Documentation usage

Guidelines about most valuable documentation usages.


  • Documentation is generally used as an entry point to discover a project.
  • Newcomers are heavy users of documentation.
  • Documentation quality can make a difference between projects.
  • Documentation gives an overview of the project.


Documentation provides guidelines to go deeper in the project. It points out interesting topics, provides tutorials, examples...

Remember, find

  • Users naturally search the documentation for some content they can’t remember.
  • Search is an important feature.

Make durable

  • Some contributors leave, others come...
  • Documentation is a good place where current contributors can share with potential contributors. It’s an asynchronous communication channel.


Users check the documentation when they are not sure. But keep in mind that external documentation shouldn’t be the reference for everything. As an example it can’t replace inline documentation such as docstrings. See Redirect information to the right communication channel for details.


As an entry point, documentation is a good place to redirect users to other services or ressources. What can’t be maintained in documentation is referenced in documentation with hyperlinks or other straightforward redirections.

Share “non productive” content

Some content cannot be stored in scripts, configuration or other “productive” tools. As example:

  • vision
  • conventions

Documentation can be used for that purpose.