Elastic community organizer guide

Overview

At Elastic, community matters. Our users and contributors have helped to ensure that Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats, and Logstash are more than just code — they are free and open tools that people love to use, and love to talk about!

Participating in a user group can be an incredibly rewarding way to contribute not only to the Elastic Community, but also to the community in which you live or work — whether you're looking to gain public speaking experience, trying to earn points for the Elastic Contributor Program, interested in networking with devs and tech professionals in your area, or wanting to give back to your local tech community. Our Community members are what makes Elastic unique and we are truly grateful for your participation!


How to use this guide

This guide is a resource to get you on the path to building an Elastic user group or helping to run an existing one. It's not quite a "cape" — but rest assured, you'll still be a superhero to many for bringing together Elastic fans in your area! If you have any questions along the way, please reach out to us at meetups@elastic.co.


Code of Conduct

All Elastic User Groups are governed by our Community Code of Conduct. By signing up to be an Elastic user group organizer, you are agreeing to abide by the Code of Conduct and to ensure the members in your Elastic user group do as well.

The purpose of our Community Code of Conduct is to ensure that all participants in Elastic community events have the best possible experience. We are all here to help each other learn, grow our skill sets, and have a good time!

All meetup attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers, including the event organizing team, are required to adhere to the Community Code of Conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event. We expect cooperation from all participants to ensure a safe environment for all.


User groups overview

For us, being an open source company means more than just sharing our code. We build, grow, and participate in many open source communities such as technology conferences and meetups. Elastic has over 150 user groups in 52 countries globally with about 80,000 + members.


About meetups

A meetup is a gathering of people who come together because they care about the same thing — in this case, Elastic! We share technical stories, get hands-on with demos and workshops, and learn together. Meetups can be held virtually or online, at partner or customer offices, local restaurants, bars, or gathering spots — typically we prefer a place that has A/V options. Meetups can feature use cases, lightning talks, workshops, demos, roundtables, panel discussions, webinars, lunch and learns, and Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions.


Affinity meetups

An affinity meetup is when two or more user groups get together over shared interests such as Python, Java, Kubernetes, or Docker. When exploring the idea of starting an Elastic user group, our recommendation is to start reaching out to local tech user groups (affinity groups) to see if you can partner on a meetup or presentation. This network building will help your new Elastic user group grow should you decide to start one.

Presenting at existing groups before starting a new Elastic user group is also a great way to publicize a new group and build excitement, and thus attract potential members and speakers before a group is started formally.

Here’s an example of a joint meetup, promoted both by the AMER Virtual User Group and the Chicago Insights & Data User Group.


Community roles

There are a variety of ways you can get involved with Elastic user groups. If you’re ready to step beyond attending Elastic meetups, we encourage you to consider sponsoring, hosting, speaking at, or organizing a meetup.


Sponsoring

Meetups can be sponsored by companies our members work for, a local company that would like to learn more about Elastic, or another user group. Sponsors typically provide either the venue or the refreshments for an event. Elastic is happy to provide a budget to user groups for refreshments, but that shouldn't stop you from accepting help from other sponsors.

Please make sure to thank the sponsors at the start and conclusion of the meetup. It's also appropriate to invite the sponsor to spend 1-2 minutes delivering the message of their choice, such as "we're hiring!" Note that sales pitches are not allowed at Elastic meetups, so if your would-be sponsor would like to announce "buy my spectacular widget!" then it's best to suggest an alternate approach. We're always ready to help with this conversation if you need it.


Hosting

Hosts can often be sponsors, but sometimes a company will offer to host and Elastic or another company or individual will sponsor. When it comes to finding a host or venue, we'll do our best to help if you don’t have contacts locally that would like to host. In general, it’s probably easier for you to find a venue than for us to research one for you, since you are located where the event will take place. Startup incubators, co-working spaces, and libraries often provide meeting space for user groups at no or very little cost, which makes them a great place to start.


