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Martyav/Write the Docs Portland 2019
Attend a multi-day technical writing conference to network and attract new contributors to Wikimedia documentation projects
start dateMay 17
end dateMay 21
budget (local currency)1980
budget (USD)1980
grant typeindividual
contact(s)• martyavedon(_AT_)

Project Goal[edit]

Choose one or more of the following goals. You can add or delete goals as needed.

  1. Outreach to and network with potential volunteer technical writer for MediaWiki and related projects at, Write the Docs, a major national technical writing conference.
  2. Develop technical writing skills & network at hosted workshops and conference events

Project Plan[edit]


Tell us how you'll carry out your project. Be sure to answer the following questions:

1. What is the purpose of the event you're attending and why is it important that you attend?

Write the Docs Portland is one of the largest national conference in the US, specifically for technical writers. It would be an amazing opportunity to network with other writers, and possibly attract new MediaWiki volunteers or staff. It would also increase awareness of MediaWiki as a constantly evolving piece of software, which both serves writers and needs help from writers to improve and maintain documentation.
From fall of 2018 to spring of 2019, I was interning under Sarah R. Rodlund (User:Srodlund (WMF)) and Srishti Sethi (User:SSethi (WMF)) on a project to improve the technical documentation for the most frequently viewed MediaWiki API doc pages. I represent a unique skillset within the Wiki community, as someone with 6 years experience as a writer, and 2 years as a developer. For me, attendance would help develop the niche skills related to documentation writing and connect me with the wider community. After my internship, I plan to continue to volunteer within the Wikimedia community.

2. Will you be presenting at the event?

I will be helping new contributors during the write-a-thon and possibly presenting during the unconference meeting days, pending approval. Sign up for the unconference sessions occurs the day-of the talk, so I cannot schedule it in advance.

3. What kind of outreach activity do you plan to do?

There is an all-day write-a-thon at the event, on Sunday. I will be participating and helping to introduce new contributors to the technical documentation projects on Wikimedia projects. The "Improve the top 70 API docs" task on Phabricator is currently seeking writers to contribute sample code in a variety of programming languages, and having more hands on the project will make progress towards this go faster.
There will be more opportunities on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday to network and talk with attendees about our Wikimedia projects. Specifically, on Monday and Tuesday, the event is running unconference workshops, small meetings where editing Wiki articles or using the Action API can be demonstrated to attendees, and new contributors can get support on articles they are editing.
I will also be attending and taking notes on several of the scheduled talks at the event, such as Documenting for Open Source by Shannon Crabill and Writer? Editor? Teacher? by Kathleen Juell.

4. How will you let other participants know about your outreach activity?

I will be coordinating with Sarah R. Rodlund to pick and scope the tasks and writing projects for the write-a-thon. We will share this on the Write the Docs wiki ahead of the event so that other participants know we will be there.

5. Do you have a specific networking plan? (e.g. specific people, organizations, groups you would like to develop partnerships with)

I will attend the write-a-thon all day on Sunday, and I am going to make an unconference proposal for Monday or Tuesday. This will be an opportunity to reach out to potential volunteer technical writers to engage them with Wikimedia projects and to develop stronger relationships with individuals from other organizations that are working on technical documentation.

6. What is your plan to follow-up with new contacts?

I'm always available for questions and comments. I will provide attendees with my contact info, and if they have any further questions or concerns, they can open a discussion on my page, chat on the Wikimedia Zulip, or speak to me privately via email.


How will you know if the project is successful and you've met your goals? Please include the following targets as applicable:

I would consider the event a success if I were able to get a minimum of 10 writers to sign up and help them make a major contribution to an Action API related article, such as providing sample code in Php, performing an extensive copyedit on a neglected article, making an existing page conform to our documentation template, or fact-checking and correcting an outdated article so that it accurately describes the current version of the API.


What resources do you have? Include in-kind donations or additional funding.

Outreachy, the organization handling the financial aspects of my internship, offers a $500 stipend for travel, pending approval.

What resources do you need? For your funding request, list bullet points for each expense and include a total amount.

1. Transportation - Airfare: ~$500
2. Lodging - Hotel: $200 per night for 5 nights, $1000
3. Incidentals, such as luggage check: $100
4. Per diem - $50 for first & last day, plus 60 for 3 days: $280 total
5. Conference ticket: $100
Total: $1980


Community members are encouraged to endorse your project request here!

