13 Things People Hate About Your Open Source Docs

Andy Lester | SmartBear Software | January 10, 2013

Most open source developers like to think about the quality of the software they build, but the quality of the documentation is often forgotten. Nobody talks about how great a project’s docs are, and yet documentation has a direct impact on your project’s success. Without good documentation, people either do not use your project, or they do not enjoy using it. Happy users are the ones who spread the news about your project – which they do only after they understand how it works, which they learn from the software’s documentation.

Yet, too many open source projects have disappointing documentation. And it can be disappointing in several ways.

The examples I give below are hardly authoritative, and I don’t mean to pick on any particular project. They’re only those that I’ve used recently, and not meant to be exemplars of awfulness. Every project has committed at least a few of these sins. See how many your favorite software is guilty of (whether you are user or developer), and how many you personally can help fix.