Shaping an open source editorial team

posted by Jenn


First thing–if you’re reading this and you know an awesome writer friend, share it with them.

Second, if you’re a writer who managed to find their way here, welcome! You’re probably wondering “What is an online Hoodie?” and/or “What the heck does Open Source mean?”

Hoodie is a group of fun folks who created a bit of code and decided to make it available to anyone with an internet connection and a sense of adventure. Instead of keeping their code to themselves, and limiting its capabilities to just a certain set of brains, they opened it up to the entire internet (and world) so that endless contributors can help shape and grow all the different ways Hoodie can now be useful.

That approach, instead of a more proprietary one, is what people in the tech industry call “Open Source.”

The folks at Hoodie are a little different though, did I mention adventure? They know that there’s a whole world outside of this tech bubble, where folks with millions of different talents help make amazing things every day. So why would they want to limit their open source community to just the kind of contributor that knows how to write computer code?

In comes the Hoodie editorial team. The editorial team began as a discussion in October 2015. The original thought was to first, recruit members of the team, who could then be responsible for planning and writing blog posts on or around Hoodie, Hoodie releases, contributors, side projects, etc. There was also some mention of coordinating Twitter and helping with support, but we’ll get to that.

After much social media-ing and direct messaging, the editorial team officially started on the 21st of November, 2015 with an awesome Google Hangout full of people. Coincidentally, on the same day as a New York City-based meetup for people getting familiarized with Hoodie.

Soon after, the team created a Slack channel and GitHub repository. GitHub is a social coding site that offers a free storage and collaboration service to customers (and it’s free to use for open source projects), which can be conveniently used to store documents, hold discussions, and draft copy, among other things. Think Google Docs, for programmers.

Things got off to an awesome start! Folks were having interesting and sometimes intense discussions. People began writing processes and volunteering for writing and coordinating jobs.

And then, well…and then the holidays came. The funny thing about Open Source is that it’s voluntary, so obviously real life comes first. But the timing of the editorial team getting kicked off right before a series of holidays—Thanksgiving in the US, Christmas, and then New Year, meant that real life held a lot more distractions than quite possibly any other time of the year.

In February, when things had calmed back down, a contributor named Jenn Turner started poking around to get the editorial team up and going again. A couple weeks later, we have some solid contributions under our belt, and we’re making great headway for new people to be able to jump in and get started.

What does the editorial team do?

At this point, we’re wrangling copy assignments to generate good coverage of all things Hoodie on our blog, as well as trying to help support the Camp Release of Hoodie 1.0. The important thing to understand is that you don’t have to have any sort of technical understanding of JavaScript to be able to lend a hand on the editorial team. If you’re interested in understanding code better, it’s a great opportunity to join one of the most supportive teams and communities on the web today.

We also have a list of things we’d like to do, which we keep in our repository, under the “Issues” section. It’s a great way to flag and organize ideas for the editorial team to hang on to, or jump into contributing right away.

Beginning next week, we’re going to start a weekly hangout on Wednesdays at 9:30 am (EST). The idea is to get the editorial team together to hangout and toss ideas around, get feedback, or just catch up/get to know each other. Feel free to join us!

Where you can find us

If you feel like joining an interesting community, and you have some writerly skills to contribute, but not only that, maybe you have social media skills, or organizational ones, or process writing, documentation writing, or event planning skills. The thing about Hoodie is, if you want to be a part of the community, there is a place for you. The only stipulation is you have to adhere to our Code of Conduct.

Ways you can find us –

What sorts of things has the team done so far?

Only created the most epic return of TGIF!, Hoodie’s weekly blog of awesomeness!

Also, we said Happy Birthday to Hoodie in February, as Hoodie turned three and we started gearing up for the Camp Release.

The editorial team also pushed forward the continuation of Meet the Hoodies blog series, a small spotlight on our regular contributors! Check out the one on Charlotte Spencer and Alex Feyerke.

First things first, our editorial team had to have style. So we created a style guide and wiki to be able to point to some general guidelines around writing and references.

How you can contribute

As mentioned above, there are several spots you can go to first, but if you’re excited to get started, skip all those and head to the issues section in our repository.

Examples of some open issues (or available writing contributions):

Any of the issues with a help wanted or ready label mean that they are available for anyone to take, so feel free to claim any of the issues you’re interested in.

Otherwise, head on over to the official Hoodie contribute page, where you can get some background on the project and all of the different ways one can contribute to the Hoodie community. There’s also some more information on the editorial team’s repository, including a very warm, emoji-laden welcome.

Finally, if you’d prefer to talk directly to someone, an “IRL writer” if you will, about the experience of contributing to an Open Source project, please get ahold of me, Jenn Turner. I can be reached on Twitter at @jennwrites (my direct messages are open to anyone) or by email at I look forward to hearing from you!