Hosting FAQ

General

Planning for GDCR

Advertising

Hosting a Coderetreat

Sponsorship


General

What are the basic guiding principles of the Global Day of Coderetreat?

There are several guiding principles:

Focus on the local events

It is great that GDCR is a global event, but we want to make sure that each local Coderetreat is successful. As such, we should make sure that our primary focus is always on enabling and empowering the local hosts and facilitators. All things “global” should be considered secondary.

Keep it simple

We want as many groups as possible to be able to participate. If we make the event too complicated, we will almost certainly discourage groups from participating.

Additionally, doing more could set us up for a higher chance of failure. Every new thing we introduce has a cost in terms of volunteer time and effort. We don’t want the cost to become too high.

Preserve the Coderetreat format

The Coderetreat format has been refined over several years and works well. While we are always looking for new exercises, we should be hesitant to change the basic format.

Encourage local experimentation

Even though the basic Coderetreat format should not be drastically altered, we do want people to experiment and to try out new ideas. As such, we should try to create an environment where anyone can propose and implement a good idea. This applies to both the global event and the local events.

Coderetreat is for everyone who writes code

The only restriction is that those who attend must have at least a basic familiarity with writing code. Otherwise, we do not discriminate and we should make every effort to make the event as accessible as possible to as many people as possible.

What is the ultimate goal of the GDCR?

The ultimate goal of the GDCR is to help software developers around the world (of a wide range of skills and backgrounds) to write better code. This leads to several sub-goals:

  • Encourage software developers around the world to practice and improve their craft.
  • Teach others how to use the Coderetreat format to help strengthen their local software developer community.
  • Support other organizations focused on software development education by raising funds for those organizations.

What does it mean to host a Coderetreat? What is a host responsible for?

The host’s role in Coderetreat is very important. Without someone to find local sponsors to provide space and lunch for the Coderetreat, the Coderetreat simply wouldn’t happen. Hosts also help to market and generate excitement in the event.

During the Global Day of Coderetreat, hosts play an even more important role. Because GDCR is a bigger event, it usually requires more effort to organize than a typical Coderetreat. On the day of GDCR, while the facilitator is busy facilitating, the host helps the group engage the larger community.

How do I become a host or facilitator?

By registering an event, you’re automatically considered a host or facilitator, no registration necesssary! However, we strongly suggest attending a host or facilitator training session and joining the GDCR Slack channel.

Is there a place where I can exchange ideas with other hosts and facilitators?

Yes! Join the Slack channel to particpate in discussion about organizing and running a Coderetreat.


Planning for GDCR

How do I register my event on Coderetreat.org?

Follow the intructions here.

When should I open registration for my local Coderetreat?

It’s recommended that you open registration one month before the event:

  • Opening registration one month before a Coderetreat decreases the number of people who register but don’t show up on the day of (reduces no-shows).
  • Opening registration one month before helps to generate anticipation and excitement for GDCR. Many of the Coderetreats will sell out on the first day of registration.

What service should I use to manage registration?

In short, Coderetreat.org is an outstanding place to advertise and announce your Coderetreat. However, it is not a method for actually collecting registrations.

Instead, we recommend using a dedicated event registration service. The three most-popular are Eventbrite, meetup.com, and gathers.us, but there are many other registration services. Feel free to use the service you are most comfortable with.

How many participants should I plan for?

If this is your first or second Coderetreat, we strongly recommend you cap the event to 25 participants. Any more than that, and it could get a little hard to manage. Once a Coderetreat goes above 25, some of the closeness and intimacy is lost. Larger Coderetreats are also much harder to facilitate.

When speaking with sponsors, use 25 as the number of expected attendees (until you have a more accurate number closer to the event). Most businesses are more than willing to cover lunch for just 25 people.

Should I plan on providing breakfast for participants in addition to lunch? And coffee throughout the day?

Consider breakfast an optional extra based on the amount of local sponsorship you get. When choosing the order of meals, prefer lunch over breakfast.

It is wonderful if you can supply coffee (and other morning drinks) for people arriving.

Breakfast typically in US costs US Dollars 100 from Dunkin Donuts. Coffee for all day typically costs around 50 US Dollars.

Can I charge a fee for the Coderetreat?

From the very beginning, Coderetreat has been a free event. The “free admission” property of Coderetreat is important. In most locations, community events are typically free and we want to keep Coderetreat a community-oriented event. In addition, keeping the Coderetreat free-of-charge makes it possible for any developer to attend.

As an alternative to charging a fee, you could ask participants for a refundable deposit. You can collect the deposit at registration time, and refund it if the participants arrive.

Collecting a refundable deposit is a useful way to ensure that people show up. It is pretty common for people to sign up for a free event and then not show up on the day. This can be unfair to other people who wanted to sign up (not to mention sponsors, as well as wasting food).

We recommend you use Eventbrite if you plan to charge a refundable deposit. You can either use PayPal to collect the deposit (and then use PayPal to refund the deposit including the associated fees), or you can have Eventbrite collect the fees and then refund the deposit through Eventbrite’s interface.

