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I would really like to begin posting about software development, but I'm brand new to all of this and don't know if my posts will be welcomed, shunned, or ignored completely.
I really like the idea of learning in the open, but it can feel so daunting and I'm a bit worried that the community will be annoyed or harsh with me for posting about things that I don't yet fully know. I want to post about the problems I'm facing, the solutions I'm coming up with, and the different concepts I'm learning, but I don't know if I can speak with enough authority on these topics yet to do so.
What do you think? When is the best time to begin posting about development? Do devs generally expect writers in these communities to know exactly what they're talking about or is it okay to just go for it and lean on the community for support?
Top comments (38)
So don't speak with authority about it. Speak to what you're doing and showing your process instead.
If you spin it as "This is the learning process I'm taking and what I found - what feedback do you have?" I think it'd do great. You'd be framing it as seeking advice and sharing your experience instead of coming off like you're trying to be an expert on something. People working on cars do this all the time on older forums where they find an issue, try a couple options, then present what they did and ask what others have done. You don't have to be an expert on a specific car part to try out a couple things and bumble around to make things work better. Same goes for programming.
Asking for feedback is a good way to engage the experienced audience too. Even if you solved your problem and met your requirement of making the thing work, someone else could chime in with "Hey, next time give (this other method) a go" or "You may want to look up (other thing) to try". Even just getting the name of something to Google can kick you way ahead in progress.
What generally annoys me is when people have little to no knowledge of something but feel the need to write a tutorial on it which is the exact same content as half a dozen other tutorials or, worse yet, just a copy of the documentation.
Framing the same content as "Here's what I learned about X, did I get anything wrong?" or "I had this problem, found these tutorials, and here's what I ended up doing" is a huge improvement.
Agreed on the repetitive newbie tutorial bit! That's a great highlight.
It's more fun and interesting to read how others learn and sometimes bumble through things, plus it's a better opener for discussion. The more grizzled veterans can chime in with "Hey that's how I learned it!" or stuff like I mentioned above instead of breezing over yet another copy-paste tutorial article.
Yup, just put a big disclaimer up so people don't take you as an authority, then go about it normally.
I have seen some amount of rudeness towards less experienced writers but normally that's for posts that write as if they're an authority. As long you frame it as a learning process, and not a how to or definitive resource, you should be fine.
Of course it is the internet so you should expect some amount of hate or trolling even on a nicer community like DEV.
It is very helpful to write simple explanations of concepts — just in case someone comes along needing what you're describing.
This doesn't exactly describe what I'm talking about, but it's related:
If you find an answer on Stack Overflow, it's ripe to be re-described in the form of a simple blog post.
Here is an example:
This is how you sort an array in JS.
I challenge anyone stopping by to read this to create a simple post like this. You will help someone out there in the future, I guarantee it.
Dunno, to me that always felt like a form of plagiarism, at least unless there's a lot of added information. It's one thing to find a SO answer, spend an hour or two researching why it works, then writing on those findings. But simply re-phrasing it, adding nothing new, and writing an article on it is really just selling someone else's effort as your own.
EDIT: There's also the obvious option of linking to the original answer, copying the relevant code, and just pointing out what makes it interesting and ask for a discussion.
"write simple explanations of concepts", how does a beginner know if they are correct about what they think they know about whatever "concept" they are waxing on about.
I say avoid "explanations of concepts" unless you have objective proof you actually understand it as well as whom ever came up with the concept. The internet is full of well intentioned information, ie: StackOverflow. I know I used to be in the top 3% on the site with an id from the first 6 months. When it got turned into "experts answering questions" to "everyone has equal weight in their knowledge" I gave up, and asked them to remove my name from all my contributions about a year and a half before the "monika" situation because people were modifying my correct answers to be incorrect and I did not want my name associated with misinformation.
Hehe, luv the "Sunshine" quote :D
One of my favourite movies ever, if for no other reasons than that single sentence ... ^_^
("Kaneda, what do you see?")
Phrase it as a TIL (Today I learned) or discuss learning a particular topic. Be ready to accept corrections and if you can, update your posts to include corrections/edits/learnings.
It's a great way to show your learning process and start building your personal brand. The negative is that potential employers may not care that a post is 5 years old, if they don't read it properly and see you making mistakes (even long ago), you might be judged on it (but do you want to work for those places anyway?).
If you don't feel like you're ready to share yet, don't push yourself. This is a very welcoming community, but there are still occasional jerks, and there are more than a few surprising landmines of controversy in development.
If you want to split the difference: consider writing for your drafts folder for a while. In six months, a year, whenever you feel more comfortable, you can always publish when you're more certain about their accuracy. I've been a developer for a long time, and this is pretty much how I write. On average, a "finished" article will hang around my drafts for probably about four months before I publish because I like having enough hindsight to see how my ideas turned out.
