Problems getting development help when starting in Polkadot ecosystem

Hi,

I’m a developer discovering the Polkadot ecosystem. I wanted to briefly share how I experienced my discovery of the dev ecosystem. Please take all this constructively. If it wasn’t constructive, I would not take the time writing this.·

My goal was to develop a small prototype of a smart contract called programmatically from a multisig account.

Developing the smart contract with Ink went surprisingly well, giving me hope to easily finish the prototype. I was wrong however.

I decided to go with PolkadotJs to write a script that would set up a multisig account and start a multisig transaction.
There are examples in the PolkadotJs documentation, but nothing regarding multisig. And getting help regarding this appeared impossible.
I think getting help for a beginner dev is a general problem in the Polkadot ecosystem.

I tried StackExchange, Telegram channels, Reddit and none were helpful. Those are resources usually recommended, but most developer questions on them stay unanswered and even without any reaction.

Substrate development is not much better (got some reactions on telegram though), with tutorials unmaintained, and questions about them staying without reaction.

The multisig feature is also strangely implemented and cumbersom to use.

Even if you think that I couldn’t implement my prototype due to a lack of skills at my side, it doesn’t invalidate my point that beginners don’t get the help they need to get onboarded. I shouldn’t have to enroll in the Polkadot Blockchain Academy to implement scripts that issue and validate a multisig transaction.

I hope you consider this feedback as useful

cheers

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@ytresza I can certainly appreciate your feedback and acknowledge your experience.

There is certainly a more aggressive shift in this community from “constantly shipping cutting edge tech” to making a more active effort to support our technical community.

See the following:

This should address at least some of the concerns you are finding like documentation / resources which are out of date.

These are problems that take time to fix, but something I hope you can see that we are keeping in mind.

Of the places you were searching for help, I don’t think Telegram or Reddit will be a place for technical support.

However, I am surprised that StackExchange had also left you with no answer.

I am pretty happy with the statistic on StackExchange that 81% of questions are answered, but of course we can do better. One solution which is built into the StackExchange platform is to create a reputation bounty on a question you want answered: What is a bounty? How can I start one? - Help Center - Substrate and Polkadot Stack Exchange

That being said, I will take a look at your questions on StackExchange and see what information I can provide you.

Even if you think that I couldn’t implement my prototype due to a lack of skills at my side, it doesn’t invalidate my point that beginners don’t get the help they need to get onboarded. I shouldn’t have to enroll in the Polkadot Blockchain Academy to implement scripts that issue and validate a multisig transaction.

I think one last issue I would like to present from the perspective of those trying to help onboard new users to our ecosystem is that there is really a ton of people, and there just isn’t enough resources to hand hold everyone.

Our StackExchange has, at the time of writing, over 5,000 questions of which I am pretty happy to say that 81% of them have an accepted answer.

We support over 50 live parachain teams on both Polkadot and Kusama, which each have their own whole development team asking for help and resources.

Through the academy, we have spent in person, 1:1 time with hundreds of talented engineers. You are right that it shouldn’t be that you have to enroll to get answers to your question, but you can understand that when the bottleneck in the ecosystem is getting enough answers, that things like the Academy allow us to focus our resources and time.

I think one strategy we are following in terms of educations is creating more reusable, long living content, closer to the source code of Polkadot SDK itself. We are also looking to educate more educators, rather than builders directly. We need more people who are able to answer questions, or find the answer when they don’t know it.

If you spoke to people who joined our ecosystem 1 year ago, I think they would go crazy to show you all the ways our developer experience has improved over that year. And I can only hope that you would feel the same 1 year from today. That is our north star.

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Thanks for your extensive answer!

However, I am surprised that StackExchange had also left you with no answer.

Could it be that PJS questions have a lower rate of answer? The StackExchange seems to be catered to pallets and parachains devs. Actually, the examples you give of developers support (50 parachains dev team, Academy) are also aimed at what I would call core devs who are developing the infrastucture. But developers building on that infrastructure don’t seem to have been a focus point at this time.

I’m such a dev looking to build on the infrastructure set in place by polkadot and its parachains, and my biggest problem was that I didn’t know where to ask and get help. For example PJS and Ink do not have a section “Getting help” on their website or in their git repos. The stackexchange being named “substrate” I hesitated to post my questions there.

I think one last issue I would like to present from the perspective of those trying to help onboard new users to our ecosystem is that there is really a ton of people, and there just isn’t enough resources to hand hold everyone.

It’s not a question to hand hold. I think when you discover a new technology, it’s normal to ask questions that are seen as basic to advanced devs (hence the hand holding reference). Some devs also like to be part of a community on which they can rely. If each project had a well identified place where discussion can take place and questions can be asked, it would allow new users to help each others too.

IIUC one goal of agile coretime is to attract more casual developers and experimenters, that like me are not interested (yet?) in building a parachain but want to build a DApp on the infrastructure available. It would be good to have a scalable way to support them. I personally like forums for that purpose, as their content is searchable and they allow discussion threads (more than StackExchange). Like you said, the current approach to supporting new devs doesn’t scale, and if Agile Coretime brings in more casual devs, the problem will only get bigger. Part of the solution might be to have a rallying place where these casual devs can have discussions and help each others.

A bonus would be having one moderator able to bring in core devs when needed (so the core devs don’t have to continuously monitor the forum themselves. Kind of like my initial message triggered you to have a look at my PJS questions on StackExchange).

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Hey @ytresza :wave:

Thanks a lot for taking the time to voice your criticism!

In addition to what you already discussed with Shawn, I can offer you to take time and hook you up with the people that can help you with your questions. You can reach me on Telegram : @alice_und_bob

I will also take notes of the issues your described and forward them to people working to improve DevEx

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Hey @ytresza

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. It is very good to hear that your initial prototyping with Ink! went well. It shows its robustness and importance within our ecosystem.

The “Getting help” section for the ink! repository and website is great feedback and I will make sure that this is added next week.

As for communication with other ink! developers we have the telegram group: Telegram: Contact @inkathon. Normally ink! related questions get answered on Substrate Stackexchange but it is good to know that the ink! community can be more active to help new developers with their Polkadot development journey

If there is anything else we can improve in the developer experience regarding ink! development, please share here or in the telegram group. Again, thank you very much for your feedback.

Daan | Pop

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Hi @Daanvdplas

Thanks for your reaction!

FYI, the “Stay Updated” link on buidl.onpop.io gives me an error when opened in Telegram: Username @pop_Network not found.

As for the info on the pop page itself, maybe I am missing something obvious, but it’s not clear to me if it’s available or not. It’s described as if it were available, but I don’t see links to install it. Hoping I’m not making a fool of myself by missing something on the page :grimacing:

I have shared the same high level feedback, different issues all together! I have shared several programs for learning rust for Polkadot with collage age young adults and they have experienced an issue with someone to answer their questions, even on forums. I am hoping the upcoming Encode Club will resolve it. There isn’t a lack of people who would love to learn, I think there is a lack of process to support it when they’re unbale to solve an issue. This makes it a very high level of entry.

Hi @ytresza.
The “Stay Updated” link has been fixed.

You’re right, the download information is missing from that page. We will correct this soon. For now, you can visit our documentation site https://learn.onpop.io/

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