How to Get Started on Kaggle in 2022 (Even If You Are Terrified)

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Step 2: Be part of the community first.

Many people go about joining Kaggle the wrong way. As everyone brands Kaggle as a competitions platform, most feel a mounting pressure to join them straight away to become a ‘Kaggler.’

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Feeling that you have to join a competition right away is a massive trap, and you will just end up miserable if you haven’t developed the right skills yet because Kaggle is brutally competitive. Even the smallest challenges attract many skilled specialists.

So what is the solution?

Be part of the community first. Feel that you are a member of this group so that you eliminate your impostor syndrome and can say to yourself, “I am a Kaggler.”

Well, how do you do that?

You start reading notebooks. A lot. By everyone. I suggest picking a competition you are interested in (see the following sections for suggestions) and ordering the list of notebooks by the number of upvotes.

Screenshot by author

You scroll down and open the notebooks with the lowest # of upvotes. Often, these are written by beginners and need just as much support and feedback as you.

Once you start communicating with the authors in the comments section (there is a very high chance they respond to every comment), you build a connection with them. They will probably follow you back once you comment on a few of their notebooks.

Now, in every notebook, there are a few to-dos.

First, leave at least one comment. It can be about anything — the way the code is written (clean, follows best practices), how the author explains his thought process, the quality of the data visualizations, or any imaginable aspect of the notebook.

You can also suggest improvements here and there. If the author knows more than you, say that too and tell them you learned something new.

One of the comments on one of my notebooks

If you don’t know much about what the author is talking about, fork the notebook and start tinkering with every code cell. Read the docs and tutorials on the unknown functions until you understand what each line is doing.

Once you repeat this process for 10–20 notebooks, you will realize you learn much more than you ever will in a course in the same span of time.

And the best part is that now, you aren’t just nobody — you know and follow many Kagglers, and they probably remember you as well if you had left good enough feedback and appreciation for their work.


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