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What do you think about users groups?

I have been programming (out of school) for about 5 years.  Three of those years have been in a small shop (I am the only developer).  I would like to network face to face with other developers.  I feel like I am behind the curve because of a severe lack of mentoring and/or communication.

What have been your experiences with Ugs?

Thursday, May 29, 2003

If you can find a good, active one, they're a lot of fun.

They're a lot like IRC or USENET, only you have to be polite.

Thursday, May 29, 2003

Polite? That's a lot work!! :-)

Li-fan Chen
Thursday, May 29, 2003

Where I live users groups for particular tools are always lame & held in low regard.  Don't know why this should have to be the case, wish it wasn't, but I'm just reporting reality.  OTOH one of the best seminars I've ever attended was under the auspices of a self described 'user group' called CAMUG:  Still the audience pretty much kept to themselves afterwards.

John Aitken
Thursday, May 29, 2003

I heard about them from a posting on this site...  been to two meetup's so far (both very good) and I'll probably go to next one as well.

Wayne Venables
Thursday, May 29, 2003

I was thinking of using Meetup for my little IMAX Matrix get together... but I didn't see the need for a monthly thing. So I just created a post in my forum and told people about it.

2600 has been doing this for ages before Meetup existed, but if you can find an existing Meetup, then it's easy to just hook into it.

PMI (the Project Management Institute) had monthly breakfast meetings, but I always found 8am way too early for me. Is there anything like the PMI for programmers?

You might be interested in the meetup:
Thursday, May 29, 2003

My experiences have ranged from very good to nothing special.

In the late 1980s early 1990s, I used to attend a local PC related user group which was a lot of fun. I met all kinds of IT people there (from BBS operators to corporate IT managers).

About two years ago, I attended a local Java user group meeting just to see what type of people attended. I don't believe anyone there was older than 27 and nobody smiled or talked very much. While I did win a t-shirt, I never bothered going to another meeting.

Although, the local Microsoft technologies user group holds its meetings very close to my apartment, I have never attended one of their meetings. Why? I suppose its because I am too cheap to pay the membership fee and their guest speakers always seem to cancel on them.

My advice is to check out whatever local UG group interests you and see what it is like. Some UGs have no membership fee and those that do almost always allow you attend 1 or 2 meetings for free.

Some people attend UG meetings to learn something, some attend simply to network, and some try to do both.

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, May 30, 2003

Thanks all for your opinions.  I am going to attend a meeting tonight and see how it goes. 

Friday, May 30, 2003

User groups are just great. When I used to have more time, I was the membership director for the Alberta Society of Software Developers.

The main problem with user groups right now is that the internet came along, and it is the ultimate user group.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada

Albert D. Kallal
Friday, May 30, 2003

I founded the grand rapids perl mongers, the grand rapids, Michigan, perl user's group, in 1998:

Yeah, are web site's goofy. You get over it.

We just had a meeting today.  We get free books from O'Reilly (our lending library is too heavy to carry), plus presentors get free lunch and a book to keep.

Oh, and the company I now work at hosts 90% of the GR.PM meetings.  Go figure ...


Matt H.
Friday, May 30, 2003

I've made about 90% of my income over the past fifteen years directly from contacts made at user groups.

As a networking tool they're great.  As a way of commiserating with other developers they're great.  As  a way of learning what's coming, they're great.

As a way of learning new techniques to help your current project, they're only so-so because of the time lag between meetings - however, because of meeting others via the group and e-mail, they're great anyway because now you have a whole stable of mentors whom you've actually met and who care about you.

The biggest problem with user groups, as with most volunteer groups, is that participants don't take the time to become active parts of the group.  They come to meetings expecting someone else to have done the work of preparing the presentation, etc. and then complain when the group goes downhill.

My advice: get involved in UG's in your areas of interest, and actively help them to thrive.  You'll meet a lot of great friends, you'll gain a reputation in your area for being a "get it done" kind of person, and you'll make more money.

Karl Perry
Saturday, May 31, 2003

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