The challenge

The Good Docs Project is an open source project founded in 2019. Their mission is to improve documentation in open source software and beyond by creating templates for common documentation types.

When I became the project chair in January 2021, our community was small and in need of a stronger base of consistent contributors. At the time, the ongoing global pandemic had closed off traditional means of growing a community because it prevented in-person conferences and meetups. We had to innovate new ways of attracting contributors to our project.


  • Build a strong community of contributors in spite of a global pandemic
  • Improve the quality of software documentation in open source and beyond

The action I took

As chair, I worked with other project stakeholders to improve the contributor experience. I introduced several initiatives to help our project mature and increase our productivity. One of the most effective innovations was to organize our project into working groups. These smaller teams of contributors met weekly to collaborate together and support each other on key project initiatives. We also developed a Code of Conduct, improved our onboarding procedures, and created clear and well-documented contributing guidelines.

At the same time as we improved our contributing processes, we fine-tuned our project elevator pitch to attract contributors to our project. We learned what kinds of messages motivated technical writers and designed workshops, presentations, and social media campaigns to speak to these motivations.


new contributors who joined our project under my leadership

The results

When I finished my term as project chair in February 2023, I was impressed by our accomplishments:

  • 55 contributors joined our project, representing 120% growth over two years.
  • At least 10 contributors received a job offer because of their work on The Good Docs Project.
  • Our project’s diversity numbers were truly impressive: 58% women and 51% people of color. (That is rare for an open source project!)

In May 2023, we were invited to join the GitLab Open Source Partners Program in recognition of our project’s value and impact.