Proposal: rather than specifying hours, just let me specify here / gone like a regular IM client. If it looks like it's going to be a slow day, I'll turn on the tap, and if things pick up I'll turn it off.
Some people like to be able to say "I have 20 minutes from 11:00-11:20 scheduled to talk to this person on this date about my project". Personally, I've always felt that scheduled appointments feel more "serious" than IM conversations. If I've made a commitment to talk with you for 20 minutes, you're much more likely to get my undivided attention during that time. Plus I can prepare for our conversation. If I can't make it, I'll just reschedule.
I was much more interested in the brainstorming or "fresh pair of eyes" aspect. (My day job is an iOS developer) I'm more than happy to give some advice on somebody's iOS app / idea / Apple / app review / APIs when there's a lull in the day. I do really enjoy helping people out.
But the minute I need to start "reserving" time and "scheduling" for this, it starts sounding billable to me. That's the sort of thing I get paid to do.
Put another way, think of the analogy to open source. I am more than happy to field a few e-mails a day doing support for my OSS projects. But I'm not going to reserve time in my day for it unless I've got a support contract in place.
Now, your time may be more valuable than "technical networking" with this crowd. Sure. In that case, you're not in the target demographic, like you concluded.
For me personally, there's a list of people 3 feet long on HN that I'd love to pick their brains about something. But I feel like a bother. (In a couple of instances, I've even been told I'm a bother. Sorry guys.)
Don't optimize it for me. Optimize it for the people way busier than I am. If pg (or grellas, or patio11, or ...) start using the service, it will both be unimaginably useful and also gain traction.
Stuff that's optimized for on specific person (or a very small group) often also gets better responses from the a much wider audience, then if you went for a `generic' person in the first place. (I can go and find the sources for this.)
so actually i imagined it as being available to people who wanted to do 1-off office hours, "I will be available tomorrow from 5-7 CST."
theli0nhearted and i had a short discussion on IRC where I think we've concluded that it makes sense to have a "Currently available/unavailable" flag anyways even for people who do have regular office hours, so I think you'll be pleased with the plan.
Basically even if I have office hours, I need to be able to mark that I'm currently occupied with someone, so I'll turn off my "available" indicator.
That could work for you as well. Basically you're usually just unavailable. If you feel like talking you can be available.
Office hours as such are a non-feature for me. I will never set any, and I won't look at anyone's unless I'm actually trying to contact them (in which case I would probably write them an e-mail over trying to schedule an appointment).
Even if people don't like this idea, it wouldn't hurt to look at how their UI and features are set up, since they're one of the pioneers in doing exactly the same kind of thing the "HN Office Hours" app is trying to do.
You can link to me here: http://vark.com/s/UR0C -- everyone who links to me will be a friend-of-a-friend and will be auto-networked by Aardvark, assuming they all use an IM program compatible with Google Chat or Yahoo IM. Or if someone else wants to volunteer to be the "hub" of HN users, feel free to post your link here.
Just a thought. :)
IRC room with a site mapping persons profile to their nick would be less bothersome, however then you have the distraction of yet another conversation in the background....
Which sends them a summary of the first Google hit for their question. See: http://vark.com/commands
I get an occasional question you could Google, but it's been rare. You can also just pass. And you can tell Aardvark how often you want to be contacted.
IRC or other chat room software would be too noisy for me--I wouldn't ever want it to be trying to get my attention.
Here's another thread inspired by kentf's submission; http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1517198 and there's a collection of google docs here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1517198, you might want to build your database around the type of infomation people want to share.
Also, minor proofreading thing on the homepage: "want to build a site to those facilitate interactions"
I'm not a django guy otherwise I'd be offering to dive in.
I can offer space and bandwidth on my dreamhost "unlimited" shared hosting plan.
And I love beta-testing things!
(note to HNers, please save the discussion about what "unlimited" really means for another time.)
edit: another thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1516015
Anyway, I'll see if I can contribute some html/css/js work over the weekend :) see you all on irc!
It would be a waste to ignore whatever ideas you came up with in 7-8 months of thinking about the app.
The primary reason we're trying to approach this as a group project is we think it'll be fun to collaborate with new people; so even if you're not a Django guy, please feel free to contribute. We definitely need people with design savvy, UI advice, people who just click around the site and look for broken things, etc.
Don't feel like you have to stay the whole weekend or anything. Hop in and say hello. Any advice/suggestions are welcome.
By the way, I haven’t tried PeepCode. Do you guys recommend it? Again, along the lines of getting things started. I look, for instance, at the App Engine documentation and (even though they offer a launcher) I wonder how professionals give the first brush strokes in less than several hours. How can I avoid constantly going back to the documentation?
Thank you, and sorry for the ramble!
This is part of a larger set of community features that I've been working on for a couple of weeks and will be deployed soon. It looks like we've had the same idea
it is editable by anyone with a github account. if you have any ideas, please feel free to contribute (leave your HN username as well with your ideas so we can contact you if there are questions)
It absolutely will.
I'm into using CSS3 (w/ fallback styles) in production so that would be cool.
If I'm crunched for time, I'd probably be more willing to help somebody who is making HN a great community in favor of helping somebody who joined 35 minutes ago to get free consulting.
(Note: Unless abuse occurs in the future, I would prefer to choose myself rather than having a policy that says "You must have XX karma or be a member for N months.")
Though I could be wrong... Maybe I should just start contributing more.
I was planning on spending the weekend holed up coding Django anyway so I will put my hand up to own a feature!
Are there any existing wave-alikes (FOSS maybe?) to leverage?
I'd be happy to contribute a bit of visual design (interaction design, too, if you're interested in listening to an expert)... but I assume you're either east or west coast USA, so I'll be very, very asleep by then.
Now, though, I'll add that the idea of a public office hours would only be enhanced by the back and forth being public. I'd be much more inclined to help Person A during my office hours, if my help would be available later to others.
EDIT: Check out this time zone visualizer I designed: http://everytimezone.com - feel free to borrow the mechanic, because not only will you have to deal with time zones for the hack-time, but you will have to deal with them for office hours.
Definitely interested in chatting with you about interaction design, its something that we generally feel we could use guidance on in all of our other startup projects.
I'll have to update the site later as I'm responding from my cell phone.
I live in Europe, and am chronically bad at calculating timezone offsets in my head. Calls to clients on the west coast usually involve at least one moment of panic where I think I've missed it, followed by two hours of waiting because I calculated the time wrong, followed by an apology for calling an hour late.
This is also nice because my clients are even worse than me, and generally have no idea when it might be daytime over here. A nice blue bar would do them some good.