Finding Your Way In the C# Corner Community And Becoming A Better Member

It’s been a year since I joined C# Corner and I still enjoy being here. I have witnessed the progress made by both authors and in the community itself. This community brings a lot of learning, not only in the wide range of different technologies it offers but also to myself as an author and a contributor , plus I get to know more great people around the world. 

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Time has gone by and I have noticed that a lot of members, especially the newly-joined members, are confused on what to do to participate in the community. Well I’m not surprised because it’s pretty much normal to get lost, especially if you are really new in joining an online technical community. I haven’t found any link or an article that serves as a guide for new members, so I’ve decided to write this article highlighting some tips and guidance on finding your way in this community and becoming a better member. Keep in mind that this is not just for new members out there but also for members who have been here for quite some time and are still confused. 

Notes:

  1. I will not be covering all areas and features that the site offers but I’ll try to cover the most popular areas to contribute.

  2. The opinions expressed in this article are my own personal opinion and do not represent the opinion of any folks behind C# corner or my employers. Nor does it represent the opinion of my cat, because I don’t have one.

Contributing to Articles

First of all I don’t consider myself an expert or best author in this community, but I’m trying my best to be better. Here are some tips if you will consider contributing to writing articles:

  • Don’t write if you are not ready - Becoming an author is easy as long as you are interested, dedicated and passionate about writing. If you are struggling in writing or you worry about your English grammar then don’t worry because the site editors will gladly help and assist you with that. Trust me you will become better at it over time.

  • Choose an interesting topic - Yes, choose a topic that best interests you and you are comfortable to write about. It would be a waste of time writing something that you are not into.

  • Choose a title carefully – Title should be short and as meaningful as possible.

  • Give more time - Writing good article takes a lot of time, so make sure you spend more time for it. And don’t forget to review, yes review!

  • Think about your audience – Always keep in mind that when you write something you should pretend that the one reading your article is the dumbest person in the world. So don’t skip simple steps and don’t provide incomplete codes.

  • Do some research about the topic before you write – It’s very important to do research especially if you are presenting some codes. Remember that submitting an article is not the end of it. You will have to support it too when someone posts a comment outlining some issues or questions, so make sure you know what you are writing.

  • Provide screenshots – Images and figures are vital parts of the article especially if you are giving steps of instructions. Some people prefer visual instructions than plain text so make sure you cover them both. If your figure needs detail then make sure to provide an explanation supporting your figures.

  • Explain code samples – Codes are an important part in the article but it would be useless if you don't explain what the code is doing. Better explain each method and functions that are used in the example.

  • Don’t flood your article with images – As I’ve said, images are important, but articles which contain a series of images with no or very little written content and explanation aren't going to be helpful at all.

  • Don’t write about something if you have no actual experience – When writing technical articles such as “how to’s” then make sure that you have hands on experience on the topic that you are writing. Make sure that your code is tested and working. In my case I typically write articles which I’ve done in my project or something that is frequently asked in the forums.

  • Don’t write for the sake of gaining points – Because chances are you will not focus on the content but instead on the points. This can lead you to produce poor article content because you’ll be thinking about the quantity over the quality of articles you produced.

  • Don’t make it too short – Articles should be rich in content and not just with a few words and images.

  • Don’t stop writing –Technologies are changing so fast, so keep writing and stay up to date. Remember time and practice makes you better.

Contributing to Forums

Technical forums are a very important part in the community as it is where you can ask for help and at the same time share your solution to a particular problem. To tell you the truth, the developer community helped me to become a better developer. I am a self-taught guy. I remember when I got my first job; I had been assigned to develop solutions using .NET, and it scared me because I didn't have any experience in the framework and the worst was not being really familiar about the web and how stuff works in a stateless world. I struggled a lot during those times and with the help of the technical community I was able to understand the basics and learned something each day. In turn, I tried to give back to the community by helping other developers solve issues.

The Asker

The majority of the members in the forums are the “askers” who post a question. Most of them are confused about how to even ask a question. So if you are an asker and you stumble into this article then I hope this will help you find your way in the forums and get your forum question answered.

A few months back I wrote an article about Programming Problems and Finding Solutions and I would like to re-iterate the things that I listed on that article here as a reference for the askers.

As with any online community, standard rules and guidelines should be followed. Whereas this article doesn't represent a complete set of forum guidelines, it covers some of the more common issues/questions you might come across as you begin to participate.

Here are the tips:

  • Make use of the search functionality. Before you post a question then try to search for similar issues first. This website provides an internal forum search that may save you a lot of time.

  • Avoid thread-jacking. Thread-jacking is the practice of appending your question to an existing thread in a forum and reviving old and resolved threads. Adding your question to a current thread might be considered very rude. It's a bit like walking in on someone else's conversation and shouting "Hey, can you look at this?" If anyone answers your question, the thread is likely to get very confused and mixed up and no one will be quite sure who is addressing which problem. So please create your own thread for your own issue.

  • Post your question to a more specific forum section. This means, don't post SQL Server question to an ASP.NET Web Development forum section. It's not uncommon to be a bit overwhelmed at first by the number of individual forums in any online community site. Finding the correct forum to submit your post plays a very important role in ultimately receiving an answer to your question so go ahead and take a moment to look around and familiarize yourself with all that's available.

