Help me improve documentation

tl;dr: I don’t have (or want) a job, help fund me to make the documentation world better.

A year ago, I asked people to help cover the hosting costs of Read the Docs. It was successful and the site hosting has been funded ever since. Simply being hosted isn’t enough. There are many other aspects to having a healthy community, including development, support, and advocacy. The approach this time around is aiming to support those aspects as well.

In the last year, I have gone on to do a lot more to help improve the documentation world. I want to continue to do this work, with your help.

Work I am doing

  • Developing and maintaining Read the Docs
    • A website that hosts documentation for ~4000 projects, and has over 5 million pageviews/month.

  • Co-organizing and producing Write the Docs conference
    • A community, non-profit conference that gathers 250 people in Portland to talk docs.

  • Helping organize regional Write the Docs meetups
    • We currently have meetups in SF, NYC, and Boston, hopefully more coming soon!

  • Writing documentation about documentation
    • A growing resource of information about writing docs.

  • Writing presentations about documentation
    • The end goal being a set of presentations that people can use to promote documentation at meetups and conferences.

  • An unreleased project called Grok the Docs
    • The idea here is to improve documentation through data.

Why it matters

I have talked to many people around the tech world over the last year, and they all agree that the state of documentation is lacking. I want to help improve this situation in many ways.

Read the Docs is the defacto documentation hosting tool for Python. It has also spread into many other communities, hosting documentation for PHP, Javascript, Science, Games, Databases, and more. It removes barriers to people writing documentation, allowing them to simply get started down a well paved path.

Through my work on Write the Docs, we are building a community around documentation. This community is helping to push the state of the art. Joining together allows us to present a unified face for improving documentation in the open source, and proprietary software worlds.

Grok the Docs is a project that is still in development. The goal is to use analytics data to improve the browsing experience. It is very much a research project, but I really hope Grok the Docs will improve the experience of reading and writing documentation.


I quit my job earlier this year to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I have returned home (after only 800 miles, but that’s a different story), and want to try living life a bit differently.

I am asking for support on Gittip to help me on this endeavor. Currently, my living arrangements cost around $1200/month:

  • $500 for Rent & Utilities

  • $300 for Food

  • $250 for Health Insurance

  • $80 for Cell Phone

This works out to around $300/week, which is the way that Gittip keeps track of money. I hope to achieve independence from money so that I can continue to do work on this important problem.


This is a baseline existence. Simply enough to make sure I don’t die or starve. Going to conferences, buying hardware, taxes, and other expenses will need to be figured out too.

Why Gittip?

Gittip supports me without telling me who is giving money. This allows me to maintain and develop projects without regard to whose interests might be impacted by my work. This gives me the freedom to work on important things, without regard for who might stop giving me money.

I also don’t want to promise certain outcomes with the money. Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are great for raising money, but they require that you offer something in return. I am approaching this more as patronage. If you like the work I have done, sponsor me to continue doing more good things. My interests will change over time, and I want to have freedom to change direction.

Support me

I don’t want to have to get a job. I want to continue doing work that I love, and that I think matters.

If you think that the work that I’m doing is important, I hope that you support me on Gittip.

This is an experiment, and I have no idea what is going to happen. So please feel free to give me feedback over email or Twitter.

I started today with $1.75 in gittip, the current tally is:

Hey there! I'm Eric and I work on communities in the world of software documentation. Feel free to email me if you have comments on this post!