Contributing to the web community

Comments like these make me want to never contribute to this community.

via @adamyeates on Twitter

There was an article that upset a few (or one in particular) designer/UX/foo evanglists. I’m not pointing out this particular instance of pissing battles because if you’ve been on the web and following activitiy in the front end web community you’ve probably seen your fair share of pissing battles already.

And it’s not Adam in particular that I’m pointing out, but his sentiment (I’ve posted this with Adam’s permission first – I didn’t want to make it like I’m singling him out).

Adam, to me, is an excellent example of the newest generation of Web Worker. It’s possible you, ‘you’ reading this article, are also in that early stage in your career. Or you want become more involved like I did a few years back. Which is why this particular tweet has forced my fingertips to my keyboard to blog about this.

I’ve met my fair share of people who want to blog/get involved/speak (more or at all) but tell me that they don’t feel like they have anything to share. Or that there are smarter people out there – what could they possible contribute. But it’s Adam’s tweet is the last thing you want to see. What about all those people who think the same thing but don’t say it.

What I’d like to say to those of you thinking about contributing something-anything: do it. Blindly if needs be.

To me there’s two main types of blog posts: technical and opinion. Either one of these are good for you to start with. You’ve got opinions, right? You’ve solved a problem (either design based or with codey stuff).

You are unique. Your perspective is unique. Your solutions are unique.

Most bloggers I know – and certainly me included – started blogging because their memory is pretty useless. Google + blogging served as a search engine for their memory. Start there if you’re still not convinced.

If you share those, you will have helped someone, somewhere, sometime along their way. And the more of that we have, the better (even though it’s possible some content gets stale after a while).

As my friend Chris put it:

Most blog posts are crap, but even if a handful of people find them useful it’s worth it, no?

Hell. yes.

10 Responses to “Contributing to the web community”

  1. I couldn’t agree more.

    There are a handful of “respected” web developers and designers who are unbelievably arrogant in their opinions and ideas and enjoy pouring scorn on others. And it’s these people who newer web developers and designers will remember rather than the “good” ones.

    Sadly they appear to get away with it.

  2. Nice post, completely agree.

    As well as starting to blog, I think it’s really important (and really appreciate) if someone read my blog and saw something wasn’t quite right or they had a better idea about it, to reply or get in touch.

    If I’m doing something wrong or that can be improved upon I want to know about it.

    Love Chris Coyier’s screencast ‘Let’s suck at GitHub together’. Although he’s not a Git ninja, he just gets on with it. Awesome stuff.
    http://css-tricks.com/video-screencasts/101-lets-suck-at-github-together/

  3. I totally agree with you Remy. Another great reason to write is to clarify your thoughts. Every web worker has ideas they share with friends and coworkers. Writing helps clarify those ideas. I find that I learn more about my thoughts when I write.

    So, even if no one reads your article. Write it down.

  4. Great post. It’s great to see a highly respected member of the community encouraging newer developers to get a voice for a change, and not to worry about being wrong or only half right. As you say, if it helps a handful of people it is worth it even if it only helps you.

    Pissing battles on the internet, ain’t nobody got time for that!

  5. This really hits home as I’m one of the “you’s” that’s starting out trying to get more involved in the community. A post like this coming from such a respected developer as yourself means a lot.

  6. Thank you for this post. I’ve been a front end developer since 1998 and every time I decide I’ll finally start a blog I convince myself I have nothing new to add. So it isn’t just newbies who need to hear what this.

  7. Couldn’t agree more. That’s why I wrote this a while back:

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/03/30/publish-what-you-learn/

    And Simon’s comment on Chris’s GitHub screencast is appropriate too. Even though Chris admitted he wasn’t near an expert, he contributed something and opened a discussion, which continued in the comments, which really should be 50% of the discussion.

  8. I entirely agree that no one should be afraid to contribute to the community. However, I am not sure I agree with ‘contributing something-anything…blindly if needs be.’ For example, if you contribute an article glorifying tables-based design or how accessibility is a luxury that should be avoided unless absolutely necessary, it would be understandable if your article drew (valid, and hopefully constructive) criticism. If you post something that is blatantly sexist, expect some stern responses from the community. I think it’s a fine line between encouraging contribution (which I genuinely believe we should do) and vilifying the expression of valid criticism on the content being posted. As important as it is to create a welcoming and open environment, it is also important to encourage civilised debate.

    Seeing as the comment you reference was in reply to one of my tweets, you may also want to read my post on the subject, apologising for the manner in which I reacted:

    http://aralbalkan.com/notes/learning-to-think-before-i-tweet/

    Regardless of the validity of my criticism, it was the manner in which I voiced it that was unacceptable.

    All this to say that encouraging contribution is as important as encouraging an open environment for constructive debate and critique and that the two should not be seen as mutually exclusive.

  9. @aral – I entirely agree.

    This post isn’t about criticisms and certainly not about vilifying anything* – this post is only to remind those folk that come by to read my blog, that their voice is worth hearing – and not to be afraid to share what you know, or how you came to know a thing.

    I for one, actually *would* like to see a post on using tables for layout. Twitter used tables for layout for a long time, as did Google’s mobile site (I think, though this could well be wrong, this was something to do with Blackberry phones) – and why.

    Actually the only serious problem (I see) with posting blindly anything: is stale content, or technically wrong (as in, wrong and can be proven to be). I’m partly guilty of that – but try to maintain newer posts as new information comes to light (and highlight those changes).

    * Though given it’s probably/likely to be seen a little as that – I personally hope and expect that as time goes by, the message in this post will remain, but the discussions/tweets that specifically inspired me to get off my laurels and post will be long forgotten (not particularly because they were bad or wrong, just because twitter, and a tweet, is a lot more transient than a blog post).

  10. :)

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