  • Strong Support. Marty has done outstanding work on the MediaWiki Action API documentation improvements project during Outreachy internship. It will be great if we can accept Marty's grant proposal so that they can attend the event and help engage attendees in improving our documentation and learn more about Wikimedia projects. This event will also be helpful next step for Marty to make connections in the technical writing community as they are looking to step into a similar role in the industry. SSethi (WMF) (talk) 00:06, 6 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Support. Marty worked with our team as an Outreachy intern this year. Marty was professional, thoughtful, and skilled in their work and interactions with team members and volunteer technical collaborators. Marty has been a key contributor to improving the MediaWiki Action API documentation. Write-the-docs would provide a perfect opportunity for Marty to make professional connections in the technical writing community and to introduce potential technical collaborators to Wikimedia projects. SRodlund (WMF) (talk)
  • Strong Support. Marty's work as an Outreachy intern has been very impressive. This seems like a great plan to leverage that new knowledge to bring other new contributors into our emerging technical writing community. --BDavis (WMF) (talk) 16:30, 7 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong support. +1 to all the above comments. This event would be great timing to use Marty's still-fresh and deep knowledge of our existing docs and their top-priority needs, and their enthusiasm, to do outreach and onboarding for people with directly relevant skills. I've previously attended the WTD conference and can confirm that this is a good opportunity for this proposal. Quiddity (WMF) (talk) 17:13, 7 March 2019 (UTC)


Tell us about what happened during the planning, execution and follow-up stages of your project. Please share stories of both your triumphs and your challenges.

I arrived in Portland, OR, in time to attend a social event for writers: the annual hike. While there, I spoke to several to several veteran technical writers and got to talk about Wikimedia and my role in writing API documentation.

The next day was the main writing day for the conference. I finally got to meet Sarah, and I announced from the stage that we were looking for writers to help us on documentation. Although we did get some interest, including from the writers I had met the previous day, our efforts were hampered because the event's IP address had been blocked from signing up new accounts, due to unrelated trolling and vandalism a few days before the event. We had not been alerted about this, so it came as a surprise. We faced the additional challenge of many Wiki staff being in Europe for a conference in Prague, so it was hard to get a hold of someone to help us address this issue. Sarah was able to contact some technicians who were up and ready to help us, and we managed to get 3 writers on board, writing documentation. However, it was definitely embarrassing to be unable to on-board people as easily as we would have liked.

Since we couldn't get as many people as we wanted editing docs, we spent the time instead discussing how writers can use Wiki software in their work. We discussed different software people used for docs, and it was overall a pretty interesting conversation.

The next 2 days consisted of conference talks, and a job fair. I found it a bit daunting to put on a lightening talk, but I did continue to network, and took copious notes on the talks. By the time of the conference, I had actually already gotten a new fulltime job, so my time at the job fair was mostly spent talking to other companies about my internship, the APIs, and exchanging contact information. I took several business cards.

After I got home the next day, I followed up by exchanging Linkedin info with some of the people I had met on the hike, within the Write the Docs Slack chat. I had recently started a job at Microsoft, and their May software update/release for Windows kept me extremely busy in the aftermath -- in fact, I did do some MS work while on leave at the conference, because the release coincided with the conference. I have admittedly found it challenging to balance the needs of my MS work with my Wiki work.

What is the most important and valuable result of your project? What did it change, solve or accomplish?

I feel that the event was more successful in terms of networking and tech evangelizing than in getting people to work directly on our documentation. I talked to a lot of people about Mediawiki software, and how paid doc writers and volunteers work within the many wiki organizations to keep people informed. However, it was tricky getting people to help, due in part to sign up being blocked, but also because there were so many other events going on -- many people seemed to prefer talks to writing during the conference. If I had to do it over, I would have been in better communication with Wiki staff and sought support from more people, besides Sarah. Sarah was a great help, but it would have been better if I had a team to help me in areas where I am weaker, like public speaking, instead of it all being on her.

During the conference talks, I took many notes. I plan to finally post the notes in my blog this weekend, and will update this page accordingly.

Please outline the ways you spent the Rapid Grant money, and if there is any money left over.

During planning, I was able to find a hostel near the event, which would be much cheaper to stay at than area hotels. I booked my flights more than a month in advance, which also kept costs lower. I bought a student/unemployed ticket, because at the time, I was jobless. The conference covered lunch, and my hostel offered a light free breakfast, so I didn't spend as much on food as I expected. I did have some small, unexpected expenses, such as having to buy wifi twice because I couldn't access my account aboard the flight back, and having to go to a print shop to print my boarding pass in advance.

Got slides or photos from your project? This is the place to show them off or share anything else on your mind! Upload your files to Wikimedia Commons and add them to your report so we can enjoy the fun too!

[1] -- pic of my announcing Wiki needs help, on Writing Day

One last step! Email to notify us that your report is ready for review.