Hi everyone, another update. This time it’s about community. I’m one of the organizers for NYC Python. Due to COVID-19 we’re no longer able to meet in person for our weekly project nights on Wednesdays. We are using Discord to keep our weekly project nights going. We just finished our third week so far and it looks to be a success!

Why go virtual?

People aren’t meant to be isolated for so long, so we wanted to give some sense of normalcy during these times, and what’s more normal than continuing to talk with your fellow community members?

How we decided on Discord

Project night is an event that is meant to be social and interactive. The idea is that our events are a place where you can network and make friends, and it’s really easy to do that at project night. The set up is we have some tables where people hang out and hack on their own projects. We need a way to simulate this as closely as possible. Zoom was mentioned, but it isn’t very conducive for multiple people to be discussing different topics. Discord has exactly everything we needed since it is designed not just for friends, but for communities too.

Here’s what Discord gives us:

  • Multiple voice channels where people can discuss with one another, simulating the tables we would normally sit at.
  • Everyone at these tables can share their screen with one another for others to view. Just like if we were all talking with each other about a project at the tables.
  • Multiple text channels, for talking about different topics in Python and programming in general, plus announcements.

Everyone is able to join the server and speak with one another if it’s through text or voice and work on, share, or troubleshoot their projects together. It is also very easy to join in on a conversation in the middle if you’re just arriving once you join a voice channel, or table, as you would normally in person.

There were a couple of small bumps where there was a bit of confusion among our members on how to use Discord, as not everybody will understand at first that they can all speak or share their screens at once and how to switch between the screens. This is where our meetup organizers come in to encourage people to socialize and teach them Discord culture. To make this possible in our own group, I asked my fellow organizers to join me and try out all the features and see exactly how far we could push Discord. Once the events started we began talking with our members and showing people how to do the same.

I wanted to share what we’ve done so that others can do something similar. There are plenty of other communities out there with needs that are very similar to ours.

If you’re in NYC and interested in Python, you’re welcome to join us! You can find us on Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/nycpython/

Our event page updates with a new invite link the day of each event. Please note that we do have a code of conduct which you can find here: https://www.meetup.com/nycpython/messages/boards/thread/51565172

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!