Jen’s Call for Contributors

Who is this girl?
Jennifer zickerman - documentation

  • Name: Jennifer Zickerman
  • Based in: Vancouver, Canada
  • Status: Mozilla Employee (part-time)
  • Job title: Thunderbird Documentation
  • Distinctive features: usually has dirt under her fingernails

Background
Jen is annoyed by the endless “my first computer was older than your first computer” bragging contest among geeks (mostly because she never wins, having started late with a Commodore 64.) Regardless, she thinks she should get bonus points for working as an installer and support technician for the earliest generation of PC networks, which predated Microsoft Windows. (Yes, young Padawan, there once was a time before Windows.)

Her first experience with Mozilla was in the late 1990s, working on an application based on the Mozilla framework. She spent the next decade or so working on various projects in the open source and standards space, such as identity protocols and website CMS systems.

She started working on Mozilla Thunderbird in 2010. She feels that working at Mozilla is the best opportunity ever, because Mozilla’s values of openness, user sovereignty and individual empowerment are so important to the long-term well-being of the internet and its citizens.

What is her role all about?
Jen works on several aspects of Thunderbird documentation. She writes a lot of material for the Thunderbird Knowledge Base, where she also reviews and edits the work of other contributors. She helps out with Thunderbird developer documentation as an editor (and facilitator for anyone who would prefer not to write on the wiki). She helps direct potential Thunderbird documentation contributors to projects that suit their skills and area of interest. She provides general writing and editing services to anyone on the Thunderbird team who needs it.

A typical day in the life of Jen:

  • Email, email, email
  • Check for any revisions on the Thunderbird support site that require editing or approval
  • Write new articles
  • Help out with any writing or editing requests

Why help Jen?
An old proverb says: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Jen would add: “DOCUMENT how to fish and everybody eats fish until they are begging for hamburgers”.

Documentation has two big values for the Thunderbird community:

  • Happy users: With 20 million users, we will never be able to provide personal support, even if we had thousands of community volunteers. Documentation helps people solve their own problems so that people aren’t reliant on support.
  • Empowered developers: If we have good developer documentation, developers are much more likely (and able) to contribute to the Thunderbird project.

Jen says:
“You don’t have to be a programmer to help out with Thunderbird. You don’t even need to be an advanced user. We can use help from anyone. You can translate or copy edit our Knowledge Base articles. You can improve and expand existing articles. Then, when you ready, you can start writing your own articles, documenting your own solutions or creating articles based on discussions on our support forum. See here for more information on getting started.

If you have development skills, check out our developer documentation. There is a list of topics that need documentation on this page. Alternatively, try your hand at writing a Thunderbird extension and document what you learn by expanding our tutorial. There’s a quick “getting started” guide on this page.”

 

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