[Grok-dev] Re: Python UK meeting and Django

Martijn Faassen faassen at startifact.com
Wed May 7 09:19:33 EDT 2008

Hi there,

Jan Ulrich Hasecke wrote:
> The problem with documentation and marketing is that it does not pay for 
> oneself. If you develop a new library you might use it for your 
> customer, who will pay you. If you do documentation or marketing noone 
> will ever pay you. But the amount of work is huge. I would plead for a 
> fund for marketing and documentation.

On the one hand I'm sympathetic with this idea. I'd love to get paid to 
write Grok documentation, something I'm doing anyway as a volunteer.

On the other hand, such an approach worries me. You *can* make a 
community contribute a lot of documentation. The Grok project is example 
of this: we set up some channels to accept documentation and encouraged 
people to write it, and now we have a lot of documentation. It's not 
perfect, we could use a lot more, but it does keep getting better.

My worry is that if you set up a fund to do marketing and documentation 
  you separate it from the community too much, and take away from the 
community the responsibility of having to care about these topics. I'm 
convinced that we, as developers of the platform, need to care about 
attracting people to our platform (where we can call these people 
"users" or "developers").

Writing documentation also helps you think about how things can be done 
better. If something is hard to explain, it may be a what we're trying 
to explain is too inconsistent or complicated. If it's hard to convince 
people to use our stuff, that means we might need improve our stuff, 
too! Having a separate group of people do this may lead to a disconnect 
that shouldn't be there.

Did someone in the Django project get paid to write its documentation? 
What about its marketing? Do we know? It'd be interesting to find out. 
We have some historical examples of documentation-writing in the Zope 
community too (the Zope 2 book), and naturally the Zope 3 books.

Now I imagine some of my worries of a disconnect could be reduced if we 
approach this the right way. What we absolutely want to avoid is to make 
community members less involved in documentation and marketing. The 
responsibility should ours. We should feel it is ours.

Having people paid to improve Grok (in whatever way) in the process of 
doing their daily work (where the goal tends to be the use of Grok for 
some purpose) tends to be accepted by community members, I think. It 
doesn't distort the operation of the community much. I've been trying to 
organize some of my work that way. Having people explicitly being paid 
to improve Grok as the primary goal may be another matter (but I'm sure 
many of us, including myself, would enjoy being paid for that :).

This whole discussion is of course rather premature, money is not 
forthcoming at this moment as far as I'm aware.(I'm Dutch enough to ask 
to please do make me aware if I'm wrong! :)



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