Ep. 19: Community Building: A Discussion with Nick Taylor

Claire chats with Nick Taylor about his time at Forum / Dev.To and aspects of building community, like ways to connect and handling moderation.

Released: Oct 4, 2022 • Length: 36:41

Also available on Google Podcasts and Amazon Music

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Episode Guests

Nick Taylor is a Staff Software Engineer at Netlify working on the Ecosystem team. He enjoys contributing to open source, hitting the gym, snowboarding, and a long time ago, rugby. Check out his posts on Dev.To.



Hi. This episode of Word Wrap was originally recorded in December of 2021, and some people, places, and things may have changed since then. Regardless, we thought this was a great discussion on community building. Enjoy.


Welcome back to Word Wrap with Claire...


and Steph! You can find the transcript for today's show on WordWrap.dev.


Hey everyone. Welcome back to Word Wrap. This is our first solo episode with just Claire on the podcast today. And we've got Nick here. Nick Taylor, you might have seen him online. He is a lead software engineer at Forum, which is the software that powers Dev.To and a couple other communities.

So Nick, you've got an online community. Do you wanna talk about like what Forum does and maybe like what Dev.To is and, and what not?


Yeah, for sure. And thanks for having me, Claire. Hopefully Stephanie's eyeballs are doing a little better soon. I've never had LASIK myself, but I hear it's awesome.

Yeah, so p people in the software community are probably familiar with Dev.To. I, I say probably because I still do encounter some people who are maybe less online, so they're not aware of it. But it's a, it's a programming community that's been around. I think, I know it went open source in 2018, but the site, I can't remember when it started because the, the creator of Dev.To Ben Halpern who's one of the co-founders, he had started the whole thing online with the Practical Dev Twitter account, and which has a pretty decent following now. I think we're getting close to 300,000, I think. But it started off with, I think this was even like the site didn't even exist at this point in 2016, I believe. Ben can probably correct me on some of this.

But It started off with just being like a kind of fun account, which would have like memes of people might have seen these before and not really realize where they came from. But there used to be like those O'Reilly Animal books, well, they, they still have them, but there's a lot of these memes where it's like, you know, expert copy pasting on Stack Overflow, stuff like that. Ben had actually done those and he, that's how he started the Twitter account. It was just like a fun account to just - he was just having fun, I think basically.


I've definitely seen those before. So it's good to know the origin story.


Yeah, and if you go to the Dev.To shop, you can actually buy, I think the copy paste joke there.

But yeah, so from there it. It started off as that. And then he, he had been learning Rails, or he was a Rails dev already. I, I, I can't remember his complete history, but he started the Dev.To site and that gained some traction over time. And eventually it became a company. The timeline for that, again, I'm not certain, but it, it was they started to inquire about people wanting to contribute to the code base. It was private closed source at that point. And so I was actually the first person to contribute to the code base that wasn't part of the internal team or the core team. And that's kind of how I got into that. And like two years later I actually became an employee there. So yes, contributing to open source can get you jobs, people.

So that was my long winded way of saying that's what Dev.To is, I guess. But so dev Dev.To is this programming site and it's, you know, people can post their questions or write blog posts.

And eventually they realize, you know, well, why don't we make this more than just a programming community? So the idea was to genericize the software and that's kind of what we've been working on pretty much. Cause I started working there in January, 2020. So get close to two years here. So we've been working on that this whole time, as well as adding new features.

And that's brought us to what Forum is now. The company used to be called Dev Dev Community, I believe, or Dev.To, and now the company's name is Forum and Forum is what the open source software got rebranded at, just cuz the, the code base used to be called the Practical Dev. And so yeah, so now we've, we've got this open source community software that we're using to build out communities.

We have a cloud offering, which we have some you know, we have paying clients like for example, like New Relic and stuff, but it's also still open source so people can just go ahead and create their own communities if they want to. I've done it myself partially to kind of dogfood the software and the whole process of setting it up. But if folks like VS code I, I created vscodetips.com a while ago.

And there's other people just starting to create these things and, you know, we're, we're seeing more and more communities being built. Code newbies as well as one of them. So it's, it's just been kind of, we're we're trying you know, see this explosion of communities.

Like I, I feel like over the past, you know, not even just cuz of the pandemic, I mean it's definitely amplified it, but you know, communities like, it seems to be like the most important thing that a lot of companies are focusing on now. You know, there's a lot of work going into DevRel and community management.

