Conversation and Community, Second Edition


by Anne Gentle

Anne Gentle’s Conversation and Community, now in its second edition, 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.

SKU: 9781937434106 Categories: , Tag:


The ebook edition of Anne Gentle’s book, Conversation and Community: The Social Web for Documentation, is now available for free on this site. The print edition is being taken out of print, but may remain available through used-book sellers.

The book is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License, which is available at While not technically an open source license as defined by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) (, the intention for choosing a Creative Commons license is to share and share alike.

In plain language, that license means that anyone can copy or adapt, and even distribute text from the book as long as the redistribution gives appropriate credit and does not charge for any adaptations created. This license choice means that people can reuse it in workshops, in classrooms, and even pull out parts of it for reuse in other works. You can even take a BY-NC original work and adapt it and release under a new license, BY-NC-ND (Non-Noncommercial, No Derivatives) or BY-NC-SA (Non-Noncommercial, Share Alike).

Original Description

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.


  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

About the Author

© 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.

Editorial Reviews

“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



There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.

About the store

We offer non-DRM ebook editions for most XML Press publications as a three-format bundle:

  • ePub
  • Kindle (.mobi)
  • PDF

Once you purchase a bundle, you will receive email with a download link.

Print editions and single-format ebook editions of our books are available from most online book retailers.

Note on the .mobi format: This format is provided to make it easier to sideload to older Kindle devices. For the best reading experience with newer Kindles, we recommend that you use the email to Kindle feature and send the epub version to your Kindle.