Organizing events for your local DML meetup is a rewarding experience and a great way of giving back to your local community while enhancing your own learning. Anyone can organise local DML events so long as they are familiar with Data Mesh and follow these guidelines.
The Prime Directive
The overarching principle that informs these guidelines is that community events are all about the DML community – this is our Prime Directive. That may feel obvious to say, but it’s an important point that will underpin all of the decisions an organiser will make – keep the community at the forefront, and everything else will fall into place.
Three key guidelines emerge from this Prime Directive:
- All actions taken as an event organiser are with the best interest of the community in mind.
- Example: Speaker spots are not for sale. Sponsors do not automatically get to speak – all speakers are selected on their experience, the merit of their topic, and the value it will provide to the community.
- Membership in the local meetup group is open to all who wish to join, regardless of ability, skill, financial status or any other criteria.
- Example: People don’t need any prior knowledge, skills or technology to attend local DML events.
- Local meetup groups allow events to be organised by any reliable/trusted member of the community.
- Example: If someone in the community expresses an interest in organising events, they should be encouraged and empowered to do so.
Building an Organising Team
A diverse organising team is important for building a diverse and inclusive community; it also helps distribute the work of organising amongst more people. Remember the Prime Directive – DML events are organised for the benefit of the community and not a single person or organisation. This means that your organising team will include people from more than one company or organisation, reducing the risk of people using the community to promote themselves or their business.
You can find additional organisers for your team in the DML Slack group by posting on social media or asking people you know who are interested in Data Mesh.
Anyone can apply to speak at a local DML event. Organisers can publish a formal Call For Papers (CFP) or just make sure the community knows they can reach out to apply at any time. Speakers and topics can be anything that is relevant to the local community, and organisers can select what they will is in the best interests of the community.
Here are some things to consider when selecting speakers and topics:
- Speaking spots cannot be bought by sponsors under any circumstances – speakers on selected solely on their merit and the value of their content.
- Sessions should never be purely a sales pitch.
- Focus on new content – if something is already published elsewhere, then it will be less attractive to community members.
- Favour new speakers where possible – new voices are interesting to listen to, provide new points of view, and facilitate diversity in the community.
- Speakers don’t need to be active in the local community, and they can be from out-of-town, but familiarity with existing community members generally means they will be more well-received than others.
- Sessions can be presented in any format that is relevant or useful for the topic.
If you need a sponsor for your events, any company can come on board as a sponsor for your local DML meetup; however, it is best to select sponsors that offer relevant products or services to DML community members. Sponsors can come on board to cover any financial costs related to your events – venue hire, refreshments, etc. – or they can provide material sponsorship – venue, workshop materials, etc.
In return for sponsorship, sponsors should receive some benefits. Some ideas for this are:
- Promotion in event communications
- Branding posted at the event
- Discount codes for products/services provided to attendees
- Distribution of company swag
Organisers can be creative with the benefits they provide to sponsors, but please bear in mind the following non-negotiable restrictions:
- Speaking spots are not provided to sponsors in return for their sponsorship under any circumstances.
- A list of attendee names or contact details may not be given to sponsors (or anyone else) – aggregate demographic data is fine to share, but specific details about attendees are not.
Finding a Venue
Organisers can use any venue that is appropriate for the event and the people attending it. Here are some things to consider when selecting a venue:
- Ensure that the venue has adequate accessibility features for all potential attendees.
- The venue should be able to accommodate the number of expected attendees with seating for everyone, as well as include any features that are required for the format of the event (e.g. desks/tables for workshops that require attendees to use their laptops)
- Avoid venues that could be potentially problematic for some attendees – this could include political or religious venues.
Running Online Events
Organisers may choose to run online events. The same guidelines apply to online events as to in-person ones. When selecting a platform to use for online events, ensure you select a platform that has adequate accessibility features for all attendees, as well as any features that the event format requires. The DML YouTube channel is available for organisers to stream their events.
You may produce an event or community-related swag for your community members at your discretion. While there are no restrictions on this, here are some guidelines to help organisers make good choices:
- Only produce swag that you are certain will be useful to the majority of attendees – conference and event swag is routinely discarded into landfills, so be conscious of the environment when selecting swag. You could even poll your local community on what swag they want in order to ensure real interest in the items.
- If you are producing t-shirts as swag, make sure to select a vendor that provides shirts in fitted and straight cuts from size XS to 5XL – this ensures that you will be able to cater to all members of the community.
- Also, if you are producing t-shirts, experience has shown that people generally don’t want to continue wearing shirts that are covered in sponsor logos. It is better to stick to designs related to Data Mesh or the community.
Organisers are encouraged to record sessions at their local DML meetups and publish the recordings online, either as audio or video (or both) – please contact DML staff to submit recordings to be published on the DML YouTube channel. All recorded content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 License – in practice, this means that anyone can redistribute the content, provided they provide attribution to the DML community, use the same licence (and link to it), and indicate any changes they may have made.