Improving the community

Yesterday we had a conversation about the community. This is a recap.

A glance at where we are

It was started in January 2020, with @sergej being the first member outside of Strumenta.
We started the Virtual Meetups in March 2020.

Now after one year we count 449 members and regular attendance to the Virtual Meetups is around 30 persons.

We had tens of presentations, from well-known speakers and from people less used to give presentations. For me, it really felt like being part of the most exclusive university. I hope you also enjoyed it.

Ideas for improvements

We discussed having an editorial board, i.e., a group of people that could meet to plan who to invite to give a presentation. The goal would be to plan the presentations ensuring we have a good diversity of topics and keeping an eye on quality. @Niko volunteered to be part of the editorial board and I could be part of it. We would need at least one more member. The editorial board could meet once per quarter to discuss which topics to consider for the following 10-12 presentations. This commitment would probably take a few hours per quarter.

Regarding quality, while we are happy with the general quality of the presentations we want to ensure they are all enjoyable also in the future. So we could have the editorial board take a look at the slides before the presentation and mentor to some extent presenters with less experience, with the intent to encourage them to present. While we are very happy we had some amazing speakers, we want to remain open to people with less experience.

One thing we may want to consider is organizing Lightining talks of shorter duration. I got started presenting because at my local Java User Group I had the possibility to start with giving a 15 minutes presentation. After a couple, I felt ready for a longer presentation. We may want to give this possibility to new presenters. This would require some more planning.

We discussed the frequency. If we run into problems finding speakers we may have to reduce it to once every two weeks. I guess it all depends on your suggestions for speakers to invite and on the work that @elisa.costantini will do on our side to get the Virtual Meetups better organized.

We also discussed moderation. I realize that I am not good at moderating, and as the number of participants grows we may need to get better moderation to ensure we stay on track. @voelter volunteered to moderate some presentations. If we had a few moderators we could rotate. For now, we have me and @voelter . If we had a couple more moderators each of us would need to moderate a presentation per month.

We hope that opening the editorial board and the group of moderators could help with diversity. We would also need your suggestions for new topics to discuss and more people to invite. We agree we should branch out and include more topics related to Language Engineering, such as language design or the design of garbage collectors.

Paul Spencer and @HermanPeeren also had a nice experience to share. To learn MPS they did some “pair learning”. They met to study MPS together and learn one from the other. We could encourage these experiences in the community. I am just not sure how.

We concluded that tutorials would not be a good fit for the Virtual Meetups, as people would need to type along and it is difficult to help all the participants.

We are in general happy with the mix between research-oriented and industrial-oriented presentations: a bit of research focused presentations are appreciated.

What everybody can do

  • Volunteer to be part of the Editorial Board. Just write to me about that, here or by email

  • Volunteer to be a moderator to the Virtual Meetups. Just write to me about that, here or by email

  • Suggest topics for the presentations: either offering to present them or suggesting people to invite. You can write to me or to @elisa.costantini, or open a discussion and tag me or @elisa.costantini

  • You can invite people to join us: just invite them to fill the form at

  • You can link to posts in the community. The posts are now visible also for anonymous users, so we can share the knowledge we are putting together


I’m sorry I had to miss yesterday’s Virtual Meetup. Reading these notes it must have been a good one!

I like the idea of Lightning Talks: they would be ideal to update the community on cool stuff you’re working on. It indeed takes some more planning. An advantage is that Lightning Talks are probably more convenient for whom the usual time (18:00 CET) is problematic due to family obligations - like for me. It’s much easier to make time to completely follow a sub set of Lightning Talks, instead of one entire hour.

W.r.t. “pair learning”: why not make a thread on the forum to post "looking for a pair learning buddy on topic/tool/project " ads?

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