We’ve cancelled SWIG. For the moment.

SWIG is the Scouse WordPress (or Web) Interest Group. It’s done alright. We’ve had many a happy evening of talks, shared knowledge and beer. But lately it’s quietened off.

This is natural – at times we’d have a turnout of over 25 people, and for a good long while it felt like a popular and successful event. In fact, it seemed to be the most popular in the country and when we ran bigSWIG we had fifty attendees. In Liverpool. That’s not far off what a good night in London achieves,

The problem is, any event like this has to attract new people as well as the local establishment. It’s no good simply making it happen once a month. People can only get so much out of a monthly meeting with a talk or two, some show and tell, and so on. Once you’ve been a few times you go as much for the social craic as you do for the knowledge. And there’s the problem – experienced people will wander off to new events.

So what’s the answer? How can we bring life back into the group? What can we do to bring in new people whilst keeping it all relevant to a more experienced audience?

Right now, I don’t know the answer to that, but I have some ideas. Should we run just quarterly, with a casual pub based meetup once a month? That way the marketing and planning effort can be concentrated into an event that will be useful to a larger audience. Or should we switch to MeetUp (because by jove, it’s good at spamming people about events!) and never mind the extra costs? Perhaps we should pass the baton on to somebody else in the area who wants to run a local WordPress group?

The other thing is, should we drop the whole WordPress thing and make it about the web? In our minds, I think it is more about the web, but in terms of marketing, the logo, and our community connection, it’s still seen very much as a WordPress event.

So for now, SWIG is off the agenda. We’re going to think. Regroup. If you have any ideas at all, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you. This isn’t, I promise you, the end of SWIG. We’ll be back.

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  • David Hughes 2 / Apr / 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Hi David,

    First of all, it’s nice to finally discover what SWIG actually stands for. Seems so obvious in retrospect. šŸ™‚

    Anyway, I hope you won’t be too offended when I say that I think the amount of promotion that you’ve been doing for SWIG has been minimal. I’ve only made it to two or three meetings so far, but I would probably have made it to more of them if I’d had some sort of reminder email about it a few days prior to the event. As things have been, it’s mostly been a matter of me having to remember that it’s the last Thursday of the month.

    Have you thought about maybe setting up a mailing list for SWIG, perhaps with Google Groups? This could have a dual purpose – it could help foster a local community around the group, where people could ask questions and exchange ideas, in addition to discussing potential topics for upcoming meetings? I think this would be a good way of engaging with interested people and of reminding those of us who tend to be absent minded that the event is taking place.

    As to the question of “should we drop the whole WordPress thing and make it about the web” – while it’s obviously an important part of the work that we do, I think SWIG might benefit from being opened up to other areas of web work. Although, as far as I can tell, you’ve never been too strict about requiring every talk to have a WordPress connection – topics like CSS, JavaScript, typography, accessibility, and so on, all potentially feed into work that you do with WordPress in any case. You do then get the problem of deciding where to draw the line; I’d suggest aiming for topics that are likely to be of interest to the average designer or developer (if such a thing exists).

    • David Coveney
      David Coveney 29 / Apr / 2014 at 11:39 am

      Thanks David – it’s also been an issue of time. We’ve had to become more efficient as a company, which means, basically, working harder on the things that make us money and being a little reticent on things that don’t. Although SWIG is wonderful, and has led us to hire some great people, it’s also a low priority when we’re working flat out on a project.

      We’re going to look at it again in the near future – SWIG isn’t dead, it’s merely resting šŸ™‚

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  • Paul Freeman 31 / Mar / 2014 at 10:05 am

    We’ve been using Meetup dot com for a lot of the groups who meet here in DoES and as well as been great at running the reminders it’s been a great way to get new people along by reaching networks we’ve not got access too normally, so I think it’s certainly worth using for SWIG in future, I definitely get value from it as a product and as an attendee, it works much nicer for regular meetups than Eventbrite.

    • David Coveney
      David Coveney 29 / Apr / 2014 at 11:42 am

      Thanks Paul – Meetup does have it’s strengths, especially when it comes to what I like to term “auto-bothering” or what other people call reminders. In effect it automates a chunk of the promotion of an event, something we’ve been weak on. The other consideration, of course, is that perhaps monthly meetings are too much to keep enthusiasm rolling. Maybe quarterly would feed better? I’ve seen other similar events follow the same curve – strong initial enthusiasm, a plateau then a die off once everyone who knows about the event has gained all they can from it.

      We’ll be back, however!