In association with heise online

08 August 2008, 09:18

Community Live - celebrates its tenth year

Dj Walker-Morgan

A hand crafted 10 year T-shirt by Perlmonger Leon Brocard
Zoom A hand crafted 10 year T-shirt by Perlmonger Leon Brocard

On Thursday evening, London PerlMongers celebrated its tenth year of being the social and technical meeting place for Perl users and developers. Heise online UK went along to see how they've managed to last so long.

The life of any user group can often be quite limited, so any user group that makes it to ten years has to have something special about it. At the ten year anniversary meeting, the PerlMongers of London showed us that their special quality was, surprisingly in some ways, not focussing on Perl, but on the people who use Perl.

Started by Dave Cross, back in 1998 and inspired by the appearance of PerlMonger groups in the USA, has managed to create a very friendly community. Part of this is down to separating the social from the technical. A fortnight before, we had dropped in on a "techmeet" where the subject was of course Perl, from a Perl developer's experiences with PHP to an almost lightning talk through a set of lesser known CPAN modules. That kind of technical talk event is bread and butter to any user group; some user groups are solely based around them with a dash to the nearest public house later.

The Perlmongers are all deep in conversation
Zoom The Perlmongers are all deep in conversation
In's case the "techmeets" came later in the group's life. It all really started in the pubs of London where the PerlMongers have developed a friendly, inclusive social culture. To get a feeling for how friendly it was, consider the Python coder who turned up to the anniversary event after seeing an announcement on a London Linux mailing list, then realising it was all about Perl said he'd drink his drink and head off. He was still there at the end of the night and planning to come back.

We experienced the same thing, dropping in on numerous conversations. Some were Perlesque in nature, with discussions about CPAN and the testing mailing list behind it, Perl6 or not, and why Java needs something like CPAN. Others branched out to more general technical issues, such as Linux and FreeBSD distributions, writing code for mobile devices and managing open source projects. There was also more general chats about which games console is better, can anyone see the difference between DVD and BluRay, and what the worst movie ever was. So many conversations that we stayed way over our allocated time.

The 10 year anniversary beer packaged for distribution
Zoom The 10 year anniversary beer packaged for distribution
Another thing that was evident is that the group inspires people to do more in the community, organising Perl workshops or conferences or helping look after itself. Other notable events of the evening included the selling of tenth anniversary labelled beer – no small feat to do this with the approval of the pub – a group photo and the current organisers thanking Dave Cross for starting the group. He deserves a lot of credit for helping create a truly successful user group.

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