Coding can be a solitary and frustrating enterprise, but the best thing about it is the community, which is generally waiting and wanting to help struggling programmers get past bugs and issues.

HackerBuddy is a clever, free application that capitalizes on the strength of that community. It allows web developers to find and give help in their areas of expertise — be those areas C++ or Python, SEO or marketing.

The app is simple to use, attractively designed, and with the right userbase, could be a real boon to programmers and startup types.

Hacker News and other developer-friendly forums are often littered with simple requests for help with coding or startup-related projects. These requests can fall on the wrong ears or appear at the wrong time, and giving or getting hacking help isn’t necessarily the purpose of these platforms, which are generally devoted to discussing the news of the day as it pertains to web developers.

On the site, we read that HackerBuddy will allow users to “help out fellow hackers, get the chance to beta test new apps and maybe even make friends with an awesome new startup. Tell HackerBuddy what you’re good at, and it’ll pair you up with a fellow hacker that could do with your friendly advice.”

The app matches you one-on-one with a fellow hacker and potential mentor/mentee in the subject area at hand. For example, I’m learning Java; if I choose the “Get Help” option from my HackerBuddy page, I can find a hacker to help me and chat with me about my Java challenges.

When the app matches up two compatible users, it swaps their email addresses, then “gets out of the way.” The users take over from there with an email exchange, which may evolve into phone or IM chats or even in-person meetings.

In addition to getting one-on-one help, you can also browse all users (there are currently around 1,200). We wish you could browse users by areas of expertise; for example, if I was building a Java app and needed early-stage startup and coding help, I would like the option to get both kinds of advice from the same person.

HackerBuddy was built by Dave Peiris, an iCrossing analyst, developer and SEO expert. He said the site is “a weekend project built using Ruby on Rails.” He built the app to learn RoR and writes, “There is a very large chance that this site will collapse under the weight of its own awkward code. If it does, sorry. I plan to improve it as I get better at coding in Ruby; please bear with me.”

We’re more than happy to bear with Dave; perhaps he could use a HackerBuddy of his own.

Give the app a shot, and in the comments, let us know how your experience with it worked out. Did you get the help you needed, or were you able to help out a fellow hacker?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, pkline

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