Building tools for a helpful community

“Community” is one of the hardest concepts to define in the English language. Weird, right? It seems like it would be intuitive, but it’s actually something sociologists have struggled with for hundreds of years. Is a community defined by a shared space? A language? A goal? Something as nebulous as just a feeling or an attitude? The answer changes dramatically depending on who you ask.

At Repl.it, this is something we’ve struggled with too—what does community for developers look like, currently? What could community for developers look like?

Community & Repl Talk

When we first built Repl Talk, the idea was to give users a friendlier platform to discuss and share code. As developers, we know that unfortunately in a lot of spaces there is such a thing as a “stupid question.” Our goal was to foster a space where people of all levels felt welcome. Struggling with your first ‘Hello World’? That’s okay, because we all start somewhere. Even the most seasoned developers.

Since launching it almost a year ago, Repl Talk has evolved to serve more than just its original purpose. Users give us feedback when we post product announcements, they share projects they're working on and submit entries to competitions (like our recent game jam).

But we’re still most excited about community: users helping each other learn by asking and answering questions on our Ask board.

Repl Talk Ask 2.0

To grow our community and facilitate members helping (and learning!) more effectively, we’ve made a few critical changes to our how Ask board works.

1: Community can now mark a comment on their own post as “the answer.”

2: To reward helpful behavior, community members who post answers are awarded 5 “cycles.”

Cycles function similar to the way karma does on Reddit and are displayed next to a user's username. They are a symbol of reputation within the community, and will be used to unlock some upcoming platform-specific features.

3: Answers will get pinned to the top of the thread, to make it easier for community members to find. Posts will also get “answered” tags.

4: Questions with running code are here!

You can now include running code in your questions. Struggling to describe your bug? No problem—you can walk the community through what you’re experiencing with embedded repls.

We want people to feel comfortable asking questions on Repl.it—not just the tough questions, but any question. Even if you need help creating your first ‘Hello World’ program, we’re here for you.

“Community” may be a difficult-to-define concept, but for us (and for developers), we hope that Ask is one way it can come to life.

Start asking/answering here.