It’s been about 15 months since I first volunteered to help out with the organisation of the Extreme Tuesday Club (XTC). When I first started visiting XTC around 2005, I would turn up and could pretty feel assured that someone would be there (or more often 10-20 someones), and there would be awesome conversations. At the end of 2015, XTC was dying. The previous organisers had moved on, leaving XTC to mainly run itself. This was a problem: no one had turned up for over 3 months. My assumption is that people had drifted off to the slew of alternative meetups that had sprung up with better organisation and more focused topics.
With this in mind, the other organisers and I made the following changes over the last year:
- Changed the meetup registration from the old spam filled wiki to use Meetup.com.
- I think this was probably the biggest improvement over the last year. The old EditMe wiki was atrociously difficult to update (especially on a phone). It looked unprofessional and awkward. Meetup.com allows a single click to sign up, which greatly reduces the friction of signing up.
- Changed the venue from the Bishop’s Finger to the City Pride.
- The Bishop’s Finger was a great pub for our meetups – when we had the use of the upstairs room. However, towards the end of 2015 the manager of The Bishop’s Finger got fed up that no-one was using the room, and so they gave our booking away to another group. This meant that we were stuck downstairs in the noise common room, which many people (including me) found far too noisy to have a coherent conversation.
- The City Pride has been marginally better, but probably not that much. The upstairs room is not always available, though the pub manager is generally happy to let us go up if the room is not being used. Some people have commented that they are disappointed about the menu at the City Pride (only pizzas are available)
- Created a new XTC Slack Group
- At this point in time, there has been no real discussion on the group. Having said that, it hasn’t really been promoted effectively.
Over the year, there were a number of good meetings. For me personally, the XTC Christmas Special felt like I had a number of good conversations. I was especially grateful to the people who came to XTC in October, and gave me some excellent feedback on my presentation on Value Streams. The Celebrating Jean Tabaka meetup was especially well attended, although I couldn’t make that one myself.
Despite my intention to attend as many XTC’s as possibly, I think I only managed to make about 10 or so meetups in 2016. There was still a very large number of meetups over the year that were completely empty. In general, I think that people will not turn up to any meetup unless there is a clear theme or topic of conversation. It is clear that XTC has declined a large amount from its zenith in the 2000’s. Chris Matts wrote a piece in 2015 about this in his article on Communities of Need & Community of Solutions. He wrote the following:
The needs of the London XTC community have pretty much been met. They know how to write software in small teams, and there are no significant community needs outstanding. As such, those interested in personal development now gravitate towards the software craftsmanship community.
I’m not sure I fully agree with this assessment, especially given that I see XTC as more than just XP. Rather, I see this as a disassociation from the original founders of the group, along with much more focused “competition” in the meetup space.
In the XTC Christmas Special meetup, I asked people what they wanted out of XTC. Based on this feedback, For the coming year, I’d like to try some of the following changes:
- Change to fortnightly meetings. Currently, there are not enough core regulars who will consistently turn up to XTC every week. I’ve reduced the frequency of the meetings to fortnightly to try and make it easier to get more people coming on the same night.
- Think about more focused discussions. In principle, I think it’s core part of XTC that people can turn up and talk about anything that is on their mind, without having to schedule a topic in advance. This will always be part of XTC. However, having a clear theme or topic seems to help people to decide to come.
- Solicit more volunteers to help manage the community. Personally, I don’t have the bandwidth to give XTC my full attention.
- What about XPDay 2017?
I’d like to invite everyone to the meetup on Tuesday 10th January 2017 to discuss Aspirations for XTC in 2017. Please come along and join in the conversation!