JUG Leaders Share Experience

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One of the JavaOne pre-conference activities was the annual meeting of over 100 Java User Group (JUG) leaders on Sunday afternoon. After a welcome by Michael Van Riper, leader of the Silicon Valley JUG, they broke into two groups: technical topics and JUG logistics. The technical groups sub-divided into discussions about 1) Scala and other languages on the JVM, 2) Open source Java and 3) Java in the cloud.

The JUG logistics group started out with Petar Tahchiev, leader of the Bulgarian Java User Group (BGJUG) , talking to the group. Realizing that there was lots of expertise in the room, including Stephan Janssen, founder of the Belgian Java User Group (BeJUG) and Bruno Souza, President of SOUJava, it was suggested that it would be a better idea to change from one-to-many presentation to a many-to-many discussion. In very JUG fashion, they quickly re-arranged the chairs into two circles and two small group discussions began.  The JUG leaders discussed their experiences and challenges with running JUGs. Some of the questions covered were:

    How do I start a JUG?
        * start simple, maybe just meet at a bar after work (no need to rent a space)
        * it's crucial to be consistent, meet on the same night each month

    How do I get speakers?
        * talk to local companies
        * just throw out a topic [well in advance] and those that are interested will show up to discuss
        * find and groom your local stars
        * teach yourself a new technology and be a speaker yourself (a week's worth of learning can make a one hour presentation)

    How do I keep my JUG going/growing?
        * make it fun
        * ask for feedback after each meeting about what worked and what didn't work
        * the more people who help, the easier it is
        * some JUGs offer points for each contribution (set up, tear down, blogging, etc.)and reward the member with the most points each year
        * do a theory presentation at one meeting and then a dojo on the same technology two weeks later

    Should we charge a membership fee?  
        *it depends. it helps to make your group self-supporting, but it requires the overhead of registration and bookkeeping

There was lots of energy in the room and some shyness (they are not mutually exclusive!), but it was clear once more people participated, the better the meeting was. Just like JUGs! As Bruno Souza said, "*You* are the one that can make your JUG better by participating, so do something!"

For more information about Java User Groups (JUGs), visit community.java.net/jugs/ 

Comments:

I'd say that it's also important to manage expectations. This is, to make clear what the community is and what is not, so new members don't feel disappointed after a few days. And of course, to set simple yet clear objectives for the group to know where it is going.

Posted by Charles on September 21, 2010 at 01:54 AM PDT #

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