Unexpected Things at Code for Boston

January 20, 2020

At Code for Boston we try lots of experiments to make the Meetup better. Some of the results of them are obvious, but many have surprised me. Yesterday I pulled together a list of ones that I can recall and made a twitter thread. I also wanted to share and expand on them below:

  • Asking people to pull request event information to main organization website on GitHub. People choose just to post the event information in Slack channel instead.
  • Putting out donation jars for cash. People prefer to send donations via Venmo.
  • Having an online project intake form as step one of our project intake process. A slight majority of project submitters prefer to show-up in person for a conversation before writing down their ideas. We still maintain the intake form for record keeping purposes.
  • Skipping new member orientation on workshop night or any other time does not work. People will show-up and ask a series of questions that are equivalent to orientation anyways. For this reason we usually ask people to come back next week if they show-up late and miss orientation, as any pleas to just hang out and talk end up being a rehash of orientation.
  • Creating a Slack channel to share social media content ideas didn’t work.
  • Projects without project partner organizations rarely work.
  • Live-streaming on YouTube gets way more traffic than Facebook Live.
  • Adding a donation option to Eventbrite events worked.
  • One project partner found using Code for Boston for greenfield project ideas is more successful than trying to integrate their Code for Boston project with an existing project.
  • Public facing projects without a user acquisition strategy generally flop. Many projects are now utilities to help the helpers.
  • Any effort to coordinate or target an event date and time is wasted. People do not respond or commit, and if they do they change their minds later. Set a date and time based on your venue availability and pray.

Finally I have learned that greenfield processes or ideas are challenging to delegate. My guess is people are anxious about implementation or do not find them as exciting as being responsible for something that is more concrete.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.