When you’re just starting out, the tech world can feel pretty intimidating. That’s why open Slack groups are so ideal for tech beginners: You can get career advice, coding help, and general support without ever leaving your chair. Even better? You’ll meet mentors and friends from all across the world—and I probably don’t need to tell you that having a network can make all the difference.To help you figure out which Slack groups to join (there’s a ton), I’ve rounded up the best communities for those new to tech. These groups meet a couple criteria:
Active: If there’s not a fairly regular stream of conversation, you probably won’t get much use from the community. Having a ton of members isn’t necessary, but having involved members is.
Collaborative: There’s nothing wrong with the occasional self-promotion. However, if everyone’s saying, “Check out my app!” and no one’s actually, well, checking out the apps, that’s no good. All of the communities on this list are filled with members that give just as much as they get.
Organized: While open Slack groups are usually pretty casual, having an organized leader is crucial. He or she will arrange meetups, introduce new channels and archive old ones, and keep the activity going.
Respectful: A general attitude of respect, humility, and kindness is crucial! You’ll never want to ask questions if you’re worried about the reaction you’ll get.Without further ado, here are my 11 top picks.
Anyone who’s interested in programming is welcome in #devchat. Since there’s no restrictions on language, framework, experience level, or location, you’ll find a great mix of people. Thanks to the variety, there’s also a ton of different channels you can join. Use Python? Join the Python channel. Want to discuss Flask or Django? Those have their own channels as well. With more than 55 options, you can easily find your niche. Plus, #devchat members are friendly and helpful, making this group a good resource for when you’re stuck.
2. iOS Developers
If you want to talk all things Apple, check out this lively Slack community. It’s currently got almost 6,900 members—around 600 of which are online at any given moment. In the general channel, you’ll find people discussing their projects, asking for suggestions, and doling out advice. There are also channels for sharing apps you’ve created, finding open jobs, sharing libraries and frameworks, linking to resources, and more.
Maybe you’re more interested in Google’s mobile OS. In that case, check out AndroidChat, a Slack group with 17 channels and approximately 2,000 members.The jobs board is the most active channel, which is handy when you’re looking for a new position. In addition, you’ll be able to join channels for design, development, and libraries. Those new to the tech world will get a ton of value from the #beginners and #troubleshooting channels.
4. FEDs on Slack
5. Code Community
Code Community, which has just over 1,100 members, is open to anyone who’s interested in code. There are separate channels for most of the languages, along with other niche topics (for instance, #chefusers, #aws, and #dockerdockerdocker). Joining a group with such variety is really valuable. To give you an idea, imagine you wanted to get feedback on a feature you just created. If you went to a highly specialized Slack community (like, say, AngularChat) everyone commenting would probably have similar technical perspectives. But by getting feedback from the Code Community member, you’ll get a range of opinions.
6. Designer Hangout
Future user experience designers and front-end developers: I suggest getting on the wait-list for this group ASAP. Each applicant is hand-vetted, which means the confirmation process takes a while. But it also means that, despite having more than 6,000 members, you’re guaranteed not to run into any spam.Designer Hangout’s partners include InVision, and O’Reilly Media. Basically, that means each company has its own channel where you can discuss its products and reach out to its employees. Cool, right? If you had a question about how to do something in Balsamiq, you could simply hop into Designer Hangout, and get an answer immediately.
7. Dear Designers
Dear Designers was created so that new and prospective designers can anonymously get help from experienced designers from startups, enterprise software, and agencies. To be considered eligible to join, you need to have less than two years of experience. (Mentors need five-plus years.) Having a community to turn to when you’re feeling insecure, unsure, or anxious can make a huge difference. And Dear Designers doesn’t just provide emotional support: You can also get practical advice, like “Which tool should I use for this task?”, “Which skills should I learn next?”, “How do I present my work with confidence?”, and so forth.
8. Ruby Developers
If you’re interested in talking about Ruby or Ruby on Rails, Ruby Developers will be right up your alley. As far as open Slack communities go, it’s relatively small: Just over 1,500 people belong, and there are only nine channels.One of those channels, #beginners_and_mentors, is especially perfect if you’re looking for advice or feedback. Any time someone has a question, multiple users typically jump in with suggestions. The #rails channel sees a lot of discussion as well.
9. Design Talks
This group encompasses a pretty wide range of professionals, from web developers and UI/UX designers to back-end and product developers. The one thing everyone has in common? A passion for design. When you want to explore a specific subset, there are channels devoted to UI design, UX design, front-end design, and graphic design.The #resources channel is also really helpful. Here, member share both physical and digital resources, including books, supplies, magazines, websites, visual assets, and more. You’ll also benefit from the #events channel—it’s periodically updated with design-oriented events around the world.
Any developer, regardless of skill level, discipline, or specialty, is welcome to join this community. This inclusivity is pretty unique (and awesome!). Yet that’s not the only thing that makes slashrocket stand out—rather than simply providing a forum for discussion, the slashrocket group also works on projects together, hosts events (most recently, a hackathon), and holds regular Google Hangouts.Two of the most popular channels are #newbies and #team-projects. In the first channel, you can request help with a language or framework, while in the second you can collaborate on projects with other programmers.
If you're interested in becoming a full-stack developer and considering Flatiron School's online campus, Learn, there's a super active community of students and programming experts whom you can start engaging with from day one of trying the Intro to Programming track. Just give the free course a try and look out for the Slack channel invite!
NYCtech: a well-moderated forum for New York’s tech community.
NYC Devs: along similar lines, this Slack group is for developers in the city of New York.
Creative Tribes: this community includes not just programmers and designers, but writers, marketers, entrepreneurs—basically, anyone who’s interested in building products.
Mind the Product: the Slack extension of the well-known international product community of the same name.
HackerX: an opportunity to participate in networking, Q&A, feedback, and discussion with tech-oriented professionals.
EmberJS: more than 5,700 people use this Slack group to talk about Ember.js features, architecture, and best practices.
Team Sketch: a group for Sketch users.
Larachat: this is a lively group for discussing Laravel news, nuances, tools, issues, and versions.
Angular Buddies: with 90-plus channels, you’re guaranteed to find AngularJS topics you’re interested in.
Node.js: a real-time discussion place for “literally anything related to node.js.” Everyone is welcome.
PHP-UserGroup: a community of PHP users across the world.
Swift Noobs: a group dedicated to learning Swift (great if you want a study group).
#botmakers: a space for botmakers and bot enthusiasts to collaborate and share bots for Slack, Twitter, Reddit, and more.
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This post was written by Aja Frost, who covers business, tech, productivity, and careers.