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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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My Public Inbox

I'm going to pin this post to the top of my profile so there's a place for anyone to publicly ask me a question, and I'll do my best to reply when I can.

I'm happy to offer advice primarily on the intersection of software, entrepreneurship and career.

Happy coding!

Top comments (85)

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george profile image
George Nance

How did you grow enough of a following to launch a social network? Any advice for someone who wants to do the same?

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo

Yes, can you please give us advice about how to grow an audience as a dev?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't stop working on the project for 10 years, even if traction took forever. Then I methodically worked on content creation and observing what stuck and could lead to further opportunities. It was years of growing on Twitter before even typing rails new for what became DEV.

Giving myself the room to do a lot of observing while methodically building helped ensure some amount of success. But it's also an area that combines several different skillsets of mine.

FWIW it's going to be way easier for folks to build from scratch on Forem (the extraction from DEV we're working hard on).... We'll soon launch a Forem app which will act as a discovery mechanism for independent Forem social networks hosted in a distributed way, but discoverable through one app.... It's going to be really really cool.

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faraazahmad profile image
Syed Faraaz Ahmad

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't stop working on the project for 10 years

You must have had exceptional belief in DEV community then

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo • Edited

Thanks for answering!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

You must have had exceptional belief in DEV community then

I had belief in my own interest in seeing an improvement in online communities. My sense was that I wouldn't get bored of trying to help because I really cared. So with that in mind I also promised myself I wouldn't give up.

In prior ventures I'd either gotten bored or given up primarily because I either didn't truly care about the mission deep down, or got involved with people I didn't like or respect as founders and people. I made sure with this venture to solve for some of those fundamentals early on and let the success come with patience.

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elequ profile image
Elena Williams

Sorry if I missed it, but how many years has it been (since the 10-year stop watch started, anathem-style)?

My snooping suggests ... 8-ish? Though this could be completely misguided.

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yukikimoto profile image
Yuki Kimoto - Perl Club

Thanks for your public inbox. I'm searching for the way to communicated with people.

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

πŸ™‚

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cwraytech profile image
Christopher Wray

Do you now make enough money to support yourself with DEV?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

DEV (Forem) was once a ramen story (not paying ourselves, running out of money etc)...

But now the company is pretty well funded and building a very sustainable business model around hosting Forems.

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cwraytech profile image
Christopher Wray

Awesome πŸ‘

Congratulations. I will do my best to read that other article.

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iainfreestone profile image
Iain Freestone • Edited

Hi Ben, is there any way to get analytics on a post made to dev.to? The number of views figures are nice to see but would love to be able to track where the visitors came from.

Thanks for the great work on this site.

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afif profile image
Temani Afif

Hi Ben, I hope you don't mind I used your avatar to create a Loader meme: dev.to/afif/i-made-100-more-css-lo... ?

PS: You may have missed my ping so I am writing you here.
Cheers!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Sorry I saw it, but didn't react. I love it πŸ˜….

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maxphillipsdev profile image
Max Phillips

Hi Ben, I read the manifesto essay for Forem recently and was quite excited to see so many of the issues with the current state of the internet expressed so eloquently :)

I was wondering if you have any advice for building successful business models for open source software?

Thanks for starting this, I'm excited to see more community focused software in the future!

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I was wondering if you have any advice for building successful business models for open source software?

Pay a lot of attention to what is established and working (read up on open core), but merge that with an exploration of what hasn’t been tried in the space you’re in β€” what is the unique way you’ll apply some good established ideas?

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maxphillipsdev profile image
Max Phillips

Thanks for the reply! I hadn't heard of open core I'll read up on that. I'm currently studying arts and social media at university, and its been very interesting to see how the design choices made by platforms are impacting their use (although also a bit maddening at times).

I think Forem's community-first approach is definitely the right track to be on. The values of open source seem to be pretty well aligned with the direction social media should be taking, though its surprising how rarely open source is considered as an option for that sort of every-day-person-facing software.

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galtzo profile image
Galtzo • Edited

Are you familiar with the concept of "invariants"? It is a query you write with SQL, or via ActiveRecord, that should have a specific count result, usually 0.
For example, the count of users with invalid data should be zero.

I have no idea how my Forem account broke, though I suspect it was related to when my Dev.to account was deleted/banned and accused of being a bot.

Even since then my Dev.to access has worked, but I can't login to Forem, and the reset password, just goes in circles, never showing an error, but also never actually resetting my password. I'm guessing it is because user.save is returning false.

Might be worthwhile having an invariant that check for users with a particular type of data characteristic, like my Forem account currently has, to make sure they are able to use the product.
Account is peter dot boling at gmail dot com.

Cheers!

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galtzo profile image
Galtzo • Edited

I am unable to sign up for an account on Forem. I am unable to login to Forem. I am unable to request a password reset on Forem. When you accidentally deleted my dev.to account, it must have banned me on Forem also. Is this something that can be resolved? I would ask support, but they lied to me (or you did, still unclear?) about the manner in which my account was deleted, so I am not comfortable messaging them again. You have a public face, so I'm inclined to believe your explanations over theirs.

