Sweetcode Topic Curation Best Practices

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This post introduces topic curation best practices for Sweetcode contributors. It guides your process for suggesting topics – working titles and thesis statements – that Sweetcode can publish. Sweetcode’s main objective is to publish highly-technical content related to DevOps. Practitioners who qualify to write for Sweetcode have a background in DevOps and have demonstrated their ability to author posts on generalist topics. 

Sweetcode’s secondary objective is to recognize and nurture technical writers, and give them  the opportunity to advance their success to freelance for Fixate.io. This document provides suggestions for how to develop the skills they require of Fixate contributors.

Nature of the Content

When curating topics to write and publish on Sweetcode.io, ask the question: “After the reader consumes the post, will they be able to solve a problem or complete a specific task?”. Often topics are interesting but conceptual. So if the topic doesn’t lend itself to actionable information, it probably is not a topic that will interest Sweetcode’s audience. For example, “Reasons to Become an ML Engineer” or “Getting Started with Jupyter Notebooks for First-Time ML Engineers,” while potentially interesting, would be neither technical nor action oriented.

Assuming that the Sweetcode contributor aspires to become a Fixate contributor, a good practice is to avoid general and broad topics. From Fixate’s perspective there is no such thing as a topic that is too specific. The more specific, the better. The goal is to define a particular context and explain how to accomplish something specific within it. 

For a better understanding of the type of content that Fixate’s clients request, visit any of the Market Guides on Sweetcode. For example, Checkmarx or Sauce Labs.

Coder, Developer, or Software Engineer

In the world of software development, there are coders, developers, and software engineers.

Coders have specific expertise in one language and framework. They can code against a backlog – by themselves, with that language, on their local machine, and within simple production environments.

Developers are coders who have expanded their skills to work within a team with larger development projects, and a broader stack. They also include life cycle elements in their development.

Finally, software engineers are developers who are familiar with application architectures that span front-end and back-end, and can correlate the development they do with business objectives and across environments.

As an author, it is worth thinking about where you might fit in this spectrum. Sweetcode intends to bridge the gap between developers and software engineers, but not necessarily focus on coders. Being a coder does not mean you cannot write for Sweetcode, but you are encouraged to author content that pushes you in the direction of being a developer.

The Life Cycle of Coding

Coders evolve into developers by building their skill sets. Topics about that evolutionary process – specifically the skills required to evolve – are aligned with Sweetcode’s objective for content creation. 

Developers evolve into engineers. Topics that go beyond just code and coding, and explain the life cycle of coding, are particularly valuable to Sweetcode’s audience. These are topics that DevOps and DevSecOps practitioners can put to use.   

When curating topics and submitting working titles and thesis statements, it will help to think beyond programming languages and frameworks. If you’re not already, become familiar with what is expected of DevOps and DevSecOps practitioners. This is Sweetcode’s audience, and that audience is interested in topics about how code is developed, deployed, and managed in production. 

Examples of topics to consider are around continuous integration and delivery of CI/CD tools, testing, documentation, catching vulnerabilities, debugging, logging, etc. Sweetcode will accept code-specific topics more often when they are related to the complexities of that programming language in the development life cycle.

Where Is Your Focus?

When thinking about topic curation best practices, consider the overall focus of the topic. Those who are new in the field have a tendency to focus on career building, contributing to OSS, front-end development, and promoting a specific language or framework. None of these are bad topics from the broader development perspective, but they don’t align ideally with Sweetcode’s objectives. Consequently, topics of this nature will only occasionally be approved, and represent a small percentage of the content that Sweetcode publishes.

Career Building 

Fixate’s clients have been known to request posts on advancing your engineering career. For Sweetcode, however, this topic falls out of the scope of tactical content. A better fit is 101- and entry-level content that is super specific. For example, “Starting with Jenkins as a junior developer.”

Contributing to OSS

Talking about open-source projects in the context of how they fit in the broader application development life cycle is awesome. For example “Instrumenting OpenTelmentry for React applications.” However, talking about how to contribute to OSS is too broad and a topic that is frequently covered on other sites. Therefore, Sweetcode is less likely to accept this kind of topic.

Front-End Development

Front-end developers are arguably more prevalent than back-end. Topics revolving around front-end development also tend to be further removed from development life cycles.

While Sweetcode is not targeting back-end development, we are targeting topics that get to the business aspects of building applications. So topics related directly to CSS or design are not likely to be approved. That being said, topics that correlate with how front-ends are built in relation to how they are deployed, tested, and managed or how they interact with the backend will get approved more easily.

Promoting a Language or Framework

Working titles such as “Why Use Rust” or “Tailwinds for Better Sites” are not likely to get approved. This is because we seek to answer questions related to using languages, not motivators for choosing them.

We might approve topics like this when they are related to timely news and major announcements. Additionally, we are not opposed to tactical, objective comparison posts. However, just convincing someone to start using or learning a language is not a priority.

Attract Attention

Keep in mind that Sweetcode strives to attract the attention of a very specific audience. We don’t want to cover topics that already saturate the web. I.e., if a topic is too common we will not approve it for that reason. Sweetcode is not in a position to compete for web traffic on common topics.

Examples

If you are still feeling unsure about what topic curation best practices mean for you, we have included some ideal examples of Sweetcode articles below:

Conclusion

We hope this framework helps you better understand the topic curation and approval process for Sweetcode and its best practices. We understand that it might challenge you as a developer to learn new things. This is why Sweetcode aims to support your growth, and also increase your chances to write for Fixate.

If you want to learn more about what we look for in both Sweetcode and Fixate writers, take a look at this article.


is a bad-coder-turned-technology-advocate who understands the challenges and needs of modern engineers, as well as how technology fits into the business goals of companies in a demanding high-tech world. Chris speaks and engages with end-users regularly in the areas of modern AppDev, Site Reliability Engineering, DevOps, and Developer Relations. He was one of the original founders of the developer marketing agency Fixate IO, and currently works as a Sr. Manager in HubSpot’s Developer Relations team.


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