Let’s change the culture and adopt a Code of Conduct

Thank you for a very informative evening with Rob Richardson — who is a great speaker. I learned a lot.  Los Angeles .NET Developers Group offers access to various concepts and prodigious educational speakers, which is why I have continued to look forward to these evenings going on over five years.

Within the last year, I have noticed that attendance to the meetings has trended down to stagnant 10-15 attendees out of 2,025 Dotnetters (members of this group).

There are few adjustments that could increase Dotnetters attendance and retention — while cultivating an inclusive environment that embraces quality learning.

 IMPLEMENT A CODE OF CONDUCT(samples here, here and here, probably best of all  StackOverflow ) — A well-written code of conduct clarifies an organization’s mission, values and principles, linking them with standards of professional conduct.  No action is needed — link to the code of conduct in the Los Angeles .NET Developer Group meetup page and make sure that all confirmation emails from meetup regarding group events feature a link to the group code of conduct page.  Expected Behavior and Unacceptable Behavior.  Unacceptable Behavior i.e. No interfering with a presentation (questions are allowed, answers on behalf of the speaker are not!)

ENCOURAGE OPEN COMMUNICATION:  Give everyone a chance at your meeting/presentation to stand up and introduce themselves and present a question and/or provide feedback at the END of the meeting.  Maybe provide cards or paper so they can remember their question. If participants do not want to wait for a Q&A at the end of the presentation then a skilled moderator might be the alternative to assist with this effort.

“OLD SCHOOL” DEVELOPERS:  It’s very important to have our “old school” developers share their knowledge and also encourage them to return, but their communication should be held until the end of the discussion.
When the attendee share their knowledge during the discussion, it tends to over-stage the presenter and presentation.  Sometimes “old school” developers can have an approach of “greater knowledge,” that can be intimidating for a new developer or someone that is trying to come to a group/community for networking and to feel part of common knowledge.  I attend several other groups and definitely do not feel this kind of intimidation.

PRESENTERS:  I have noticed that when the Los Angeles .NET Developer Group opened up the forum to first time speakers (“lighting talks”), the questions/comments were more “attacks” not questions. It is already hard to get on stage and speak in front of audience, but when the audience is so scrutinizing it becomes impossible. Instead of letting the speaker convey their point, attendees are focused on criticizing unimportant details to the presentation.  As a first time presenter, this can be disheartening; and will definitely make one never want to get on stage again and even worst not return to the group.

OPEN FORUM TIME:  Many of the members have a lot to say about the profession but, don’t have enough time to prepare or don’t have the language capability to speak on stage. So why don’t we have a 15 minutes “Rant” or “Roast” or “Exciting News” or “Favorite New Tech” or similar where any member can just stand up (or even keep on sitting) and say anything he/she wants about the dev profession or the tech industry or Microsoft or the .NET framework and so on. This might be time to open discussion and initiate a networking relationship between members.

OUTREACH: We need the “new blood” to attend and stay. Difficult to market due to a bad stigma on the Microsoft tech. So maybe joining forces with some other group in other technologies that might cross over could help cross-pollinate the groups. Like integrating the .NET world with front-end frameworks and maybe have a joined session with JS.LA or similar.  Since .NET code is now running everywhere, we might be able to do something with some linux groups out there.

So here it is…food for thoughts. Chime in!

Collaboration with Angela On The Move.