- You should not restrict participation of your meetings to Fellows. Give interested people the possibility to participate. A lot of people join the Fellowship after they participated in the group.
- Be careful that your meetings do not become just babbling. Try to actually do things. It is not about who has the best idea, but who _does_ the coolest things. Also moderate the meeting if necessary.
- Do not concentrate on technical issues. Concentrate on political and social issues.
- At the beginning it might help to co-locate your meeting with already existing ones. For example in some cities there are already parallel Free Software, Security, etc. meetings. Especially for the social "non-working" part it is good to have different groups. Then they will also see what you do.
For the first meeting it may be a good idea to give a short introduction to the Fellowship and the FSFE. This presentation can be used as a starting point.
It is helpful to create a mailinglist before your first meeting, so you can just announce it. Please contact <fellowship-hackers AT fsfeurope DOT org> if you need a mailinglist.
You should send an e-mail to all Fellows in a certain ZIP code area. Include a planned agenda so people can imagine what will happen. Please send an e-mail to <fellowship AT fsfeurope DOT org> with a range of postal (zip) codes, subject and the text. Then we will send an e-mail to the Fellows in that area. This should be send out at latest than 10 days before the event as it will also take a while until we can send it out.
Announce your meetings at mailing lists from local user-groups, the Mailman list for your Fellowship group, your country team At least in the beginning you should also announce it on the public discussion list for your region (if there is any).
Write about your meetings on planet.fsfe.org (send your RSS feed to email@example.com so we can add your weblog to the planet), and if you had a working meeting write a result protocol.
Add the event on FellowshipEvents and if possible also on FSFE's event page: See FSFE's information page for webmasters to find out how to edit the web pages. Alternatively, you can send an email to <web AT fsfeurope DOT org> and ask our volunteers to put the event entry online for you. It might be a good idea to follow the style of existing entries on that list.
Add a wiki page for your group http://wiki.fsfe.org/groups/GroupName
Of course you are free to just meet, drink beer and discuss about Free Software related issues. Here some tipps when you want to do activities.
Do not try to make too complex activities. It is better to start with small tasks which you really can implement. When you have doubts it is a sign that it is too much for volunteers. You can also discuss planned activities with <coordinators AT list DOT fsfe DOT org> and see what other experiences group coordinators think about it.
- Document planned and done activities in the wiki so you can point others to it, and others can comment on it.
Agenda proposals: Activities for DFD, SFD, a local booth at an event (see BoothCountdown and BoothFAQ), have evening topics about a certain topic, small workshops, or a release party. Beside taking a look at the recent archives of the discussion@ mailing list and the planet to see if there are any current topics that might be of interest it is also a good idea to try to answer questions like:
- Does anyone know of Free Software being used by government bodies?
- ...or in schools?
- Does the government have a policy on Free Software / Open Standards?
Is anyone involved with related project such as OpenStreetMap or OpenMoko
- What other groups and meetings exist in this region?
- Is today's meeting format good, or what's the best way to meet next time?
During the working session, Q&As, etc. you should moderate. If people start telling stories about their life and do not stick to the topic it is absolutely fine to stop them. The other participants will thank you for it.
- In general it is better explain a chatterbox your meeting rules than loosing more and more people who would actually like to do things because they are pissed about this behavoir.
- If you have a presentation it is good to have a timer and give a notice to the speaker before the time is over (e.g. 10 minutes left, 5 minutes left, game over).
Time and venue
Choosing a good time and venue really depends on what audience you expect. If you just want to attract people from one city, then you could organise a formal meeting with short presentations, or you could just pick a pub/cafe and have a meeting there.
- A city centre venue might be difficult for people who need to park a car.
- For people coming from other cities by train, a venue that is not near the train station might be hard for them to find.
- If you hold the meeting on a weeknight, then people who have a travel time of more than 1 hour will probably not come.
Other ideas what you can do
The coordinator of the meetings can take orders for FSFE merchandise, send an omnibus order to be delivered to him/her, and distribute the items at the next meeting. This way, people can save shipping costs.
- if possible write a little text about the meeting and post it on your fsfe.org blog and/or to your regional mailing list
if there were problems or you have any suggestions please sent an email to <fellowship AT fsfeurope DOT org>.