[Cross-Post] Slack Discussion in #CodeBuddies-Meta


#1

Wanted to archive these thoughts from a discussion in the #codebuddies-meta channel:

@cbelsole:
> Codebuddies seems to be the closest I have found to subverting that since we are all here, unpaid, and happy to help each other learn.
> I wonder if there is a way to leverage that to provide people with a bootcamp like experience without the funds to do it. CodebuddiesU

Me:
So yeah… I am SUPER late to the discussion but wanted to share some thoughts.

  • FreeCodeCamp and The Odin Project both do a wonderful job providing that free, open-sourced curriculum
  • I think I heard people echo this too somewhere in #water-cooler: bootcamps are valuable precisely because they provide the structure and financial motivation that a community of free/unpaid volunteers can’t enforce.

A lot of amazing volunteer leaders have stepped up CodeBuddies over the last few years, leading open source group projects (#rails-project, #dungeon-buddies which is currently active right now, etc.) and hangouts (a current shout-out: @brylie has been leading some awesome beginner-friendly #python #django ones and recording them to build an open source project benefiting a non-profit)… but for someone who chose to self-study instead of bootcamp to really benefit from them, they have to commit. And show up, and not be afraid to ask for help if they get stuck, etc.

Plus, it’s natural for a group project to fizzle out if there aren’t other contributors pushing it forward, and sometimes RL and a Real Job will simply get in the way and the original leader takes a step back.

My original vision for CodeBuddies truly was "Hey there's SO MUCH FREE CURRICULUM AND RESOURCES OUT THERE but I get stuck easily on simple tutorials and wouldn't it be great if there were a space where I could spontaneously find study partners to share knowledge with and learn from and motivate me along?" and I think my biggest takeaway has been that it takes a lot of leaders and good organizing for that utopia-like space to happen.

And being entirely volunteer-driven is, of course, hard.

That said, we’ve still managed to scramble together some valuable spaces, even if I’m not sure they could actively be called “programs.”

  • The Slack has grown, and we’ve learned to deal with community growth pains, and various amazing people have contributed things like the welcome greet bot and the “flag this message” Code of Conduct bot. Not to mention the admins and behind-the-scenes moderation work.

  • The codebuddies.org site itself, though underused, has grown exponentially from primarily being a hangouts scheduler. And served as a valuable learning experience for many first-time open source contributors.

  • We have a forum (https://forum.codebuddies.org) now also, which with some focus could serve as a more active archive for more #advice and place for job hunting advice and personal project feedback posts too.

  • After months of not doing anything I finally asked for help to finish building CB Connect (the experiment to connect mentors with mentees, study partner with study partner, open source project with new contributors, etc.) and @Spiro Floropoulos has helped and @distalx has created some amazing mockups, and that hopefully will help a lot more quiet members of the community who are too shy to ask for help on Slack.

In summary, I don’t think any of those spaces (features?) here on CodeBuddies can replace the curriculum structure, career coaching, etc. that bootcamps offer, but maybe we can try to support new study group and open source project leaders, and continue experimenting with new ideas that folks have (and are willing to lead) to help each other in terms of things like:

  • career
  • not being afraid of tech interviews/algos
  • confusion over technical concepts
  • becoming better coders
  • finishing those MOOCs we set out to do
  • finishing and getting feedback + an audience for those personal projects