Calendar of events Project Idea

We don’t want to talk too much about the tech, at this stage, remember. The tech is the easy part. The hard part is getting the list of all events and then talking to them all. Another calendar to look at for input is although it includes things outside Birmingham (which I do not think we should).

Another thing we should think about is content. What are we classing as relevant events for the calendar?

Much like with Planet Birmingham, where we decided that it’s a person writing the blog that is related to the tech scene - rather than each individual blog post - what are the qualifications for entry into the calendar?

On this note, would events such as Programmer’s Day, Alan Turin’s Birthday, or the anniversary of Tim Burners-Lee’s switching on his first web server, etc be included?

@sil let me take another approach… What are the goals of the calendar project? Presumably…

  1. To get people who to go to some events, to go to more
  2. To get people who don’t go to any events, to come to some.

So then, the button… People click on the app store button because you have to, to get the app. But will people click on the Birmingham calendar button? there’s no clear reason to do so, but I’d hope some do, because that’s the only way they find out about events. Therefore my thought was if we had a place to cross promote events on people’s sites it might help with goal #1.

There are of course other ways to try achieve #1, e.g. getting event organisers to promote other events, tweeting about upcoming events, getting people to subscribe to the calendar or email updates.

Huh. That’s a good argument. I hadn’t thought of it that way…

ha ha we do now. [New Member] UI Designer :slight_smile:

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Why are we assuming that event organisers wouldn’t add their event to a unified calendar if they knew about it and it was clear what the benefits for their event are by doing so?

Surely if they don’t, it’s a sign they’re not serious about attendance?

Human curator(s) + submission combination seems reasonable.

Mostly, I think the reason for that assumption would be that no one looks at the calendar we create, so it is irrelevant. The onerous is on us to make sure people do look at our calendar.

What @rythie says is correct here – until most of the events are actually on the calendar, it isn’t a unified calendar. So there’s little benefit to adding your event to it. This is why all the calendars mentioned above in the thread have failed; note that event organisers haven’t added their event to those calendars, and it’s not because the event organisers aren’t serious, it’s because the calendars are clearly not representative.

So maybe some design thoughts are useful here, from designers such as @zer0mike and @taiyab. In my head, there is a button which an event organiser can add to the event’s own website. (Not, etc; we’ll deal with that later.) It should communicate the following things:

  1. this event is listed in the brum tech scene calendar
  2. this is a button; if you click it, you’ll go to the calendar and see lots of other events you might like
  3. possibly when the next event from the calendar is and what its name is

and its design should be such that everyone can include it on their sites and it doesn’t egregiously clash with the design of the site it’s included on, in colours or size taken up.

Thoughts, designers? :slight_smile:

Why are we assuming that event organisers wouldn’t add their event to a unified calendar if they knew about it and it was clear what the benefits for their event are by doing so?

Because people are busy and forgetful and focused on other things?

I organise an event (not a tech event, stand down), and I intend to list it on Live Brum, but some months, by the time I’ve been around Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and, I just forget.

Ya. That’s exactly why the calendar team should take care of that; approach event organisers and say “hey, we’re adding your event here, are these details correct?” so the event organiser can say “yes!” and that’s all, which is pretty close to zero effort :slight_smile:

@sil I’ll have a think, my brain is working on a different kind of calendar at the moment, an iOS one for a client. Two calendars in one brain just won’t work. :wink:

cc @rythie

Any thoughts on what to do about preventing stale listings?

If the listings are prepared by curators rather than event organisers, it’s likely that they won’t be the first to hear if, say, an event is cancelled. This is probably particularly an issue with recurring events, where, say, a fortnightly event changes from odd weeks to even weeks, or moves venue, or fizzles out.

It’s important that listings are not only up-to-date, but that they are seen to be up-to-date. I think people like to see some evidence that an event is going ahead and that people are going to be there before going to an event for the first time.