So I think a lot of companies would realize, you know, we really do have to focus on our, our clients. I know that sounds obvious, but you know, maybe it isn't obvious for some people. But so you just seeing this huge explosion of like, community and, you know, I, I think it's great. I love. Well, there's a lot of things I love.

I love working in open source, but I also just love interacting with the community all the time. You know, whether that's through poll requests or issues, but also even like Stephanie, your cohost has been on the, the Dev twitch stream and we have, we have guests from the tech space there, but we also do live coding there with people in the community, which is a lot of fun too.

And there's just so many great things I like about community and you're just meeting all kinds of people. It's it's pretty awesome.


Yeah. That, that is awesome. You know, we went through a lot there and I, I I it's, it sounds like you kind of grew into the whole thing organically. It kind of just, you know, you, you mentioned like open source can get you jobs and that's, that's funny because, you know, like cuz there is a real tangible benefit to like kind of showing I don't know, like you, you started contributing to the, to the repo and then all of a sudden, you know, you are like, Oh, maybe you would just wanna work with like Yeah. Which is really cool. And yeah, I was gonna mention your The Practical Dev Twitch stream as well, which is really cool. Everyone's got a twitch stream nowadays.


Yeah, yeah, exactly.


But hey, that's really cool. And it's all about the community building, like you know, you'd mentioned the pandemic and I thought that was really interesting because I had written a lot of my. I think I wrote a lot of my, I, I don't know, time is all over anymore. Yeah, But I've contributed several blog posts to Dev.To and you know, at first it was like an outlet for ranting that like I needed to, like finesse and make more professional.

But I found that to actually be very, what can I say? Very freeing because I feel like it's one of those ways of like, there's either people that found it useful or people that found it, like, you know, they agreed with me. Yeah. And. If, if anyone on this show follow me on Twitter, I don't know if they do or not, but I'm very varied in the way that I, I i, I tweet.

Sometimes it might be about tech, sometimes it might be about my cat, who knows? But that's the whole, like the human aspect of it. And I think you kind of touched on that as like the community building and a lot of companies nowadays are trying to like put the human back in front. Yeah. Instead of the code speaking for itself.

And I think that's really cool. And, and Forum seems to have just kind of organically grown into cuz it, because it seems like, you know, there wouldn't have been a really good place for, you know, I mean, I, I, the thing I'm thinking about is like PHP BB back in the day of like forum, you know, and, and you know, that doesn't really, I mean, it kind of exists still, but like, not in a sa, not in the same way you'd create like a Facebook group or something. But this is kind of its own sep separate thing that has just kind of grown.

And I mean, I've purchased a lot of Dev merchandise, which ironically I am not wearing today, which just, you know, you know, you'd think I would've prepared, but here we are.


Oh no. All good, No, good. No worries. .


But yeah. You know, with, with the Practical Dev Twitch stream you'd mentioned you do some live coding, you do some, you had Steph on for example, like do you, like I'm a front-end developer. I know, Yeah. Do you focus on front end or do you focus on like more full stack slash backend as well?


Yeah, so at Forum right now, I am primarily focused on the front end, but like I have done backend and mid end work is I like to call it where, so most of my careers actually been in the.net ecosystem, so asp.net, asp.net MVC, C#.

And like even right now, like I'm, I'm actually working on full stack stuff for the feature I'm working on. So I've been doing some Rails as well. You know, which I'm not completely well versed in, but you know, it's just you know, that's why you have code reviews. Yep. But yeah, it's kind of interesting on the stream because typically we haven't done one in a while with like a Forum issue.

Typically it's like people will find an issue and they'll wanna work on it and will pair on that. A bunch of 'em have been front end, but there's been others that have been Rails focused. So even though I'm not a Rails dev per se, you know, I can still talk with the person cuz you know, when you pair with somebody, it's not always about just coding.

So it could just be like talking about like, okay, what's the approach here? What are we doing? You know, I mean, definitely, you know, syntax and language comes into play once you actually do it. But you know, I, I just like the, the variety of the live coding. Like, for example, we had. Andrew Brown on who is really, he has tons of really great teaching materials in the cloud space. And he came on the stream and I, he basically had, I was in the hot seat and I was live coding Terraform, which is like code as infrastructure.


