Know Thy PHP User Group Know The PHP Hampshire User Group – Find An Independent Venue Rather Than Conference Venues

About This ‘PHP User Group Interview’ Concept

This is the #3rd set of Know Thy PHP User Group in an attempt to create more awareness of:

  • what is $this PHP UG about + get to know the leaders/Founders/Community behind it
  • what is a PHP User Group in general
  • to personally know all the PHP user goups Around The World – that excites me and I hope you too!

This concept is also a good opportunity for new elePHPants to know about PHP UGs.

PS: Are YOU the founder or organiser of a php user group? Get in touch with me for a similar interview, contact me and/or make a comment below with your email. I’ll get back to you!

PPS: We have a similar concept for “Know Thy PHP Conferences

Welcome To The PHP Hampshire User Group

PHP Hampshire User Group
PHP Hampshire User Group

>> Could you, the leader(s), tell us a bit about yourself..

I am James Titcumb (@Asgrim) – I’m part of a team of 5 organisers of the PHP Hampshire user group – the other 4 are:

  • Richard Holloway – (@richardjh_org)
  • Lee Boynton – (@leeboynton)
  • Simon Wade
  • Jon Wigham

My day job managing the development team at the Ed Group in Fareham. I’ve got about 11 years of experience in PHP and I still love learning more about my field.

>> What is a user group?

User Groups mean different things to different people. To me, a user group is a group of people with similar interests gathering to share, discuss and learn more about their field.

>> What is your User Group about?

PHP Hampshire is about what I think a user group should be – to share, discuss and learn more about PHP. We’re not strictly limited to PHP though – think of it more like PHP + other web-based technologies, but PHP is our primary focus.

>> The exact place where this group resides?

The PHP Hampshire group is based in Portsmouth, Hampshire in the United Kingdom. We aim to cover all of Hampshire, so although our meetups are currently in Portsmouth, they may not stay that way in the future.

>> The web presence of this group..

We have the following web presences:

  1. Website –
  2. Google Groups (mailing list) –
  3. Twitter –
  4. Facebook –

>> What are the objectives and aim of this user group?

Our mission is to ensure that we are sharing knowledge, helping the community and learning new things.

>> When was it first launched?

Our very first meetup was way back on 12th March 2011. However, we had very few attendees and eventually we stopped organising meetups for several months. Richard came to me keen on starting a PHP UG in the area, so we started it back up again with more of a plan this time!

>> Number of people in the group..

We’ve got 21 people on the mailing list, and we had about 15 attendees at our March meetup. Many of the attendees at the March meetup are not actually on the list. We’re still only small at the moment, but we’re steadily growing!

>> Could you briefly tell us about the key people behind this group and their respective roles..

  • Simon is our treasurer
  • Richard and Lee liase with the speakers at our events
  • me and Jon deal primarily with sponsorship and venue

>> Could you lay down some “daily routine” or functioning of this group..

We don’t have a daily routine – our meetups could be up to 3/4 months apart, so things move pretty slowly for us – just promoting things really until a couple of weeks before a meetup, then it’s tying up any loose ends.

>> How is the routine task dispatched among the team?

We occasionally have “organiser” meetups where the 5 of us will… well, erm, organise 🙂

>> How many meetups have been organised till now?

We’ve had 14 meetups so far, although technically only a handful of those have been since we “reformed”.

>> How do you plan your meetups and what is involved?

As mentioned, we have organiser meetups. We ensure we still know what we are trying to achieve. Then we decide what our aims for the event are – capacity, who we might like to do presentations to approach and so on.

>> Frequency of meetups..

At least every quarter – we are considering hosting smaller monthly meetups.

Updated on 27 Nov 13:

The meetup is now every month

>> The average number of attendees to meetups..

I suppose over time, the average is about 5 attendees, but it’s only the last few meetups that are growing bigger.

Updated on 27 Nov 13:

30-40 attendees a month

>> The highest number of attendees to meetups..

15 attendees at the last event – we are planning a bigger event in July!

>> Do attendees comprise only members?

No – our events are open to all, but we encourage joining the mailing list and getting involved in the group.

>> How do you go about finding sponsors, what are the key aspects to successfully find sponsors?

Businesses mainlythrough business contacts, companies we work for. As of yet, we haven’t had sponsorship from companies where one of the organisers doesn’t have a relationship with.

>> Challenges involved in finding sponsors..

I expect when we grow and need more sponsorship, we’ll find convincing businesses that it’s a good investment and great for the community. The difficulty will be finding sponsors whose vision is aligned with our own (openness, freedom, sharing and learning).

>> Do you also organize conferences open to the general PHP Community? Frequency?

Yes, our main events are conference style events, and they are open to anyone.

>> What is this famous ‘call for paper’ and how is it scheduled?

I believe a Call for Papers is the event organisers openly asking the community to come and speak in an event. As of yet, we haven’t really had a CfP – speakers have approached us anyway, or we have contacted them.

>> How is it different from other PHP user group?

I’m pushing hard for openness and ensuring that we are sharing knowledge with each other. At this stage, making money is unimportant (although inevitably as the group grows, we will need to generate revenue to fund future events) – so much so that at the moment we are aiming to keep our events as free as possible, and whenever the time comes that we must start charging for entry to our conference events, to minimise the cost to the attendees. PHP Hampshire is for the community – not for profit 😉

>> Lessons learned so far..

That even if people say they’ll come, they don’t. And that venues are very very expensive. Find an independent venue, for example social clubs, rather than hotels or conference venues.

>> How is organizing and running a user group different from organizing a conference?

We do both – so to me they are one and the same 🙂

>> A mistake that you made and would like to share with us..

Not promoting the UG well enough in the first instance. We could’ve got the group running bigger, much sooner had we been more motivated!

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