On Mar 6th 2015, which was three four weeks ago, I posted an entry titled “Exciting News.” At that time I was not so confident that what was proposed was actually going to happen. I was still wading through some of the specifics and did not want to reveal any false information those any who might read this blog.

The time has come! As the title of this entry suggests, I am on the way to becoming a staffer with Gentoo! I have long admired those in the project since my mid-teenage years. I never considered I would one day be officially involved with the project in the Gentoo project, but I can never know what God has hidden in His secret will.

How did this happen?

I decided at the beginning of this year to increase my knowledge of Gentoo (and Linux in general). My plan was to start helping out with documentation. The easiest way to do this was to start editing articles on the Gentoo Wiki. In my mind this was a win-win situation. Not only could I gain an understanding of more technologies, but the Gentoo project would benefit from having the documentation proof read, reviewed, and updated.

After contributing for about two months a user by the name of a3li (Alex Legler) offered to let me officially start the staffer process.

To date I have contributed over 700 edits to the wiki, which is more than I thought before checking in order to get the statistics for this paragraph. Editing has been a very enjoyable process because during editing I am always learning, evaluating, and improving my personal understanding of technologies and the information on the Wiki. Editing the Wiki will be something that I’ll continue to do, even if I move on to being involved with other projects (Stage7 for example). My frequency of edits may be reduced, but my commitment to excellent documentation will never die.

Why documentation matters

As with any open source project documentation matters…a lot! Why does documentation matter?

  • Without good documentation users would have an extremely difficult time attempting to successfully use the software. There are many actions, options, arguments, etc., to each command-line application/tool/utility. Most of the time man pages can suffice for documentation, but sometimes it’s nice to have a guide to quickly and easily setup a certain software package on a specific distribution, that’s what the Gentoo wiki is for.
  • Using a Wiki for documentation allows Gentoo Linux users to have an easily accessible, easily readable, easily correctable location to search for specific instructions. Troubleshooting known software problems can also be documented in a “Troubleshooting” section of a software package’s article. This does not eliminate the need for Gentoo Forums, but it can help users avoid user error problems with packages.
  • Without documentation projects cannot flourish. Especially for Gentoo, documentation is important because there is much technical information to know beforehand. Understanding how to install a Linux operating system manually can be a daunting task. Right now Gentoo cannot be installed by new users unless a Handbook (guide) is followed.
  • Good documentation encourages a thriving community. The easier is it to find information, the less excuses users can have. The better the documentation, the more users will be likely to refer others. User-to-user referral is the best kind of referral because the user being refereed has a friend to help.

Join me

Join me in improving Gentoo documentation! There are still many requested articles and stubs (articles that need improved) on the Wiki.

For more information message me on the #gentoo-wiki channel on Freenode’s Internet Relay Chat (IRC) or send me a message through the wiki. I am happy to interact with others in the community!

More to come!