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Organizing PythonPune Meetups

One thing I like most about meetups is, you get to meet new people. Talking with people, sharing what they are doing helps a lot to gain more knowledge. It is also a good platform to make connections with people having similar area of interests. I have been attending PythonPune meetup since last 2 years. In this blog post, I will be sharing some history about this group and how I got involved in organizing meetups. I will also cover all things involved in organizing a monthly meetup of PythonPune.

About PythonPune

PythonPune is a meetup group in Pune India under which we organize monthly meets. It started in January 2013. Chandan Kumar has been the most active organizer. He has been organizing these meetups since December 2014 without a single gap. We have around 8.9k members on meetup.com.

How I got involved

When I was in third year of my B.Tech, I used to visit Pune from Kolhapur for attending meetups. PythonPune was one of the few meetups which I used to attend. This was back in June 2017. I made new friends, learned a lot of new things. Later I moved to Pune in October 2017 as I started my internship at Red Hat.

One day Chandan told me and Vishal to take the lead and organize January, 2018’s meetup. He created the meetup page and gave permissions to mailing list. Since then, we have been organizing meetups, participating in discussions etc. Before that only Chandan and Amol used to do all the heavy lifting. Now we were team of four! After working for an year, Chandan made me and Vishal organizer of the meetup group on meetup.com (that too on my birthday :P).

Around that time Akshay came to Pune and he also got involved. We had Nikhil with us who took part in discussions, delivering talks etc. And now we have Nikhil and Akshay on the team as well (link to the announcement).

Organizing a meetup

1. Date for the meetup

It all starts with finalizing a date for the meetup. We try to avoid clash with other meetups around the city. We also check if it’s a long weekend. Once we have few dates finalized, we send an email regarding venue for the meetup. Mail sent for July 2019.

2. Venue

We look for a venue where we can accommodate 25 to 50 people (or more than that) at a time. Based on the responses, we communicate with the venue sponsors and discuss things like which dates are suitable etc. If we get more emails for venue we basically keep them in a queue and consider them for the next month’s meetup. Venue requirements are fairly simple, a projector/screen and place to sit for at least 25 people.

3. Speakers and talks

When we have all these things cleared, we go ahead and create the meetup page. Sometimes we have some topics and the speakers ready for that theme. But if we don’t have any speakers, we send an another email which basically states that we are looking for speakers for that month’s meetup. We used to ask people to email if they are interested in delivering a talk. From last few months we have started accepting proposals via GitHub issues.

Mostly I have been taking care of the proposals. We basically ask if the speaker can deliver the talk in an upcoming meetup. If yes, then we go ahead and schedule the talk.

4. RSVPs

While we look for the speakers/talks we also accept RSVPs for the meetup. From last 18 months, we have been using email method to accept RSVP. Whoever is interested in attending the meetup have to send an email in a format, with their name and meetup.com id. This basically helps us to have more accurate count of attendees. If we use meetup.com’s RSVP method, we get really large number of RSVPs, but only 13 people actually show up and sometimes even less than that.

As of now, few of us manually read these mails and add people to the attendees list. We do have few scripts written by other members of the group, which we still need to start using. These scripts check if the given user already exist on meetup.com, has joined PythonPune group etc.

5. The meetup day

A day before meetup, we send list of attendees to the venue sponsors. This basically helps them with the logistics, snacks and security check if they have. We don’t send any other details than the names. We also started sending an reminder email to all the attendees a day before. We ask them to change the RSVP to No if they won’t be able to make it to the meetup.

On the day of meetup, I try to reach early but never reach an hour before or so. Vishal is always there exactly an hour before. We start with the introductions and hand over to the respective speakers.

6. Community newsletter

Over the period of one month between two meetups, Chandan creates an GitHub issue where people post interesting links, news related to Python community. As of now, he creates the complete newsletter, creates Pull Request to the repository. He presents this newsletter during the meetup. This was a suggestion by community member that we can have a newsletter, which will help everyone to keep updated with things happening around Python. August 2019 Newsletter Collection Box GitHub issue. August 2019’s newsletter: community_news.md.

7. Things after meetup ends

After the meetup ends, we try to reach out to speakers via the GitHub issues they created as proposals. We ask them to share the slides, code repositories on the issue itself. All these details are compiled and written as a page for that month. This page and the newsletter are stored together in the same repository. Then we close the talk proposal. And again we repeat from creating an issue for news collection, finalizing dates and so on. A proposal for June 2019’s meetup. Summary of June 2019 meetup.

How we collaborate on all the things

All the discussions happen over public IRC channel #pythonpune (irc.freenode.net). Before sending any public email, one of us creates an etherpad link. Once it gets reviewed by everyone, we send the email. We follow same with the event page of a meetup. I’m planning to add email templates that we use, to the GitHub repository. This will ensure that anyone can use them as well suggest changes. I will be writing another blog post about PythonPune. I will talk about few things we learned while organizing these meetups in it.

References


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