[Perl] London.pm

Shlomo Yona shlomo at cs.haifa.ac.il
Tue Nov 19 08:05:15 PST 2002

On Tue, 19 Nov 2002, Gabor Szabo wrote:

> See these numbers:
> What do you people think how can we increase our activity in Israel.pm ?
> Our stats look like :
> ~ 70 subscribed to the mailing list
> ~ 10 regularly attend our monthly technical meetings
> Would you want to arrange a common trip to somewhere (Beer  Sheva ?)
> where we can have a camel ride ?

If you take as an assumption that everyone on this mailing list
is a very busy person with important things to do, and with very
limited free time (which is mostly used for family and personal
leisure) -- spending a few hours for a monthly meeting, and 
surly going on a trip to Be'er Sheva is not something likely to

I think that finding the way to make the monthly meetings more 
practical (learning things about Perl in a more everyday way --
"how to do this", "how to do that"...) will attract more newbies
and more experienced users. Once people think they get more than
they spend on these meetings, you'll see more participation.

Newbies want to come to these meetings to learn how to install,
and how to do basic things -- and of course get advise from the

Experienced users want a forum where advanced stuff can be learned
and everyday problems can get solved quickly just because there are
anough experts in one place willing to listen and give advice.

Since the mailing list (more or less) provides most of the needs of
these two groups (oh... maybe not the needs of the experts) -- and since
the meetings surely don't cover the needs of any group -- why would 
people want to spend time on Thursday nights in traffic just for two
hours about something they could might as well read on the web in 
1-2 hours tops (and without leaving their seat)?

Until the meeting won't be more technical and more informative, I don't see
a reason for people to bother and come (excluding the few (very few) regulars 
that show up anyway, because they have a passion for this subject and they want
to make it work).

If the experts in our community will contribute quality lectures and valuable
technical help -- with the right publicity (mailing lists, forums, major Israeli
portals and fliers at universities) I am sure we can attract a lot of newbies
which will eventually grow with the community into experts creating the experts
groups most of us hope to have here too.

My experience in Haifa university shows that a free Perl course, available
during the semester in comfortable hours in campus is a major attraction
	1. the course is properly published
	2. the course starts with the semester or 1-2 weeks after the
		beginning of the semester
	3. the course is not too demanding (otherwise, students will
		drop out, as they have their REAL studies to attend to)
	4. the course covers useful things people like them need to 
		be able to do things, which were so far impossible, possible
		and do things they could do so far, do faster and better.

I started with the course during Sukot, when there wern't students around and
when people were spending their free time with their families. That was my first
mistake. Evidently, had I started this course 2-3 weeks ago, I would have
a class full with about 50 students eager to learn Perl, instead of the slim class
I have now counting 5 regular attendees (I used to have a steady 10 participants
per lesson up untill 4 weeks ago). Now it is too late for the newbies to join 
the ongoing class.

Since I aimed the lessons to beginners, the experienced Perl users in the
area didn't feel it's worth the time to come and see stuff they already know,
and since I missed the right timing to start the newbies course, I am now left
with almost no experienced users to show advanced stuff to.

In short --
	Unless we make the meetings attractive to beginners and offer real value
	for the time it takes to get to such meetings, stay there and the time to
	get back, I don't see how we can inclease the number of participants.

	Experts sessions will be very short with participants until the Israeli
	Perl community has more experts.
Well, that's my opinion anyway.

Shlomo Yona
shlomo at cs.haifa.ac.il

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