Starting/organizing a developer community: ZgPHP meetup17 Sep 2012
The year 2011 was a great success for developer communities in Zagreb. Although mobile developers started in 2010 with Mobile Monday, web developers were a bit shy and Ruby developers started first, then python meetups started and in the summer few people urged/pushed me to start organizing PHP Meetups.
Besides colleagues I did not know a lot of PHP developers so I needed to spread the word about it. Twitter was the first step and it paid off. With only a few retweets there were already 10-20 people interested. Well then we got into trouble of needing a place to discuss where and when to meet. Since one social network showed me such success I've decided to use Facebook groups. Somewhere around that time a popular internet site rep.hr published an article about us and we got much needed publicity.
First 3 meetups were actually drinkups, we started off in September of 2011 and by December we already had enough interested talkers to start with organized sessions. We got into contact with Mama and successfully found our new home. Around that time Luka Mužinić joined me in organizing everything and helped a lot (actually is still helping). We had 5 successful session based meetups (up to 45 people came) and when weather got warm we decided to get back to drinkups.
It is really great to have a place and time every month were we developers can meet, exchange experiences and talk about what we are working on. You can learn a lot from fellow developers, although google is always a good place to find tutorials/how to's you will often not know that something exists. So how can you google something that you are not aware off?
But we made few mistakes in process.
We ignored one big part of our community: companies. They are a key component in every developer community and it took us time to realize this. So we decided to start new season of meetups with a presentation of 10 companies. Since we got a great media coverage there are already 120 registered participants for this event and there are still 2 days left.
Official web site
We got ZgPHP.org running only 2 weeks ago and this is a great place for informing people about what's happening. Yes I know it is Wordpress with default theme but we really didn't anticipate 950 unique visitors in 13 days. This is something we have to invest more energy and time in next few weeks to get whole site into decent order. If you are interested to help feel free to contact us.
Yes logo. It might look insignificant but really trust me it isn't. We used ElePHPant for a long time and when we rolled new logo suggestions 2 weeks ago we got great feedback from people. Yes people are more willing to press 'Share', 'Like' or 'Retweet' which increases reach significantly. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying 'style over substance'!
If you are one of developers that is missing some kind of developer gathering in your community, organize it. It takes time, I will not say it doesn't but it is worth it. Even if you live in a really small community and you can find only 5 people do it! Larger community will need more time to organize everything but it will also be much easier to find people willing to help you.
If I've done it really you can do it too.