Creating a Community
Over the last few months I've been creating an online community on Discord for people passionate about technology and programming and who are studying topics related to them.
The name of the community is Autodidactic Study Group.
They learn because of their curiosity, desire, and love for learning.
If you'd like to join, here's the invite link https://discord.gg/VHv3jrSbQu.
Also, we just recently hit 100 members! 🚀
It was important for me from the get-go to define what kind of community I wanted to cultivate. This came from my previous experience participating in various other programming servers, more specifically servers focused on collaborating on projects together with strangers online - often spawned from Reddit's /r/ProgrammingBuddies. Servers without a clear identity and goal or active admins and moderators rarely last two weeks let alone multiple months. I tried to think of what other servers do wrong, but more importantly looked at what I wanted to do right. What kind of community and friendships do I want to make?
Thus the core tenets of ASG were born:
The main aim of ASG is to focus on self-learning rather than specific technologies or languages. There is nothing wrong with focusing on specific topics, it's just not what I wanted or needed out of a community server.
Cultivating a positive community is really important to me because I've observed a lot of arrogance and gatekeeping behaviour in the overall software community. I don't want that attitude to bleed into our little haven.
It hasn't all been fun and games; it has been difficult to maintain a high level of activity in the server, both from myself and from others. I think this comes down to a variety of factors.
I've had a few health issues here and there and it's been difficult to maintain a high level of activity myself. This is important in a small community because activity from the admin, and members in general, is one of the main things that drives other people to participate.
time and energy
Burn out and time constraints due to also working full-time has made engaging and doing things for the community difficult. Hopefully over time as the server and group of people in it mature, there will be less need for me to try and keep things going.
lack of focus
A direct consequence of the goal of not focusing on one specific tech, language, framework, or project is that we don't have a central thing to rally around in terms of conversations. In this sense catering for all is a negative in terms of engagement.
This is nothing specific to my community - almost every other server I found on /r/ProgrammingBuddies has died out in a way shorter amount of time than ASG has been going. A lot of people post "let me join!" or "I want to work on projects and talk with other developers!" but ultimately do not attempt to engage in the community. I don't blame these people at all because I understand that life gets in the way. For this reason I have been a little bit picky with who I invite to the server, as well as pushing the importance of our core tenets. The goal isn't to "make a big community and profit" or something vain and grandiose, it's to build up a small but amazing community of passionate people and help people along the way.
Plans for the Future
For now the goal is to keep being active and trying to maintain a steady, healthy, achievable pace of self-learning. This is harder than it sounds!
In terms of the server, in the immediate future I'd like to...
- work on a bot (kaizen-bot) that will ease a few things like timezones and be a project that members can help contribute to
- add a nice server icon
- do another round of invitations from /r/ProgrammingBuddies and any other place I find online which would be appropriate to post an invite link to
Thank you for reading,