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Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation

Cover of Conversation and Community 2nd Edition, linked to larger image
Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation, 2nd Edition
by Anne Gentle. $29.95 (print), $23.95 (eBook).

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Anne Gentle’s Conversation and Community, has become the go-to reference for social media and technical communication. Her clear-eyed survey of the social media landscape has been adopted by many universities and is widely used by technical communicators.

The second edition contains new chapters on building a content strategy, analyzing web techniques, and developing an open source strategy. Along with a greatly expanded bibliography and updates throughout, there are more interviews and more case studies, making this ground-breaking book even more useful.

Inside the Book

  1. Towards the Future of Documentation
    • How people communicate about technical topics today
    • The changing roles of writers
    • Defining conversation
    • Agile development
    • Why move content to the social web?
    • Social media, social networking, and now the social web
  2. Defining a Writer’s Role with the Social Web
    • Challenges and opportunities
    • Building a strategy
    • The documentation environment
  3. Community and Documentation
    • What is a community?
    • Motivations for writers and online communities
    • Real-world events
    • Book sprints
  4. Commenting and Connecting with Users
    • Monitoring conversations
    • Starting and maintaining a blog
    • Customer blog infrastructure
    • Integrating user content into user assistance
    • Moderating or participating in online forums
    • Instant messaging and responses
    • Writing reviews
    • Integrating social tagging
    • Sharing photos and videos for explanation or assistance
  5. Wikis as Documentation Systems
    • Wikis for projects
    • Starting or reinvigorating a wiki
    • Inheriting a large wiki
    • Working in a wiki
    • Wiki round tripping
    • Single-sourcing and repurposing
    • Understanding wiki patterns and wiki structures
    • Alternatives when a wiki is not the right match
    • Talking with writers of wikis
    • Wiki examples
    • Wiki wrap up
  6. Finding Your Voice
    • Style guidelines
    • Publishing strategies
    • Idea generation
    • Living and working with conversation and community
  7. Content Strategy for Community Documentation — NEW Chapter
    • Listen and monitor first
    • Find the business goals
    • Community and content audits
    • Case Study: Community Content Strategy at Autodesk
  8. Analyzing and Measuring Web Techniques — NEW Chapter
    • Managing community methods
    • Measuring effectiveness
    • Fitting into the community
    • Encouraging grassroots efforts
    • Measuring documentation as conversation
  9. Open Source Documentation — NEW Chapter
    • Open source, how does it work?
    • Open documentation community strategies
    • Open source starting points
    • Licensing considerations
    • Not about tools
    • Community content strategist
  10. Appendix A: Concepts and Tools of the Social Web
    • New media content categories
    • Social web techniques
    • Learning about social media
  11. Appendix B: Easter Seals Internet Public Discourse Policy
  12. Appendix C: A Case Study from Smart Content in the Enterprise — NEW Case Study
    • Managing Content for Continuous Learning at Autodesk: When DITA Flows into a Social Web Platform
  13. Glossary
  14. Bibliography — Expanded
  15. Index

Praise for the First Edition

“Could be best TC read of the decade”

— Michael Hughes, on twitter, @michaelhughesua

“I was an early adopter of wikis, but had reached a saturation point after Linkedin and before Facebook. As a result, I was vague on what a lot of these social things are, so Chapter 2 has been useful.”

— David Cramer

“I have felt for a while that this is where I wanted to go as a technical writer, but I wasn’t sure where to start or if it was even possible. Your book is giving me the confirmation that I’m on the right track and all the amazing links in it are helping me develop the knowledge I need to get there. You have no idea how excited I am:)”

— Nathalie Laroche

“…the book has value to web workers of all stripes. The book is practical, up to date and isn’t just a “me too” social media tome.”

— Will Kelly,

“The consistent, confident, professional tone kept me riveted…”
“I highly recommend this book to both technical communicators and those involved in social media and community. My copy is going straight to my boss’ desk.”

— Jeff Osier-Mixon,

“If you think community participation in your documentation is coming soon, read this book immediately. If you think that it’s not coming, you’re wrong, and you especially need to read this book.”

— Sarah O’Keefe, Full review at

“The book is brim full of useful information and, even better, great ideas”

— Sarah Maddox, Full review

About Anne Gentle

© Kate L Photography |

Anne Gentle is an industry-recognized author whose books promote collaboration among developers, writers, and other stakeholders within open source and enterprise communities. She works as a product manager at Cisco, supporting the Metacloud product based on OpenStack. She supports open source tools for API design, documentation, and developer support. In addition to Conversation and Community, she wrote the book Docs Like Code to share tested tools and techniques with all who want to provide helpful, accurate technical information to the world. Anne writes about trends and shifts in technology and information at, where she has been engaging readers since 2005.

For Colleges and Universities

Conversation and Community has found a broad audience in university courses in technical communication. Professors are finding it to be a unique and essential guide to the latest techniques and trends. If you’re teaching a course that covers trends in technical communication, you need this book. To learn more about using this book for a class, send us email at