In this blog post, I'll discuss the goals of CompiledMCR, an open-source project initiated in 2017, inspired by TechNW, with the aim of benefiting the technology community in Manchester.
The project started with Git commit b2daed0, addressing the issue of searching for other groups on the Meetup platform. As an active participant in numerous events, I noticed that similar groups were often hidden in the Meetup search results and were primarily shared through word of mouth.
For instance, the React Meetup group, which frequently gathered at MadLab, led to attendees expressing interest in learning about Angular. I would inform them about an existing Meetup group for Angular that also met at the same location, thus bridging the gap between interested individuals and relevant groups.
Initially, the project relied on data from the Meetup API, which is now deprecated. Despite this limitation, it fulfilled its purpose at the time without requiring manual event entry like the TechNW calendar. Instead, only group information was required, allowing for automated updates. Not bad for a night's work by a second-year Computer Science student!
Over time, CompiledMCR expanded its features and goals to serve both the makers and the Manchester Technology Community. While Meetup encompasses the majority of technology networking events, platforms like the TechNW calendar and Eventbrite also hold valuable event information. Consequently, CompiledMCR incorporated these platforms to facilitate event exploration. Furthermore, a dynamic iCal file was developed to integrate directly into users' calendars, providing an easier overview of technology events and individual availability.
In addition to the existing features, there is a strong desire to provide extensive support for community organizers. Drawing from my experience as a community organizer and the assistance I've offered others over the years, I firmly believe in data-driven decisions. Platforms like Meetup offer historical data accessible through APIs, which can back up and inform decision-making processes.
Example of Data-Driven Decisions for a Hypothetical New Group
Data-driven decisions can provide insights into popular venues and help avoid event clashes. For instance, if you're planning to start a new AI or data group, analyzing raw data from existing platforms can greatly contribute to its success. Even if certain groups don't have specific keywords in their names, knowing about groups like Open Data Manchester, PyDataMCR, MancML, Her+Data MCR, R Ladies MCR, and Python North West would be valuable information. Avoiding scheduling conflicts with established groups is crucial, unless collaboration is the objective.
When organizing an event, finding a suitable date that aligns with the scene's preferences—another data-driven process—can lead to a successful event. Venue selection is also vital. Meetup and similar platforms provide data on popular venues, such as AutoTrader, which have been favored by various community groups following the pandemic. This information can help you make informed decisions when choosing a venue. For example, Federation House has not seen as much usage by community groups recently.
Challenges of Explaining Decisions
Unfortunately, some community organizing knowledge gained over the years is challenging to explain due to missing or inaccessible data. One example is attendance ratios. While RSVP numbers are commonly available, they do not necessarily reflect actual attendance. For free events in the City Center pre-pandemic, typically, about 2/3 of RSVPs resulted in attendance under standard weather conditions. Understanding this ratio, along with influencing factors, can help determine the quantity of refreshments to order for catered events and assess sponsorship costs.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, CompiledMCR is an open-source project primarily focused on events (Github Repo) and includes an analytical data component (Github Repo).
We have ambitious plans to revamp and significantly enhance the platform while staying true to its roots as a tool to serve the Manchester Technology Community, rather than merely serving as a sales tool for us.
Feel free to reach out, and in the meantime, please use CompiledMCR to connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals.