Brussels / 4 & 5 February 2017


Write a Better FM

Read The F* Manual? Maybe you need to write a better f* manual

Project documentation is so much more than just the formal manual. It's how you present yourself in all the forums where users may ask for help - IRC, mailing lists, StackOverflow, and in-person events. If you want people to use your project, and if you want people to join your project, you must be willing to listen to their needs, and be welcoming of their contributions.

Definition: RTFM - Read The F'ing Manual. Occasionally it is ironically rendered as Read The Fine Manual. A phrase uttered at people who have asked a question that we, the enlightened, feel is beneath our dignity to answer, but not beneath our dignity to use as an opportunity to squish a newbie's ego. Documentation, and technical support in general, sets the tone for your community, in that it determines who sticks around. If you're a jerk, the next generation of your community will be composed of jerks. Based on 20 years of Open Source documentation experience, and lessons learned about not being a jerk, and crafting great documentation as a side-effect, this talk encourages you to see your entire project community as its documentation.


Photo of Rich Bowen Rich Bowen