It’s not uncommon to hear managers at Uber tell engineers, “We think it’s important you document what you build to help other engineers.” Uber’s documentation lead, Stephanie Blotner, and her team also motivate engineers by showing them how documentation can alleviate specific pain points.
For example, if Stephanie identifies that one engineering team constantly answers questions from other teams, she shows them exactly how documentation can minimize that load. “We want to make it clear that we’re not documenting things just for show,” she says. “We’re doing it to solve a specific problem.”
To encourage better documentation practices, Stephanie and team identify managers and employees passionate about documentation and encourage them to serve as stewards of writing. She then sends a newsletter to teams where she identifies Doc Stars—colleagues who create and update quality documentation.
“We want to make it clear that we’re not documenting things just for show. We’re doing it to solve a specific problem.”
Overall, Uber has made conscious efforts to nurture their internal writing culture. They’ve realized that good documentation doesn’t come through a mandate. People need to be motivated to exert this additional effort in their day. The result is something rare: having well-documented engineering processes that make it easier for everyone to do their jobs and make sound, well-informed decisions.