I think this is also a way to produce very valuable content because it was effectively written collaboratively by two very different developers: one who has the perspective of the beginner and can therefore best empathize with the reader, and a more senior developer to help out with the nuances and fact-checking.
The other piece of advice I'll give is: just avoid writing about security-sensitive topics like authentication, encryption, etc. I'm a little torn about saying this because we do need more content on these topics and especially beginner-friendly content. (I once saw someone describe the problem as "abstinence-only encryption education," and I think it's apt.) On the other hand, the nuances of these topics are particularly subtle and the dangers from accidentally misinforming a reader are very high. It also tends to be a subject where people are more likely to issue a too-sharp correction because, well, people get panicky. What I would recommend instead would be to frame articles in the form of a long question (something in the form of, "Is my understanding of this correct?").
Shoot for the stars. Everybody has to start somewhere.And learning in public will greatly help you find your way :-) And try to see people who disagree with you as allies. They're making an effort to defend their point, so it's probably a good place to dig deeper and research facts. That'll also greatly help you to distinct fact from fiction.
If you see everything as an opportunity, there's nothing to be afraid of, really
Not a bad idea at all! I was writing technical articles for a year or so before I became a developer. It'll help your audience learn, and it'll help you understand it from a deeper perspective. I'd be excited to see your first post!
I would say start small and see how the community reacts to it and do it now.
What if people react badly to it? Well most tech people will just call out you are wrong, so ask them for their suggestions. This will broaden your perspective and knowledge.
What if people react nicely to it? Go post more 😊
Being ingenious in creating new solutions is something not many people can do. So if you have an approach and you feel it is not talked about, take the spotlight and share it with the world.
No one is born as an expert writer, but all expert writers did start somewhere.
Also another tip, always be welcoming to suggestions, and don't make it sound like
this is the only right wayor
this is the best way. It should be more like
how we handled itand
how we benefitted from it. As long as your post is not opinionated, people don't take offense of it.
Adding on to this as a dev who has wanted to dip into writing for awhile but struggles with some of the same doubts: I’ve learned a ton from just hanging out here regularly, seeing what sort of posts get traction, leaving comments, and seeing what sort of comments get responses.
Just doing that has made me more comfortable with the community, and given me a bunch of jump-off topics when I do decide to start writing.
And overall, don’t rush into it but don’t wait too long (like I did) either. Know what you want to get from it, write from the heart, aim to create value for your audience, and you’ll do great :)
It’s never a bad thing to write about your journey in building your programming skills. Writing about it helped me to better understand what I was doing. If you want to write about something you’re doing, you need to understand what you’re talking about and that can give that extra push to fully understand what you wrote and why things work or don’t work.
Looking forward to your posts!
Start now! Almost everyone I know from the field is very helpful. There are some haters ofcourse, but you will get them even if you have ten years of experience.
Take this as an advice - try to not care when they hate you and try to learn from positive feedback. If someone tell you you are wrong about something, you should be happy - you have someone that is pouring you knowledge. Don't panic, but ask even more questions!
"There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers" and "it's better to ask a stupid question and feel stupid for 5 seconds, than to not asking a stupid question and be stupid for the rest of your life" comes to mind ...
Dev is an open community, it's closely monitored for hate and bullying thx to its amazing team - I'd say go for it :)
I feel this way as a Junior but I also like talking about my own experiences and having discussions with others on theirs because you can learn so much from each-other doing this 🙂 I completely agree with it depends how you word it, but no one is going to judge you for sharing your thoughts and ideas as long as you’re open minded to others
In my opinion, the best part of the DEV community is the its inclusivity and welcomeness. I think a lot of people here understand that everyone is once a begginner and the comments I see are usually positive.
Ali words my answer better than I could:
Go for it, present it like a public diary. Be clear that you're a beginner, and ask for feedback. You can learn from people's comments. You can even edit your posts to improve them, based on the comments, until they are valuable resources for other people to learn from.
Don't take it too hard if some people are rude or disrespectful; that reflects badly on them, not on you. I think that this dev.to community is very friendly and supportive, so it shouldn't be a big problem here.
It is very valuable to keep a diary, and even more valuable to blog in public about a project or learning journey from the very beginning. You can make friends and even build a community. You will do better work because you are presenting it to the public. You will learn things more thoroughly as you explain them in your posts. Other people might want to help you or participate in some way. You blog series could become the basis of a book.
A great example of this is the dev log for the video game Gunpoint.
I'm doing something like this myself at the moment, blogging about game dev with my kids, and I've been very much enjoying it.
Blogging (or similar) about a subject as you're learning it can help in two ways:
I look back at the things I used to blog about, many years ago, and they're a reminder of where I've come from. Whatever we write about today, we will know more about tomorrow. Rather than never write about anything, we should write about what we know today, with the understanding that we don't know everything.
But if you do decide to write, you'll be in good company, and people will find your content useful, no matter what it is.
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