No doubt, this has been a tough weekend for Meetup. Since Thursday, we faced a massive attack on our servers — a DDoS attack, which is a barrage of traffic intended to make service unavailable. We’ve had many hours of downtime over several days, a first for us in 12 years of growing the…
Hope it went well! Sounds like you got a lot of great advice already. +1 to Shawn’s advice about finding out what kind of data people were interested in and Frank’s comment about having real problems to work on.
Here are a few other things I think help when I’m running our hack night In San Francisco:
Intros: I like to kickoff every meeting by explaining what the group is, why I’m compelled personally to help organize it, and then go around the room and let everyone intro themselves, say why they’re there, and add a fun detail/icebreaker. It takes a bit of time depending on the size of the group, but it gets people comfortable and familiar w/ one another.
Brainstorms: For your first few hack nights, it’s often fun to have brainstorms around project areas members are interested in, datasets the group would like released, etc. That will help you find the right people in the city to connect with or the right data to try to get released.
Content: Once a month, we have a speaker kickoff our meetup. We usually invite someone from the city or a civic hacker in the community who is doing something interesting. The rest of the hack nights in a month, we get heads down much more quickly. We go into a project pitch session right after intros. This is where folks who are interested in starting projects or have projects underway tell the group about them and invite others to hack with them. Then we split into working groups. A standard session I run is an intro to the group (history, description of what the Brigade network is, what we’ve worked on, data portal in SF, etc)
Wrap: 15 to 30 minutes before the end of the hack night, we regroup and let the group know what we’ve worked on. This is cool b/c if someone was working on a project that didn’t click with them, they can hear about the others again. We wrap by talking about the next meeting and any cool events/speakers coming up.
Hope these are helpful! Pumped to hear how it went.