Yeah, I've done that before.


And I, like, I'd literally never done it, so we were doing it on the stream and it was totally fine and. You know, I know it's not for everybody, but I actually, I, I like doing the live coding. I know a lot of people can find it intimidating, but I, I really enjoy it. And it's also in the context of a stream, it's, it's kind of fun when things aren't working cuz then people in the crowd will be, or not the crowd, but like the, the chat of the stream will be like, Oh, try this, or what about this?

Or like you know, so it's, I, I enjoy it and. We also interview people in the tech space, like you were mentioning. Steph, your cohost was on. Who by the way, is great at live coding. Cause she talked about a lot of stuff we were talking about front end stuff, cuz that's definitely what she focuses on. But we, she was live coding container queries, which still aren't in the browser. So you know, I think it was, I think it's only in Canary Chrome. Mm-hmm.

But anyways, it was just a lot of fun. And it's just really, you know, getting back to what I was saying, like I just really enjoy interacting with the community.

Yeah. So like having people like Steph on, or Andrew or people like that are working on a code base. It's just really nice meeting all these different people. And so far nobody's said no whenever I've asked them, you know, so , you know, I'm sure it'll happen at some point, but.


That's the cool, Yeah, that's the thing that, like, so, you know, I'm a very, I don't wanna call myself a shy person because every time someone hears me call myself that they don't believe me. They're like, How? How are you shy? You're one of the most extroverted people I know. And I'm like, Am I, am I really? Because I feel like I'm super introverted, so I call myself an ambivert. Okay. However I feel like, you know, connecting with the community and, you know going on these, these podcasts like this, this season, we we're calling it a season now.

Yeah, we just kind of asked a bunch of people in the community if they wanted to come onto our podcast, which is this little, you know, rinky-dink podcast and no one said no. And it's like, what? Yeah. You know, and it's, it's it's really cool to, you know, I, I'm super shy and like I'm doing this now. And so the thing is, is that I think everyone kind of has their own path into the, like community building or community making space.

Yeah, you know, it sounds like yours went pretty organically. I think at one point in time I was considering applying for the contractor position with forum. Okay. But then I realized that there had already been like 600 applicants and I'm like, Okay, well nevermind then .


Yeah. It was yeah, it was pretty intense when we hired front end last year. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Yeah, I went through like what we split it up, but yeah, I think it was. So over 600, I think it was like almost like 650 people like, and. And for people listening well, two things. One, your podcast is not rinky dinky. I really, I really, I, I really enjoy listening to your podcast.

But the other thing too is like I don't know how other companies operate, but we literally went through all those applications. There wasn't like some automated thing, you know, scanning things to, to weed out people. It wasn't, it was literally us going through 'em. So


That's great. Yeah. Too, like, you know, Kind of seeing, like, I feel like, you know, there's this been this talk of like, not to really pivot, but like talk about like yeah. You know, automated keywords and you have to like make your resume into like this thing that just is a hotbed for keywords or whatever, and that just sounds terrible. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, that's, that's cool that you, you know, meticulously went through everyone.

You know, talking about live coding, you had mentioned a little bit earlier Steph and I were doing a, we did a live coding session a couple weeks ago on Twitch, On her Twitch stream. Okay. Trying to add seasons to our Word Wrap website, and we hadn't really touched it in six months or so. And both her and I had this realization of what in the world are we doing? How did we forget how, how to make this website? And that was my first real live coding session on Twitch. And like you said, everyone was kind of like, you know, you can do this or you can do that.

I think you were in the the chat for a little bit too. Like we were, we were talking about. We're trying to figure out the, the data schemes that we created like six months ago. And of course that just, Yeah, yeah. Went into the ether. But yeah, and I wasn't even the one coding, it was Steph coding and I was just kinda coaching her on the Zoom call or on the, on the, on the stream.

So, but yeah, I've had some random smatterings of, of ideas of like, Oh, maybe I should I think one of my ideas was because a ton of JavaScript frameworks. Set an hour timer or set like 45 minute timer or whatever and try to create as much as I can x framework. Okay. Yeah, I've never done, I haven't done that, but , it kind of sounds fun. I don't know.

That kind of leads to my next point, which kind of seems like you don't have to necessarily have a purpose to start an online community. You don't have to have like this gimmick or you don't have to have this specific purpose. Like I personally, and I've said this on other episodes, of like, Oh, well I need to have a cool idea in order to, you know, start working on it or something like that.

