UPDATE: Our application has been selected by Google! Congrats to all the other orgs as well. If you want to work with us, apply to the program as a technical writer and select Open Collective’s project. 🚀


Google Season of Docs is a program giving technical writers an opportunity to contribute to open source projects, by paying them a three month stipend and facilitating connections between writers and projects.

As a platform that’s all about supporting the open source community, we think this is fantastic, because a lot of open source projects really need documentation help. The number one problem area Github’s Open Source Survey found was ‘incomplete and confusing documentation’.

In addition to encouraging the open source projects on our fundraising platform to participate, Open Collective itself is applying as a mentor organization. We’d love to work with technical writers who want to support our mission of open source sustainability, and can help us better communicate what our open source platform can do.

About Open Collective

Open Collective is a platform where communities can collect and disburse money transparently, to sustain and grow their projects. Many Collectives are open source projects, and the platform is itself open source, too.

We provide tools for legal entities to fiscally sponsor Collectives under their umbrella, empowering people to create associations without the friction of setting up their own legal entity and bank account. It’s like an API between the legacy world of banks and taxes and the emerging future of distributed collaborations. For example, the Open Source Collective is a nonprofit umbrella organization for more than 1,100 open source projects.

Transparency is a big part of who we are. All Collective budgets are open, so everyone can see where the money comes from and where it goes. We run our company as an Open Collective, too, because we think transparency in technology and finances is important.

However, transparency isn’t just about information being available, it has to be accessible. Documentation turns information overload into meaningful communication, and that’s why it’s so important.

Our team

This year, the organisational administrators for Open Collective in Google Season of Docs are Alanna Irving, executive director of the Open Source Collective, and Jaskirat Singh, who has participated in Google Summer of Code, a similar program, and knows the process well. Additionally, co-founder and developer Xavier Damman and CTO and lead dev François Hodierne will serve as mentors for technical documentation.

Get involved

We invite all interested technical writers to read more in detail about how the program works, and see our proposed documentation project ideas below. These ideas are our wish list, but we’re also open to your ideas!

We are a fully remote company and happy to work with contributors in any location. Technical writers will be involved in our team meeting rhythms, and have regular calls with mentors.

If you have questions or want to express interest, please email info@opencollective.com and let us know!

Our Season of Docs project ideas

Idea 1: improve developer documentation

Open Collective will be launching a new version of our API (GraphQL and REST) in mid-2019, v3, and it will need great documentation. There is also much to improve about our developer documentation overall.

Overall dev docs

  • Do a complete refactor/overhaul of the developer section of our docs, currently seen at https://docs.opencollective.com/help/developers.
  • Create an overview, FAQ and table of contents, so devs can find the info they are looking for easily.
  • In collaboration with our dev team, make sure all the sections are up to date and correct, and extend them to be more detailed and complete.
  • Add pages for any missing documentation.
  • Identify Collectives in our user-base who have utilized the various options and tools available to developers, and document implemented examples and demos.

Our issue bounty program for open source devs was launched in early 2019, and its documentation will need a revamp as well:

  • Gather feedback from participants and our dev team, and change/improve the bounty documentation accordingly.
  • Learn about the dev environment setup experience of bounty hunters, and improve documentation make it easier to get up and running.

API v3 docs

  • Work with our dev team to understand and communicate what the API can do and why our users should be excited about it. See the minimalist announcement of API v2 — we really want to take documentation and comms to a whole new level for the new version.
  • Fully document the new version of the GraphQL API, creating a major update to our current API docs, including Guides, Reference (GraphQL & REST), and Explorer.
  • Integrate the new API documentation in the developer section of our general documentation — we want all our docs in one place (https://docs.opencollective.com).
  • Create instructions for using a GraphQL explorer with our API, GraphQL Playground.
  • Create a detailed how-to (video or written) for using the new API, including example use cases and FAQ.
  • Facilitate the API to be self-documenting via the GraphQL explorer (as in the image below).

Project Mentors: Xavier, Francois

Idea 2: improve general help documentation

Open Collective’s documentation is a gitbook, located at https://docs.opencollective.com.

Currently, it gives basic information about features, how-to’s, and background info about the project. However, there is a lot of room for improvement.

  • Review the structure and make improvements to how the chapters and subchapters are organized to make information easier to find and understand.
  • Create an overview and table of contents to help people navigate to what they need.
  • Add images, gifs, and multimedia to enrich the content and make it more engaging.
  • Improve individual pages and sections to make them more clear and complete.
  • Collaborate with user support to identify common queries and document the solutions.
  • Identify key points in the software application to add links to help documentation.
  • Gather and document more stories of how Collectives are fundraising and using the tool.
  • Assess the documentation and identify key links to include in onboarding emails.

Create video tutorials:

  • “How to Fundraise for Open Source” — basic setup of a Collective, informed by content from the help article, Ten Steps to Successful Open Source Crowdfunding and the Quick Start Guide.
  • “Sponsoring open source: how and why” — setup guide to creating an organization, finding which Collectives to support (ex. Back Your Stack), bulk payments, gift cards, and some of the ‘why’ be a sponsor, based on the content in the Sponsors section of the docs.
  • “Take your Collective to the next level” — more advanced features like website and Github integrations, webhooks, alternative revenue streams, using the Open Collective API, bounties, and other more technical or creative methods.

Project Mentors: Alanna, Jaskirat

Thanks for your interest in our Season of Docs ideas! If you want to get involved, please email info@opencollective.com and/or join our Slack.