How To Find A Good Coding Community

programming communityWhile programming may often feel like a solitary undertaking, many of the top developers are experts at working in groups, with other programmers of varying skillets, experience, and abilities.

As a beginner, this provides a tremendous opportunity to join in on trending discussions within your area and learn from more advanced programmers.

When To Use Coding Communities

Coding communities can be great resources for the budding programmer, but unfortunately they’re of little use to someone who is in the first stages of development.

That’s because programmers tend to follow certain practices in their method of thought and the language they use to describe their programs.

The result is that communities are best used for novice programmers who already understand the basics of their language. If you don’t know how to write a simple program, you’re better off taking an introductory course or walking through a few more practice exercises before you dive into the community.

The Best Online Programming Communities

There are dozens of great communities out there. One of the best resources to use is Meetup. Many programmers use this website to post local events and hack nights.

Getting out into your city and meeting other developers face to face is a good way to make friends in the industry. Most developers go to hack nights with some project to work on, and then mix and mingle helping each other out with different problems.

Another great community to use is GitHub. GitHub is a nearly universal code management tool, and is home to thousands of open source projects.

Joining in on an open source project or topic within your area of interest is a great way to work alongside more experienced developers and see how you can apply your knowledge in real-world scenarios.

Finally, StackExchange is another great opportunity to interact with other programmers and get help on your code. This is a forum-style community in which programmers can paste in specific problems and questions they encounter. Many of the replies not simply fix the bug in the code, but explain multiple options for achieving the desired result, and why one programmer might choose a specific solution over another.

Where To Find The Top Developer Forums

In addition to communities and mentorship programs, online forums round out the trio fo best places to look for coding help.

In this post I’ll go over where to find the top developer forums for your skill-set.

StackOverflow

stackoverflow logoStackOverflow is hands down the most robust developer forum online.

The site consists of thousands of active developers, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of answered questions.

Sooner or later, you’re going to become very familiar with this system. While you can browse and view questions and answers without a membership, I recommend registering for a free account.

This will allow you to ask and answer questions, and will give you an opportunity to “build rank” within the community. Basically, you get points for providing cohesive responses, and having those responses voted up within the community.

One of the aspects of StackOverflow that makes it so popular is the community-knowledge approach. It’s common for questions to receive multiple answers, and subsequent discussions about which solution is best. Viewers can vote answers up and down, which provides a self-managed monitoring system helping you figure out what information you can trust.

Google Developer’s Forum

google developers forum logoThough not as popular as StackOverflow, Google also has a developer’s forum focused on a similar question and answer approach.

Unfortunately, I feel like this platform has grown slightly out of favor, leaving many of the answers dated and (at times) inapplicable to newer software versions.

Open Source Projects

Finally, if you’re using a piece of open source software, many of the projects have built in forums and/or wikis for developers to access.

If you have a question that is specific to the project, you can post it on the site. Many of these are monitored not just by the community, but by the leading developers on the project, meaning you’ll often be able to get a response directly from one of the contributors to the project.

GitHub and Sourceforge are two great places to start, but there are tons of open source clubs for different languages scattered across the web.