How to motivate authors, negotiate with experts and generally write good articles

    We believe that in every developer a good storyteller sleeps. Some of them have already woken up and please their colleagues with class posts. The rest you just need to wake up. Why and to whom it is necessary and how exactly to do this, we discussed at RIT ++, where within the framework of DevRelConf Habr appeared in two activities at once: we had a creative meeting with our publisher Denis Kryuchkov and a round table on how to conduct professional blogs.

    At the exit from the round table, we received several proven ways to motivate programmers to write articles, ingredients and ways to make a hit technopost in a blog, found out how developers create posts, and also looked at Avito's habrakunya and shared the recipes for building work with experts inside the company. All the details - under the cut.

    By the way, on August 23 we will have our own seminar on the motivation of the authors , where we, our friends from Microsoft, ABBYY,,, Badoo, Voximplant, RuVDS and one invited expert will analyze in detail the whips, gingerbreads and motivational pills that help to turn IT people into habra authors.

    About speakers

    Anton Polyakov. Moderator of the round table, the head of the content studio Habra. He has extensive experience in coordinating the preparation of professional articles for technical blogs (and not only) of companies and on taming and educating authors.

    “In my practice, companies are divided into two categories: some try to minimize their participation in the work on content, giving everything to the studio, and others, on the contrary, try to“ influence ”every comma. In the first case, the company loses the chance to show itself and its expertise, and in the second it omits interesting technological material to the level of an advertising booklet. The struggle for a middle ground is one of our constant concerns. ”

    Michael Klyuev, DevRel in Avito. Coordinates activities related to the public activities of Avito developers - everything related to professional conferences, a blog on Habré, etc.

    “Everything Avito does to the public for developers, in one way or another, our group does me and two people on staff Additionally, we conduct many internal activities aimed at sharing knowledge within the company. The flow of posts is not so big now, rarely more than one post per week. In this case, we focus on the content, we try to share a really interesting experience.

    Nikolay Zemlyansky, editor-manager of the Habr content studio. Helps banks and other large companies to blog on Habré. Over the year, the content studio publishes hundreds of articles, much of them are published with the direct participation of Nicholas.

    “I work with speakers. I develop content plans with companies, collect invoices with experts, make materials from it, and then coordinate them with the same experts and PR services. In parallel, I tell useful things about our platform, instill confidence in myself, help with comments. In general, I try to make everyone happy at Habré: both those who write and those who read. ”

    On the secrets of cool post

    - Is there a recipe for a hit post in a tech blog?

    Nikolay : There is no simple and uniform recipe. But I really like one recommendation on preparation. Creating a post, you need to imagine that in front of you - a colleague or friend who understands the topic. Imagine you are sitting with him in a bar. Will your post go along with a glass of beer? Having modeled such a “personal” situation, you will tune in the right way and be able to correctly evaluate the topic of the post. Thus, marketing promises are immediately cut off, which will be of interest only to management and the PR department.

    More specifically, in terms of format, then most of all on Habré love stories - when in a post you overcome professional difficulties. It is desirable with a photocopy - even if as a 0.3 megapixel, the main thing is to take it for the soul. If the post is quite possible to make a movie - it is generally luxurious.

    And of course, if you feel yourself an experienced expert in some field, you feel that you can share something that is almost not disclosed on the platform, this is also great, it needs to be worked out.

    Michael: Some posts leave at the expense of content, others - at the expense of filing. If we talk about the content, then we need to remember the study at the university and the criteria for good scientific work. It must be relevant, it definitely needs novelty - at least within the framework of your social circle. Then we write “according to Ilyahov” - and everything will be fine. If you have something new and relevant, you were able to convey this message and catch people - the post will go down.

    But there are posts that leave at the expense of filing. For example, on Habré there was a series of posts about Katya - a kind of thriller from several series. There, the developer rewrote something, and at the same time he quarreled, then put up with his girlfriend. And the people just read these posts. Personally, I was not at all interested in what he was rewriting there. But here's the story about Katenka hooked, I wanted to know how it would end. That is, there was some kind of banal, not very interesting technical history. But it was filed smartly.

    - How to find a cool topic?

    Michael: I'll tell you about our approach. First, we look at what we can do well, what our audience may be interested in and what has not yet been told. After analyzing from the point of view of uniqueness: if someone has already written about this, then naturally, people will not be so interested. This is the place where the cool topic is located. That is, if you are an expert in some field and can teach it, this topic will go down. If you do not have much choice, and your subject is not the most hyip now - try to somehow connect it with the blockchain. The way is “dirty”, but effective.

