So, I post to the community wiki an early draft of an article that is barely more than topic sentences with no real detail. Then I get an edict from the project team to post a blog to the community to encourage feedback. I thought the blog I wrote was pretty innocuous, until the one of the project engineers and the engineering manager realized that I’m blogging about features that really isn’t ready, and that the community would have little interest in providing input and feedback. So, after I had (unsuccessfully) spent two weeks of asking the engineers for feedback on the article before I first posted, I managed to get enough additional detail to post a revised draft that may have enough content to actually pique the interest of the community and actually get feedback.
So, the process of collaborating with the community on open source documentation is somewhat hindered by the fact that evangelism of the community often occurs at the same time (to drum up support). It seems to me like a situation of putting the horse before the cart. You may just need stable software builds (with real features) before you can write articles that you can circulate to the community for comment.
I guess the devil is in the details.
Originally posted to blogs.sun.com by J. Aseo on 10/31/08. You can find a summary of the effort needed to support the Project SocialSite community wiki (with an eye towards creating documentation for a future commercial release) on my wiki.