Become a Bellingcat Tech Fellow (Technical Writing Fellowship 2023)
This tool is so hard to learn!
I can’t figure out what setting does what I want!
Aha, a blog post that someone wrote about their experience setting up and using the tool! This is perfect.
Would you like to get involved in the open source investigative community and make a valuable contribution for others as well?
Bellingcat is excited to announce a technical writing fellowship. We are looking for fellows who have an idea for improving usability of open source methods and tools through documentation or writing.
This opportunity is not just targeted at technical writers, but writers of all stripes, illustrators, user researchers, videographers, or anyone who has an idea for making open source tools easier to learn and more accessible. It is open to anyone interested in open source investigation regardless of experience or technical skill. For many documentation projects, writing from the perspective of a “non-expert” can even be a benefit for usability.
Send us a proposal for a project you are enthusiastic about working on. Each project should last two-to-six months, and you can work on it however it suits you – a few hours a week, in the evenings, from anywhere in the world, etc. This is an experimental fellowship, so we’re not certain what sorts of proposals we’ll get. If you have an idea but aren’t sure it’s a good match for this opportunity, you can also reach out and ask a question.
What you will work on?
We welcome pitches for improving documentation, ease-of-getting-started, accessibility or user experience for all aspects of open source investigative tools and methods. If your project is about a specific tool, that tool should be freely available, and in the ideal case open source.
Example documentation project could include the following:
- Testing out a new piece of software and blogging about the process of setting it up and using it.
- Writing a detailed help file that documents the functionality of a complex piece of software.
- Creating an illustrated guide to getting started with a specific method or tool.
- Conducting user research on common stumbling blocks for newcomers to open source research, and publishing a set of user experience recommendations for tool builders and maintainers.
What do we mean by tools? It could be a specific software project, like snscrape, a public data product like NASA FIRMS or even a type of satellite imagery, like Sentinel-5P. Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Toolkit also contains many tools relevant to open source researchers that could benefit from additional documentation. However, many of these tools are commercial, and this fellowship is targeted towards free, ideally open source tools.
We are also happy to recommend tools that are widely used by researchers and could work well for the fellowship — send us an email and let us know what interests you. It could also be something completely of your own design.
There are no limitations in terms of topics or areas of tool development we are looking for, as long your suggested project will be useful for online researchers and can be built within the timeframe of two to six months. You can also apply with the idea to improve an existing documentation project in a meaningful way.
How the fellowship works
You will apply with a documentation development pitch and a description of how you plan to implement your idea within two to six months of part-time work. If you are selected, you will then define and agree on specific milestones together with Bellingcat’s Investigative Tech Team.
However, Bellingcat’s Technical Writing Fellowship is designed with a degree of flexibility, taking into account the complexities of such projects, and the experimental nature of the fellowship itself. If required, the Bellingcat team will be open to adapting the agreed milestones and helping you reformulate your project.
During your fellowship, you are free to work on your project in a way that is best suited to your personal needs. You can work remotely, from any timezone in the world and at your own pace.
Throughout the fellowship, you will have check-in meetings with the Bellingcat Investigative Team. Fellows are of course welcome to reach out to independent experts as well as Bellingcat researchers to learn more about tools, methods, or barriers. However, we cannot promise the availability of Bellingcat researchers for interviews or regular communication.
At the end of your fellowship, you may be offered the opportunity to share more about the outcomes of your fellowship via one of Bellingcat’s outputs such as via our social media channels or via publication on our website. Except as necessary to publish on the Bellingcat website or to make available to the software developer (if relevant), creators will retain all rights to their work.
Fellows will receive a stipend of 1,000 Euros per month during their fellowship.
We want to welcome applications from a wide variety of backgrounds and with a diversity of skills. No particular technical or open source investigatory experience is required, however, you should be able to successfully use the tool that you would like to document, and you should have the skills required to complete your particular proposal.
A specific educational background or employment history is not required. We are committed to helping create a diverse, open source developer community.
How to apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your CV as well as a cover letter (no longer than 2,000 words) answering the following questions:
- What do you want to work on and why?
Include a description of the tool, including a summary of why you think it will be helpful for online researchers;
- What is your project plan?
Give us a detailed description of the creative and productive process that you
envision. What are your intermediate milestones? What is your plan B?
- Who are you and why do you have the required skills to build this tool?
Provide information about yourself and your skills in the areas that are relevant for your envisioned tool. You can also share or describe some past projects you have worked on.
Please also note Technical Writing Fellowship in the subject line of your email. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis at the beginning of each month and fellows (up to two) will be selected before May — apply early for the best chance! Given that we expect to receive a high number of applications, it will not be possible to respond to all. If you are invited for an interview you will receive an e-mail from us by April 30, 2023.
Bellingcat is committed to a diverse working environment. Our team is international, from a wide range of backgrounds and we always welcome and appreciate new perspectives and life experiences. Your formal education is less important to us than the strength of your proposal. All qualified candidates will receive consideration without regard to race, colour, origin, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.
If you have any questions regarding this opportunity, feel free to contact Bellingcat’s Investigative Tech Team via our contact form.