[AstroPy] SciPy docs: volunteers needed now!

Joe Harrington jh@physics.ucf....
Fri Jul 2 13:31:08 CDT 2010

Dear SciPy users and developers,

For the past two summers, the SciPy Documentation Project has run a
concerted effort to write docstrings for all the NumPy objects.  This
has been very successful, with over 75 writers contributing.  Nearly
every "important" object now has a reviewable docstring, and we
finally have someone working on doc wiki programming again!  We
accomplished this by writing 3000-5000 words a week, as tabulated on
the NumPy doc wiki's stats page.  Sometimes we wrote much more.  This
worked because 1) many volunteered and 2) there was a paid coordinator
who managed the workflow, motivated the community, and chased down
loose ends.

This year we have taken on the SciPy docs, which are bigger and more
technical.  A handful of very dedicated people has taken up the
challenge, and David Goldsmith is once again our able coordinator.
However, at the rate we are going it will take something like a decade
to finish.  We're writing just 700-1200 words a week.  I have had to
question whether it is worthwhile paying a coordinator for the effort
of just a few volunteers, as these people are fairly focused already
and there just are not very many of them.

I would hate to pull support for the coordinator now, but in the end
this project lives or dies by the willingness of its users - US - to
contribute our time.  Each of us should consider the cost - thousands
of dollars a year for many of us with big projects - of commercial
numerical software.  Extracting (or even requesting) payment in
exchange for the right to use SciPy isn't our model, but we still need
the labor.  In the end, all labor is either volunteer or paid.  So,
this is an appeal for all knowledgeable SciPy users, including current
code developers, to consider writing a little bit of documentation
over this summer.  For those in a position to assign people to work on
docs or to pay people who do, now is the time to step forward as well.

Specifically, we need to get the number of words per week up into the
3000 range to make a paid coordinator worthwhile (and indeed, to get
anywhere in a reasonable time).  Short of a significant pickup in
participation and words produced, documenting SciPy will once again be
a 100% volunteer effort.

Please visit 


to learn about editing docs, then sign up, request edit rights, and


to get connected to the work going on.  We meet on Skype every Friday
at noon EDT.  Contact David Goldsmith (d.l.goldsmith@gmail.com,
d.l.goldsmith on Skype) to join those conversations.  Email discussion
of doc issues happens on scipy-dev.



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