Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

A basically dead Django community

This evening, I thought I would go to the DjangoResources page to see if I can find some Django communities I could join. What I found instead, was a rather dead Django forum. I know that most of the Python and Django community exists in mailinglists and usergroups. However, when you take prospect PHP developers, who mostly use and know about forums for community help, this is awful. Any prospect PHP developer will more than likely attempt to sign-up for a Django forum to ask for assistance when first using the framework. This forum I went to, had many posts dating back to 2011 from prospect PHP developers who asked simple questions, but never received a single response... If you were this PHP developer on that forum who left a simple question, and never got an answer back, what is your first impression of that community going to be? Not too good.

Not saying that this Django forum is hurting Django as a whole, but I am sure it is making an impact. If just some of these posts were answered promptly and these developers helped, I am sure they would have had a better first impression of the Django community. This is more than likely how Django's support is getting a bad rep compared to that of Ruby on Rails. They say that the Ruby on Rails community is thriving with support for new developers. If you look on various Django mailinglists and usergroups, there is a large amount of activity there, whereas traditional support routes of forums and community websites are almost dead. This is mainly due to how Python programmers work and request support compared to other programming communities. In fact, the Python support circle is somewhat similar to Linux. Sure there are Linux forums, mostly filled with Linux newbies looking on how to do their first dual-boot and other various questions. Hardcore Linux Gurus tend to use mailinglists, usergroups and IRC for their support(if needed), or rather to discuss their project and how to develop it using a specific interface in the Linux kernel. Ubuntu gained it's quality of support and large userbase from creating a thriving community, and large forum. Most Windows users are used to using forums over mailinglists and usergroups. Some advanced Windows users know and use IRC, but not for technical help, more just for chatting. Forums are where a large majority of Windows users seek assistance when something breaks. Since most PHP users are in a Windows world, that is also naturally where they seek their support as well, in forums.

This is why Python and Django in most cases is highly criticized for it's overall community support. There is lots of support there, just not in the minds of Windows users. Python and Django have very little online forums and any that are available, are mostly dead. When Windows users search online for Python or Django help, a stackoverflow or a blog post will more than likely appear before any forums. For some people new to stackoverflow-like websites, it can be confusing to navigate or search compared to how traditional forum software works.

I am not going to link to this rather dead Django forum, you can find it in the resources link provided, I'd rather link to creditable resources for Python and Django developers. I am going to make an attempt to revive this community for the sake of new prospect PHP developers.

For what it's worth, the Django project website should provide an easy Windows installer for new users. Anybody new to Python, which some new Django users will undoubtedly be, ease of access is a must. Web2py did a great job on it's Windows installer, and Django should do the same.

Comment #1: Posted 1 year, 10 months ago by agf

I have to disagree with you here. Forums just aren't efficient as a method for answering technical questions. Yes, they're often used by those not in the know, but that isn't a reason to bring them back. Stack Overflow is so successful because it is so much more useful than a forum. If you want to help people moving from PHP to Python, certainly a Windows installer for Django would be useful, but nudging them towards the "idiomatic" ways of getting help in the OSS world will be far more helpful than answering their immediate questions. I suppose I'm restating the "teach a man to fish" cliche, but in my experience it applies.

Comment #2: Posted 1 year, 10 months ago by Tshepang Lekhonkhobe

I find the negative comment about Stack Overflow, navigability, surprising. What makes you think so? Perhaps I am biased since I am a fan, but I find the interface simple enough, and certainly simpler and more helpful than forum ones.

Comment #3: Posted 1 year, 10 months ago by Ryan Blunden

Thank you for this great post. I think it boils down to this.

If Django has a forum, then it must be maintained and supported. I don't see how anyone can argue with this.

Thankfully, the quality of documentation and solutions available both officially and on blogs, websites and Stack Overflow is overwhelming so supporting the forum should be more of a job of pointing people in the right direction.

I for one and going to spend more time in the forums trying to support users new to Django.

Comment #4: Posted 1 year, 10 months ago by SP

I find myself spending half my day on stackoverflow. Forums are awkward, more difficult to navigate and just plain yesterday.

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