Content dusting

Enspiral members and contributors create a lot of content. On Github, Google Docs and more.

In order to keep what we write up-to-date and consistent, we practice « content dusting ». That is, we keep an eye on the actual content we create through Github and Google Drive to identify the parts that become stale or lose relevance, and suggest amendments where appropriate.

Note: This process description focuses on Github and Google Drive dusting work right now. If you think similar work should be done on other platforms we use, feel free to edit/amend this document.

What's in with dusting?

This group exists as another means to provide easily accessible tasks to contributors who are having a hard time finding how to get involved at a practical level with Enspiral. Doing work that has positive impact for the network should not require specific knowledge about our governance practices or processes, and should also be workable for people who have low capacity or want low engagement.

Amending content and discussing with content authors are also means to directly connect to arguably the most important part of Enspiral - what gets done. By creating more direct collaboration dynamics, we envision that engagement in « working on stuff that matters » will naturally follow, and that durable cross-network connections will form between content dusting volunteers and content creators.

Getting started with content dusting

  • Step 1 - Find something stale - Find something in any of the Github repositories or Google Drive document that was authored a while ago and you think would be relevant to update. Github content dusting is mostly targeted towards the Handbook, but also other public facing content and software repositories. Google Drive has a lot of spreadsheets, legal paperwork, visuals and much more.

    Let your skills and own perception of « stuff that matters » guide you towards the piece of stale content that you want to update.

  • Step 2 - Put yourself in the author's shoes - Before you even notify them that some of their previous work needs a rework, think of what you would do in their place to get things sorted. Make sure you understand what needs doing to an extent that will allow effective communication with the author.

  • Step 3 - Notify the author and take steps towards resolution - It's now time to notify the author of the issue you've found. If the content is in a Github file, find the original commit where this content was authored using these instructions, and place a Github comment on the relevant line. If it's on the Drive, just include a comment and mention the author and any other person you think should be notified. Your comment should ideally offer a simple solution to the issue and potentially request mandate to amend the author's work.

    Github tip: You can use the - [ ] item notation to create a checklist. This will allow you to list tasks that authors will be able give you mandate for by ticking the box. For trivial amendments that you think are not worth disturbing the author, go straigth to committing changes.

  • Step 4 - Publish the changes - Acting upon your words and any clarification the authors gave, amend the content (e.g. by editing the actual files instead of comments on a Google docs, and by and commit your work on Github).

    Github tip: Depending on the repository, it may be useful to use the git tool to clone, create a new branch, commit, and then making a pull-request on Github. Reach out to the #content-dusting Slack channel for any assistance with this workflow.

  • Step 5 - Follow through (but don't burn your wings) - Understand that the author may now be busy with other work, and may need to be reminded several times of the issue. We advice against insisting if authors state that the amendment should not be made. In that case limit the scope of your work to what is actually needed and received as help. Also be extra cautious of complex tasks that would get you stuck for too long. On these, limit step 3 to simple notifications/discussions and reminders, not the actual implementation of a solution.

You can see various examples of (so far Github-centered) content-dusting here (troubleshooting dead links), here (demystifying jargon in the board agreement) and here (updating the member list of the brang working group).


The emergence of this group is discussed in this Loomio. Feel free to join and weight in your thoughts!

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