Speaking

Speaking at a tech meetup is a great way to share your knowledge, get feedback on ideas, and build your speaking profile, but it can be a little intimidating to start. This Speaker Guide goes into detail on everything you might want to know about speaking at an Elastic meetup.


Organizing

The community organizer’s role is incredibly important to the success and vitality of a user group. Whether you are welcoming members as they arrive, giving an intro on Elastic, or sharing a special Elastic project, you’ll help to set the tone and agenda, and be the point of contact for the group.

In your role you will:

  • Connect with local businesses and people to source speakers, host, or sponsor
  • Facilitate or moderate events
  • Coordinate food and beverages (if in person)
  • Connect with members
  • Make sure the venue has the correct resources
  • Share your enthusiasm for Elastic

There are some great perks that come with being a user group organizer! We recommend checking out our Contributor Program to see how your contributions to the Elastic community could win you special prizes. As an Elastic user group organizer, you’ll also have access to these benefits:

  • Network growth and resume development
  • Knowledge of how to source speakers and host and run virtual or in-person events
  • The chance to share your Elastic and technical knowledge with others
  • Amplified involvement with developer relations
  • Opportunities to speak at technical conferences with Elastic
  • Elastic swag and tickets to ElasticON (our external company conference)

The Elastic Community team’s role

The Elastic Community team is here to ensure your success. Depending on your needs and the event we can provide guidance on getting started, share resources, help with scheduling, and facilitate or moderate a meetup. Your regional Community Programs team member will be your point of contact.

Additionally, we can:

  • Assist with locating a venue
  • Assist with finding a speaker
  • Provide budget for refreshments
  • Coordinate the shipment of Elastic swag
  • Answer questions about the Elastic Contributor Program
  • Edit and post meetup recordings

Starting a user group

The first step in starting a new Elastic user group is to connect with the Elastic Community team at meetups@elastic.co. The team will work with you to determine whether your area will be able to support a new user group.

One way to start your community organizing is to reach out to affinity user groups to recruit speakers and organize joint meetups. This will help both new and established Elastic user groups gain members. Before starting a new user group, it is essential to ask whether you can keep the group active with consistent events. If it will be hard to get speakers regularly or you think you might be the only speaker available most of the time, it might be better to speak at a different user group about Elasticsearch and Elastic Stack topics to begin with.

For example, if you’re setting up a user group in Bangkok, Thailand, take a look at the meetup.com page for Bangkok. Bangkok TechMeetup looks like a group that might be interested in Elastic-themed presentations.

If you’re joining us to help organize for an existing user group the first step will be to meet with the Community Programs team member for your region. We’ll connect with you to have an informational interview, get to know you, and explore how you’d like to get involved. To connect with the right team member, send an email to meetups@elastic.co introducing yourself and the city where you’d like to form a group.


Getting set up

Elastic maintains a Meetup Pro license and we can help set up your group on meetup.com and our internal events site, community.elastic.co.

The Elastic Community team will be happy to consult with you on establishing a cadence for your user group. Based on analysis of your city’s size and relative interest in Elastic, we can make a recommendation on how frequently your group should meet.

Casual meetups over refreshments are a great option for months where no formal meetups with talks are planned. Regular meetings keep people engaged and give you the chance to talk to local folks who might want to volunteer to speak in the future.


Bevy and virtual events

We use the events platform Bevy to centralize all Elastic user groups across the globe –– making it easier for community members to find and access local events like meetups, conferences, workshops, etc. Bevy is integrated with meetup.com so we don’t lose sight of local communities. For virtual meetups the Community team can provide the video conferencing platform, assist with moderating or facilitating the event, and support event promotion.


How to schedule an event

When you want to schedule a virtual meetup, you have to select the Virtual User Group option under Create an Event. When you want to promote an existing virtual meetup in your group, you should select the option Virtual Meetup - cross-promotion.

