Why give your time and efforts to an online community? Researchers like Peter Kollock have identified and studied reasons for people to contribute to online communities. I try to keep the basic principles of online participation in mind for documentation contributors all the time, and find ways to recognize the people making a difference with the docs. The motivating reasons for contributing to technical doc or offering technical support in a community include:
1. Reciprocity – Help out others who will help you later or already did help you out.
2. Reputation – Build your reputation as an expert in a given area.
3. Efficiency – Write it down so you save time later, either your own time or others’ time.
4. Attachment – Feel like you’re part of a bigger mission and vision.
It’s within these motivating reasons to find a place where you belong that prompted me to send some t-shirts out last month. I also want to recognize their efforts here on the blog! Here is the CSS Corp Open Source Service Team sporting their OpenStack t-shirts in a team photo, led by Murthyraju Manthena (far left). This team contributed the OpenStack Compute Starter Guide, which quickly jumped to the top ten list in the web stats. They’re working hard on revisions for Diablo, and this manual was a great addition to the OpenStack technical library for the Cactus release.
There’s also the sense of reciprocity – giving back your info since you got Volumes working in your environment. Here’s Razique Mahroua sporting his shiny new ringer T as well, after re-vising the entire Volume Management section of the Compute Administration Manual.
Wearing your OpenStack t-shirt is a great way to show you are a Stacker. I realize that sending t-shirts to contributors can seem like a small token of appreciation for the sweat poured into docs, but I like to send them any way when I’m especially impressed with the dedication. These guys are also building a great reputation as OpenStack knowledge experts. They are also a huge reason why the number of doc contributors has jumped from six to nearly twenty in six months’ time!