Yeah. I had thought about stale and incorrect listings, but not in any detail, and this is a really good point. I also don’t have any good ideas on how to fix it (“require event organisers to tell us it’s happened” is not a good idea, and neither is “ring all of them up every fortnight and ask if anything’s changed”, or “make every event organiser click a link in an email every week to keep themselves in the calendar”). Ideas are invited…

I’m leaving this to @sil and @rythie for the most part, so I’m not sure their thoughts on this…

…but can it not take advantage of the APIs provided by, say, eventbrite, or whatever other system is used by the event organiser to track the event? We’ll not need to know that the event has been cancelled, because we’ll know the ID of the event in, and will be able to check the event for it’s non-existance on a regular basis?

Yes. If the event is in meetup that’ll work fine. I am expecting that when the calendar team talk to an event organiser, we say, how can we make sure that the event listing for you is always up to date? Are you, for example, in meetup, or do you have a google calendar, or an RSS feed? And if they do, then we add their URL to our list, and one of our importers takes care of it. However, not everybody works like that. Some events are manually curated; some avoid meetup for technical or moral reasons. I’d like the calendar team to work with those event organisers and say, let us help you set up something technological which will inform your attendees, and which you’re happy to use (for example, help them or encourage them to create a google calendar). That also solves this problem. However, there may be some who don’t want to do that, who just post a blog post or something saying “every third Thursday” and that’s it, whom we’ll add to the calendar manually, and who may go stale as @mavit suggests. I don’t know how to avoid that; I do however believe that it’ll be a pretty small percentage of the population, and maybe that’ll have to do.

I’m going to go through the various events and look how many are on meetup and how many have just rigid schedule and many do neither (the harder ones). Then we will be see how much of a problem we have. However, I’m not really able look at this till I’m back in the UK in a week’s time.

OK. As @rythie says what’s needed is to go through each of the existing calendars and look at each event on there; look at its website and work out how to know when it happens, programmatically. In theory, ahead of doing this, I believed that each event will fall into one of the following categories:

  1. has a page on meetup
  2. has a page on some other calendaring place which has an API (google calendar, lanyrd, etc)
  3. meeting times are listed in some human-readable form (on twitter, on their own website) but there’s no obvious machine-readable source of this data
  4. seemingly defunct (last meeting was some time ago; no obvious indication that there will be more meetings)
  5. not in Birmingham (this being a Birmingham-specific endeavour; we might argue about whether Moseley counts (I think it does) and there are obviously grey areas (how far out does “Birmingham” extend?), but I wouldn’t include Leamington or Staffordshire or Wolverhampton. There is large value in there being an all-of-the-Midlands calendar, but this isn’t it.)

The idea here is that categories 1 and 2, machine-readable existing schedules for an event, are perfect. They can be regularly imported by some sort of cron job, and the event organiser themselves will keep them up to date and their event just appears in the central tech scene calendar automatically. The ones which require extra work are those which publish their events in human-readable form only (where we’d want to work with them to explain how much more convenient it is to let your attendees have a thing they can subscribe to, and help them to set up a or google calendar for it), or where they have a regular schedule (“third Sunday of the month”) and everyone knows that, and so there’s no calendar (in which case we’d speak to them and add this to our calendar as a recurring event). This also means that if someone says “how do I get my event in this calendar??” we can say “Add it to meetup, with the ‘tech’ tag, with a location in Birmingham”. If they don’t like meetup for some reason then we can work with them to import a google calendar or similar, but “add to meetup” is the easy route. This way, the calendar updates itself; this is a critical point. Given all the defunct options below, it’s important that there isn’t one big burst of effort to add everything and then it bit-rots over time; the goal here is to make something which is inherently self-sustaining, not something which was true the day it was created and then steadily gets out of date.

I have now gone through all the existing calendars I can find. The results are below. In practice, it seems that there’s hardly anyone in category 2; pretty much everyone who has a regular meetup in some machine-readable way is doing so on This is good, because have a good API, and if new events are created at they’ll be automatically included because the importer will pick them up. We’d need to look in more detail at all the ones I’ve listed as having “no obvious source” in case there is a machine-readable source to import, and if not, look at working with all those event organisers to help them have one. I’ve also listed a bunch as defunct, but that’s after a fairly cursory look; they’d need to be checked in more detail too.

