Update & Revive KACS
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Recently, the Khan Academy Computer Science section has been having problems. There has been fake drama, a plague of subscription programs (voting rings), and problems with the platform itself.
For example, the live editor is no longer accepting even the smallest requests, and has many problems. New tutorials are no longer being added, while the adaptation of Processing being used has many restrictions (no localStorage, etc), and is a far cry from real Canvas.
To fix these problems, a dedicated group of former and current KACS users have come up with a list of solutions for the problems. To make these become reality, many of are willing to donate our time to this cause. The list of solutions is below.
Outlaw subscription programs. These programs are like voting rings, and give an unfair advantage to more popular programs. They also make it more likely a bad program will become popular. To fix this, make these programs strictly against the rules in the Guidelines, and the community can flag any that are made. Instead, encourage blogs on Khan Academy. This allows programmers to get messages out to their fans and the community, without creating a voting ring. More advanced programmers can make templates so that the less advanced ones can still have blogs. Blogs will be allowed a subscription thread in the Tip & Thanks to notify people of new posts. However, to prevent them from having the same problem as subscription pages, cannot post programs or a specific time when they will release them either in the blog itself or in the blog update thread.
- Eradicate message and drama programs. This will be done by flagging them if you see them on the Hot List. A message program is one that is there purely to say a message (ex. I'm leaving KA, etc). Instead they can be posted on the programmer's blog. Drama programs are any that perpetuate any on- or off-site drama. Adding these to the list of disallowed types of programs on the guidelines would be a must.
- Drama in general has to go. Drama harms the community, and the point of KACS isn't to be a social network but a resource and community for programmers, both new and advanced alike. Drama includes things like making a big deal out of leaving KA, fights with other community members, and perpetuating arguments from both on- and off-site. This should definitely be against the guidelines.
- Update KACS's live editor. The live editor and its version of Processing has many bugs (there's a ton on GH) and shortcomings (only 3 canvas dimensions, no localStorage, etc). Many of the bugs could be fixed without too much trouble, but KA is no longer accepting pull requests on GitHub. Not all of the shortcomings would be all that hard to fix, too. However, if KA turned the live editor into more of a community project and encouraged their more advanced members to try to help with it, I'm confident the bugs would be fixed much quicker and shortcomings addressed. KA has a wealth of experienced and advanced programmers using their site, and taking advantage of that seems logical.
- Speaking of those advanced programmers, KACS needs more advanced and real-world content. For instance, the problem many programmers have is that when they leave KACS, real programming is very different. They are missing many real-world skills, and to remedy this KA should add more courses on real languages like Canvas and C. This section of the site would teach people how to make basic desktop, mobile, and web apps. It should also teach them skills like using GitHub and a real editor (Sublime, VSC, etc). I say basic tutorials because the purpose of this would just be to teach them the basics so that they can decide what kind of development they want to pursue, and then recommend off-site next steps and courses for them to pursue that type of development (Udemy, Udacity, etc). That way they're set up for success in the real world of development, and have had a chance to decide what they want to pursue through basic tutorials on KA.
- We've think that a really great way to revitalize KA would be to bring contests back. This would add healthy competition to the community, and encourage people to make the highest quality programs they can. Allowing the community to submit contest ideas would be a good idea, and a select group of KA-approved programmers would pick one. Then the community would submit their contest entries, and that same group of programmers would vote on winners for contest-dependant categories (but there would for sure be beginner and advanced brackets). This would be a great way to spark some creativity and excitement.
- Add a Featured list. This would be curated by another group of KA-approved programmers. They would add truly outstanding programs that are original and innovative, and the list would be chronological. This would get more recognition for great programs and programmers, as on the Hot List the best doesn't always rise to the top. This would give the community a better idea what they should strive towards, as well as motivation to be the creator of the next featured program.
The link to this petition will most likely be posted on the Khan Academy Zendesk.
To show your support for this, sign this petition and share it with your friends. Please don't, however, spam this petition anywhere, and please stay polite and respectful to everyone. Also, petitions are against the KA guidelines, so keep this between Zendesk and Discord.
If you have any suggestions or changes you'd like made, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop by the Dusktopia Discord server.
Thanks for your time in reading this! Together we can bring back KACS! :)
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