What the Scratch Community Means to Scratchers

Young people share why the online community is an integral part of Scratch

The Scratch Team
Oct 6, 2017 · 9 min read

By Sarah Otts

When I first found Scratch in middle school, I made a few projects, but didn’t join the online community. A year later, my interest in Scratch was rekindled by an exciting idea I had in math class: I could make a Scratch project that calculated the quadratic formula. When I finished it, I was so proud of it that I wanted to share it with the world. I made a Scratch account and posted my Quadratic Formula Calculator.

I remember with fondness the moment I noticed that my project had been viewed 10 times. In our world of hyper-popular viral videos, 10 might not seem like much — but to me it meant that 10 people around the world had seen what I created!

Quadratic Formula Calculator by scmb1

Knowing I had an audience inspired me to participate more in Scratch. After that, I shared lots of projects, gave feedback to other projects, and created studios to collect projects I liked. Soon, I found that I enjoyed collaborating with others in the Scratch community and answering Scratch-related questions when they got stuck. Participating in the Scratch community ultimately made me a more confident programmer, communicator, and friend, all while working on creative projects.

The community was (and continues to be) integral to my experience with Scratch. If I had stuck to just the project editor and never ventured to the community, I know I would have missed out on many of these lessons and sources of inspiration.

Now that I’m a member of the Scratch community team, I understand that the friendly and constructive culture in the Scratch community didn’t develop by accident. Our team of moderators works hard to keep Scratchers safe and to foster an inclusive creative community.

And this makes sense: The team thinks of the community as a core part of Scratch (and creative learning), not as an optional add-on. So much so, in fact, that the first version of the online community was developed in tandem with the first version of the Scratch programming editor.

In the last couple of months, I interviewed three different Scratchers who all participate in the online community in their own ways. While their interests and experiences vary, all three have found motivation and inspiration while engaging in the community. Below are their responses, edited slightly for length and clarity.

Why did you start using Scratch? What kept you using Scratch?

I was introduced to Scratch by a teacher about four years ago. I continued to use Scratch because of all the possibilities it presented. I found, and still find, the thought of being able to digitally make just about anything, very exciting and fun. That, combined with the amazing Scratch community, and interesting projects on the site are what keep me wanting to use the program.

Why do you share projects that you make?

I share projects because it’s very satisfying to be able to share something you’re proud of, without having to worry about getting hate. It’s also reassuring to know that you can always count on the community for constructive criticism and kind words.

A Clone || SMCE 2017 by Hope4Tomorrow

What have you learned from participating in the Scratch online community?

Participating in the Scratch community exposes you to so many new things. It may just be fun facts, or it may be gaining awareness. For example, through participating in Scratch Camp 2017, “Dive Deep!”, I’ve learned about some interesting things about deep sea creatures. I also met, well, conversed with, a lot of kind Scratchers who were also participating. However, I’ve also learned some very important information through the website. From just scrolling through my comments I’ve been able to find great constructive criticism, in turn learning some things to look for in my work and that of others. Through working with other Scratchers or seeing their work, you can actually learn problem-solving from the coding logic.

Can you describe your experience as a Front Page Curator (FPC)?

Being FPC was an amazing experience for me. Being selected made my day, nay, month! Being a FPC came the chance to interact with the Scratch community more than I had ever before. So many Scratchers would leave suggestions for projects. Even if they didn’t meet the requirements or weren’t curated, I’d still look at all of them, and usually love the project. I had a great time leaving feedback and curating projects.

Why did you start using Scratch? What kept you using Scratch?

I started using Scratch for an after-school coding club in fourth grade. It was fun, intuitive, and it had an awesome community. I am still hooked because there isn’t really an end to what you can do.

Why do you share projects you create?

I share projects that I make because my favorite part of Scratch, aside from making projects, is seeing the community enjoying and commenting on my projects.

Enlightened — Platformer (100% Pen) by -Yodasaurus-

What have you learned from participating in the Scratch online community?

I’ve learned that great content is more important than advertising, you should never give up, even if a project doesn’t go well, and to always have fun from participating in the Scratch community.

Could you give an example of a time you didn’t give up while using Scratch?

When I was working one of my projects, The Shield, I had a shield that the player could rotate to the four cardinal directions with the arrow keys. I wanted the shield to smoothly rotate to the desired position instead of just snapping to it. I spent many days working on this, even though I thought it would be really easy when I started. I considered just making the shield snap to each position, but I decided to keep working. After three days, I finally found a simple and elegant way to do it, and the project now looks much smoother.

How would you describe the Scratch community to a friend?

I would describe the Scratch community as a mash up of people and ideas to a friend. :) I would also describe it as very positive and crazy.

Why do you share projects that you make?

There’s something special about sharing a project on Scratch. It’s very different from asking my classmate next to me for some feedback or presenting my final project to the class. It’s more than that. It’s putting your creation on display to millions of users across the world. It’s giving your project the opportunity to receive feedback instantaneously from people across all backgrounds, age groups, and locations. On the internet, it’s easy for your creations to get lost in a sea of information. On Scratch, however, your project doesn’t get lost. It gets found. It goes from something only you would see to something everyone can see. Sharing projects on Scratch is a way to receive feedback, showcase your creation, and even provide a medium to meet new people.

What’s the best feedback you’ve ever gotten on a project?

The best feedback I have ever gotten on a project was from the user Blackswift. As I continued to explore Scratch over the years, I came across her projects. She shared some really amazing games, but more commonly, short stories. They inspired me to get into writing. Through Scratch, you can create so much more than just text on a page. You can give your story a mood through project lighting and music. You can make it interactive through sound and touch. When I shared my first story, she was there in a heartbeat. She complimented my writing style and suggested some grammatical and sentence structure changes that definitely improved my project. This (almost) instantaneous feedback encouraged me to write more, and to create more on Scratch.

Life is Like a Clock — A Poem by st19_galla

What have you learned from participating in the Scratch online community?

Participating in the Scratch online community has taught me so many valuable world skills that I can’t imagine where I would be if my teacher had never showed me it. One specific skill that comes to mind is collaboration, a hallmark of Scratch’s platform. Through Scratch, I have learned to work well with other people, communicate efficiently, and plan appropriately. In addition, through things like the Scratch Design Studio and other Scratch community events I have learned that there is no such thing as too little or something ‘bad’. If you really put the time in to work on an idea and you gave it your best effort, it is good. No matter if it’s a circle with some color or a 3d polyart human, all that matters is that you try. And the more you try, the better you’ll get.

How would you describe the Scratch community to a friend?

If I had to describe the Scratch community to a friend, I would describe it as creative, inclusive, diverse, and spontaneous. In the community, you have access to millions of people from around the globe who are accepting and helpful, hence the inclusivity and diversity, and are there to encourage you to create more through providing ideas, feedback, support, and discussion. And once you have an idea, it’s super easy to go right to the editor and start programming away. You can, quite literally, create your dreams and ideas from Scratch.

Sarah Otts is Online Community Developer for the Scratch Team.

The Scratch Team Blog

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

The Scratch Team

Written by

Scratch is a programming language and the world’s largest online community for kids. It is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

The Scratch Team Blog

Scratch is a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab.

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