In my previous post I’ve mentioned my entry to programming was first via C++ and afterwards I wandered of into the wide fields of web development. A fundamental problem back then for me was that I did not have any money and that properly running a website required you to have a static IP with a Webserver that ideally could not only deliver static content like HTML, CSS and images, but also included PHP to have dynamic content.
One of those hosters, that offered free webspace was cybton.com. As it did not have any ads on the pages offered through the webspace itself and had a cool community with a bonus system, that was the one I’ve opted for. The bonus system allowed you to upgrade your webspace to get more disk space and other cool features. You could earn points to “buy” those perks by actively engaging in the community. Imagine those fake internet points from stackoverflow would allow you to get a free server.
It was super successful and at its peek, the community was super active and newcomers were quickly helped with getting their project started. One thing I remember quite clearly back then was the mostly German based folks were very understanding for people with no coding background. Things got explained multiple times and in detail until the original poster understood.
Good community guidelines, moderation and patience of the members lead to a very welcoming atmosphere. One I was proud to be part of. When I compare it to other forums that I was active on in the good old days, there was none of the aggressiveness of “GIYF” as an answer to every question. There were some repetitive questions, but those were usually quickly helped by linking the solution instead of telling others that they are not using search correctly.
I think this is something todays platforms for coding advice often get wrong. Yes, repetition is bad for having well organized structured information or being an encyclopedia, but for humans repetition is a necessity. We do it literately from when we first go to school: we learn with the teacher first and repeat using homework and exercises. Our brain learns by realizing that one solution works, after seeing it several times.
Stackoverflow has become so good at delivering just the right answer for almost any question that the learning effect goes down to zero. Most answers contain exactly that one snippet of code you are looking for and every time you need it, you try to search for that one question with the answer. Because lets be honest, how many of you actually read the whole posts before trying out the code snippet?
Coming back to cybton.com, I just recently had to think about it and wandered off to check it out. Just a few months/years back it was still running and I logged in for good old sake. Unfortunately the owners finally did decide that the old system was due to be turned off after 15 years of operation. That was the place I first learned about PHP, dynamic programming, OOP and lots more – ahhh, good old simple times.
I had a tear pop up when I read that message. It is a very nice gesture to recognize all the moderators that spend years on that platform. I can recall many of the names that I communicated with on a daily basis. If any of you are still reading this, reach out 😉
Finally I want to thank Alex and Benno. Both of them were excellent owners that were super supportive – even when things looked grim. They put in a lot of work for a system that was free and probably was not earning them too much money. I was lucky enough to work together with Alex at his company anexia.at for a few weeks as an intern a few years ago. Go check them out, they are amazing!