    Nikolai : Learning is not the only goal to pursue in articles. Entertainment materials that people read simply because it is interesting go well. On "Habré" there is a blog of the company Carprice, they recently wroteabout auto auctions somewhere in Africa. There is a desert, there is no corrosion, and used cars are sold at some wild prices. Such material does not have any practical benefit, does not teach people to do something in their specialty. But he cool comes, read it. Such stories entertain, delight, provide an opportunity to escape.

    And with hyip you need to be careful: a significant portion of readers may know more about the actual topic than you do. Plus you need to look, if you didn’t write about it before on Habré. I remember the case when the company, not directly connected with the blockchain, tried to go on it. They took articles from some popular blogs that had already been snapped up by everyone, translated them, posted them, and everything was bad. People feel when minded guys "captain" or, worse, rubbing nonsense. In this plan on Habré very sensitive public. Do not go out with some material, if you are not sure about it, it is better not to touch unfamiliar subjects. Everything will end badly - first of all, for the image of the company.

    Anton: Sometimes people try to publish material, googling something on the subject for half an hour. Then they are in a hurry to dump it on Habr rather - and watch how it all gradually blends ...

    Nikolay : Then they hide these materials and throw them out again, hoping that something will change ...

    Anton : We have articles that go into minus very rarely: such materials are past year was 1.5%. But even if it happened, nothing terrible. You just need to hide the article and figure out what the problem is. This is a normal situation, and the old woman is proruha. We even have big companies sometimes hiding something.

    About the editorial device

    - Mikhail, how many authors do you need for such a pace - one article per week? How is your editors?

    : We have one editor, and writing people - a few dozen, I guess. In general, all functions of the editorial board are performed by Antonina. Tony has a content plan that she needs to regularly replenish. And the task of our group is to make so that all the interesting information about the activities of Avito developers comes to her. We go to the developers when we find out that there is such a new subject, that the guys have filed something interesting. We offer to share, discuss with them the possible structure of the article. And then they write it.

    They write everything in different ways. Some can immediately write a clean copy - like Yegor Tolstoy, our public speaker, a well-known expert in the field of iOS. His texts can be run with minimal modifications - and they go well. Others write worse. They are preparing a rather rough draft, with which they go to Antonina. And it helps to turn it into an interesting story. Then the text falls into the plan for publication. We see what is missing for launch. Perhaps you need to add pictures or add an open source for it. Maybe Call-to-Action is needed ... Next, we publish. Naturally, we try to do it not on Monday and not on Friday.

    - Do you attract specialists from the outside?

    Michael: Our group does not use internal design - everything is outsourced. In order not to waste time Tony, we invite decoders. It seems not very expensive and useful. Now all the blogs of conferences are built on the transcripts of reports. In numbers it seems that it comes in quite well. If we publish in English, we attract translators.

    - Nikolay, can I add a few words about the features of the work of “Habra” as an external studio?

    Nikolay : Everything starts with a research: we look at what the company is doing, how its activities come into contact with currently popular topics. We ask a lot of questions. Sometimes companies already have people ready to make contact with Habr and prepare posts. But, as a rule, you need to look for an approach to the experts. Therefore, we have more interviews with speakers than materials written by them.

    If a specialist promises that he will write something, it can drag on for weeks or even months. Speaking with an expert is much easier. One skype is enough, everyone has discussed everything for an hour and a half, great. Decryption is outsourced - and now almost finished text. Sometimes, of course, you have to fine-tune it, but still so much faster than constantly knocking the text out of an expert. In the end, a person loses any desire to write, some generally stop responding. Maybe some problems arise and there is no time left for writing ... anything can happen, you need to look for opportunities.

    Question of motivation

    - How do you motivate developers to write articles?

    Mikhail : Our motivation revolves around a little to distract a person from the main work. It almost never happens that people don’t want to write at all. If there is an interesting topic - most often he is interested in it. In addition, he knows that he will receive strong support. Yes, he is not a writer, but a developer. But if he is doing well with the code, with the engineering solution, he has nothing to worry about. We dispel all his fears: the post will not be published with grammatical errors, and if it is badly written, we will correct it.

    We also agree with managers that a person can spend some amount of working time writing a post. And he no longer worries that his superiors scold him. If he writes in his free time or puts in some extra effort, he should be additionally motivated. At the end of the year, we for all our writers make a special souvenir - for example, T-shirts with the inscription "These people write for Habr."

    In addition, the developers always look at each other and think: “Now Vasya has a great post - he likes and has respect in the team. And I can even better ... ”Therefore, we need to constantly talk inside the company: they say there are such people, they write cool posts that people like“ outside ”, make our company more attractive. And it also involves.

    Nikolai: An additional advantage is that the post on “Habré” is not only the employee’s contribution to the company. If the post goes to the corporate blog personally on behalf of the developer, then the written remains with him forever. In any case, companies usually do not remove the posts of their former employees - this is the same as shooting themselves in the foot. When searching for a new job, the author will be able to give a link to his account on Habré, and a strong account on Habré is a big plus in the eyes of a potential employer.