And I don't think that's the message. Both you and, and other guests that we've had on, it's just like, just start doing it. You just have to start doing it.


No, I 100% agree. And you know, there, there's an acronym, J F D I, which I won't repeat. I mean, I, it doesn't phase mean, but just, I, I don't want your podcast to get censored, but it, it, it, you know, not to sound cheesy like a Nike commercial or whatever, like you're saying, but it, you do have to, you just have to do stuff, you know?

And. I don't, I've found in my own career, getting outta my comfort zone has brought me so much success. You know? Mm-hmm. , it's, it's a little, you know, can be a little stressful initially, maybe, but I, I just, that's just how I operate now and it, I've, I've just found it to work out really great.

Like, I was learning, I wanted to learn Rust, so the way I did that was I, I tweeted it out. I said, Hey, I'm gonna learn Rust and I'm gonna start streaming it. And obviously I could you know, just not do it. But I did it on Twitter just to give myself some public accountability and, you know and then I just started doing it.

Same thing with the streaming, honestly, like and this, this ties into community too, like in terms, which I'll, I'll get to you in a sec, but like, I started streaming cuz it was a pandemic and I think like a lot of people mm-hmm. it's like, You know I guess I'll, you know, I'll try something different and, and I actually got a lot of inspiration from Jason Lengstorf from Netlify. I really love, he's got a great stream and I, it's, it's not, you know, I tried to model it to some degree on stuff he does, you know, he's amazing at it. He's been doing it for a long time.

It's, you know, it's like people that do really good YouTube videos, you know, they, they things down pat, you know, So, yeah. But that's why I started doing it. And like the live coding, I started pairing with people in the community on my own stream. And then HacktoberFest came around in 2020 and I suggested well, You know, I'm already pairing with people. Why don't we just do it on the dev twitch stream? Cause it was a handle that had been there. I think they used it maybe twice. Sure. For like some kind of online event. And then I just kind of went from there. And Christina Gordon, who's my cohost on there, we've been doing that since literally October 1st, 2020. Start a Hacktoberfest.

But I kind of wanna tie this a community because like people, you know, communities more than just like, obviously it's people, but it's also like how do you help the community? You know, some people that's blogging, could be podcasts, it could be streaming. It's like, you know, everybody, you know, there's no wrong answer really.

It's, you know, do what works best for you and, and, and again, the other thing too is you don't have to do these things. Like, I don't know. All the things I do, I enjoy, and that definitely makes it a lot easier to do. Like if, if it, if I had to, you know, convince myself like, Oh gosh, stream again, that's gonna be terrible. You know, let's just do it. Cause you know, it, it's not genuine. And, and it would probably come across as like, yes, I am literally not having a good time. I'm here just going through the motions.

And this kind of ties into what you were saying before about a community, you know, like, Oh, I need a great idea. Or it's gimmick, it's, I. What's super important about a community, regardless of what it is, you know, whether it's like, you know, a photography community or a program or community or whatever, you have to be genuine about it because people see through things that are disingenuous. Yeah. And the other thing too, about when, when you do start a community, you have to, you have to be well, and not just when you start it, but constantly you have to be engaged with the community. You, you can't just say like, Okay, I put it out, you know? That's it, that's a wrap. You, you, you have to put in the work. You know, like anything, you know, you're not gonna see results or like see a community grow unless you put in the work or you know, and you know, it definitely gets harder if the community starts getting bigger and it's just yourself. Like, like I said, I started my own community and I got my first like spam user, which I guess that's like a, a rite of passage. That means like, you know, like I guess it's gaining some traction.

But you have to empower the people in your community as well. So like, for example, Dev.To is a massive community now. We're probably gonna hit like a million members. Like, I don't know if, maybe not this year, but like sometime at the start of next year, I'm sure. I think we're, we're getting close to like 800,000 members, and that's a lot of people to manage, you know, and there's all kinds of things that tie into this.

You know, we have a code of conduct. Not everybody plays nice on the internet, as we all know. And, and there's like, there's just a lot of stuff you have to do. I mean, the code of conduct is a big one for sure. Like, if, if people violate that, you know, that's like a big deal. Don't be an asshole, basically.

