Mediums and Messages

When you want to get help on the internet, it’s not just what you say and how you say it; it’s also where you say it. I use three different communication mediums on a day-to-day basis to get help with the various toolkits I use and only a couple of them overlap in medium. There are inherent benefits and drawbacks to each medium, but generally you don’t have a choice in which medium to use for a given project.

At $work we use the ExtJS framework for UI stuff. We use their paid forums. There are a group of ext users who use IRC but I never found the channel to be any help. So with Ext you use a forum if you want help. Forums are nice because there can be built in code formatting, all the archives are right there, you only have to see the messages when you really need them, and you an have built in categorization.

I used to use CGI::Application. The best way to get in touch with those guys is to use a mailing list. They have an IRC channel, like the ext guys, but in a week there are about as many conversations in as many days. So mailing lists! Mailing lists are kinda intimidating to get into. Partially because if you stop using a toolkit you keep getting the mail. Or when you don’t have a problem you keep getting the mail. But ultimately this is a really good long term solution, because you tend to have people who use the toolkit who, dun dun dun, check their email! A drawback of this medium is that there is no built in archival (although typically it is archived) and any source code formatting is done in plain text.

Both DBIx::Class and Catalyst primarily use IRC for support. They have mailing lists, but you can get information and simple answers much faster on IRC. The beauty of IRC is that it is realtime. So you have people having regular conversations as well as getting answers to questions. One of the major issues with IRC, in my mind, is that code must be shown separately, in a pastebin website. There also is no built in archival, or even persistence. Nonetheless, this is very common in largish open source projects.

And there you have it! fREW’s useless list of mediums that go with a handful of projects!

Posted Thu, Aug 6, 2009