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DevsHelpDevs, a platform for developers helping developers

If you want to join our Slack to contribute or just to learn, send an email to mail@devshelpdevs.org

Motivation

Most developers in industrial countries take it for granted to have state of the art development computers, always fast internet and reliable electricity. I too, never spend any thought in this until I got a lot of Twitter followers from Africa and other developing countries. I learned that there is a passionate developer community who doesn't have our infrastructure but nevertheless wants for be successful in IT. Which means a lot of them code on their smartphones because they can't afford a laptop, or often Laptops that are in catastrophe conditions with too little memory and old CPUs making working slow and often impossible if new developer tools don't run on 32bit systems or need at least 8GB of RAM. Others work with keyboards that miss important working keys so that they have to copy and paste them or enter them cumbersome with the mouse. Others work with a faulty monitor which makes reading difficult or with old batteries in their laptop limiting their work time to the parts of the day where electricity is available.

When I got to know these people better, I knew we have to help them. With WE, I address all the software developers who can afford to help especially the ones in the industrial countries. Most of us have the privilege not only to be able to work with an excellent infrastructure but also getting paid very well for that. My first idea collecting used Laptops and ship them, turned out to be much more difficult and expensive at least from Germany. While I'm still looking for better ways to ship devices from here, I started to help developers who needed some upgrades or repairs for their computers by sending them money and as I can't afford to do this all the time I started to ask my Twitter followers to jump in and donate parts of what was needed. It turned out, that once the abstract need for poor developers in far countries got faces and stories it never took long to find some donors. As it's not sustainable to ask only my followers multiple times a week for money which only could help a very limited number of people and probably annoy ma followers after a while, I think we need a real platform that brings together developers in need with the once willing to help.

Goal

The goal of this project is to develop a website where developers needing support for their equipment can create a profile which describes what they need so that people willing to help, can get in touch with them.

It's definitely not the goal to create any organization that needs funds and employees doing logistics. So, we need to find other ways that allow donors a save and easy way to help. This could be:

  • Sending money for an upgrade or replacement part which is typically below $100
  • Shipping a used Laptop if there is an easy way like from the US to Nigeria
  • Pay for a used Laptop which is below $300
  • Collect money to buy new laptops

Thinking of that giving one person a working PC can change the whole live for many of these developers in need, for an amount that for most of us is no problem to afford makes me optimistic that this project can help a lot of people. Ideally this won’t end with an one-time donation but will lead to friend- and mentorships across the oceans.

Challenges

All of the above can be realized with an Web App today. To do this successfully we need to find solitons for the following challenges:

Prevent fraud and scams

Such a platform can only be successful if people trust it. So we have to come up with ideas how we can prevent any scam as much as possible. This is absolutely crucial! Some of the receiving countries are unfortunately know for scammers, that's why we need well known IT people supporting and vouching for this project.

Making it really easy to help.

People with money might be sympathetic to our cause but often are short in time. So we have to make it as easy as possible for them to select a receiver and send the money to the right place.

We need the support of the community

None of the above will be possible without the help of many people from the community for:

  • Developing this platform as Open Source in the open so that this also can be a place to learn.
  • Screening applicants for donations
  • Help in case there are problems between donors and receivers.
  • Finding trustworthy dealers for (used)Laptops and parts in the different countries.

And IMHO this system should be built by people from the countries it's aimed to help.

How will we proceed?

Unfortunately, I have no experience in web development at all, so I can't add much help in coding. However, I can act as project manager ensuring that we will reach our goal. To get everyone you want to participate started I have active the discussions on this repository and already started some threads with questions that we need to answer before we can start doing anything. We will start with a minimal feature set to get it launched fast and then add more features as we go.

I hope to meet you there!

Thomas

You can reach me on Twitter @ThomasBurkhartB

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Let's develop a community run charity platform that helps to provide developers with the needed tools to work

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