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galtzo profile image
Galtzo • Edited

Shortly after posting that last comment I got an email that my Forem account had been locked due to too many failed login attempts. I used the link to unlock my account. I used the "forgot password" link to request a reset password link, and the email did actually come through! But upon attempting to set a new password, I was dumped back into the same cycle. Submitting the form clears it, and displays no messages. Logging in, in the hope that the reset might have worked, does the same. No error message. Just reloads the login form. Please unlock my account (for real this time)!

In case you missed it in my first message, I suspect that my user record is unable to be saved, due to some invalid state.

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

Hello Ben
i hope you know me a little bit about
but still I am krishna kakade. Currently I am in my last year of computer science and engineering from India and mostly working in web development related technologies. and i am interested in joining the devto/forem frontend development team as fresher student because i love to write blogs for forem and also i would to like to join core development team of forem and i also have to learn ruby and rails but i will learn it i can join within next 15 days you can also check my personal website here:- krishnadevz.github.io
and resume here :
I am ready to work hard and consistently for the betterment of the company's products.
thank you
have a nice day
kind regards
krishna kakade

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Would you be thinking of this as an internship/apprenticeship sort of opportunity?

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade • Edited

Yes and also I am about too graduate in next two months thank you 😊

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

any updates ?

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

?

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alexanderisora profile image
Alexander Isora πŸ¦„

hi Ben. i'm a big fan of your meme Monday threads πŸ€“

check out what these guys are doing: twitter.com/johnrushx/status/16615...
they are building a social network. 20 strangers gathered together to build a web app.

perhaps you to join as a chief memologist πŸ™‚

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Where's the discord link? I might be missing something, but I'm curious :)

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alexanderisora profile image
Alexander Isora πŸ¦„

it is discord.gg/78pkDrAW
then navigate to the "DevHunt" channel.

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bobbyiliev profile image
Bobby Iliev

No questions at the moment, but just wanted to say thank you for the great platform!

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oguimbal profile image
Olivier Guimbal

Have you started many projects that could become companies to you ? Which proportion of your ideas did you actually start writing code for ?
If so, what was your reciepe to know if a project is worth it ?
And how would you know when persistence on a project becomes obstination, and that it is time to abandon it ?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern
  1. Yes, by personality and interests I'm not company company company, I really appreciate non-commercial initiatives, but generally my creative impulse is fiddling on stuff that could become companies.
  2. In the past: like 90%. I'm out of the "side project" phase of my life so I can dedicate my time to building the company, but in the past I've not hesitated to write a little code just to even tease out my excitement for the project.
  3. Having a clear path to actual distribution and customer growth is probably the biggest thing. If it's unclear who the hell might wind up actually adopting it, it's hard to pursue.
  4. I think if there is no path to adoption/distribution it may be worth abandoning, but a huge breakthrough for me with DEV was just deciding not to abandon it as a rule. So I selected something I knew would keep my personal interest even if it took a long time to reach adoption. So the first year+ was extremely methodical laying of the groundwork for some future growth.
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coderslang profile image
Coderslang: Become a Software Engineer

Hey Ben! Thank you for this AMA.

Is there an ETA for the first stable/public release of Forem?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

We've been hesitant to give a date on some of this because there's been a lot of discovery needed on both stability of the hosting options while at the same time ironing out all the edge cases where historically with DEV we've been able to dip into a coding environment and for this to run effectively it shouldn't need that. With that being said, things are getting a little clearer:

The first stamped down supported self-hosted option. I don't know exactly when the release will be, but we're pretty close here... Expect an ETA soon. I don't want to make any promises but we're finally seeing the finish line.

For our hosted version, Forem Cloud, while it's stable for us, the thing we need to work out is orchestration so we can effectively automate the management of n number of Forems. This will come in the second half of this year.

Thanks for your patience! Our end goals are incredibly ambitious and Forem is going to change the Internet!

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coderslang profile image
Coderslang: Become a Software Engineer

Thank you, Ben! Looking forward to the release.

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sirseanofloxley profile image
Sean Allin Newell

How's the fam?

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I haven't been able to see most of my family in over a year (Canadian), but generally doing pretty well. I'm very grateful for the Canadian government assistance through the pandemic for the folks in my family who have needed it.

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codenerd profile image
Hiro

Hi Ben. Hope you are doing well.

I am enthusiastic about becoming a member of CodeNewbie. What is the process for joining the team?
If possible, how can I join a certain organization on the dev.to?

Thanks in advance.
Codenerd

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

Hi Ben

I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying interacting with the community you, Jess etc. have built.

I have 2 questions:-

  1. Is there anything on the roadmap to make the editor better. Things like selecting text to add bold etc. or better yet a list of the liquid tags that you can click to insert a template for them as I am constantly having to look them up as a new member!

    1. How do you select people for the podcast? I was interested in this post advertising an upcoming podcast on accessibility but don't know what you all want to see before considering someone to talk on a subject! (and I suppose the third question is has the podcast gone ahead with a different title as I can't find it!)

Once again thanks for a great platform!

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

p.s. edit seems to be broken for me the last couple of days so obviously those should be numbered 1 and 2 🀣🀣

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