Seth and I were chatting about this privately; at his suggestion, I’m taking it over here for a little brainstorming.
Over on scala/scala this morning, one of the newer folks was remarking about how the channel was kind of overwhelming – I got the vibe that they felt that it was a little discouraging. I think it’s worth taking that seriously, because I can easily see how it would come across that way.
Being the “general” channel, it includes conversations of wildly varying depth, and the (nearly constant) meaty language-theory debates can get really voluble. The result is fairly frequent periods when the newbie questions can easily get lost in the noise, and that go way over their heads. For someone who is just starting out, that feels a little unfriendly and unhelpful, even if everyone is behaving themselves well.
The newbie in question suggested the creation of a “beginner’s” channel; I think that’s worth considering. Having a “safer space” for new folks, who just want to ask for pointers and find out why their code doesn’t work, is likely to be helpful, especially for those who aren’t already hardcore code junkies and are less confident about this stuff. (Yes, users.scala-lang occupies this niche, but I suspect we should have something cognate on the Gitter side of the fence as well.)
I don’t propose channel splits casually, and there are some obvious problems here – not least that scala/scala is probably always going to be the easiest to find. I’m by no means sure of the right way to handle this. But I do think it’s a real problem, so I’d like to encourage a little brainstorming and discussion…