Yeah. And don't. You know, like any kind of racist stuff, like, you know, like all the obvious stuff. But then there's like other things that are kind of nuanced, and this is where it gets complicated. And this is where moderators of the community come into place. And, and this is where you. This is kind of where I, I don't wanna say scale cuz that sounded like, I don't mean it, like the people are like, it's not software, but like you literally can't manage like an 800,000 member community with one person. Like you can't do it.

So, what they did early on, you know, gen this isn't novel to like Forum, but you know, we started asking trusted members of the community, like, Hey would you consider like moderating this tag? Or do you wanna become a moderator. And, most people, I think just say, Yeah, sure, no problem.

And there's no pressure to like, it's not like you have to, you know, log in and then all of a sudden triage all these, you know, posts and stuff. It's, it's like, you know, when you have time and if you wanna do it, go ahead, you know, And, and I was a moderator and I'm, I'm still a moderator on Dev, but like, I'm a little less active now cuz I work there. I've just got a lot of stuff to do, but, Sure. But you know, it empowers the people in the community and you really see people like, talking through these things like, Well, I don't know about this post. You know, like, the wording sounds a little weird. Or like let's check this one out. It looks like this person might have plagiarized, and there's like all these conversations going on.

You know, it's not just like ban a user or whatever. It's there's a lot of thought that goes into the stuff that the moderators do. And we also have our community success team at, at Forum, so they help with the moderators. They're, they're my coworkers, but they help with the, the community and the code newby and like, pretty much all the forums right now, I believe.

But it's, it's a big job. And so like, you know, empowering community members to, to help moderate is you know, I, I've seen people just enjoy it, even though like, I know they're not getting paid. But I've been in other communities, you know? I'm still on Stack Overflow, but I haven't, I don't really post anything there anymore. But I was a moderator on there and like in the earlier days it was a lot, you know, kinder I, I won't go into it cuz I know they're working on it, so like hats off to Stack Overflow for, for working on that.

But, you know, it, it was something even over there. I, I felt empowered and it felt good, you know, just the like, Hey, you're a moderator and it might sound silly, but I just being, you know, appreciated. That goes a, a long way for me. Yeah. I don't know how many moderators we have, but we definitely , we definitely have a ton.


I'm a moderator actually.


Yeah. And, and there's tons of people like and it's, you know, and even, even people you might know, like Cassidy Williams for example, she moderates the Next JS tag and a few others, I think. But it's, it's more like the power of like just having a bunch of people, you know?

Yeah. So, . Even if you or myself, you know, we moderate a couple posts.


No, the power of numbers for sure.


Yeah. The other thing about moderation that I can, well, not necessarily difficult, but people cuz we're in North America, so like we tend to be North American centric, but there's a whole planet of people, right.

And you know, Something that somebody might say in another country isn't considered rude or offensive, but we might misinterpret it as that because of being North American centric. So the, there's a whole nuance with like, you know, dealing with people who either English isn't their first language, they're from a different country, and so like cultural norms are different.

So that's where it gets, not necessarily complicated, but you just have to you know, you kind of have to work through those things. You know, like, and I've given this example a couple times, but my, my cousin's wife is from Denmark and she's very straightforward . And I, I believe most Danes are like that, but I'm not positive.

But But anyways, I, I just remember vividly, she, they came over for Christmas at my parents one year, and I opened the door and she's like, Oh, Merry Christmas. You put on a lot of weight. And, and, and, you know, like I, I wasn't offended, I just laughed. But. I think if you were, if somebody North American were to come in the door, they'd probably say, Hey, you look great. You know. You know what I mean? Yep. And so, and I give that funny example because if you take that in the context of somebody like writing a comment on a blog post, you know, they might not have meant it like this sucks. They might have. Just cuz the way they work, you know, like that's, that's just how it came out.

So it's more, there's stuff like that you have to deal with and it's, it's not a bad thing, it's just, you know, it's, it's not just North America. There's the whole planet, like you said. So there's, there's lots of, there's just lots of things to consider.


Well, and I think you bring up a good point, like the, you know, with your with the, with the Danish example there's tone involved in that. You have the tone. Yeah. Body language, you have all that stuff. And on, you know, an online community, especially one that's text, text heavy. You have text, you don't have the tone, you don't know that person, you don't know any of that. So you have to take a lot of more, you have to give a little bit more leeway and take into the context and stuff like that as well.

