Tell people your event has a Code of Conduct!

The tech industry currently has a problem with diversity, and the effects of this hurt us all. We have blogged before about this  and many other people have written far more eloquently than us on this issue.

We said before and still believe there is no one single magic solution that will solve this, but a lot of different work at different points by different people.

One of the things that can help however is events having a Code of Conduct on record and having staff well versed in that code. Then everyone knows what is appropriate and when incidents do occur, there is a clear route that people can take to resolve problems.

So today we are announcing that we are adding an “Code of Conduct” field to every event on Open Tech Calendar.

This field will be optional and can be free text or just a link to a web page on the events website. It will be shown with the event details on the event page. But there will be no filtering, or special markers in event listings – the purpose of this is not to harshly judge.

We simply want to prompt event organisers and attendees to think about the issue and for events that do have one, allow them to highlight this.

For instance, check out TechMeetup Edinburgh’s next event.

Any comments or thoughts, please do comment below or get in touch privately.

New design, and asking the tech community for feedback

Hello,

At Open Tech Calendar we’re trying to build up the tech scene by connecting, promoting and making more visible events. We’ve heard some great stories from people who found their way into events because of us.

We’ve recently launched a new design with some new features. As always, we will continue to work on this. We have features we want to work on next and more UI/UX testing we want to do with users. (More details to come soon!)

We’re always open to hearing feedback from both people who attend and people who organise tech events. What can we do to make it easier and more worthwhile to list events? What can we do to make it easier to find events?

Please answer in comments or contact us.

Thanks,

James

We are building a community of contributors

One of the principal ideas behind Open Tech Calendar was that we could build a community of users all adding events for the good of everyone. We’ve been around a bit now, so can we break out some data to see if that’s actually worked?

Let’s start with a graph of all the users who have edited events, and how many edits they have made.

noOfEditsThat looks pretty good! But wait, there is a catch. One user who edits the same event 5 times will have a higher count in this data, and you could argue that’s not a fair representation. Ok – let’s get a graph of each user and how many events they have edited.

noOfEventsEditedCheck that out: Still pretty good. We clearly have a healthy and wide community of users editing events.

Even thought you can look up history data on the site to work out who everyone is I haven’t labelled any users. But we can probably guess who the one on the left is – it’s the site administrator. Let’s call them a outlier and take them out – that will give us a bit more detail on the rest of the data.

No of edits made:

noOfEditsMinusMe

No of events edited:

noOfEventsEditedMinusMe

This is a slightly simplistic analysis. We aren’t counting edits to groups. We aren’t counting events from importers, and edits to importers. There are some questions about the best way to include that data, so for now we’ll keep it simple and let the data speak for itself.

Thanks to everyone who has added an event – it really helps build up a great resource. And if you haven’t, give it a try – it’s pretty easy!

Open means Open data

The Open in our name means several things, but we think one of the most important is “Open Data”. Unlike other projects, we don’t want to restrict your use of event and group data with bad licensing terms or crippled API’s.

For example, we’ve seen one API that only provides the first line of a description then a link back to their site. We think this is a pathetic attempt to look open whilst also driving traffic back to them – we won’t pull that kind of cheap trick.

We’ve been rewriting our terms and our API help to try to make this clearer. Any feedback on what we could do to achieve this, or on what you want in an API is welcome.

We’re being careful to specify that our event and group data is open, but the data we hold on users is private and protected, for privacy reasons. We also currently use a closed data set to turn postcodes into latitudes and longitudes, so we have to be careful about that.

But we are very proud to say several sites already use our data – and we hope you can find a use for it to.

ps. If your not technical enough to consume our API yourself, we also have a widget you can just drop on your site and a display board you can use.

Supporting woman, non-whites and minorities in tech

There has been growing awareness recently about the abuse and problems woman, non-white and minorities face in tech, with some male bloggers joining in to say that those who stay silent on this issue need to take a stand.