    Mikhail : In general, the ability to present your thoughts briefly and clearly in writing is very important for a person planning to develop professionally, go to managers, start a startup, etc. If you can’t write, I'm sorry, at some point you’ll have to learn it. This is a good skill that is useful everywhere.

    - Does Avito have any awards for an article for developers?

    : We give out awards according to the results of a performance review. People who actively participated in additional activities — wrote articles, spoke at conferences, helped me — contact me. Or I myself knock on them and put some assessment and feedback in the Performance Review - that the person was doing something “beyond expectations”. This helps to raise his assessment, and he receives a premium according to the results - in fact, this is how we influence the material component.

    Nikolai: For my part, I encourage developers, trying to make the process of preparing articles for them as convenient as possible. There are many options. As I said, we have the main interaction format - an interview. After the conversation, I am preparing an article - and the expert still has to spend half an hour to read everything and make some comments. In principle, the more valuable information the expert transmits, the less time he has to spend on this program. It is important to be involved, to understand how loaded a person is at the main job.

    Anton: In general, it is very difficult to find in the company of a person who can write. If such a person is found, then he, I think, needs to give the green light everywhere. It is possible, to move it somehow, to adjust his work so that he writes more. There are many developers, but there are only a few who write among them.

    When to write and how to respond to comments

    - Developers write articles during business hours?

    Michael : It happens in different ways, all individually. One may write something at work, it is more convenient for another to do it when they are not pulled - for example, on a day off. Here, too, it is necessary for a person to understand in advance that he will spend a lot of time on this. It needs to be pronounced immediately when a person expresses readiness to write an article. You start to discuss the topic, talk about possible difficulties, agree on the timing. Many guys themselves say: "I will sit over the weekend and write, next week will be ready." Someone is the other way around: “Oooh, this is now the end of the sprint, I can sit down in just two weeks. And then I will need a lot of time ... ”In general, you need to work individually with each author. As in kindergarten: all children are capricious in different ways.

    - How much time does Avito developers, on average, take time to write a post?

    Michael: Some write quickly, others write slowly. In any case, the developer’s time is still determined by his manager. If the boss comes to me and says: “Misha, you know, something Vasya has been spending too much time writing articles.” I will answer: “OK, forgive me, I'm sorry, we will finish this article - and we will not touch Vasya any more. Or we will negotiate with the guys so that they spend less time. ” Because after all, the main work of the developers is the code. But so far no one has approached me with such claims. Moreover, sometimes writing articles is included in the work plan of a unit, cluster, etc. Units themselves have realized that it is beneficial for them to publish their work in one form or another, that people will learn about it. And, accordingly, they are already laying their “writing” into the work plan. Understanding what tasks it will help to solve in the future.

    - Can you give any specific pricing for publication, for example, in 10 thousand characters? How is the issue with illustrations solved?

    MichaelA: The prices are all very individual. For example, I asked my colleagues who pays for the illustrations. The scatter turned out to be wild: from a thousand rubles to 40 thousand. If any agency is involved, then the creative director is sitting there and creative, and the illustrator illustrates ... And then this estimate is obtained. And we found our illustrator, who quickly understands the task, does not ask again, does not ask us, lacks developers - and does everything as it should. My opinion - you need to start with a minimum, then watch how it goes. Anyway, the main thing on Habré is the content, the story from the technical component. The main thing is to write about. And how much to invest in the pitch is already up to you.

    - Who handles comments? After all, they are often unflattering, they can demotivate authors ...

    Mikhail: We have almost every post appear negative comments. But usually not about what is written in the text. It’s just that a person once had a bad user experience with Avito. Get one of the latest posts. We launched Avito-Playbook and redirect to github, where you can ask questions. So one reader specifically registered on github as a developer to leave a negative feedback. In this regard, I really envy Badoo - their service in Russia is little used, and they have no such comments.

    What is good on Habré - there is a certain culture here. If a person is offtopic - and in fact such a negative is an offtopic - then he can not answer, the community will perceive it normally. If he complains about a real problem, we will transfer him to the support service.

    Anton: At the companies on Habré the certain external image which is transferred on articles remains. Therefore, some posts are negative for the fact that their content is not relevant.

    Michael : If a negative comment concerns the content of the article - you need to respond. We immediately agree that after publication the author must take time to respond to meaningful questions. In addition, we have such a separate format AMA (ask me anything) - when we for some time at Habré answer questions. At this moment the whole team is involved. This is a very good, currently popular format.

