What conferences do you like to attend?


This year I’ve attended Write the Docs (Portland) as I have since 2013 and STC Summit (this year in Columbus, OH), and Rust Language Camp (Berkeley), and I am attending PyDX (Portland) and LavaCon (New Orleans this year) in October.

Last year I attended Write the Docs, soapconf in Krakow, and LavaCon (in Portland). Maybe I am forgetting one. Other years - many more, including SXSW Eco (not the big SXSW in March).

I’ve gotten a lot out of all of these. Although I have some company support for these, particularly in terms of time off, I also put in a lot of time and money (as much ameliorated with travel points as I can) to do all of these.

What conferences do you like to attend?

Today I was reading about DEFRAG 2015, and I thought it looks terrific and relevant. They are also offering a limited number of scholarships to cover registration cost for women in tech. Look here:


I’m attending OpenHelp for the first time later this month.


I’ve been interested in OpenHelp, but I haven’t done any open source contributions, so I was not sure about going. What made you interested in going?


I usually attend the STC Summit. I’ve also been to Lavacon, Confab, Info Dev World, and some others.

I feel less connection with the sessions at the STC Summit. There’s an effort to integrate more API doc-related sessions, but things tend to be stay introductory. There just aren’t enough participants doing developer doc at the conference, but at the same time, the large number of people is kind of fun.


Hi Tom, June 2015 was my first STC Summit. I see what you mean, and it’s definitely a challenge to consider to include more technical topics.
I plan to submit a technically focused proposal for STC Summit next year (deadline is Sept. 22, I think), so we’ll see how that goes (it will be on switching our documentation system to use Sphinx and rst). My first go-live with this talk will be at PyDX next month.
I wonder if STC Summit might benefit from some “Birds of a Feather” or unconference blocks.


well, the other night I did actually submit a proposal to teach a workshop at the Summit next year, mostly b/c the next Summit is 5 hrs from my house and because it will spur me to finish the API doc course that I’m working on (and which I plan to publish on Udemy, eventually). also, the summit pays workshop presenters.

re the birds of a feather, I would love to have a session on publishing with jekyll, but I bet that only about 3 people would show up. Maybe I could broaden it to “Treating doc as code” with Jekyll as a use case example or something.

One thing I’m trying to work out right now is the editing and review workflow within source control. If you look at my documentation theme, you can see that I added an “Edit me” button that points to the source file location on Github. I need to incorporate and get used to this workflow for reviewing docs at my company.


The Ubuntu Documentation Team posted a link to the OpenHelp asking if anyone is interested in attending. I enthusiastically volunteered. :slight_smile:


A very cool conference to attend would be DefragCon near Denver - http://defragcon.com/agenda/ .

PyDX in Portland this past weekend was great, and had some Write the Docs people there too.


I think what Lois is doing is tremendously important. Tech writers need to start showing up in droves at developer conferences. We’ve sequestered ourselves in our own little doc world for far too long.

I’m not saying that we are entirely to blame for what I’ve taken to calling “documentation as decoration” (namely, failure to integrate docs fully into product dev). But we definitely need to be a more active part of the solution. Until we show the rest of the product team how docs can be truly and fully integrated, we’ll be stuck with playing catch-up at one point or another in the process.

Yes, I’m following my own advice, and speaking at APIStrat in Austin next month :dancers:


This year, I’ve attended

They are all different - which is good for me especially, I think. UX Camp Europe is the biggest with about 400 people. soap! was the smallest with 170 on the first (free) day and 80 on the second ($) day. My last STC conference was in 2013. There were 800 people there. I’ve decided that I really prefer the smaller conferences where you really get into long, fruitful discussions with people and build not just a network, but friendships.

I’m almost alone as a tech writer at the UX camps. There, I’ve done Ignite!-style talks on accessibility, a preso on techcomms working with UX’ers, and a panel on women in tech. UA Conference and TCUK are more traditional techcomm conferences, but the size (150-200) means you get a lot out of it. I know the UK audience is a mix of writers for hardware, science, software, and APIs.

I also like attending local events in Copenhagen where I live. Like being a geek locavore, perhaps. :slight_smile: I find them through Wikipedia (I’m a Wikipedian) and the WordPress community. Meetup is also a good place to find this sort of thing. Hackathons are also great places to go as a techcomms person. I attended a Charity Hack in 2010 in London where we had 24 hours to come up with an app based on eBay/PayPal’s payment API (for giving to charity). That was a real learning experience where one of our developers went home without a word suddenly and never came back! Locally, cultural institutions run hackathons for hacking into all the open datasets from the museums, national archives, national broadcasting company, and others of that ilk. I missed it (HACK4DK) this year, but that is a really cool and is usually kicked off with a bunch of talks about open data. With these events, you truly do get to spend a night at the museum! :slight_smile:


I keep trying… :smile:

Besides WTD NA the past two years, I’ve attended OSCON for several years, off and on. (I’ve done the Community Leadership Summit with OSCON the past 2 years.)

Since WTD NA this year comes right after OSCON, and O’Reilly has moved their conference, I’m looking for an alternative.

I have a proposal under review for FluentConf in SF this March, based loosely on my “10 Steps to a Better README” talk from OSCON 2015.

If my proposal is accepted, I’m hoping that I’ll get along at FluentConf. It’s filled with web devs, as is my office. I hope the experiences can cross-pollinate, in a fashion similar to OSCON. If my proposal is not accepted, then maybe OpenSource Bridge, but I’m hoping for something more dev focused. (I would have done Mozilla ViewSource, if this weren’t our busy season.)

I know, PyCon comes right after WTD NA, but I know little Python. I guess my alternative 2nd conf for 2016 might be LinuxCon NA.


@kmdk, it’s interesting that you are nearly alone as a tech writer at UX camps. I’ve known several tech writers who made the switch, and more that do some hybrid of both. But come to think of it, I have probably had a similar experience at UX camps.


Sarah Maddox, a technical writer at Google in Sydney, AU and who gave a great API Technical Writing workshop at Google Seattle, has a map of techcomm conference events in 2015 and 2016. Some of her examples relate to using the Google Maps APIs, so this is another example of its use.



I see that WTD is not on Sarah’s list. Perhaps that’s a compliment, as I believe that WTD is beyond techcomm :smile:


I think it was a few weeks or months old, as there are hardly any 2016 offerings on the list. Hopefully it will be updated soon.


You should ping Sarah with the details. She has a google spreadsheet with certain data points that you just enter, and they get auto-plotted on the map. She has entitled various people with access to the spreadsheet (including me), but I’m too lazy to input any more data in there…


Here’s the form for submitting tech comm conferences to Sarah’s map: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1uIEpAu0vpiDwNqwQcr-912TD1_nG_PND9J3NDCPvEXI/viewform?usp=send_form


As we approach the deadline for OSCON (Tues midnight central time), I can’t help but think about the writers who spread the word at dev conferences – and writers who focus on conferences for writers.

I think it is analogous to the traditional v. new TW debate.