Contributions to Student Robotics' Runbook should follow Student Robotics' Code of Conduct and made under a compatible license.

You may also find the Zen of Python provides useful guidance.

Making big changes

As the runbook is a resource which expects to be read by a large number of people, its current shape & content form a public API of sorts -- the way to navigate it as well as the locations of much of the content are likely muscle-memory to many contributors and readers. Making big changes to it therefore needs careful consideration to ensure that their workflows are not disrupted unduly.

It's a good idea therefore to raise any large changes as a new issue before committing to them.

Alternatively, if your change is more easily explained as a demonstration of the outcome, it's fine to raise a pull request showing that. Note however that your suggestion will still be discussed and may not be accepted, so you may wish to focus on a small example of the change first.

Work in progress

The runbook is very much a work in progress, in two distinct ways.

Firstly: the content here is never going to be "complete". There will always be more that could be added or better ways to explain things. We prefer to have content which is present and correct, even if imperfect, where that allows for easier and faster contribution. This isn't to say we should be sloppy, but rather that we shouldn't let perfect become the enemy of good.

Secondly: in a more practical sense a lot of the content here has been imported from legacy documentation which had a very different approach. As a result, there are a number of apparent conventions here that are not compatible with the approach described in this contribution guide. In general you are encouraged to follow the guidance in this document, even when working around existing pages which do not.


The runbook aims to be available to and welcome contributions from all volunteers, regardless of their situation. As a result, the runbook is organised into topics which relate to volunteers as a whole, rather than any specific group.

This is a deliberate change from a previous approach where content was arranged around the people who worked on specific areas. Unfortunately that approach lead to isolated silos of information which varied wildly in their internal structure, content approach, utility and discoverability. While the runbook was pulled together from a number of those sources (and may have sections which are show that heritage) it aims to be topic-oriented.

Content Guidance

The runbook aims to document all the information which a volunteer might need, without substantially duplicating information which is better served as documentation closer to the thing it documents. For example, the runbook does not contain detailed information about using the SR Tools suite of tools, though may indicate places where those tools should be used.

The runbook's homepage has some additional commentary about this.

Record reasons

Aim to record the reasons why things happen, because:

  • this provides context for a task or behaviour, which generally leads to better understanding
  • this makes it easier to understand when a thing is outdated or no longer relevant
  • this removes the need to re-learn why a thing is important

Avoid dead ends

For any processes, try to ensure there are no dead ends.

For example: if we need to contact someone about something, ensure the person being contacted will have the ability to resolve the situation rather than themselves needing to contact someone else. (Note that contact-by-proxy is ok, as long as the eventual recipient meets the preceding criteria)

This does not mean that the runbook needs to exhaustively document all possible outcomes! For example: it may be the case that someone needs to use their judgement to resolve something. In that case it would be reasonable for the runbook to document that that's the case.

Disambiguate year-specific concerns

For anything which is specific to a single year, ensure that it's either clearly marked as such. One way to achieve this is with headings, though for anything non-trivial consider whether somewhere else is a better place for it. Having a separate file prefixed by e.g: sr2019 is a good way to mark this sort of thing.

Reference existing documentation

For any tooling, software, hardware or the like it's a good idea to reference its own documentation (rather than duplicating it). This applies to our own tools as well as third party ones.

However, It's a good idea to provide a brief guide towards applicable usage where that will be helpful to the reader.

If struggling to express what you want to say within a brief guide, consider contributing to improved upstream documentation!

mkdocs has the power to resolve and validate links, however only when they're in a specific format. Links to pages inside the runbook should be relative, and end with the .md file extension (ie [some other page](./volunteering/ produces some other page). This way, mkdocs will correctly validate these links. Links which don't follow this format are not validated.