JavaOne – Nurturing Online Communities

“Nurturing Online Communities”

Speaker: Simon Maple

For more blog posts from JavaOne, see the table of contents

Runs VJUG (virtual java user group)


  • Talks
  • Book club – then talk to author of book online when done
  • Forum
  • IRC chat – mainly used during sessions
  • Conference – 24 hour conference Oct 25th – – borrow other’s physical meetups by holding viewing parties for vgug24


  • Page views
  • user counts


  • Easier to find speakers – no travel so speaker can say yes more easily
  • Diversity – anyone on planet can join. Also, talking to a handle so not influenced by race/gender
  • Can view session while working from office
  • Can view recording after the fact – have all 4 years of content. Recording important for time zones. Find 5pm UK time to be best
  • The core center of the community is online rather than in a place
  • No cost for venue, food, drink


  • Speaker interaction not as detailed
  • Easier to accidentally offend someone/be disrespectful
  • Hard to recover from assholes in the community
  • Speaker can’t see audience
  • Lag on questions as people type

Best practices

  • Youtube and Google Hangout make recording sessions trivial
  • Ensure same experience regardless of device
  • Google analytics for website and youtube analytics for videos
  • Need to invest time (vs money)
  • Getting a company involved helps. Company trades employee time for sponsorship
  • Have a team of people to help run
  • Want a self managing community
  • Twitter worked best of all social media attempts
  • People attracted by content and/or a known speaker
  • Meetup doesn’t like virtual events, but ok because big

Other notes

  • 100-200 people watch live and 1000-2000 within a week. Benefits of live are IRC and questions.
  • members from 120 countries
  • 500-700 people signed up in first month
  • Looking at replacing IRC with Slack because more people use it. Wanted to lower registration bar so can be anonymous.

My take: Good discussion of online specific beneits and constraints

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