OCaml meetups at different places

I wanted to follow up on @2BitSalute’s message about organizing OCaml meetups in Seattle (on the thread about OCaml Foundation’s update) and figured I’d open a new thread.

@2BitSalute, it’s very cool that you want to organize meetups in Seattle! @jchavarri, @davesnx, and I are in a similar situation: We’ve been considering starting to organize OCaml meetups in Barcelona for a few months. Are there more people who’ve been considering starting meetups somewhere?

Similarly to @2BitSalute I guess, I’m also very curious to hear some experiences and opinions of people :slight_smile:

One thing: How do you get people interested in joining? Do you just announce the meetups on the meetup.com page, and enough people get interested? Or do you count on university students or on people you know? I guess every case is different, but it’d be quite interesting to get an overview. @jchavarri has already had the (very good!) idea to give a talk about OCaml web development at a Barcelona JavaScript meetup, mentioning the potentially upcoming OCaml meetups. That’s already a good start at least.

By the way, I’m also curious about different meetup styles and hearing opinions! Lots of meetups in OCaml focus on theory and are presentations-style, e.g. OUPS in Paris and the meetups in Toulouse. @davesnx, @jchavarri, and I were thinking of doing more practical meetups, i.e. people get together and code some stuff in OCaml. I once went to an Elm meetup like that and it was a lot of fun. Do people have experience with that as well?


I organize the Houston Functional Programming User Group https://hfpug.org and previously OCaml Café, along with @rgrinberg and @mbacarella.

The OCaml community is great, so you won’t have any problem finding speakers. The biggest hurdle will be attendance, because the community is small. At HFPUG, we always have very low attendance when the topic is OCaml. OCaml Café struggled as well. Europe might be different from the U.S. but here I’d definitely recommend going hybrid, if not entirely virtual.

I’ve been involved in user groups for a number of decades now and attendance has universally declined, for two reasons. First, people don’t need user groups in the same way anymore because the internet and online communities are available to answer questions. Second, people have much less free time and have become increasingly strategic. So many people won’t show up for a talk unless they know that they will learn something beneficial. While we have regulars at HFPUG, there’s only a small number of people who show up each and every time.

HFPUG was fully in person, went virtual with COVID and is now hybrid. Hybrid has worked really well for us and I’d encourage anybody considering starting a meetup to consider it. There’s an element to in-person interactions that just can’t be replicated online.

OCaml Café was conceived of as office hours, where we’d answer people’s questions. That worked well and there’s clearly a need for such a venue. Attendance went up when we started hosting talks, but that became too much for me, since I was also organizing HFPUG. Life has gotten in the way, and I don’t expect that I’ll be able to pick OCaml Café back up. If anybody wants to take it over, just create a Meetup.com account and I’ll be happy to make you an admin.

An option to consider is the model that Tcl/Tk is using, as they’re a similarly small-but-global community. Their meetings are fully online and they rotate the time every month such that they can hit reasonable time zones for the Americas, Europe, East Asia. That seems to have worked well for them.

Incidentally - in addition to the OCaml Café meetup group, I have another unused Meetup.com group sitting unused. I’d be happy to offer to somebody who wants to form an OCaml group. Please DM me.


I’d love to have an OCaml meetup in London if anyone else would be interested

I guess there must be quite a few OCaml folks in London, right? (among others because of the Jane Street office there…)

Thanks for answering here, appreciate your experience.

I have a similar feeling while being in 2 conferences and talking with people, after looking at what @sabine, @dmmulroy, Leandro and co has done… I would put more efforts on doing a remote-first conference.

This might change a bit in the future, since both Sabine and Leo are going to speak to a hybrid conference but talking about OCaml in March BOB - BOB 2024 but still the community in twitter/twitch has been growing from 0 to the current state and looks promising.

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In Lille, from 2016 to 2021, we organised LambdaLille:

Even if the event wasn’t 100% dedicated to OCaml, it was mainly general. There were several presentations dedicated to OCaml or by members of the OCaml community (13 talks related to OCaml/Reason).

The event was pretty cool and survived the online meetup pandemic just fine. And yes, we were using Meetup (and Twitter for communication) with a big presence at other events for publicity. Looking back, I think it was probably one of the biggest regular events dedicated to functional programming in French, outside the academic world.

In 2021, I moved to Nantes and we were able to launch LambdaNantes :

(yeah, the logo is … weird)

The event is, for the moment, less ambitious (but we’ve already had 2 events dedicated to OCaml, we also sponsored an OUPS!). Another change is the switch to Mobilizon, a free Meetup implementation based on ActivityPub. It’s not crazy, and as we like to reinvent the wheel, we’ll probably write our version in OCaml.

We’re always on the lookout for speakers and presentations, so we’d be delighted to host any. If you’re close to Nantes! For 2024, we’re going to try, after the ScalaIO 2024 conference (the 10th anniversary, in Nantes, where I’ll be giving the opening keynote) to create a more regular event, and to have better communication so that, why not, we end up with a real annual conference.