We agree, and we want to go on record and say we recognise there is a problem with a lack of diversity in our industry.

We know there is a wide debate on what the best way of tackling this is and we don’t claim to know any of the answers. But we note more conferences are reaching out to under-represented speakers, running blind selection for speakers and adopting strict policies on attendee behaviour.

If there is anything Open Tech Calendar can do to help, suggestions are welcome in the comments below or privately.

We’re also building a list of tech groups

One of the side effects of building a calendar of tech events is that we’re also building up a pretty good list of active tech groups, and it’s time we started making that more useful.

The first step is to separate groups by location. Now when looking at a place you can also view a list of all the groups there. For instance, here’s the lists for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. We’ll add more filtering of this list later (free search, those who held events in the last six months only, etc).

Groups are currently marked as being in a location when they hold an event there, but in the future people will be able to add or remove locations to groups freely. For instance some conferences move around. After they have held an event in one city they may not return for years and in that case you may want to remove the city manually.

As with all features, we’ll be monitoring how this is used and feedback is welcome!

Open – a word with many meanings.

One of the questions I’ve been asked is what the word Open means in our title. There is an immediate association with Open Source software and while Open Source software is great there are many other ways something can be open. I’d like to talk about one of the more important ones – our data.

The original meaning intended was that it was open in that it listed all events. The original Tech Meetup calendar that inspired this one was the only meetup calendar I knew that listed other events alongside their own. Tech Meetup always had the ethos that it was bringing the tech community together, and so we never had any qualms about that. (We still have a dedicated space at the start of our events were announcements can be made.)

So that’s the first point to make: Open Tech Calendar is Open in that it lists events from any tech group.

The second point is where we get this data from. We embrace wiki principals in that any user can edit any event. We want to build a community of contributors.

As an event organiser myself, I know how many little tasks you have to do and how easy it is to miss some. I spoke to one event organiser who hadn’t added half of their own events to their own website and was skeptical about this project – what can you say? Actually, what we say is that it could be any attendee or fan of that Meetup who adds events, thus freeing event organisers.

That freedom leads nicely onto the third point; freedom for the event organisers from websites that try to take over their event. Websites like Meetup make you host your entire event on their site; email lists, members lists, events and who’s attending. While that’s great for some event organisers, its not for most.

So the third point is that we are open in that we are a directory of information. We do not attempt to claim ownership of an event. We are very happy to list an event but let you add links to the events real home, where ever that may be.

And finally, all that lovely data is useless if users can’t get to it in the form that they want. We have iCal feeds coming out of our ears for easy export.

Will all this work? We don’t know, and it will be very interesting to see. In the end of the day, we need complete and accurate data in a useable from for our users and maybe we’ll have to change as we grow. But I hope you’ll join us on our journey as we find out.

(Picture from here.)

No automatically reoccurring events please

One of the design decisions we took from the start is not to allow events to automatically reoccur for ever. Here’s why.

We want to make sure that the data we publish is correct and up to date. This is essential; if users find significant amounts of bad data they won’t trust us anymore, especially if they had to find out painfully by turning up to an event that doesn’t exist anymore and sitting in a bar by themselves.

If an event can reoccur for ever, the event could move or die out and it would still appear on the calendar. So that’s the simple reason why. No Zombie events!

So at the moment you have to add each event individually, which honestly isn’t as bad as it sounds. Someone organising a monthly event can add a whole year in several minutes, and you can added specific details to each individual event like who the speakers are.

We will look at adding reoccurring events later, but with a “catch”, so you have to come back and confirm your event’s still going every couple of months (EDIT: This is now done!).  (This was a true Lean project, in that we stated with a Minimum Viable Product we hacked up in a weekend and most features are coming soon!)

Please get in touch or comment with any feedback.

ps. Searching for Zombie photos on Flickr for this was far more fun than it should have been. Some great costumes. Actual one used is this one.