Credit: By Yuri Samoilov on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

There are growing numbers of storytelling tools online to help journalists present their copy and material in more engaging ways, from timelines to data visualisation and more immersive longform experiences.

But many require some understanding of code to customise the layout and create the story you envisioned from your data and visuals.

There is no shortage of resources to help you learn a programming language, and they are often available for free. has previously recommended a selection of free platforms journalists can use to learn how to code in their own time, including Codecademy and Code Avengers.

But what happens if you get stuck and do not know where to turn to for help with your code?

Just as there are many learning tools out there, there are also online communities you could join to ask for help – and offer some answers to others as your coding skills improve.

Here are four things you can do if you need tips:
  • Use Stack Overflow
Stack Overflow is a questions and answers site aimed both at professional programmers and enthusiasts.

The platform is set up for users who have questions about certain problems they've encountered when coding a specific project, rather than general advice on how to get started, or which programming languages to learn.
  • Ask on Quora
If you do need advice about programming languages more generally, such as tips on which ones to learn to be able to create specific programs in the future, the Quora community could be a good place to ask.

Quora is a knowledge-sharing platform that does not focus on a particular topic, but aims to bring together a community of professionals who can shed light on various subjects from politics to publishing – each area of expertise has its own topic page users can follow.

There are a number of programming topics on the platform that could come in handy for tips and advice, from the more general Programming Languages topic to specific pages such as Python or Ruby.
  • Check out Reddit
Reddit also has a large community to help you get your code working or provide some general advice.

On r/learnprogramming you also have access to frequently asked questions about coding as well as recommended learning resources such as books and online tutorials.

Before posting, users should take a look at the community rules and guidelines, as the subreddit advises posters not to share screenshots of their code for example, but to use one of Reddit's recommended tools.
  • Find a meet-up in your area
There are a number of groups of coders out there who get together regularly to discuss their latest projects or issues they've stumbled upon.

Many of them are set up for those currently learning a programming language, such as this meet-up group for Codecademy users in London, and some are geared towards journalists, like Journocoders in London or Hacks/Hackers.

Meeting other journalists who are also learning to code and others who have more experience could also lead to collaborations. And once you have started working on your own projects and do not mind sharing your code, GitHub is a great place to build on your work in a collaborative way.
  • Which resources have you found helpful? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @journalismnews.

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