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How can we grow this community?

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Codidact's communities have a lot of great content that is helping people on the Internet. Our communities are small, though, and sustainable communities depend on having lots of active, engaged participants. The folks already here are doing good work; our challenge is to find more people like you so we can help this community grow.

This calls for a two-pronged approach: reaching more people who would be interested if only they knew about us, and making sure that visitors get a good first impression. I'm here to ask for your help with both.

Reaching more people

The pool of people interested in software development is huge. (I don't think I need to belabor that point.) My question to you is: where do we find the right people for this community? How do we make ourselves attractive to them, among all the other sites vying for their attention? You're the experts on this topic, not us. Where would it be most fruitful to promote Codidact? How should we appeal to them to draw them in?

Please don't give general answers like "CS departments" or "GitHub". We need your expert input to decide where, specifically, we should be looking. We are now able to pay for some advertising -- where should we direct it, and what message would best reach that audience? Can you help us sell your community?

Finally, some types of promotion are best done peer to peer. You are the experts in your topic; messages from you on subreddits or professional forums or the like will be much more credible than messages from Codidact staff. For these types of settings, we need your help to get the word out. If you know of a suitable place and can volunteer to spread the word there, please leave an answer about it so we all know about it (and know not to also post there).

Making a good first impression

Pretend for a moment that you don't know anything about Codidact. Visit this community in incognito mode. What's your reaction? If it's negative, what can we do about it? Some known deterrents from across the network:

  • Latest activity is not recent. This tells people the community isn't active. Anecdotally, we have lots of people ready to answer good questions, and on some communities, not enough good questions for them to answer. Can you help with that?

  • Latest questions are unanswered. This tells people it might not be worth asking here. Why are our unanswered questions unanswered? Are they poor questions in some regard? Unclear, too basic, too esoteric, just not interesting? Can they be fixed? Should they be hidden?[1]

  • Latest questions have poor scores. This tells people that either there's lots of low-quality material here or the voters are overly picky. If it's a quality problem, same questions as the previous bullet. If good content is getting downvoted, or not getting upvoted, can you help us understand why?

These are issues we've seen or heard about from across the network, but each community is different. What do you see here? What might be turning people away, and what could we do about it?

Are there things about the platform itself, as opposed to content, that discourage people we're trying to attract? If there's something we can customize to better serve this community, please let us know. If there are other changes in presentation or behavior that you think would encourage visitors to stick around, what are they?

Conversely, what is this community doing well? What draws newcomers in? I don't just mean the reverse of those bullets. What do we need to keep doing, and what might be worth highlighting when promoting this community?


  1. Should the question list not show some questions to anonymous visitors? What should the criteria be? ↩︎

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I found a great Stack Overflow Clone (build before few days ago) in which he/she implemented nearly e... (6 comments)
Duplicate? (1 comment)

6 answers

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Increase exposure

One way of increasing our exposure is to use Codidact as a source when answering on other forums. As long as we are treating Codidact as any other source, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I did that with this answer on SO

Improve technical stuff

Sure, there are very few people who joins a forum because it has such amazing features. I'm not saying that this should be the primary selling point. But there are two types of improvements that I believe is quite important.

  1. Features that are common on other forums that new user will miss when they come here. Sure, we don't need to implement everything, but we should definitely make sure that nothing is missing.

  2. Existing features that just feel clunky and more of a prototype for a feature than a final implementation.

For example, the comment thread system feels very clunky. I love the idea, but it doesn't feel very well executed. It could be that I'm not used to it though.

We should have used the leverage of the Monica incident (too late now)

I think it was a mistake to spend so much time of deciding exactly how codidact should be before launching. Sure, there are benefits with that. I won't deny that.

But we did miss the possibility of using the dissatisfaction generated by the Monica incident to our advantage. This may not be very helpful now, but I think it's worth mentioning.

Focus on being a community

SO is not really a community. And I think that's a bit sad sometimes. I think that's one thing where we could get an edge. A suggestion is to make it a little bit of a mix between a Q/A forum and a social network. A few suggestions:

  • Personal blog with commenting features and have a separate category for that besides Q&A, Code reviews and Meta.
  • Discussion forums. Let's face it. This Q&A form is not especially good for discussions. There was a forum before Codidact launched for discussing how everything should be here. Maybe that could be brought back in some way?
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Using Codidact as source (1 comment)
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As a (for now at least) casual user, I can report that a bad first impression is that there are way too many "500 server errors".

Within a few tens of minutes I ran into two, one for some profile action (clicking on some tab in a user profile?) and one for en edit action.

It was the same impression some months ago and, like for submitting comments to the official Stack Overflow blog, I now know to save everything offline in a text file in order not to risk losing content and/or to have the option to try again some time in the future (including when submitting this very post). That shouldn't be necessary.

If there are some known errors or limitations, I think users should at least be informed somehow (e.g., information about workarounds or things to avoid).

Perhaps take a look at those 500 server error error logs?

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General (1 comment)
(There weren't any errors when submitting this post.) (1 comment)
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By having decent source code formatting that isn't completely inferior to other sites like Stack Overflow. We might want to post/view snippets longer than 13 lines without suffering some scroll wheel. See my feature request here.

My first impression when coming to any Codidact site requiring source code is "wow, this site wasn't designed with programming in mind at all". After which my knee-jerk reaction is: "eww yet another 'forum', exactly what I didn't need".

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Just my two cents:

  1. I found this community because of someone's username on Stack Overflow. That's probably a good start. However I then typed 'codidact' into Google. The first result was codidact.org, the third result was codidact.com. I would have expected it the other way around. Also codidact.com's homepage is the page for all communities, not the software site. So again I had to scroll down to find that. I'm not sure about codidact, but my impression of stack exchange is that's it's based on stack overflow as a base. Probably the highest user count is in stack overflow. So I would think that's the community you want to build the most, and thus it should have front page importance across your site. But that's up to you to decide.

  2. The way I first discovered stack overflow was through google search results. Same with coderanch. Personally, when I have an issue, I don't go onto stack overflow and search for an answer. I go onto google. If the answer I want is on a stack overflow page, that's good. If it's somewhere else I don't care. I only care I can find my answer. So what I'm saying is, good visibility in google search results is a good way to get people to visit your site. They are going to care more about the quality of your answers that whether you're stack overflow or someone else.

Growing the community that can answer questions is another issue. Not sure what you can do about that. Probably all the disgruntled people from stack overflow who left or wanted to leave would be a good start.

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Not having a single sign on option greatly increased the friction in adopting the site for me.

This was further compounded when the sign up process failed the first time. Which I believe was a bug that has since been addressed because I have since made my account (obviously).

Apologies if this already in the works. Another thing I don't see is a roadmap of things that are planned.

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3 comment threads

SSO (4 comments)
sign up every time not good (1 comment)
roadmap (2 comments)
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This may be a minor thing to some but it's a huge annoyance / barrier to me - we need to change our scoring system to be human friendly.

score +0.57142857: How to add user and a group in Docker Container running Macosx

8 decimal places is just incredibly silly and unprofessional.

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Huge barrier? Seriously? (2 comments)

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