Editing Project: Overview
In an editing project, you’ll be improving content that already exists on iFixit. Your improvements will make it easier for people from around the world to fix their devices.
By the end of this project you should have completed the following:
- Signed up for an iFixit account using your school email address
- Joined a team
- Chosen which guide(s) you want to work on
- Decided what flag(s) you'll be addressing
- Emailed us about what you’ll be working on, and what flag(s) you'll address
- Reviewed the guidelines for fixing the issues denoted by each flag
- Made appropriate edits by following the guidelines and applying the technical communication principles you've learned in class
- Emailed us once you've finished the editing project
We have thousands of awesome user-submitted guides on iFixit, for everything from laptops and smartphones, to cars and household appliances. Some of these guides are a little rough around the edges and could use your help.
Why does it matter? Check out our mission video:
Here at iFixit, repair is our way of life, and we want to provide the world with the proper know-how and tools to fix anything. What does this mean for your project? First, it means that this isn't just busy-work—the work you do on this project will help people from all over the world fix their devices. Second, it means you'll be contributing to an open-source community dedicated to keeping stuff working longer and out of landfills. Find out more about why we are so passionate about repair by checking out our blog.
Register and join a team
Before you get started editing, you’re going to need an iFixit account. You also need to join a team, even if you are working individually. Being on a team allows us to track your work, and gives you “student privileges” that prevent outsiders from editing your work.
- Use your name and school email when signing up for the account.
- Make sure to select the appropriate information from the drop-down menus. If you add yourself to the wrong team, just click "Leave my team" and try again.
- Team tags follow this format: School-ProfessorLastName-T#S#G#. For example, if you are attending Cal Poly in Fall 2014, in section 4 of Dr. Jon Doe's class, assigned to group 7, your team tag will be: CPSU-DOE-F14S4G7.
Hold up there!
Don’t go it alone. You need to join a student team. Even if you are a totally awesome team of 1. That’s right, even if you are working alone, you need to join a student team before you move on. On a team? Go ahead and move on...
Pick what you’d like to work on
Head on over to our Contribute page to look at what guides need editing.
“Confusing Text” and “Grammar Police” are two of the most common flags that editing classes address. Select "View All" to see all the devices and guides that need help. They're all fair game, except for guides with the following flags:
Student in Progress (another student is already working on that particular guide)
- Archived (guides that are solely retained for historical purposes)
Keep in mind that if a prerequisite guide has been flagged, that flag will show up on all guides that feature the prerequisite guide. For example, a motherboard replacement guide that features a "Confusing Text" battery replacement guide will show the "Confusing Text" flag, because that prerequisite battery replacement guide is a part of the motherboard replacement guide.
The number of guides required for the Editing Project varies with each instructor. Some students are required to edit only one guide but will email multiple options in case their first choices are not available. Please let us know how many guides you are going to edit, as well as your preferred choice.
Send us an email
Send us an email at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com to tell us what you’d like to work on, as well as what flag(s) you'll be addressing. Be sure to include links to the guides that you’d like to edit. Including a link to your proposed guides makes them easier to find and helps us respond to your proposal sooner.
We'll flag your guide as student work, so that you can edit freely. This also prevents anyone outside of your team from editing your work. Feel free to send us any questions you have along the way!
Don't forget: include your team tag in the subject line of your email, and CC your teammates and instructor!
Take a moment to check and make sure you’ve followed all the instructions. Before you start editing, you need to send us an email at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com detailing what you plan on doing. We’ll let you know when you’re ready to cruise on to editing.
Put all of your technical writing skills to use, by cleaning up your selected guide. Click the “edit” button in the upper right-hand corner of the guide to edit it. Remember to be clear and concise, and don’t use any jargon. We want anyone to be able to repair their stuff—so write inclusively so that anyone from your kid brother to your grandmother could follow your guide.
For help on writing, or to brush up on your technical writing skills, check out our Technical Writing Handbook. Don’t worry, this book won’t burn a hole in your wallet—it’s a free PDF download, although you’ll have to fend for yourself with the robots and zombies found inside.
Below, we break down each flag and provide a few examples of the types of improvements you should make.
Many guides have solid instructions, but just need a grammatical boost. Watch for the following:
- Missing Articles - Articles are those little words in front of nouns, like the, an, and a. Articles tell your brain that a noun is coming. (We not robot, after all.)
- Bad: Disconnect cord from wall.
- Good: Disconnect the cord from the wall.
- Incomplete Sentences (Sentence Fragments) - Make sure every sentence expresses a complete. (See what we did there?)
- Bad: And now four tabs along the upper edge.
- Good: Disconnect the four tabs along the upper edge.
- Missing or Incorrect Punctuation - Oh, boy. Need we explain how crucial those commas and periods can be?
- Bad: Remove the display using rubbing alcohol clean any remaining adhesive from the back side.
- Good: Remove the display. Using rubbing alcohol, clean any remaining adhesive from the back side.
- Incorrect Spelling or Capitalization - When writing instructions, it’s important to get the details right.
- Bad: Use a philips #00 screwdriver to remove the 3.5 mm drive tray screw.
- Good: Use a Phillips #00 screwdriver to remove the 3.5 mm drive tray screw.
Hastily written guides run astray in all kinds of ways. Here are a few to watch out for:
- Passive Voice - Writing instructions means giving commands. If in doubt, start off with a verb.
- Bad: The three lower tabs can be pried apart to separate the rear case.
- Good: Pry apart the three lower tabs to separate the rear case.
- Overly Wordy Text - Keep it concise.
- Bad: In the event that you completely remove the display away from the chassis without first carefully disconnecting the display cable, you may accidentally damage the display cable.
- Good: Before removing the display, be sure to disconnect the display cable, or you may damage it.
- Unclear Directions - For clarity, use words for quantities and numbers for measurements.
- Bad: Remove the 3 12 mm Phillips #0 screws.
- Good: Remove the three 12 mm Phillips #0 screws.
- Insufficient Directions - Without being overly wordy, give enough detail to perform the procedure correctly.
- Bad: Pull the cable out.
- Good: Remove the cable by holding down its release tab, and pulling it straight out.
Some authors are so eager to write instructions, they forget to establish context. For a proper introduction, think about what you’d tell a friend who was about to start this repair. For example:
- When or why might this repair be needed?
- What problem(s) would this repair likely resolve?
- Are any special skills required? (Soldering, etc.)
- Is there anything else unusual about this repair?
Use colored bullets that match your markup, so readers know right where to look.
Use markup colors in ROYGBIV order. For each new step, start over with red.
Use markup sparingly. It's only appropriate when the photo alone can't communicate the necessary information.
A few things that might be useful
- Right under the list of parts and tools on a guide (directly above the photo in the first step) is a PDF button. This will allow you to print guides in a neat fashion for "before" and "after" comparisons or for any on-paper editing you might like to do before digitizing.
- We're here to help. You can always email us at any time! Don't be shy about asking for help.
Let us know when you've finished!
Once you’ve finished your project, remove the flag(s) that you addressed and send us an email letting us know that you're done, along with a short summary of the changes you made. We’ll look it over to make sure everything is in order. Don’t remove the "Student in Progress" flag—we’ll take care of all that for you. Additionally, if you’d like feedback on your work, just ask!
Well this is awkward!
Nothing slows up an editing party like the ghost of guides past showing up. Make sure you’ve followed all the guidelines closely, so we don’t need to revert and undo your edits. Take a few moments to review the instructions before you email us at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com letting us know you’re done editing—that way, everything can be awesome!