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Arnold Ho
Arnold Ho

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How I connected with other developers by consuming in public

I was once a lurker online, I would read blogposts, reddit threads, watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts without ever participating in discussions or leaving comments.

However, I've recently started participating into the community aspect of online content more and actually gotten something out of it. I call this consuming in public.

For example, I recently left a comment on one of the talks I liked in the Codeland 2021 conference by @clearlythuydoan. I left a comment about my current situation as someone who is about to start my bootcamp , as well as why I liked her talk, we actually connected because of that comment and today I just had a virtual coffee chat with her where I asked questions to her about how I can get the most out of my bootcamp. (I am planning on making our conversation a blogpost so check this space)

Another example, I read 'the coding career handbook' by @swyx
and made a tweet about it tagging him, to my surprise, he actually replied to my tweet!

This picture aptly sums up how I feel when those things happen:
Senpai noticed me

Jokes aside, just by simply leaving a comment in a piece of content that I enjoyed, it helped me make a connections with people on the other side of the world whom I would otherwise never be able to interact with and are in my own opinion 'way out of my league'. You can connect to people you look up to as well! By consuming in Public.

Why does consuming in public work?

The number works in your favour

Consuming in public works simply because not enough people do it. Remember back in your school days when the teacher asks the class whether anyone has any questions? If your classes were anything like mine, chances are no one raised their hands or said anything, for the fear of being judged. So if you're that kid who's brave enough to raise your hands, you're going to get your question answered, and if you're doing it in public, you're going to help a bunch of people who silently have the same questions as you purely by asking in public.

Take a look at any YouTube videos, look at the view count, and then look at the number of likes and comments that they get, you'll realise that the number game works in your favour. 95% of people who consumes content on the internet are lurkers (source: guesstimate), so if you are the 5% who participate in the community, you may end up getting something out of it!

If you leave a comment, the worse thing that could happen to you is for your comment to be ignored, the upside is to get a reply or a follow up from someone you look up to and establish a connection with your dev (or non dev) heroes! Seems like a no brainer to me :)

The screenshot below is from the MIT missing semester taken as of 26th September 2021, there are 100k+ views, less than 2k likes, and less than 100 comments. You can be quite sure that your comment is going to be noticed by the person who maintains this YouTube channel.

MIT Missing Semester YouTube video, number of views, likes and comments

The person on the other side of the screen wants to help too

If someone is creating content in their spare time for the internet to consume, they are probably quite willing to help others! But they need to know you and your problem exist before they are able to help you out. Just remember the person on the other side of the screen is likely an empathetic human being who would not mind helping you with simple questions. If you leave a comment showing them your appreciation, chances are they are really happy about it and am grateful for your feedback, because not enough people consume content in public.

So how can you start consuming more in public

For the starters, try making a habit of leaving a comment whenever you enjoyed a piece of content (linking the original creator). Be respectful. If you have any favour to ask for, be polite but direct, give them as many details as possible and make it as easy as possible for them to help you.

At the end of the day, you're still kind of an internet stranger. If you want them to help you in something (e.g. giving you tips and guides), make sure to let them know how to contact you, propose a time (and a fallback time), make it super easy for them to follow up with you without the headache of going back and forth. And if they end up helping you, don't forget to thank them for your time!

Next time when you read a good blogpost (Ahem Ahem!), leave a comment! When you see a cool open source project that's asking for help, make a pull request + your comments and questions. Leaving a like and comment on a YouTube video you like goes way further than just helping the creator with the YouTube algorithm, they might reply to that comment you left! You will be surprised what you can get out just by doing that extra bit! It doesn't take long, but its definitely a friend catcher and career multiplier!

Thanks for reading all the way, you are awesome :) Happy coding!

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