Advocate for Community Documentation

“Anne, I see you as an advocate for community documentation” – what a great compliment. I was so pleased with the response to my STC Summit talk last week, Strategies for the Social Web for Documentation. Here’s the short description of the talk:

Let’s say that the most driven and driving developer on your team, who also happens to be a popular blogger, comes to you and asks why your end-user documentation doesn’t allow comments or ratings. Rather than stammering something about Wikipedia’s latest scandal, or reaching for imperfect responses that sound like lame excuses, do your homework and learn best practices from others who are implementing social web content that is conversational or based on community goals. Along the way you may realize there are good reasons not to implement a social media strategy, based on studying the potential community and time you’d spend in arbitration with community members on contentious issues, or you may discover that you can borrow from benefits of a single approach while still meeting business goals.


  1. Identify specific types of tools on the social web, such as tags, blogs, wikis.
  2. List risk areas and pitfalls.
  3. Identify writers’ roles with social media (instigator or enabler).
  4. Plan a strategy of listening, participating, building and then offering a platform or community.

I’ve also posted the slides on Slideshare for all to see and share with others.

While talking to technical writers who are struggling to find the vocabulary to describe their new way of working in a content curator or community role, I got the sense that we’re all trying to reinvent our approach to traditional documentation. Coming together at a real-time, in-person event helped me focus my thinking and I appreciate all the dedication that went into the event.


  • May 11, 2010 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Anne, thanks for sharing your wisdom at the STC Summit. It was a great presentation and gave me some great ways to speak with my clients.

  • May 11, 2010 - 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Louellen! My hope was that it was practical more than theoretical, so I’m glad to hear you had takeaways right away.

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