For detailed instructions on how to schedule an event, check out this recording of a Bevy Organizer training session.


Announcing the meetup

We announce all of our meetups on community.elastic.co and meetup.com. You’ll learn how to announce your event once you’ve created an event using our event platform. It's best to announce the meetup on Twitter, and other social media platforms such as Facebook or LinkedIn where you have lots of tech friends watching, as soon as it is scheduled. We will help get the word out by adding it to our online events calendar, emailing local folks in our contacts database, and via social media. If you need access to Elastic graphics you can download our brand guidelines and logos or contact us for access to Elastic-branded slides.


Finding speakers

For your first meetup, we recommend presenting an introduction to Elasticsearch or the Elastic Stack. Then you can invite others who would like to present to get in touch for future meetup speaking slots. We reward meetup organizers and speakers with T-shirts and other gifts, not to mention our eternal gratitude.

If you’re looking for more speakers, asking during meetings is always your best bet. However, another great way to find speakers is to ask for help on your meetup discussion board or the Community Slack Workspace. Many Elastic community organizers reach out via LinkedIn or other developer platforms to connect with and find speakers.

Here's a sample email to help you get started:

Hello fellow Elastic fans!

First, thank you for joining the group! It's good to see all the interest in Elastic growing.

We’re currently seeking presentations for upcoming meetups.

Topics we're interested in include:

  • How you used an Elastic product to solve a problem in your company
  • Your side project with a component from the Elastic Stack
  • A deep dive into a specific feature of Elasticsearch
  • A novel use of Logstash to make your life easier
  • Building your own Beat

We welcome anyone willing to speak, newbies and experienced folks alike! Talks can be as long or as short as you would prefer to present, too.


Setting the agenda

For virtual events we recommend no longer than an hour, so the speaker’s presentation should be 30-45 minutes in length. For in-person events there can be more time for intros, Q&A, and networking, so we recommend talks that are 30-60 minutes or 2-3 speakers who'd like to talk for 15-20 minutes each.

Speakers should plan for Q&A following the talks. Make sure to set the agenda so that talks start at least 15 minutes after doors open, with 30 minutes being best practice. This gives people time to grab a snack and time for latecomers to arrive without disturbing the presentations.

Even if you can't fill the full hour with talks, it’s still nice to get everyone together if it’s been two or more months since the last meetup. You can fill time with open Q&A from the audience. We don’t expect our community organizers to be able to answer every question. You can always reach out to the team at Elastic for help with audience member questions.

Other fun ways to set the agenda

  • Consider an open space-style meetup — no agenda, and participants are free to propose topics and join up with other interested attendees to discuss those topics.
  • Invite participants to sign up for 2- to 5-minute lightning talks on any topic, and schedule as many as you can. Coming up with a full talk can be difficult, but most folks are easily able to talk for 2-5 minutes about topics that inspire them, from Elasticsearch to electric vehicles. Have fun learning from each other!
  • Ask presenters to prepare their talks PechaKucha style — 20 slides with only 20 seconds per slide. Many people are familiar with this format as Ignite talks, so if you've heard of Ignite, you've heard of PechaKucha.
  • No speakers lined up, but still want to meet up with a focus to the discussion? Choose a short video (10-15 minutes) to show at the start of the meetup, with the rest of the agenda devoted to group discussion and learning about that particular topic. Participants may share useful articles they've read, their own experience with the topic, or questions they have as a result of watching the video. More fun than watching alone at your desk!

Additional suggestions are welcome and encouraged.


Scheduling considerations

Meetups can take place anytime, but traditionally they are held in the evening between 4:00 and 7:00 p.m. However, attending evening meetups can be tough for many people. This is especially true of virtual meetups, since many folks are on Zoom calls throughout the day. If you're interested in going the extra mile, consider hosting meetups at different hours, such as over breakfast or lunch or tagged onto the end of the workday, or on a weekend.

