Why Coding chat groups in India are so silent


Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash
Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

Discussions is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.

-Robert Quillen

Lately, I joined a Programmer community on Telegram. It is one of the most successful group on Meetup.com and growing large with every meetup they create, be it free or paid workshop. But in a group of 300+ Coders, group was silent as the grave. No history of previous discussion, no archived chats, absolutely nothing.

So with the thought of igniting a spark, I suggested the Owner (admin) of group to move on to some other platform for chat discussions. I started putting some facts pointing to utter silence of group that we should use Slack or Droid app to keep everything segregated; #angular for angular enthusiast, React for react developers etc. Instead of taking this a suggestion, I was confronted by one member of the group as well as the owner.

I didn't received any appropriate response. Instead was asked to leave the group. I guess the "Admin" was OK with silent majority.

Coding groups are not meant to be silent. Instead there should be uproar of ideas. They should be expressing their experience with frameworks, language and should be assisting each other in collaboration. But it is not happening here in India. Because thats what not happens when you put in some words in a technical forum built on foundation of Chat apps like WhatsApp or Telegram. It is not that nobody tries to do the same I did. But maybe they know the consequences of painting the blank canvas of such groups with the ink of their wisdom.

I, as per my theory, separate such group members in three categories: Contributors, Self-Doers and Consumers. Contributors are those who are willing to help those who need a push, they are the people who will jump at your question with the perfect timing and will not hesitate to go for a rally for your questions. They are masters of their subject and have lot of discipline and patience. They are in true sense, the energy of such chat groups.

Self-Doers are mix of both. They have something to say and want something to learn. They will assist Consumers with everything they know and a small tip from Contributors is enough to boost them up. They dig up things before they post in chat groups. They know but they are not sure. They can do but they are confused whether the approach they are choosing is correct one. They can outperform themselves and are ready to put in their feet for collaboration without the fear of getting failed. They don't post it online when they achieve something. Instead, they move forward and take another challenge.

Consumers are just 'askers'. Their sentence start with "what", "how" and hardly with "why". They usually are people looking for spoon-feeding. You will think that the details you provided for their query would suffice but no. As soon as you put in first reply for their questions, they won't be leaving you alone. They need you to do all sort of stuff from them; from looking for internship in their favorite company to look for a job. Chat etiquettes doesn't exist for this category as they will ping you from dawn to dusk. They don't have time to go through Documentations of any technology or web-frameworks. In simple words, they want you to fix their problem while they sit back and relax.

With such divergence, it becomes hard to keep the communication stable. Contributors are always busy and responds very often. Consumers are always first to question and would ping in for every nitty-gritty which makes others to leave the group. Self-Doers do more than they talk, and are kind of observers; neither responders nor askers.

It takes guts to speak in front of such vast audience if they are sitting in front of you in their chairs. Chat Groups makes it easy for everyone. But it is the admin's responsibility to keep proper command of communication by keeping some points considered :

  • Never stop someone. Correct them but don't stop. Like in my case, Admin's words were "For now we are staying with this platform. If you are not happy with this, leave". Fair enough but rude.
  • Keep separate channels for everything. Droid app does it better, and so do Slack. You have #angular for Angular enthusiasts, and React for React lovers. Simple is that.
  • Talk. Don't just wait for group members to start a conversation. Put in some of your own words. Put a poll and make them talk to each other.
  • Stop being conservative. Sometimes, one platform doesn't fulfills the need of group members. Switch. Try something else which You haven't tried before, but do take words from group members. They will feel respected.
  • Be empathetic. Welcome all suggestions but feel free to choose from them. Discuss and make a thread of conversation instead of shutting someone down. (oh wait, thats in Point 1 already)

Discussions. Thats what makes us Human. we talk to each other. We welcome the ideas of people and listen to them, and then we politely slip in our ideas as well. Our Ideas, are sometimes welcomed and sometimes confronted. And thats how we learn.

Thanks for reading

Sudheer — listens to SoundCloud, Strings being his favourite band, learns stuff to make life easier.