Open Help is Open

The tech writers who are established, recognized figures in open source you can probably count on your fingers and toes. About two years ago they gathered for the Writing Open Source conference, hosted by Emma Jane Hogbin. I couldn’t attend myself – it was the year of the pinata bat incident. But the group of people who were there are passionate about open source and documenting it. Shaun McCance, the GNOME doc team leader (fearless at that), has gathered a program committee of sorts to start a new conference, built on the energy and connectivity at Writing Open Source, called Open Help.

Open Help! I’m immersed in it daily now, coordinating OpenStack documentation. Open Help embraces all the people and systems that enable us to do amazing things with open source software. Open Help promotes open, transparent techniques for documentation and support, whether through community-based techniques, open source culture, corporate and enterprise settings. Open Help is both Open and Helpful! What more can we ask of our community documentation and support efforts than these two things? But how do you commit to openness and deliver on that promise? We all want to talk to each other about that and share experiences.

Scheduled for June 3 to 5, 2011, this conference will bring together the leads and supporting actors for successful open source projects. We will share ideas, best practices, success stories, and working systems that all of us can use to create and manage the best Open Help possible.

Open Help Conference, Cincinnati, OH June 3-5, 2011

Conference Format

Just like Open Help is not your parent’s help system, the Open Help Conference is not your parent’s conference. We want to encourage as much engagement and interaction as possible while still providing learning and sharing opportunities. How? By combining the best elements of traditional conferences, camps, and unconferences.

Conference Schedule

Held over a weekend, the intent is for people to pop in for as long as they can while also encouraging project sprints or retreats following the weekend.


We’re not simply inviting conference participants, we’re encouraging activators to join us in Cincinnati in June. As those who work as community members on open source projects can attest, you get more out of open source when you really connect with the vision for the project. We’re encouraging those who share a vision of better user experience, accurate and connected documentation, and top-notch responsive customer support to participate. Registration is now open for just $80, and will go up to $100 at the end of February.


This event’s success depends largely on participation and sponsorship, so we invite everyone to get involved in some way.

We want to encourage participation and interaction with our supporters. Ideally, a sponsor will send a group of people to participate. There’s real value in the connections and sharing that will happen in-person at the event. Contact me for more information about becoming a sponsor.

Leave a Reply