You can also ask on the user group discussion board if any of the group members would be able to participate if the meetup took place during one of these alternate times. If you get enough takers, go for it! You'll likely find that you”ll see familiar faces but a bunch of new folks, too.

If, after an alternately timed meetup, you discover that there's a lot of interest in the alternate time, you may find one of the individuals who can only make breakfast/lunch/weekend meetings is willing to help organize these activities with you.


Local-language meetups

We're a global community, and we welcome and encourage folks to present in their native language. In cases where the local language is not English, it is worth deciding in advance if presentations in English by visitors will work for your community members.

Eventually, we hope to have folks from Elastic visit your meetup, but not all of them will speak the local language. Ideally, visiting presenters will be able to speak English and the audience will still benefit from the talks. If not, it’s good to know that up front and do something more casual, including Q&A. This format means audience members who do not enjoy speaking English can interact in a less formal environment, and not spend the night struggling to understand a presentation or feeling hesitant to participate due to a language barrier.


Alcohol guidelines

If you're scheduling a casual meetup over refreshments, make sure the venue has a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks in addition to alcoholic beverages — not everyone cares to drink alcohol. Please ensure that non-alcoholic drinks are displayed just as visibly as alcoholic beverages, even if that means putting up a small sign next to the beers that says, "You can find a glass for tap water in the cupboard above the sink."

Depending on what you know about the local community, you might want to avoid meeting at a pub completely. See what other groups that have a positive, welcoming community are doing and follow their example.


Recording

If you’re able to record the meetup, that is wonderful. We like to share videos from as many meetups as possible on our Community YouTube Channel. If Elastic is providing the virtual events platform for your meetup we’ll automatically record it if there are no legal concerns to doing so (such as proprietary practices). Once we record a meetup, we’ll edit it and upload it to the Community YouTube channel. If you have a YouTube channel specific to your user group we can share the link for you to post the video there as well.

We have a small budget to support taping where it’s available locally — email us for help at meetups@elastic.co to see if we can cover recording costs and to arrange for us to get the video hosted on our website. If you already have a local contact for recording, great! If not, we'll see if we know someone near you. Best effort service in this case, but we'll help where we can.


Sharing content after the meetup

Please ask speakers to upload their presentations to Slideshare, Speaker Deck, Prezi, or another service that will allow us to embed their content for later resharing. Alternatively, they can send their slides to meetups@elastic.co. You can also follow up with your attendees by sending an email and linking or attaching resources from the meetup.


Meetup discussion boards

Meetup.com provides discussion boards for each group. In general, we prefer that folks not post marketing messages to these discussion groups unless there is a clear benefit for the meetup's participants, such as a special discount code for a training or conference. If you’re wondering if something is appropriate for the discussion board, use your best judgement. You’re the expert about what works best in the technical community in your area.

We also ask that folks not use our meetup discussion board for recruiting purposes. If you're hiring, you're better off going to the meetup in person to meet your would-be candidates.


Recruiting and sales pitches

While we want job seekers to find employment and for our attendees to benefit from hearing about these opportunities, there is a right way to communicate about these matters.

For recruiters who wish to source candidates from meetups, it is entirely appropriate for the recruiting firm to sponsor refreshments at the meetup and do a quick pitch to the audience that candidates are sought for specific positions. The announcement should be short and direct would-be candidates to speak to the recruitment agency after the talks conclude.

Sales pitches are not allowed at Elastic meetups. Speakers who use their time to sell a particular product will also find that their talk is not well received, so it's not strategically useful to go with the "hard sell" approach. It's fine to mention that your company sells products, but talks should focus on the technical aspects of the product.

It is completely OK to mention where people can go online — or in person after the talks — to learn more about purchasing. If the discussion of how and where to make purchases is more than 1-2 minutes of your talk, you're giving a sales pitch. Rewrite those slides!


Any other questions?

Wonderful! We are here to help. Email us at meetups@elastic.co.