Dev.to: The most Pleasant Online Community.

Earlier this year, the developer centric social network DEV started popping up regularly in the portions of The Internet I frequent. And for the past month or so, I’ve been loading up the home page almost as frequently as Reddit.

The site itself is like some sort of impossible hybrid combination of Twitter, Stackoverflow and Livejournal. They describe themselves as:

Where programmers share ideas and help each other grow. It is an online community for sharing and discovering great ideas, having debates, and making friends.

In function, it’s a blogging platform much like every blogging platform that is come before LiveJournal, blogspot, tumblr, medium, etc. With a markdown-based editor which I assuming is intentionally “programmy” to make developers feel at home.
Unlike blogging platforms that have come before, dev.to allows creators to easily repost via RSS, maintaining a canonical link to you original post! They have no desire to own the intellectual properly.

In substance, it’s much like stackoverflow, crossed with r/programming or hacker news. Somewhat like stackoverflow, developers post questions relevant to every aspect of development (programming, work, metal health, whatever). But also, developers post tutorials, idea, projects, etc like a reddit or hacker news.
Unlike other developer communities, the entire site is an open source project that anybody can contribute to!.

In form, it’s much like Twitter. The homepage is a reverse-chronological-algorithm-sorted feed (based on your interests) of posts, with headlines, hash tags, hearts and cute little avatars of everybody’s faces.
Unlike Twitter, you’re not limited to hearting a post, you can also unicorn it (I don’t know why).

As a whole, DEV manages to be the most diverse and positive communities I’ve been a part member of in a long long time. By diverse, I mean in every way! By positive, I just mean, people are generally nice and pleasant. You can ask a question and not be told “you asked it wrong” (like they would be on stackoverflow), receive 100 snarky sarcastic replies (like Twitter), or “your dum” (like reddit).

Frankly, I’m not sure how they’re pulling it off. Perhaps it’s because the site is so niche. Or maybe it’s because it’s so small (< 200,000 members at the moment, which is tiny), maybe they haven’t reached the tipping point where toxic individuals are able to dominate the conversation. The fact that the founder Ben Halpern seems to be one of the nicest people on The Internet can’t hurt either.


With all the negative press surrounding the big social networks, I’ve been expecting a some venture capital funded behemoth to replace them any day now. In the same way that Facebook killed MySpace or Reddit killed Digg, I assumed there would be a bigger player that destroys Facebook or Twitter.

But now I’m wondering if niche networks like DEV are the way of the future and it will be more of a death by a thousand cuts for the likes of Facebook.

Whatever might be the case, DEV is a welcome return to a kinder, simpler internet and I love it.

I wonder if there are other niche social networks like that I’m missing out on?

Please don’t customize social media icons

When I put on my front-end developer hat, I’m often the last line of defence between the client and an unfortunate typo, bad idea or missed opportunity. I’m the last pair of eyes to examine a design before it hits the development environment. Designers probably hate me for it, but if I see a design choice that doesn’t make sense to me, I’ll mention it.

One of the most common design choice that irks me is customized social media icons. Web designers seem to have an inescapable need to redesign Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, whatever.app’s icons to match the overall look and feel of the site. One one hand, I can almost understand the appeal, these logos can stick out like a sore thumb. On the other hand, that’s the entire point!

Brands like Twitter and Facebook spend massive amounts of time and money tweaking their identity. They spend even more money marketing their brand, getting it in everybody’s face. Facebook’s white ‘F’, Twitter’s blue bird are immediately recognizable. In my humble opinion, if you actually want website’s visitor to notice and use those sharing features I’m supposed to implement, it’s probably a good idea to follow the social network’s brand guidelines. If you want people to share your content or follow the @account, it’s not a great idea to have the social media icons BLEND IN WITH THE REST OF THE SITE!

I’d love to do an A/B test to examine this theory.