several of the volunteer opportunities listed here (Grafana, Mautic, Spinnaker, and PowerShell) were suggested by members of the WtD Slack.

Beginner resources

If you're completely new to both technical writing and open source, these would be the best place to start. These opportunities are with established open source projects with a formal setup in place to allow people to volunteer.

  • Fedora Docs Project: Fedora is the community version of the commercial Red Hat Enterprise Linux OS – https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Join_the_Docs_Project
  • Gnome Documentation: Gnome is an open source desktop environment – https://wiki.gnome.org/DocumentationProject
  • Ubuntu Documentation: Ubuntu is an open source Linux operating system – https://wiki.ubuntu.com/DocumentationTeam
  • LibreOffice Docs Team: LibreOffice is an open source office suite – https://www.libreoffice.org/community/docs-team/
  • FLOSS Manuals: FLOSS Manuals are collaboratively written manuals for open source software – http://www.flossmanuals.org/get-involved-0
  • Mozilla Knowledge Base: Mozilla is the creator of the Firefox browser – https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/improve-knowledge-base

Mid-level and advanced resources

These projects require a higher degree of technical skill with various open source tools than the beginner resources. They are not out of reach for a beginner, but you will need to make more of an effort to learn how to use the software required to contribute to the project.

  • Google Season of Docs: this is a yearly project run by Google to bring together technical writers and open source projects. GSoD has a formal application process and requires you to have some prior technical writing experience and be able to submit writing samples – https://developers.google.com/season-of-docs
  • Grafana: Grafana builds database analytics and monitoring tools. Some of their tools are proprietary, but they have a number of open source volunteer opportunities available -https://github.com/grafana/grafana/blob/master/contribute/documentation.md
  • Spinnaker: Spinnaker provides continuous integration tools. You will need to join their Slack workspace – http://join.spinnaker.io/ and join the Docs Special Interest Group channel (#sig-documentation).
  • Mautic: Mautic is an open source marketing automation project – https://docs.mautic.org/en/home/contributing
  • PowerShell: Microsoft PowerShell is open source – https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/scripting/community/contributing/overview?view=powershell-7
  • FreeBSD Documentation Project: FreeBSD is one of the oldest open source operating systems – https://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/fdp-primer/
  • OpenStack: an open source IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) public/private cloud platform – https://docs.openstack.org/doc-contrib-guide/index.html

The tools needed to contribute to the mid-level and advanced resources, such as Git, Markdown, or AsciiDoc, are tools that are used on a daily basis by technical writers across the globe. Knowing how to use these tools can be very useful in your career.

submitted by /u/alanbowman
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