25 Feb

DuckDuckHack Interview: Ben Schattinger

Avatar for Ben SchattingerWe'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 :)

Thanks Ben! It's our community of developers that makes DuckDuckGo better by contributing and maintaining hundreds of Instant Answers to speed up your searching. Find out more at DuckDuckHack.com.

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Is there anything in particular that stresses you out working with DuckDuckGo, making you want to "work on another project"?

posted by zt Staff • 3 years and 23 days ago Link

Not too much - mostly it's when I finish working on my IA and commit it. However, when I am dealing with something I can't find documentation on (i.e. different variable types in Perl), I might work on something else for a while and come back to it later.

posted by lights0123 • 3 years and 22 days ago Link