Engaging the solitary newcomer?

When directing a Clojure newcomer (friend, colleague, or the like) to the larger Clojure community (e.g. Clojurian Slack), have you ever been met with reluctance or hesitancy? :thinking:

This is a challenge I am regularly faced with - whenever I encourage those around me to pick up Clojure. And I’m quite certain this is not an uncommon phenomenon for other Clojurians.

These days, there seems to be a culture/expectation of being able to simply google to find all the answers one requires on the web. And the ideal way to learn Clojure - seeking help from the community, stands at odds with this kind of mentality.

So I was wondering :four_leaf_clover:, is this a demographic we want to try to engage and if so, what should we be doing as a community?


have you ever been met with reluctance or hesitancy?

No, never. I always tell people to go directly to the Slack server, but I always try to mention that there’s the #beginners channel that they should use at least at the start.

there seems to be a culture/expectation of being able to simply google to find all the answers one requires on the web

Personally, I expect that any person asking something has:

  1. Tried solving their problem on their own for at least 10 minutes
  2. If that wasn’t successful, tried searching for an answer online for at least 5 minutes

I can’t speak for other people’s expectation, by I have never seen my own to be at odds with somebody else’s.

the ideal way to learn Clojure - seeking help from the community

I beg to differ. IMO, the ideal way depends on the person. And using online text chats is probably a suboptimal experience for any beginner when compared to 1-on-1 video calls while using some pair programming tool.

With that being said, I still think that we should engage people that want to be engaged - regardless of their experience level. And as far as I can tell, the community is already doing quite a lot - there’s the #beginners Slack channel where helping hands are always active, there’s Exercism that at least claims to provide free mentoring and courses (I’ve never used it myself so can’t vouch for it), there are likely other resources that I’m not familiar with simply because I rarely work with complete beginners.

1 Like

Apologies if I made it seem like there was any doubt about this! I totally agree from my own experience and definitely make it a point to direct beginners there (:

Perhaps, I need some work on my explanation :sweat_smile: but what I meant to say was that with my friends and colleagues (who are/were learning Clojure), I too would direct them to the #beginners channel on the Clojurian Slack. But whether it be a Singapore or “Gen Z” culture issue etc, asking questions on online forums is something that is “impossible” for them to do. (In fact, when working on my final year Capstone Project I would often end up asking questions that they were stuck with, on their behalf ><)

I do share similar sentiments with this too!

Not sure if it mainly pertains to a younger, more inexperienced demographic but the kind of problems I’m thinking of are ones where the newcomer is stuck with for hours on end.

And similar to a colleague that ended up disliking Clojure and decided to move to another part of the team not working with Clojure, some might end up concluding that the resources in the Clojure ecosystem are very poor. (For context: I only joined my current company much later after the fact. And I do admit in this case, said individual was “forced” into using Clojure, and is someone who “picked up” Clojure without really reading much materials/a book)

Perhaps my statement was too strong, but I guess I was thinking of a beginner that has already learnt the basics of Clojure, perhaps one that I have helped to guide (1-on-1) in some means or form. The problem then is that I myself being inexperienced, will definitely at some point lack the capabilities to continue to provide help with issues being faced. This being especially true when trying to build something non-trivial and starting to work various Clojure libraries. And thus, if one continues to work with Clojure, it would be ideal to involve oneself with the larger community.

And I completely agree with this. Which is why I asked the question of “is this a demographics we want to try to engage?” Like I do think, that if someone decides not to reach out in the various community channels, there is only so much that we can do.

But I’m just wondering if there are perhaps some other creative means that would help this crowd? And perhaps eventually direct them into the larger community? :thinking:

1 Like

Hi! I consider myself to be a ‘solitary newcomer’ in the world of Clojure. In fact, I both a beginner programmer (with only about 8 months’ of experience in programming) and a new learner of Clojure. I’ve joined the Clojuran Slack channel for a while now. While I confess that it is difficult for me to keep up with all the discussion that takes place there, I must admit that I’ve received a warm response from members of the community whenever I’ve posed a question. Something as basic as a ‘where to start’ question, led me to a great beginners’ course (clojure-by-example) which was also followed up by a pairing session by one of the authors of the course (Aditya). On an earlier occasion when I was still figuring out whether I should start learning Clojure, I had posed a question to understand ‘why Clojure is loved so much’ and I was pointed to Rich Hickey’s ‘Are we there yet’ lecture.

I have a long way to go to feel comfortable with writing programs in Clojure. But I am very grateful for the help I’ve received, on Slack and on other platforms. I’m sure to seek out more assistance from the community whenever I’m stuck with a problem for a while!

No apology’s needed - I was only saying that I can’t see how we can possibly make it better for newcomers, without outright paying people to ask questions.

Ah, I see. I don’t know how to make someone ask a question in such a way so that it remains both ethical and comfortable for them. But FWIW, if someone still hesitates after you tell them that it’s OK to ask questions, you can tell them this:

If you have already spent 15 minutes trying to figure it out yourself and you don’t see any progress, it’s time to ask others. People in Clojure community want to answer your questions, for all sorts of reasons. We don’t do it begrudgingly, we do it with joy - as long as the conversations remains civil and the community guidelines are followed. Worst case scenario - people will politely tell you what you’re doing wrong, and 95% of all cases is people asking questions in a wrong channel or asking the same question in multiple channels. There are no good reasons not to ask a question there. And if it makes you more comfortable, keep in mind that the server is largely anonymous, with the exception of your email being visible to admins. You don’t have to specify your real name, use your real face, or specify your main email - there are no strings attached, you can stop using the server at any point. The amount of involvement and commitment necessary to ask a question there is less than when you’re getting your groceries. :slight_smile:

Hopefully, that’ll be enough for some. And maybe someone else could word it in a better way or provide some additional materials along the same line.
And as for people who just refuse to ask for help for whatever reason - it’s their choice, we can’t change it for them.

1 Like