How to Give and Get Community Support

August 24, 2023 3 min read

This week’s DDEV Contributor Training centered on the topic of support in the DDEV community: specifically why we support each other, tips for asking and answering questions, and venues for giving and receiving support. This post was prepared (Thanks!) by Kristin Wiseman from the original presentation outline.

Why Should We Give and Receive Community Support?

Why are we giving support, and why are we involved?

DDEV is an open source tool that exists because of the generosity of community members and sponsors.

One of the great things about open source technology is the fact that we can all work together on a group project. Furthermore, although solving open source problems doesn’t require paying for support or asking for permission to answer questions, we do have to be engaged with the community.

The Dos and Don’ts of Asking and Answering Questions

Dos

For everyone:

  • Always be respectful.
    This includes being respectful of language differences. Try not to use metaphors or slang that may not be easy to understand for people following along who may not have the same language background.
  • Turn every conversation into an opportunity to improve the community over the long term. Capture the problem in documentation or improvements to the source code.

For those giving support:

  • Get complete information from a question-asker.
    • Ask for a screenshot of the full output of the problem.
    • Suggest they run ddev debug test and share their output. This command is useful because it provides information about someone’s computer architecture, operating system, and whether DDEV is functioning properly.
    • Make a test repository.
  • Try to recreate the problem
    Learn as you help someone by trying to recreate their problem. A test repository is a good place to recreate a problem, and can be referenced later in the issue queue.
  • Give people tools, not only answers.
    Help them find the place in the DDEV docs or Stack Overflow where their question is answered. Remember that we’re trying to make them members of the community who can support others.

For those receiving support:

  • When you receive an answer, be respectful of the community by documenting the answer if it hasn’t been done already.
    Remember that someone spent time with you for free. And you’re saying you don’t have the time to write up an issue on GitHub or a question on Stack Overflow?
  • If someone gives you an answer, respond to let them know you received it and whether (or not) it worked.

Don’ts

  • Don’t forget that everybody comes from a different background.
    There are many layers of knowledge and experience required to understand something. Someone asking for help may not know how to change directories from the command line or they could be an experienced web developer. When you’re giving support, it’s important to recognize what knowledge someone may be missing even though it’s not always possible to fill in those knowledge gaps.
  • Don’t be afraid that you’re not smart or experienced enough to give support.
    Even if you don’t know the exact answer to someone’s question, participating in a conversation or trying to recreate their issue can eventually help them or help someone else solve the problem.

Venues for Giving and Receiving Support

  • The DDEV Docs are a great place to start looking for answers to straightforward questions.
  • Subscribe to the issue queue on GitHub.
  • On DDEV’s Discord, try to use #support where possible, or use threads elsewhere.
  • The DDEV tag on Stack Overflow is a great place for long-term storage of obscure answers or complicated questions. When somebody figures out the answer to an important question, try to get it written up there.
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