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This guide applies to Season of Docs 2019 and 2020. For the 2024 program, see Season of Docs/2024.
Application process steps
If you are considering applying, follow the steps in the order in which they are listed:
- Read the technical writer guide. Develop your understanding of the various stages of the program.
- Understand Wikimedia's documentation project. The Documentation landing page and it's subpages are a good place to start.
- Choose a project that best suits your interests and skill set from the ideas listed on the Season of Docs 2020 page on mediawiki.org.
- Do your research about the project thoroughly. Do not expect spoon-feeding. Ask intelligent and explicit questions. "Can you tell me more about this project?" is a bad question.
- Express your interest in working on a project by reaching out to the mentors on Zulip, Phabricator, IRC or Email. Discuss with them your ideas for implementation and learn about their availability and willingness to mentor. (See Phabricator/Help if you do not have a Phabricator account yet.)
- Learn the basic skills required. You may need to understand Wikimedia's development process for some technical writing projects. Some helpful resources are:
- Work on some small tasks from the Documentation workboard, we suggest you start with a 'good first task'.
- Submit your proposal as a task on Wikimedia Phabricator. As we are looking for a demonstration of your skills as a writer, we are not providing examples or templates for proposals. An important skill for technical writers to have is the ability to research and synthesize. We encourage you to find examples of proposal structures that you think would work well or to develop your own proposal structure. We would like to see how you approach the task of organizing your thoughts and how you would propose the project in your own words.
- Create a new task using: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/maniphest/task/edit/form/1/
- Read the Season of Docs guide on creating a technical writing application and Creating a viable and valuable proposal.
- Make sure to add "Google Season of Docs 20XX" in the "Tags" field.
- Set yourself as task assignee in the "Assigned To" field of your proposal.
- Your proposal in Phabricator will be public, so do not add here any personal information such as your email address or phone number.
- Check the Preview at the bottom. If it looks fine, click "Create New Task".
- You can still edit and improve your existing proposal (before the application deadline) via "Edit Task".
- If you apply for an existing project idea, then make your proposal a subtask: Click "Edit Related Tasks… 🡒 Edit Parent Tasks" and add the task of the project idea (e.g. "T123456").
- Make sure that you upload a copy of your proposal on the Google's program site as well in whatever format it's expected of you, include in it the link to your public proposal on Phabricator.
- Discuss your own project idea with a possible mentor. If you couldn't find anything interesting in our project ideas, you could ask organization administrators to help you connect with a mentor.
Creating a viable and valuable proposal
Is Google Season of Docs right for you?
Before creating and submitting a proposal, please consider thoughtfully whether this program is right for you. GSoD is for technical writers who would like to learn more about how to participate and contribute to open source projects and for open source projects in need of technical writers with at least some prior experience.
If you already have a lot of experience working in open source, this may not be the right program for you. You may still apply, but consider areas of open source that you still want to learn about and explore. If you do not have any prior experience as a technical writer (as a student, volunteer or as a professional), this may not be the right program for you. We are looking for individuals with demonstrated experience contributing to and working on technical writing projects.
We welcome all proposals, and we want to be realistic with potential technical writers about the viability of those proposals. This year, we are only able to work with one technical writer. There will be some competition. Solid technical writing is very important to the success of our open source projects, and we have a long-term commitment to make it a priority. There will be many future opportunities to contribute to technical documentation projects, whether through GSoD or other initiatives.
Some tips and thoughts
- Browse the suggested technical writing projects and think about what might work for you. Many ideas are not very detailed because we want to make sure that the project you propose fits your skill set, challenges you, and also creates a valuable contribution to our open source project.
- Communicate with us, if you have questions or ideas. We will do our best to help guide you in the right direction. As we select candidates for our projects, we will be thinking a lot about the kinds of communications we had during the proposal projects.
- Check, double check, and triple check your grammar and style. This is important for your proposal, your project, and in your interactions with us and community members.
- Unless some information you wish to share with us is truly private, we prefer to work out in the open. Please make sure your questions are asked publicly in the Zulip chat, so that project admins and participants can have the opportunity to answer and benefit from your questions and thoughts.
Please remember, for this program, we are looking for a technical writer who wants to gain knowledge and proficiency working in open source projects. Even if you don't (yet) have a large amount of experience as a technical writer, this will be your role in Season of Docs, and you should approach your proposal from this perspective. We have provided some project ideas, but as the technical writer, it is up to you to refine these ideas and propose a project that you'll enjoy working on and learning from, that will challenge you, and that will benefit our open source project. Good communication is a key skill for technical writers, and we encourage and invite you to reach out while you are drafting your proposal with specific questions about your ideas.
Correct spelling, grammar, and style are important. Please make sure to review your writing, both in your proposal and your personal communications with us and each other, for errors. That said, we do understand every person makes mistakes, and while we are writing in English for Season of Docs, English is not every person's first language. As admins, we are far more interested in writers with cogent, clear ideas and communication skills, than perfect writers or speakers of English. We invite you to apply, even if you don’t feel fully confident speaking and writing in English.
Do rely on each other and the project admins. Technical writers often work together. It is okay to ask questions and share ideas with each other. We are an open source project, and we do our work in the open for others to see, share, and learn from. We look forward to seeing how you support each other and collaborate over the next month.
Lastly, please note this is not the only opportunity to work with Wikimedia on focused technical projects. We provide many opportunities throughout the year for internships and mentoring.
If you get accepted, here is what we will encourage you to do to have a successful project:
Community bonding period
- Start communicating with your mentors on refining your project proposal, finalizing deadlines and setting milestones.
- Join Zulip (if you haven't already), a communication platform that program administrators will use to share announcements and opportunities for participating in Wikimedia activities.
- Write blogposts and link them from your Phabricator project task.
- When you complete a task other than the writing work, for example, join Zulip, pass an evaluation phase, write a blogpost, make sure to add it to the Updates column in the Season of Docs/2020#Accepted projects section.
- Upload your profile picture on Wikimedia Commons, and add it below your name in the Season of Docs/2020#Accepted projects section.
- Stay in touch with Wikimedia community members and help them learn about you more:
- Read stories from across the Wikimedia movement on Medium.
- Watch previous videos on Wikimedia technical topics.
- Write weekly reports.
- Stay up-to-date with your goals as outlined in the timeline.
- Communicate regularly with mentors and keep them updated about your progress and challenges.
- Submit evaluations on time.
- Attend any program-related meetings we host.
- Follow any guidelines we share to involve you in our community and process.
Stay involved after the internship
- Mentor tasks in Google Code-in at the end of a calendar year. Learn about the responsibilities. All interns who successfully complete their project will be encouraged to apply as a mentor.
- Become a mentor in the next round of Season of Docs, Google Summer of Code or Outreachy. Interns who demonstrate good quality work and ability to mentor will be encouraged by their mentors and organization administrators to apply.
- Learn about the upcoming Wikimedia Hackathons and apply for a scholarship to attend.
- Request quick support through Grants:Project/Rapid if you would like to continue working on further ideas for improvements to your Season of Docs project. You could also request support for conference travel. Read previous grant requests such as this one and this one.
- Spread the word in your university about Wikimedia Outreach programs.
- Stay in touch with organization administrators on Zulip.
- Continue working on Wikimedia New Developers projects.
- Ask us almost anything on the Zulip chat.
- Join the wikitech-l mailing list to receive Wikimedia technical news, including program updates. You can select the digest mode and read just the summary, or take part in discussions already.
- Some MediaWiki updates are also on the Wikimedia Foundation technology blog, Twitter and Facebook.