Over the past year I’ve given quite a few lectures here in Belgium with a strong SDN focus. During the Q&A sessions, and also just when sitting and talking, I always hear the same remarks from people when I encourage them to also contribute on SDN:
- I like to share things, but I can’t summarize stuff into a web log or an article
- I’m a techie, therefore I don’t have a writing style
- One needs to be a literature writer in order to be allowed to contribute
- My English is poor
Here are my standard answers for all of the above.
- Writing web logs or articles is rather easy. Just sit down and start writing as you would normally write the documentation of the code you’ve produced. Have a specific target audience in mind, but bear two things in mind:
- We are all used to working with computers. So no need to explain how the mouse works! Some things are self explanatory, that’s just the way it is.
- Don’t make it too complicated either. You might have found the perfect, rather complicated, solution for a problem, but your explanation needs to make it understood by others too. If Einstein hadn’t explained his theory of relativity, nobody would have made use of it.
- You don’t need to be an Umberto Eco or J. R. R. Tolkien in order to contribute. In fact, my style doesn’t even equal that of Dawn Brown’s. It’s best really to adopt your own style with which you feel comfortable.
- When it comes to writing in English I have two secret weapons:
- A dictionary on CD-ROM. I got a new version (for translators) for my birthday a month ago.
- That doesn’t always help for the grammar, so I let a native speaker – a very nice lady (from Scotland) called Alison – review my texts. In my opinion it is always a good idea to let others read the text, even if they aren’t native speakers.
From now on I won’t accept any excuses for not contributing on SDN.