The awesome thing about the tech community is that you don’t have to go it alone. While there are some super duper meanies out there, majority of the people you will come across are helpful and awesome. This is especially true when it comes Python.
How great is that?
Today you might be the person asking for help, but as you grow your knowledge you’ll be the one who can answer questions and help other people. This aspect of community within tech helps everyone. It’s very important to contribute as much as possible to keep our community strong.
With all that said I’m going to go over the types of resources. Within those resources everyone should be able to find something that they like.
I’ll start with a general list of the types of resources. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of these things as I have mentioned them before and you may all ready be using them. After I list them I will break it down and go into detail including links.
This list isn’t in any real order, none of these things are more important or work better than the others. They all have their purpose and that’s to share information and make the community thrive.
- Online Forums
- Mailing Lists
- User groups
An online forum, in it’s most basic description, is a web site that has sections (forums). It can be broken down into sub-forums on specific subjects and within those are threads (a question, discussion, etc.), where a person can post a question for help or can respond to a question or comment.
Online forums are great because most of them are archived so they can be searched. This is awesome as your question may all ready have been asked by someone else and the answer will have been given.
We have been talking about Python so I’ll use that as the subject for all the examples I give.
Codecademy has their own forum and it’s very active. If you are going through their online class you can easily find answers to questions on exactly what you are working on by using the link in the lesson. It might not be obvious where the link is to their forum. If you are in the middle of a lesson and look at the bottom left of the screen there is a button labeled Q&A Forum. Super easy and it’s always there while you are working no matter what section you are on. The link will always correspond to that particular section.
Say you are working on the first section of the Python tutorial and click on the Q&A Forum link it will lead you here. The same goes for every section and I’ve always found most questions that could be asked are covered.
If you are no longer taking the classes it might be time to move on to other forums, you may have a pretty good working knowledge but need some help on a project.
There are a lot of great Python threads on bigger forum sites.
Stackoverflow is another online forum source. It covers far more programming languages and can be used if you add another language to your skill set. Stackoverflow uses tags to sort their questions, each question can have the maximum of 5 tags. On the left of each question you can see if it has been answered. If the answer is popular it will have votes and show how many times it’s been viewed. This link will lead to the posts tagged with Python, you can also search in the upper right side of the page where it says [python] within that tag set.
Reddit has two popular subreddits for Python. Reddit Learn Python and Reddit Python, this is great for a few reasons. People who are learning can be in an environment where they know people are learning and it’s less intimidating.
While not as active as other online forums you can search through and find a lot of answers on Python-Forum.org. When I say not as active I mean that yesterday there were a few posts in the general coding help section which have gotten answers. Nothing is sitting unanswered. This is a site dedicated to Python specifically though, it’s not just one section or a collection of tagged posts.
I’m going to assume you do not know what IRC is and I’ll just explain it very quickly. It is a way to send texted based messages over the internet. If you want to read up on exactly what IRC is then go here and read the Wikipedia page.
You can open an IRC session in a web browser but I’m not a fan of that. I’d recommend using a client. This is a list of clients you can download, I personally use Textual. You should pick one that will work for you and your system.
Instead of walking through all of the steps I suggest you go to IRC Help and they can get you on the right page with a client, commands and how to join a network and channel.
These are the Python channels, you will understand how to join if you follow the instructions, and join the Freenode network.
I’m sure there are plenty more, if you know of any that I should list please leave me a comment.
I HIGHLY recommend using IRC. There are many benefits one being I’m on there (look for geekgirlbeta). If you learn how to use IRC it’s just one more thing you can add to your skill set. A lot of companies use some sort of chat based communication aside from email. Some of them use IRC, it’s just good to know.
You can also set up your own IRC channels, for isolated collaboration with friends, classmates, and other folks.
When people who use technology say mailing list, they are talking about email lists. It’s just another way to distribute information. You would subscribe to a mailing list, typically the mailing list will be both the kind that sends out announcements like the topic of the next user group meeting and they can also serve as discussion list where you could ask questions.
There are loads of other mailing lists including those that are to specific locations. You can browse through the rest of them here.
User groups are a way for tech people to meet up and share ideas. It’s fun and social. As it works with my local Python user group, we have a predefined meeting time each month where there will be a presentation by a member of the community.
There are lots of different types of people, some will feel more comfortable using online communication and others like going out and meeting people in the real world. I do suggest that if you are trying to build a career in technology that you make an effort and go to these meetings. Everyone that I’ve met to this point have all been super nice and inviting.
How do you find a user group?
It depends on what type of user group you are looking for. Right now I’m really into Python so I just searched for My State (you would use yours) Python (or whatever you are trying to learn) and User Group. The first few results gave me exactly what I was looking for. The best out of all of them was the python.org wiki page that lists all the user groups for python all over the world. Chances are you will find something close enough for you to participate in.
I’ve found other user groups by using a site called Meetup. Sign up for an account and then search for the type of user group you like to find. I searched for Python and got quite a few results.
I’m not listing my actual groups because yours will vary depending on what your geographical location is.
If you don’t have a user group near you, you should really think about starting one in your community. Often this is as easy as choosing a day, setting up a mailing list and following the Shotgun Rules For Meetings.
I’ve tried to include as much information as possible in this resource list. I’m sure I’ve missed things, please feel free to contact me so I can add to it.
This will get anyone new to the community going in the right direction though.
**I’ve also put this in my pages called Resources for easy access.