Yeah, so I mean, it's not just a cut and dry kind of like that was rude, or, you know, that was not, Cool. Or whatever kind of kind of thing. So I mean, if there's a pattern of you know, like they say this sucks on every post, then it's like, okay, maybe, maybe not, you know, maybe that's not, maybe I shouldn't give you the benefit of the doubt kind of thing. So totally, totally totally get what you're saying. .


Yeah, for sure. And then, you know, like the, the other, I, I think the other issue with any community that gets popular is like spam and like, you know, just bad actors and you know, we have moderation tooling for that. We're always working on that. But that that's definitely where I see like software, you know, being an enabler for that, you know? Yeah. You still, you still need humans. I, I believe, because again, you know, like, you know, computers are computers, you know, and it's just like, yeah, we did this, and, you know, and you might be like, Ooh, maybe you shouldn't have. But like, it, it can definitely be like a way to enhance your moderation and, and it's, it's tooling that we're always working on and you know, I think, I think moderation is the most difficult thing about running a community. Yeah. And especially once it gets really large, you know?


Yeah. So I think you, Yeah, I think you see that with a lot, lot larger communities like, you know, Facebook and stuff for trying to fix that with Ai. And I just, I don't think that's the right idea, but also how do you, how do you moderate like 2 billion users? Like that's, It's a, it's a very large ask. Yeah. So, yeah, I think you, I think you bring up a good point.

Kind of talking about moderation. Do you do you have, do you find any moderation issues or moderation needs while you are like streaming? Have you had any like issues there?


Oh, yeah. Yeah. I've twi well, there's something that went down on, on Twitch, I think it was a couple months ago. Okay. So there's this for, for people that don't stream. There's this feature in Twitch called raiding. So essentially like say I'm streaming and then I wanna go to Claire's Stream after I've finished my stream. But I wanna bring everybody that was in my stream to Claire's Stream. You, you raid kind of like a, I guess like pirates raiding a ship or something. But basically you can, you can say like, Hey, whole audience, we're gonna go over to Claire's stream now and that's a, a feature you can do. We currently have it disabled on the Dev Twitch stream because what happened was, and I don't know if it's been sorted or, or I feel like something must have gotten sorted, but there was all these hate raids.

So like basically, you know, somebody a minority or who would be streaming somebody in a minority that might be streaming would just get these hate raids, you know? Wow. And it's like really not cool, obviously. And you know, it's a little scary too for those people. Yeah. You know, like you know, imagine ha being accosted by like a mob of people, like hating on you. It's, I don't know, it's definitely doesn't sound great. So. There's that, but I, again, I don't know if that's been sorted out. I know they've been talking about improving it.

There are built in moderate, well, there's moderation tools that you can have these bots that help you. Like I use, I think we're using Stream Labs and Stream Elements. We're using a couple, but they, they do things like if somebody puts too many emojis or like all caps or writes really too much text, they'll, they'll stop the message, but it also filters out like hateful words and stuff. And you, and you can tweak these things because, and I say tweak because for example, like our stream is, I would say fairly pg. You know, it's like, you know, there's no reason for us to start cursing like, like crazy on the stream. Yeah. So. We have the filters set pretty high, but like maybe there's a, another stream that's a little more mature audiences, you know, and, and so like, they're dropped in F-bombs all the time and it's not a negative thing, it's just that's the context of that stream. So, so they can tweak it according to that. So the, the tooling I think is Pretty decent.

Discord as well which is another community platform that they have really good moderation software from what I can see. Mm-hmm. . But yeah, it's, I I don't think anybody's cracked that nuts still cuz it, and I don't know if they ever will, you know, there's always gonna be problems, you know? Yeah. And you, you just need to intervene. I don't think there's any way to get around that. It's just how can you do that as quickly as possible, I guess is, you know,


Yeah. Effectively too. You know, like yeah. Yeah. I think those are really good points. Do you have anything else you wanna talk about before before we end the show?


I guess maybe we could talk about open source briefly, maybe if you want to. It's definitely so. You know, open source is its own community and, and we're, we work in open source, so, you know, we're building community software, but the actual software, like GitHub is a, a social community. You need to work with the people that wanna help contribute to your code base.

