Why We Built the JSMentors.com JavaScript Mailing List

I posted earlier this week about the launch of the JSMentors.com mailing list. So far the response has been amazing. The list has grown from 344 on Nov 29 to 900+ today. Just phenomenal growth and a testament to the need of the list. But where did this idea come from?

comp.lang.javascript Was Not for Me

I’ve been involved in the JavaScript community for some time, especially with the jQuery JavaScript library project. I’ve been fortunate to make a lot of friends who have helped me overcome many of the pitfalls and hurdles normally associated with becoming a JavaScript developer. As I began feeling more confident, I did what I feel most people do when they want to advance their skills to the next level and ventured over to comp.lang.javascript (CLJ). CLJ has a long history due to its roots in the newsgroup mediums which predated forums as the main method of communicating about many topics. I had heard that the developers there were top notch and you could find great content. To me, this was the obvious place to go. So I went. And I regretted it.

Everything people said was true. There are many incredibly smart and savvy JavaScript developers there; I would say some of the best in the world. The problem I encountered was a consistent lack of manners, courtesy and respect that completely overshadowed any of the conversations that were going on. I’m not alone in this feeling. And this seemed to be happening due to a small but vocal minority that tended to hijack any thread and turn them into their own chest-thumping diatribe. I’ve dealt with tough crowds before but even I was shocked by what was happening here. Couple that with the insane amount of spam being posted there, I knew that *I* wouldn’t be successful in this environment (CLJ) in spite of some of the great information being posted. Notice how I highlighted “*I*”. That’s because CLJ may be perfectly suited for others. I know several developers who participate and find it useful. It just wasn’t for me.

A Community Resource

So I began chatting with Asen Bozhilov about this and explained how I would love to see a list where anyone who wanted to become a better JavaScript developer could go to and participate in a courteous, respectful and professional environment. It was also important to have as many of the non-confrontational experts on CLJ serve as mentors and share their knowledge with people who genuinely wanted to learn but didn’t want to be shot down or berated due to their skill level. So Asen & I set about creating JSMentors.com. Asen is one of this super experts and he has very close ties with many of the experts on CLJ. After chatting with them a bit, many found this to be a great idea, especially since it offered them:

  • A chance to teach best practices to an ever-growing community of developers
  • A medium to publish content that they felt was important
  • An opportunity for the JavaScript world to meet these top developers and begin learning from some of the best

The important part was that each of these mentors understood that this list was going to be very different and that our goal was to nurture a community. And we made the rules of the list perfectly clear to ensure no confusion:

  • No insulting other subscribers
  • No posting racism
  • No spam publications

This had to be different from CLJ to work. It had to focus not only on the language but also the community.

JSMentors.com is Born

The list was launched with little fanfare. We wanted it to grow organically to see how people would react and that was a great tact. Since launching, we’ve steadily grown the mailing list as well as the list of mentors. The great thing is that we’re getting top-level developers involved who would never had considered participating in CLJ due to the tough nature of communication there. This was exactly what we wanted. A place where developers of ALL skill levels can go and exchange ideas in a professional setting. It’s not to say that occasionally there won’t be disagreements. That’s normal. But Asen & I actively monitor the list and we’re adamant about the rules we’ve set and maintaining a good list. Ultimately, we want everyone to become better developers and yes, I have a little selfish motivation myself as the opportunity to learn from so many top developers is one my drivers for this list. And I think that’s a good thing. :)

Rey Bango


  1. Hey Rey — thanks for putting this together. I’m still a little unclear about how it works. I’m on the list, and I feel like I’m only getting half of the conversations, and I’m not exactly sure how to reply to things to make sure it goes to the right place.

    Is there a quick little how-to anywhere for those of us not used to mailing lists of this kind?


    • Hey Jason,

      I get what you’re saying and I think what’s happening is that people aren’t fulling quoting the whole thread. Since they reply to a specific person, only part of the conversation is showing up. I’m going to chat w/ Asen to see how we can handle that.

      Thanks for joining.


Comments are closed.