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Building Online Communities: JuliaLangES

Ismael Venegas Castelló is a data analyst and organizer of the JuliaLangES community in Mexico, focused on Spanish users of the Julia Language. Learn about their approach to community building and visit the JuliaLangES channel on Gitter!

Tell us about a little bit about yourself and the JuliaLangES community. How did it all begin?

My name is Ismael, and I’m the main JuliaLangEs community organizer. It all started when I read about the Julia meetups organized around the world, and I wanted to meet the amazing people from this community. I realized I was the only Julian around where I live, and noticed how there was apparently no Julian activity in Mexico, which made me decide to start a meetup group and get the ball rolling.

Julia is a programming language developed mainly to solve the “two language problem” so pervasive in technical computing domains, in which one needs a (slow) high-level language for prototyping and a (fast) low-level language for deploying solutions.

This has made Julia performance a primary concern, but it also has other important aspects, such as ease of use and flexibility. This actually makes Julia a great general purpose programming language, instead of a domain specific one.

What common goals do you have as a community?

Our aim is to help the Spanish speaking community to promote, learn, teach, use, translate and improve Julia itself.

What issues related to the project are you most excited about these days?

I’m very excited about Julia’s future and it’s path towards a 1.0 version. Being developed in the open has made Julia the perfect project for me to learn and contribute to.

What are the main issues discussed in the JuliaLang channel on Gitter?Everything! From support of simple questions to deeply complex issues with Julia code. What’s best about Gitter is the amount of integration it has with GitHub. Moreover, many new Gitter chat rooms start to appear for various Julia packages, not just the main Julia one.

What are the most important factors that you have taken into account while creating and maintaining the community?

The most important factors are openness, being inclusive, respectful and helpful.

What are the key challenges that you encounter while managing the community?

The greatest challenge is keeping in touch with others in the community, especially give that we are spread all around the globe and live in different time zones.

How do you encourage participants’ commitment and contribution to the community?

I encourage them to start their own local meetups, and help them with any organizational advice I can think of. I also teach them how to contribute to the Julia project itself, via opening new issues, sending pull requests, help testing, debugging and translating, and so on.

Based on your experience, do you feel that the open source communities have changed and evolved over the past years? If so, how?

Yes, I think it’s important not only to have an open source codebase, but also an open community around it. I believe that people begin to realize this now more than ever.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start an online open source community from scratch?

Just do it! Don’t wait for someone else to start it so you can jump in. The key to success is to use the right tools that will let you be in touch with your community. Invite others to help you in your organizational duties as you go along, and be persistent and patient. The most important thing is to enjoy it and share your joy.