What is a Perl Monger group for?

Recently Pradeep Pant asked for help in reactivating Delhi.pm.

At about the same time Anne Wainwright became active again on the South African Perl Mongers.

In addition the Israeli Perl Workshop is in 2 days and I'll have to explain to more that 100 people why should they join us?

I think answering the question What is a Perl Monger group for? will also help getting ideas to the question: How to (re)organize a Perl Monger group?.

Let's try it.

What do you, a Perl user, really want?

The answer would be probably quite similar, if I asked it about any other technical tools. Except, that maybe Perl attracts some people who are enthusiastic about the language and care about it more than about "just another tool". Or maybe that's just me.

Listing these points might help in figuring out what value can a Perl Monger group provide you.

  • Help to get your job done.
  • Learn from more experienced people.
  • Interaction with people in similar situation to yours.
  • Face-to-face meetings (social and/or technical).
  • Help in finding the next job, next gig, a new employee or a contractor.
  • Maybe event to have fun.

Most people prefer to get all this using their mother tongue and most people will prefer to find a job near to where they live. I assume you too.

For the former, language oriented groups have an advantage, regardless of location.

For the latter, having a local group has advantages.

Perl Mongers in general

A Perl Mongers group is just a Perl User Group. It is a group of people, usually from a city and surrounding areas, joined together by the Perl Programming language.

As time passes some people might stop using Perl but remain in the group. There are also people who never used Perl but still join the group because they are fascinated by the technology. In any case, the original connection is usually the use of the Perl programming language.

Most of the groups are city specific though there are a few that are for a whole country. For a small country.

Case study: Israeli Perl Mongers

Let's see the Israeli Perl Mongers because I am familiar with that group.

What is Israel.pm and why should you join?

We have a mailing list that is mostly used in English. There are a few technical questions but a large part of the messages deal with non-technical issues: meetings, Perl Workshop, job offers and even promoting Perl. There are usually between 50-100 messages a month.

We also use Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIN though mostly to make it easier for people to follow us and to get reminded when we have a meeting or a conference.

We have (almost) regular monthly meetings in Ramat Gan, which is a suburb of Tel Aviv. Our meeting place is 10 minutes walk from the main train station of Tel Aviv.

We had 5 conferences/workshops with guests such as Mark Jason Dominus, Audrey Tang and Larry Wall. Although we have not had a workshop for almost 5 years, we are having one on 28th February 2012 where already more than 100 people have registered.

The meetings and the workshop have both technical content - so you can learn from others and you can practice your capability to give a presentation. These are usually held in Hebrew with slides usually in English. This is quite good for most of the locals. The regular meeting place is the same where we have our Perl Workshop - the Shenkar College. It is very convenient to reach it with public transportation from all over the country.

As writing Hebrew text (RTL) and code (LTR) is hard to mix nicely in e-mails and as we have several members who are not Hebrew speakers our mailing list is mostly in English.

This reduces the extra value that a Hebrew list could provide, but it still offers some advantages. The main advantage of asking a technical question on our mailing list is for people who are already familiar with some of the other members.

I think most of us are more patient with people we know personally. Asking on this list will give you extra value especially if you also come to some of our meetings or to the Perl Workshop.

So why should I join?

If you can come to our meetings, even once in a while, you'll see that you learn a lot and enjoy the process.

What can other Perl Monger groups learn from this?

I think there are a few points.

Having meetings is a key aspect of having a group. Those meetings can be social or technical or both. Just have meetings.

Amend that with some on-line communication system, preferably one with an archive. Mailing lists and web forums are better but IRC can also work. The thing is that in addition to your regular conversation with the existing members you would also want to make it easy for non-members to find out about your group.

If you can conduct your conversation in the mother tongue of the membership that will probably give you even more advantage.

What else?

Read the Oslo.pm retrospective.

I would like to read your opinion. What do you expect from a Perl Monger group and else would you do make such a group more valuable?