    Why do you need a professional blog and how to measure the result

    - How do you find resources for developers to write articles and respond to comments? The company spends money on professional blogging - and what does it get in return? Why do we need it at all, and at what stage should the company start a blog?

    Michael: Let's start with the fact that Habr is by no means a cheap tool. You will have to pay for the fact that your blog will be there, for editing, for design ... As for the purposes of the presence on Habré, they can be completely different. And I can not say what goal you can have. You must define it yourself. And understand that with the help of Habr you will achieve this goal cheaper and easier than in other ways. Habr - the good that it is in Russia - allows you to immediately reach a significant audience of developers. In other countries where there is no such tool, everything is much more complicated.

    Anton : A blog on Habré can become an element of the mosaic. Materials that are first published with us, the company can post somewhere else - for example, in its blog. Drag and drop into social networks, etc.

    - What are the goals facing Avito on Habré?

    Michael : We are working on the recognition and attractiveness of the Avito engineering team. I started working for the company 2.5 years ago, when the majority of Russian developers thought that Avito was, roughly speaking, three pages. Well, how many people do you need to support it? Man ten? In fact, 300 engineers work in Avito today, we have the most advanced modern technologies, etc. I will draw an analogy: there is a chocolate "Bounty", which I do not like - but I know what it is like what it has inside. Two and a half years ago, people had absolutely no idea what kind of chocolate that Avito was. Now they understand what is inside the company - therefore, the first goal has been achieved.

    The second goal is to ensure that the developers who meet our profile, high-class specialists, understand that Avito is leading one of the most significant high-load projects in the Russian market. That we have large-scale engineering tasks that are difficult and interesting to cut - no less interesting than in Yandex, and other companies. Although we have only one service.

    - What are the formal metrics talking about success?

    Michael: We cannot use a hodgepodge of various metrics. For example, the Habr metric does not show us whether we have achieved the goal. Therefore, we conduct research. By the way, Habr inspired me on this. The fact is that I basically did not believe in research for a long time. I came to the companies that do it professionally and asked: “Where will you get enough seniors and midles to ask them the right questions?” I was sure that they would go to some students - and as a result we will only find out what does a fifth year graduate think about Avito? And with this contingent a slightly different division of our company works. Then came the study on the "Habré", in which the sociological department of St. Petersburg State University asked to name the five most attractive employers. At the same time there was a free entry, not a choice from the list. And in Moscow, we hit the top five. After that, I realized that we are ready to "measure up." We bought one study from Headhunter - good guys, I recommend it to everyone. The second is from Yandex, which just launched Yandex Yandex.

    We ask two questions. The first is which companies you know as employers. The second is which companies you find attractive as an employer. The second question, however, is not free entry, but a list from which you need to select five positions. So we understand - whether we have progress, movement towards more attractive and well-known teams.

    Translation difficulties

    - Is the translation material relevant for the company's blog? And how not to burn them?

    Mikhail : Habr is often criticized for the fact that the content there is not original, that many have already managed to read all this in English. Specialists who want to be cutting edge, still have to read in English. “Habr” in this respect, in my opinion, is a bit late. But in the audience of "Habra" there are a lot of seniors, midles and juniors. For most of them it is quite normal to receive information with such a lag. If you need to communicate with them, then the transfers to the “Habré” will go perfectly. If your target audience likes it, then everything is fine.

    Nikolai: Translations on Habré really go well. Sometimes get in the "Best Articles" in the tops. However, there are several important rules. First, we must look at the release date of the original article. On this, many steal. I often receive materials: “Look, Nikolai, what a topic!” I look - it's really cool. I look - and there 2015. No matter how interesting the topic is, if the original is 2015, I immediately advise not to translate it, the world around changes too quickly. Secondly, you need to look to see if someone has translated the article before you. Or did not use the main theses of it. If everything is in order on these two points, you can give a green light. Just do not forget to indicate that this is a translation - at least on the basis of writing ethics.

    Michael: This lag is a defining moment. If you quickly transferred - that's great. We are still Russian-speaking people, it is easier for us to read Russian.

    Anton : We have companies that live only on translations. And they take absolutely non-core topics for themselves. They just make cool translations of some actual articles, insert their “reklamka” - and the community is grateful for that.

    Nikolai: If there are difficulties in finding topics, you can subscribe to some top blogs in the industry of interest, to cool resources. And quickly, within just a few hours, do translations of the most interesting articles from these resources. But do not forget about the existence of copyright. Some day they may knock on you and ask you not to do this again. Or something worse. In any case, you need to follow the events in the English-speaking environment. If you succeed in this quickly convey - readers will appreciate.

    Anton : By the way, now Habr is entering a new phase - in the near future we will become multilingual. I think that soon translations will become relevant in the opposite direction - from Russian to English.

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