  • Avoid duplicate posts and don't post the same question to a different forum section. This will help you easily manage your thread and focus only on a single thread. Remember: Always pick the most specific forum that relates to your question.

  • Provide a meaningful title to the post. "I have a problem! Help!!" is not meaningful. "URGENT!!!" suggests you are late with your homework. Also adding exclamation point “!” to your subject is a bit rude and nobody is interested with that so be careful.

  • Make the title relevant to your problem. "GridView Problem" followed by a description of the failure to update a database will get the wrong people looking at your post.

  • Be specific. Don't just say your code "Doesn't work" or "is broken." Explain what you are trying to do. What steps did you take? What happened? What have you already tried to resolve the problem? Please note that you are looking for a solution and not giving details about your problem is just a big waste of time and 99% of the time you will not get any answer.

  • Please state what you've tried so far to fix the problem. I've seen so many times where people reply to a post with suggestions and the OP/TS replies with a "I've already tried that!!" That is a huge time-waster.

  • Show the relevant code and error message if appropriate. By relevant I mean sufficient to see the lines of codes that produced the error in the context. Unless needed, posting the entire source code or attaching the entire project is just a waste of time as most contributors have a limited time only and don't have time to figure out the entire code by themselves.

  • Paste the actual code you are using, not a typo-ridden syntactic-rubbish "something that looks like it." How could someone help you with code that is not readable? Also be sure to always format your codes when posting it to make them readable. No one is interested in looking at code that is messed up.

  • If you need to use an image as part of your post, be sure to preview it to be sure the link works.

  • Specify which language you prefer, if that is not obvious from your code. Also state which database type and version you are using, if your question is database-related. Remember: Be specific.

  • Don't mix your thread with multiple questions since it can be very confusing to people reading it. Also answers on the thread will become mixed up and future readers will have a hard time finding the right solution that helped you. Instead create a separate topic for each of your questions.

  • Read what you have written before submitting your post. If English isn't your first language and you haven't taken the trouble to ensure that your post makes sense, no one will spend time trying to make sense of it for you.

  • Don't apologize for being new to anything. Everyone was once.

  • Don't get frustrated right away when you don't get responses from members in the forums. You should keep in mind that most members are just volunteers (unpaid members) just like you and me. So you can't really expect to get a prompt response especially if your query is more complex and unfamiliar that would need more analysis and time. Volunteers like you also work for a living. So just be patient.

  • Finally, when you get the answer to your question be sure to mark the post(s) that help you as the answer. This way a future reader that might stumble upon your thread and is looking for the same solution can easily determine which post actually helps. Don't just abandon your thread when you get an answer. Note that a forum is a community, so please do your responsibility as an “asker” or “thread- starter.”

The Answerer

The “answerers” play a vital role in the forums as these folks are the ones providing answers to your issues or at least guiding you to the right direction.

If you contribute as an “answerer” then these are some of the tips that I would like to point out:

  • Don’t try to answer if you are after points. I know points help motivate members in participating more but it can also lead to the wrong way. Remember that when you help someone, you should forget about points; instead focus on giving a quality answer to a question. The real reward for answering is that you resolved the issues.

  • Give quality answers. It’s okay to post a link as a reference for as long as you support it and it’s relevant to the question. If your answer requires a sample code then feel free to give a code snippet with an explanation to your code.

  • Be kind to others when replying and respect each other. If you see someone who’s rude and disrespectful then feel free to notify the site admin.

  • Read the question carefully before giving a reply. I often see people who are just giving links and wrong information; this is because they will just read the question title and not the details of the question. This can result in flooding the thread with meaningless replies and helpful replies will not be noticed.

  • Don’t post a duplicate reply. I’ve seen cases that someone will just copy the answer of the previous answerer. This doesn’t give any value to the thread and to the “asker.”

  • Don’t stop contributing to forums. Being involved in forums can really help you grow as a professional developer. You will learn many things over time and test your skills in solving real-world problems.

Contributing to the Community

Aside from writing articles and participating in the forums, C# Corner provides many areas in the site that you might be also interested to contribute and these are:

  • Writing Blogs – A blog is perfect place to write about anything such as your opinions, technologies, and much more. You can think of it as a shorter version of an article.

  • Making Videos – This site also allows you to submit videos for as long as it’s related to technologies. If you are not into writing articles then perhaps you might consider creating video tutorials instead.

  • Writing EBooks – You can also write books. Site editors will gladly help you with making your books.

  • Participate in Interview section– Answering interview questions is another way to test your skills and capability. You can also write your own interview questions and see how different people answer your question.

  • Submit Ideas – C# corner is a free community and it’s growing even more, so if you have any cool idea in mind then don’t hesitate to share it.

There’s More!

Finally, join a Chapter and participate in local groups. Getting involved in a group helps you grow as a professional plus you get the chance to interact with the group members personally and talk about interesting things. If there’s no chapter in your local area and you are interested in making one then don’t hesitate to approach the site admins and I’m sure they will be happy to assist you.

That’s it! If there’s anything that you’d like to add in the list, feel free to drop a comment.