DuckDuckHack Interview: Ben Schattinger
We're finding out more about contributors to DuckDuckGo with a series of developer profiles. Here's an interview with first-time contributor Ben Schattinger who created an Instant Answer showing privacy-related addon sources for various browsers.
Tell us a bit about where you live and what you do to relax.
I live in Ohio. To relax, I mostly just play video games when I'm not working on a project.
How did you get into coding?
I got into coding through Scratch when I was about 5 years old, then I started playing with Lua.
Why did you decide to make an Instant Answer? What are you planning next?
I always wanted to make an Instant Answer when I first learned about DuckDuckGo (I think about a year and a half ago). There was an event on Slack in August of 2015, and I decided to check it out.
Any advice for new contributors starting out?
I would say that contacting someone who has experience definitely helps. In my case, I used the DuckDuckHack Slack channel (editor: Invites available). Also, make sure that you know the language that you're working in before you start. I made my IA with knowledge of many languages, but not Perl. I feel that learning the language beforehand (as always recommended, of course) is always best, but I wanted to participate in the event and I didn't have enough time to learn.
How would you improve DuckDuckHack and Instant Answer development?
I would say that improving documentation for the visual elements (handlebars, etc) would be helpful, as it was the reason for 50% of the chat in my PR. It was probably just my inexperience, however.
Most of us are studying or working full-time. How do you manage your time to code for things like DuckDuckHack?
I'm actually quite young, so I don't have a job (yet). I do have to manage my time with school, though. I really don't have that much of a schedule, I just do it whenever I have time. I do have (many) side projects that I do for fun, some of which I have on GitHub. What I do is switch between them — I work on a DuckDuckGo project until I don't know how to improve it further and I ask for help. If I get stressed out or bored, I work on another project. Then, I work on something else for a while.
Finally, if you could code anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Hmm... "anywhere" being a location, company, or both? A location: San Francisco wouldn't be bad, but because I live in Ohio would require some adjustment with the climate. Realistically, anywhere would probably be fine. A company: DuckDuckGo, of course :)