On the 5th of April 2020, we introduced a new help channel system at Python Discord. This article is a supplementary guide to explain precisely where to go to find help.
We have two different kinds of help channels in our community - Topical help channels, and general help channels. Where you should go depends on what you need help with. These channels also attract different helpers, and move at different speeds, which affects the kind of help you're likely to receive, and how fast you get that help.
Topical help channels
The topical help channels move at a slower pace than the general help channels. They also sometimes attract domain experts - for example,
#async has CPython contributors who helped write asyncio, and in
#game-development you can find the creators and maintainers of several game frameworks. If your question fits into the domain of one of our topical help channels, and if you're not in a big hurry, then this is probably the best place to ask for help.
Some of the topical help channels have a broad scope, so they can cover many (somewhat) related topics. For example,
#data-science covers scientific Python, statistics, and machine learning, while
#algos-and-data-structs covers everything from data structures and algorithms to maths.
To help you navigate this, we've added a list of suggested topics in the topic of every channel. If you're not sure where to post, feel free to ask us which channel is relevant for a topic in
General help channels
Our general help channels move at a fast pace, and attract a far more diverse spectrum of helpers. This is a great choice for a generic Python question, and a good choice if you need an answer as soon as possible. It's particularly important to ask good questions when asking in these channels, or you risk not getting an answer and having your help channel be claimed by someone else.
How to claim a channel
There are always 2 available help channels waiting to be claimed in the Python Help: Available category.
In order to claim one, simply start typing your question into one of these channels. Once your question has been posted, you have claimed this channel, and the channel will be moved down to the Python Help: Occupied category.
If you're unable to type into these channels, this means you're currently on cooldown. In order to prevent someone from claiming all the channels for themselves, we only allow someone to claim a new help channel every 15 minutes. However, if you close your help channel using the
!dormant command, this cooldown is reset early.
This message is always posted when a channel becomes available for use.
For how long is the channel mine?
The channel is yours until it has been inactive for 30 minutes. When this happens, we move the channel down to the Python Help: Dormant category, and make the channel read-only. After a while, the channel will be rotated back into Python Help: Available for the next question. Please try to resist the urge to continue bumping the channel so that it never gets marked as inactive. If nobody is answering your question, you should try to reformulate the question to increase your chances of getting help.
You'll see this message in your channel when the channel is marked as inactive.
I don't need my help channel anymore, my question was answered. What do I do?
Once you have finished with your help channel you or a staff member can run
!dormant. This will move the channel to the Python Help: Dormant category where it will sit until it is returned to circulation. You will only be able to run the command if you claimed the channel from the available category, you cannot close channels belonging to others.
Are only Helpers supposed to answer questions?
Absolutely not. We strongly encourage all members of the community to help answer questions. If you'd like to help answer some questions, simply head over to one of the help channels that are currently in use. These can be found in the Python Help: Occupied category.
Anyone can type in these channels, and users who are particularly helpful may be offered a chance to join the staff on Python Discord.
I lost my help channel!
No need to panic. Your channel was probably just marked as dormant. All the dormant help channels are still available at the bottom of the channel list, in the Python Help: Dormant category, and also through search. If you're not sure what the name of your help channel was, you can easily find it by using the Discord Search feature. Try searching for
from:<your nickname> to find the last messages sent by yourself, and from there you will be able to jump directly into the channel by pressing the Jump button on your message.
The dormant help channels can be found at the bottom of the channel list.