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A Joomla! User Group (JUG) is a local meeting of people, that regularly share Joomla! knowledge, experience and connect with other members of our community in person at least twice annually. It is a great place to meet new people, and is perfect for all skill levels ranging from newbies, expert Joomla! developers, web designers, web managers and anyone wanting to learn more about Joomla.
There are more than 100 Registered Joomla! User Groups around the world! You can see them at https://community.joomla.org/user-groups.html.
Starting a Joomla! User Group
What are the benefits to starting and running a JUG? (Or why start a JUG). There are many. Some are:
- To promote Joomla to more people in your local area.
- To build a strong sense of community with other Joomla users.
- To promote and gain friendships and to network with people of like mind.
- To help with Joomla outreach in your local area.
- Get access to a private Glip chat with other JUG Organisers world-wide.
- Access to public Glip channels in the Joomla! Project.
- Doesn't need to take a lot of time. The minimum number of meetings per year is two in person meetings.
- The group can run in your language and your culture. The group can have it's own personality. No two JUGs are the same.
- To help others.
- To teach others.
- To learn from others.
- To make friends and socialise with others.
There are some basic requirements to start a Joomla User Group which include:
- At least two people to run the group as leaders (minimum)
- A place to meet in your town - for example a meeting room, a bar, restaurant, office space etc.
- A name which represents a town or city (not a country, state or large region)
- An online place to promote your group and allow people to find out about the group (e.g. website, Meetup.com, Facebook group, LinkedIn group, Google+ Community, etc)
- See the Joomla! User Group Rules/FAQs
- See the Joomla! User Group Terms of Service
How do I find someone else to lead my group with?
There are many ways to find other Joomla users in your local area:
- Joomla! User Group Forum
- Localised forums (e.g. Afuj, JoomlaCommunity.nl, Joomla.it)
- Local networking
- Approach other website designers who want to learn about Joomla!
- Social media
How do I find a venue?
It is best to try and find a venue which can be used free of charge, or at low cost, so that you do not have high expenses in starting your group. Some ideas for places to meet could be:
- Company meeting rooms or showrooms
- Bars, restaurants and cafes
- Community meeting rooms/Village Halls
- Coworking spaces
Should we charge a fee?
As a Joomla! User Group organiser you may wonder whether you should ask visitors/members/attenees for a financial contribution. A contribution can be useful to get the facilities like a beamer (data projector) or to pay for the drinks/snacks during the meeting. If there are speakers invited, funds could be used for a gift or travel expenses. An important point is that Joomla! User Groups are not in existance to make a big profit. Charging for meetings is so that you can meet expenses of the Group. Your financials should be transparent and anyone, including the JUG Team should be allowed to see them. Some groups are completely free and funded by sponsorship. Other groups are free to attend, but have an optional fee for food and beverages (e.g. pizza and beer!). Some JUG groups charge a fixed fee per meeting. When there is money involved is good to have a treasurer and be transparent with your financial records.
How can I find/attract new members?
Some JUG groups have found that meetup.com is a good way to attract new members from outside the Joomla Community since they do well with search engines. The main disadvantage of meetup.com is that it is a paid service and is not free, however it does handle meeting announcements, RSVPs etc very well. You can also work on developing your own Group website, and you can list events if you are a registered Joomla User Group you can list them on events.joomla.org. Other sites you might want to use include Lanyrd and Plancast.
Running a Joomla! User Group
There are many aspects and questions which need careful consideration when running a Joomla! User Group.
- Should we accept corporate sponsors for our group?
- How do we find speakers for our group?
- How do we keep our meetings interesting for all levels of experience?
- How often should we meet?
- What equipment do I need and how can I provide that equipment?
- How do I manage people booking to attend my meetings?
- How do I communicate with my members?
- How can I get support if I have a problem?
- How can I restart an inactive user group?
- What are JUG best practices?
- Can I get a JUG website distribution with all the assets needed (newsletter, mailing list)?
- Where are the official JUG lists?
- Reporting a User Group
Help for User Group Organisers
To help those interested in creating and running a Joomla! User Group, here are some common resources to help.
There is a popular Glip chat which includes JUG Organisers from around the world - if you would like to join it please get in touch with the JUG Team by opening a ticket at https://community.joomla.org/helpdesk/user-groups-support/department/joomla-user-group-support.html We also have a Google Doc which we hope to convert over to be hosted here, this is at http://bit.ly/JUGSmaster.
Are you willing to speak at JUG meetings either geographically near you or via Skype/Google+? If so, please add your details to the JUG Speakers List. Be sure to leave a means for JUG Organisers to contact you.
Have you got slide decks, presentations and videos from past JUG Meetings that you would like to make available to others? If so, please add these to the Past Presentations page.
Have you got resources that help your JUG run that would be good for other JUGs? Things like conferencing, screen share software? If so, please add these to the JUG Resources page.