The TOP community is one of the most important resources at your disposal. It’s a place to get some help with, and advice on, your code and your TOP journey. In fact, most of the advice in this guide is gathered from advice that has been given on the server. Due to the nuances of text communication and the amount of conversations happening, you should prioritize understanding the goals, policies, and procedures of the community; then you will be ready when you really need help with something.
Rules and FAQ
There are rules on the server, and it is in your best interest to read all of them. Anything that is not answered in the rules is likely answered in the FAQ. Ensuring you are up to date on both the rules and FAQ shows that you are acting in good faith in the server, and not being lazy. The rules are important and are taken seriously by the moderation team, who enforce them in order to keep the community safe and professional. The community is massive in size and global reach*.* The team at The Odin Project has iterated over the rules, with the intent of making them as fair as possible while still keeping avenues for professional discourse open and on topic. Ultimately, the rules are in place to help our learners get help as soon as possible while avoiding misunderstandings (both trivial and significant), and to keep the chat a friendly, safe, and welcoming place for everyone.
It’s not a bad idea for you to lurk in the chat for a while to understand what kinds of interactions happen there and how they are resolved. Observing and picking up on how people interact, before posting something that may not fit well with the culture of the community, can help you avoid an uncomfortable interaction with another member of the community or a moderator. Take your time when observing; culture cannot just be explained, so it’ll be your responsibility to make judgment calls on your posts. The members of the Discord server are forgiving and kind, so don’t expect to be bullied or have issues with not perfectly “fitting in”. Everyone on the server is there to help.
Despite the fact that it’s impossible to fully explain the culture, there are a few general tricks someone new to the server can follow:
- Assume positive intent. Nearly all tone is lost when sending messages in a text setting. It’s usually best to assume that someone has the best intentions and is not attacking you or your work. Jumping to the conclusion that someone is trying to be rude is a surefire way to feel attacked when you most likely are not. Keep in mind that people from all backgrounds, from varying parts of the world, find their way to Odin, and that English may be someone’s second language.
- If you feel frustrated or upset, make sure to take time to cool down before asking questions. Asking questions when you’re frustrated can make it harder to assume positive intent in others’ messages. Let yourself cool off, then ask your question as kindly and thoroughly as possible. It’s likely nobody wants to deal with you when you’re frustrated as well. Relax, and everyone can have a more productive time in the chat.
- Don’t take “terse” messages as an attack. Often people send short messages for efficiency, not as an indicator they’re annoyed with you, or upset.
- Using bot commands is a reasonable way to communicate; do not assume that they are impersonal or an attack. When someone replies with /question after you’ve asked a question, for example, the intention is to remind you to refresh yourself on the article and be able to ask something that can be more easily answered. This isn’t an attack, but an efficiency to save everyone’s time, including yours.
- Behave the way that you would at a job; be professional and respectful.
- Being professional means:
- Not posting random memes in any channel
- Using reacts positively, instead of to tease people
- Replying to questions in a timely manner
- Not jumping into conversations that do not concern you
- Not saying anything that could make someone uncomfortable
- Understanding that others in the server are colleagues first, friends second
- Using proper grammar and punctuation
- Being professional means:
It’s likely that you’ll have some questions, and the TOP Discord server exists for exactly that reason. This doesn’t mean someone should ask with recklessness though; there are strategies to asking a question in a way that makes it more likely to get answered. Here are some of them:
- Don’t ask to ask; just ask. This article summarizes it nicely: https://dontasktoask.com/
- Ask well thought out questions. Ensure you’ve done your research and can articulate a few things you’ve tried. Follow this guide religiously: https://medium.com/@gordon_zhu/how-to-be-great-at-asking-questions-e37be04d0603
- Be available for discourse; don’t ask a question then leave to make dinner. Make dinner first, then ask your questions so you are around to answer follow-up questions and report back on suggestions.
- Wait around 30 minutes before asking your question again. If your question hasn’t been answered within that time frame, consider that you may not have asked an effective question. There’s also a good chance that there simply was not anybody around that could help you with that question. Don’t forget that the people helping in the server are doing so on a volunteer basis (which means entirely without pay); be sure you are not wasting their time with a poor question.
- Ask in the proper channel or expect to be redirected to the proper channel.
- Be careful to not speak over others getting help. There’s often another room for the topic. Try elsewhere so you don’t get buried, as long as there is a different relevant channel.
- Post ALL of your code when asking a question; this can be in the form of the GitHub repository you’ve been pushing to, a repl.it, codepen, or codesandbox. Often the problem isn’t where you think it is, but in the context around it. Make sure you have the code handy when asking a question.
- If you’re working on a large code base, try to recreate the error in a smaller environment. Sometimes this can help you discover where the error is, and if it doesn’t, it will help you frame your question when you ask it.
- Thank the people helping you. A simple @username ++ will give a user a point; use this as a way to say “thank you”. This gesture goes a long way and people will remember it when you next ask for help.
Go into the chat and help others learn. You likely have some debugging skills and can work with others to help them solve their problems. Helping out will bolster your own strengths and help prevent some specific weaknesses related to communicating about code.
Top comments (2)
Thanks Briggs for these articles. Please keep them coming. I joined the discord about two weeks ago but haven’t asked for help yet. Hopefully, I will, soon, taking these tips into consideration of course.
I can attest to how immeasurably helpful the discord is. Many misconceptions of the dev World I had were cleared up because I had the chance to actually talk to professionals. And it is also very motivating to see other ppl on the same journey as you and others who followed the same path and succeeded