If you decide to use Eventbrite to collect and refund the deposit (as opposed to PayPal), and you like to keep records of who has attended a Coderetreat, then you’ll want to export the attendee list the night before the Coderetreat (or just before you start refunding deposits). When you refund a ticket in Eventbrite, it deletes the person’s registration information.

I only have a few registered attendees, but the event is still a few months away. Should I be concerned?

No need to be concerned yet. A lot of Coderetreats don’t start to fill up until closer to the date of the actual Coderetreat.

Don’t let a small turnout stop you from going forward with the Coderetreat! You can hold a Coderetreat with about 10 people and still have a good day. In fact, sometimes people learn more at the smaller Coderetreats than they do at the larger ones.

If you are in this situation, then you may have opened registration too early. We’ve learned opening registration about one month before a Coderetreat (September 22nd for GDCR) tends to result in more overall attendees than opening registration at some other date. That said, you shouldn’t close registration if it is already open. Instead, think about sending out another set of advertisements on September 22nd. See When should I open registration for my local Coderetreat? for more information on this topic.


Advertising

Where should I advertise my Coderetreat?

There are many places. First, you should list your event on Coderetreat.org(see the next question for details). The Coderetreat.org website is the central place for all Coderetreat event listings so your event is sure to be seen by Coderetreat enthusiasts.

You can also list your event using an alternative registration system. A lot of hosts like to use Eventbrite or gathers.us. We’ve also heard some people really like to use meetup.com.

Finally, you should advertise your event as much as possible within your local community. There are many ways to advertise your event locally:

  • Announce the Coderetreat on local user group mailing lists
  • Post flyers at your company and at other tech companies in the area (with permission, of course)
  • Tell your friends to spread the word
  • Talk on a podcast or a local radio show

Hosting a Coderetreat

As a host, what do I need to do to prepare for the Global Day of Coderetreat?

There are a lot of things to do to get ready for your Coderetreat. Here are some of the tasks you might need to do (this is by no means an exhaustive list, but it gives you the idea):

  • Find local sponsors
  • Send emails and tweets to generate interest in the event
  • Post flyers up in public locations frequented by local developers
  • Coordinate logistics with the local sponsors
  • Send reminders to participants
  • Finish final preparations such as printing name tags the night before
  • And don’t forget to have fun and to create fun

However, don’t let this list overwhelm you. Most of the items on the list are fairly easy. And you have a large community of hosts (both on the GDCR Google Group and on Coderetreat.org) to help you along the way.

What are the host’s responsibilities on the day of the Coderetreat?

The host is responsible for a number of activities on the day of the Coderetreat:

  • Help set up before participants start to arrive
  • Make everyone feel welcome as they arrive
  • Register participants as they arrive (hand out name tags)
  • Meet and help the caterer who is bringing lunch
  • Coordinate video conferences with other locations
  • Take pictures of the event or record a short video
  • Post updates to Twitter
  • Update the Coderetreat Live! application
  • Coordinate the giveaways
  • Help clean up after the event

As you can see, the host is critical to the success of the Coderetreat. Without the host, the facilitator would be overwhelmed trying to take care of all of these details. Thank you for volunteering to host!

There are a lot of activities for the event being proposed on the discussion mailing list. Do I have do all of them?

No! This is really important: Participation in global events and activities is entirely optional. Keep it simple, and only do what you know you can do well. If you feel overwhelmed, then don’t feel like you need to do that extra thing someone suggested on the mailing list.


Sponsorship

How can I find sponsors for my local Coderetreat?

There are many ways to find sponsors for your local Coderetreat. Here are just a few tips:

  • Leverage social networks and broadcast that you are looking for some local sponsorship.
  • Email friends you have who work at local technology companies.
  • Ask around at local user group meetings
  • Share our Local Sponsorship Prospectus with any company that shows interest
  • Ask in your own company
  • Contact some HRs in the IT companies

In general, the small startups or small to medium dev shops tend to be more open to sponsoring a Coderetreat than larger companies. Thus, don’t feel shy about approaching the local dev. shop about sponsorship.

If you get completely stuck, or if you need new ideas on how to find local sponsors, post your dilemma to the GDCR Slack Group. Finding a sponsor is a LOT easier when more people are assisting your need for a sponsor.

How much should I tell sponsors lunch will cost per participant?

The cost per person can vary significantly from location to location and is often based on the strength of the local economy. In the United States, lunch typically costs between $10 and $20 per person and often falls around $15 per person.

I have a sponsor who wants to give away SWAG (Stuff We All Get) or promotional materials at the event. Is this okay?

Yes. SWAG is fun and can help make the day more interesting. However, any promotional materials, goods, or merchandise provided by local sponsors should be in good taste. Items which might harm, offend, or disturb participants must be avoided. Remember, we’re trying to create a fun and educational day for our participants, not to offend them.