Hi! Any R User Group Organizers here?

r-user-group

#1

Hi there!
I recently started organizing the Boston useR Group events and was hoping to connect with some other useR Group organizers to connect on best practices.

A few topic ideas here, but any feedback would be helpful!

  • What events have had the best attendance for you?
  • How do you find speakers?
  • How do you get an accurate headcount of attendees on meetup.com?
  • Do you usually have one speaker or have a panel of speakers?

Thanks!
Rachael


#2

I'm not an organizer, but participate in meetup group here in Berlin quite actively.

  1. Workshop on ggplot2 and h2o (separate events). ggplot2 seemed to be a very hot topic for a lot of people, while h2o was organized by multiple groups, so it was reasonable that there were more attendees than usual.
  2. I was asking organizers from other groups and usually they all say "I find a topic that is interesting for me and then look for people who seem to be into this topic".
  3. I don't think there is such a thing :slight_smile:. It's an eternal struggle for every single meetup I went to. People sign up and then don't show up. One somewhat reasonable precaution is to send "friendly reminder" 2-3 days before an event saying: "You've signed for an event. Please update your RSVP if you are not coming so that other people can come". For bigger meetups I just show up even if I'm on a waiting list.
  4. Except for ggplot2 workshop, it is usually 2-3 speakers for R meetups and even more for bigger meetups.

#3

@mishabalyasin Thanks so much! Sounds like we should do a ggplot workshop soon!


#4

I know that @MikkelKrogsholm and @krose is organising the CopenhagenR - useR Group :+1:


#5

Hi, thought I'd jump in and share my 2 cents. I organize EdinbR meetings (once a month) and in our case:

  1. Usually the ones having to do with data visualisation (ggplot2 /others) and/or Shiny, or social media (TwitteR). In terms of website views, the pages including/linking to code examples / full scripts are very popular
  2. Either I meet someone who mentions they are working on something in R that I find interesting and I invite them to give a talk, or I send out calls for speakers on the mailing list and other channels, and people volunteer. I don't usually restrict the topics, and just wait to see what people want to share
  3. For a handful of larger scale events where we've used Eventbrite, there were about 10% no shows based on a quick head count in the room. For regular meetings, people just turn up and attendance can vary widely - I think mostly due to topic and time of the year.
  4. I try to get 2 speakers for each 1h meeting. Sometimes if I can only get one, it will be a longer talk filling the whole session, with a room discussion at the end.
    Hope this helps :slight_smile:

#6

I've just started an R-Ladies chapter in Cincinnati, which has a narrower audience but so many lovely folks who helped me get started with meetup & other resources. Only just had our first event, but one person showed up who wasn't me (just from seeing it on the meetup site) and she's really excited, so we're going to work on doing more promotion to turn out more folks in the future.

But my plan for the group is to meet regularly & suss out what attendees needs are on an individual level, and then recruit from them to speak & encourage folks who have never done so before. Then, slowly, we may be able to get speakers from other local-ish groups (we're close to some other major cities with R-Ladies chapters). I think speaker sessions would be 3 10-20 minute talks or one 30-60 minute panel, but I don't have experience here yet...just what I imagine might work well.

Good luck!!!


#7

Hi Rachel, the Boston R User Group is huge! So I would expect that you and your co-organizers are the experts! I organize a much much smaller R User Group in Costa Rica. But you ask, and maybe the lessons we learned so far, after 26 meetups, are useful for you.

Looking at the top 5 events with most attendance were:

  1. Creating Dashboards with Shiny
  2. An industry use case (someone from a large corporation talking about how they use R)
  3. Timeseries in R
  4. Applications and visualizations in R for online casinos
  5. Introduccion to graphs with iGraph

Speakers come from my network. Even though there are more than 400 people registered on meetup, and I regularly ask via email for proposals and ideas for talks, I never get a response. So I ask friends, colleagues and customers and that usually works out well. We hold the meetings every month, so I do have to pull in some favours, but usually it is an enjoyable experience for the speaker, and it certainly is for me, as I always learn something new.

Our experience is that the only way to get an accurate headcount of who will attend, is by raising a fee. The R Use Group Meetings are free, and they are online, so that people do not have to travel to attend. Even so, there seems to be little relationship between the registrations and the amount of people showing up. It varies a lot. We also sponsor and organize community events (through Data Latam), and there we always ask for a fee to cover expenses. As soon as people have to pay in advance the chance of them attending increases from low to near certain.

We usually have only one speaker. But this is mostly because of the format (online meetings). We do however try to have as lively a discussion as possible afterwards. A panel may work in a live setting though.

I hope this helps a little. Good luck with the organization!


#8

Thank you so much, everyone! This is extremely helpful. :slight_smile:


#9

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