How to run a London Clojure Dojo in 20ish easy steps

Running dojos is a lot of fun. It is also really easy. No one has to prepare a talk or a subject for the night. The most important thing is that everyone has fun. After that if people learn some clojure, then that is a great bonus. But the fun has to come first to keep people coming back.

Here is a simple(?) step by step guide. If you are unsure about how to be an MC, then just watch some bits of The Muppet Show and do what Kermit does.

All of the below are suggestions and guidelines, not rules. Do what works. This seems to be working reasonably well for us. YMMV.

  1. Find your hosts, say hello. Make sure everyone is happy. Make sure newcomers feel welcome.
  2. Make sure the food is arriving/has arrived. 
  3. Make sure there is enough to drink (beer, wine, soft drinks).
  4. Get the projector for show and tell.
  5. Set up a whiteboard. Write “Dojo Ideas” at the top. Put “Roman Numeral Calculator” as the first idea to avoid the tyranny of the blank whiteboard.
  6. Greet fellow clojurians, eat food, drink whatever until 7PM.
  7. Think of a silly question for the kick off.
  8. At 7PM round everyone up for the kick off.
  9. Thank everyone for coming, the sponsors for hosting and your fellow organisers.
  10. Get everyone to introduce themselves, say how long they’ve been doing clojure for and answer a silly question.
  11. Tell everyone that the dojo is a safe place to be a new to clojure and to try new things and learn things. Let experienced people know it is a great place to be surprised by things they didn’t know and to think hard about what they’ve learned and share it with everyone.
  12. Vote on the task for the dojo. In the 1st round people can vote for more than one idea. Do run offs if necessary. In run off rounds you can ask people to only vote for one idea. Votes are approximate, unless it is important that they aren’t. Ties in voting are OK. You can do more than one thing. Teams are sovereign. If a team wants to work and present on something other than what was voted on then that is fine.
  13. Make sure there are enough clojure environments/experienced team members to go around. Get them up front to act as the 1st member of each team if needed.
  14. Divide into teams of 4-6 people. Teams of 4 are better, but 3 is too small.
  15. Get the teams to spread out and start.
  16. Do the dojo! This should be enough time for everyone to have 10 minutes at the keyboard and 20-30 mins of discussion. Usually 1 hour 20 minutes.
  17. Tell people when each 10 minute period is up and remind teams to rotate. Everyone should write at least 1 working line of clojure code that evening, even if it is just a (println “foo”).
  18. Make sure every team understands the problem, is able to get on to wifi, isn’t struggling too much.
  19. Swap more or less experienced people from one team to another if a particular team is struggling too much. Ask them if they are still having fun first though. If they are having fun, then leave them alone.
  20. After 80 minutes or so, round everyone up for show and tell at the projector.
  21. Do show and tell. Thank everyone. Clean up. Go to the pub!

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