And, you know, over time we've gotten a lot better at it because like, I think in the early days it would just be like, somebody would say like, Hey, can I add this feature? And people would be, Hey, that's neat. Sure. And then now as we've kind of, we're being a little more laser focused on what the product should be in there, you're also, you know, you're not just taking anybody's code contributions.

And that's not to deter people from doing it, but like now the way we have it set up is we have issues and if they're available to work on, then we will, we'll make them available. People can definitely suggest features. We. You know, we, we have a roadmap we're working on, but there's stuff like GitHub discussions where people can, you know, suggest something and then you can start a discussion there.

But it's even that is a, a whole community, co-host own. And Christina Gordon, who's my cot on the Dev stream, she's, she's our developer advocate at Forum and she works a lot with the community as well. Should definitely have her on at some point. She's also amazing at CSS animations. But yeah, no, it's, that's a whole other thing, you know, And it, it's interesting in the context of work, because we're working on features, but we also you kind of have context switching built into your role because I could be working on some feature that's on our roadmap, but I'm one of two front end devs at the team, on the team. So we get a lot of front ends or feature bug fixes or just stuff being put up in PR. So a lot of time goes into reviewing this code and stuff.

So like you're, it, it's just kind of interesting that you're doing a bit of both that.


Yeah, definitely.


I, I don't know if it makes sense to put that in the podcast, but anyways.


No, I think, I think that's really interesting cuz like, especially like in the context of Forum you know, it is kind of a, you know, you're kind of juggling multiple hats if you will. Let's, not a phrase, but I just created it, so Yeah, yeah. You know, and, and I think that is a really, you know, kind of in a broad, more broadly speaking way, I think that working on a product, that is both a commercial product and an open source product is a very interesting like kind of balance because you have two different communities to answer to. And those two different communities might have two way different purposes, or, you know, they might have different requirements or whatever. And so like finding ways to make it so that, you know, your contributions essentially help both, or, you know, stuff like that, like that, I think its a different skill set or at least a, a more refined skill set. So, yeah, I think that in and of itself could be its own. It's on podcast episode, so .


Yeah. And the other things are like, you have, you have a code of conduct on, even on your, your repository. So like, you know, because people can comment on stuff, you know, so it's the same thing there, you know, like we don't want people being rude and stuff.

We're always there to accept constructive criticism or, or you know, people reviewing things even if they're external contributors. , but kind of in terms of like steering your community where you want to go, like in the context of like open source. That's why you have all these templates. So like when somebody opens up an issue, you'll have an issue template. You'll ask them, you know, like fill out as much information as they can because this just helps. In that, in the context of that community, it just helps us figure out, okay, oh, okay, this is really what the issue is. And then like, same thing when you're doing a poll request, we have I, I'm biased, but I think we have a really great pull request template.

But you know, just, it just details like please fill this, this, this, this. And you know, I think people sometimes they'll be like, Oh, that's annoying. Why do I have to fill this out? It avoids having to do a lot of back and forth and, and especially, I mean, even before the pandemic in open source, it's back and forth, but like now that everybody's more remote as well, you know, like asynchronous communication is key.

So like the more information you can put into something, the better the answer you'll get back instead of like, you. Just kind of like saying it doesn't work and then you get a, Well, what's the problem? You know, like then it's like two years later and you finally figure out, okay, that's what it is. Okay. But anyways,


No, definitely. I think issue templates in general are just a good, good idea. Like for contributing, just in general. Like it gives a rubric, it kind of forms the conversation. So, and I think. I don't know how you would do open source without it.

Well thank you Nick, for coming on to the show. It was really good talking about Forum and community building and Twitch and moderation. I think moderation is a huge thing in community building. Just, you know, keeping it making it a, a welcoming space as well. And we'll include some links in the show notes specifically the Practical Dev's Twitch Stream, as well as Dev.To if you have never heard of it before and Forum.

And then also there is a specific Twitch episode talking to the forums community success team, which I need to watch myself because I have not watched it yet. Again, thanks for coming on and we'll see ya around!


Yeah, thanks for having me and hope your eyeballs get better soon, Steph!

Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and keep in touch on Twitter by following us at Word Wrap Show. If you're able to cover show costs, join us at patreon.com/word wrap. We'll see you next episode.


Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and keep in touch on Twitter by following us @WordWrapShow. If you're able to cover show costs, join us at Patreon.com/WordWrap. We'll see you next episode!

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