There is a reasonable argument that if the central tech scene calendar has good tagging, then others can use it as a source; one can imagine Silicon Canal displaying their “events list” as “those things in the central tech scene calendar tagged with ‘entrepreneurs’” or similar.

Silicon Canal

Entrepreneur/startup focused. Meeting data at Covers events outside Birmingham. Below we list only Birmingham meets.

Silicon Canal Tech Drinks
On meetup at
Startup Poker
On meetup at
Birmingham UX Book Club
Twitter account at No machine source of event info. Last event seems to have been 24th July.
On meetup at
Birmingham WordPress
On meetup at
Birmingham Developers
On meetup at
Birmingham Hacker News
On meetup at
SQL Server User Group
Website at No obvious independent source of data. Meetings seem to be ad-hoc-ish rather than regular. Needs confirmation.
iOS Midlands Defunct (confirmed with @abitgone)
Linux User Group See below for their own techevents calendar as source.
Ruby User Group
On meetup as
Tech Wednesday
On meetup as
Perl User Group – see discussion below in Birmingham LUG section
Multipack - defunct, pretty much
Brum Girl Geeks
On meetup as
Birmingham Entrepreneurs
On meetup as
Social Media Cafe
Website at No obvious independent source to follow.
Ideas & Beers - defunct?
Badego Creatives meetup - meetings tweeted. No obvious source to follow.
Fizzpop On meetup at
No SQL Birmingham
On meetup at
Python West Midlands
Website at Monthly social in The Bull? No meetings since June 2014. Defunct?
Hacks & Hackers
On meetup at
NxtGen User Group
Website at See below in birmingham lug section.
Startup Engineering
On meetup at
Birmingham Cassandra Users Meetup
On meetup at
On meetup at
Birmingham Open Code
On meetup at
Ladies Who Code
On meetup at
Birmingham UX
On meetup at
Salesforce Developer User Group
On meetup at
Digital Marketers Meetup
On meetup at
Brum JS
Website at Now on meetup at

Birmingham LUG list
At Displays google calendar. Tech elite focused, covers West Midlands not just Birmingham. Below we list only Birmingham meets from this calendar. technical meetings and social meetings
Has a gcal at

Silicon Canal Drinks
On meetup at

Brum 2600 (defunct?)
First Saturday of each month at Snow Hill. No linkable source. Defunct?

West Midlands Ruby User Group
On meetup at

Birmingham LUG
Meetings listed on techevents calendar; no independent source for just this meeting. Meeting location changes each event.

SMC other events
An HTML list of links to events at Many are listed on other calendars; here we include those that are not.

Animation Forum WM
Does not seem to have a regular meetup; is more an online discussion group. Need to verify that.
Birmingham Music Network
Website at Seem to have a semi-regular meetup. No obvious calendar source.
Creative Networks
Events site at suggests last Thursday of the month. No obvious source.
On meetup at
Likemind says every third Friday. No obvious calendar source.
Website at says no frequent meetings.
Social Media Surgeries Has google calendar link, but a separate one for each event. Would require some import cleverness.
WordPress Birmingham
On meetup at

LiveBrum Digital
At Currently lists nothing. No obvious export.

Digital Birmingham
At Currently lists nothing. No obvious export.

Linked from SQL Midlands

UC Birmingham User Group
Quarterly meetings. No obvious calendar source.
Website at No meeting since February on website. No obvious calendar source.
Birmingham Sharepoint Users Group
Linked but not right because it’s in Birmingham Alabama!

Stuart Bates’ calendar
A google calendar at Does not contain anything that’s not in the above lists.

Innovation Birmingham
Seems to be a list of mostly one-off events at Has an ical export, so can be imported.


That’s great work @sil!

There is large value in there being an all-of-the-Midlands calendar, but this isn’t it.

Agreed, wholeheartedly.

iOS Midlands Defunct (confirmed with @abitgone)

Doubly confirmed now. There was talk of trying to get someone in Birmingham to start up an iOS-themed group or to roll iOSMids into an existing group, but since everyone that I was aware of for the Birmingham group has largely moved away to San Francisco or London or, like me, doesn’t live anywhere close enough to Birmingham to make a meaningful difference in these things, it’s been dead since the end of 2013.

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