How to Run a Working Group Event

This is a wiki page to gather lessons learned and best practices on running a working group event around an Ethereum topic. Please do add / edit, especially in areas marked as TO DO, especially links to external resources or other recaps from similar events. Please do not use this as a place to announce events

What is a Working Group Event?

A Working Group Event is an in person meeting to gather together interested parties and knowledgeable people around a particular topic. The goal is to get a small number of people who are “doing the work” together to discuss shared issues in person, share insights, and move forward.

A Working Group is not:

  • a small conference
  • a completely open event
  • a place for marketing


Once you have commitment that the event is going to happen (venue booked, several people have committed to coming) post on this forum to announce. Include the process for attending (e.g. fill out this form, tell us what you want to learn, tell us what you have to share, etc.).

Typically a working group is 20 - 60 people. It’s a small group working on a single problem or topic, or at least ones that are very closely related. Everyone is someone who “does the work” and is an active participant.

Annoyed that you can’t attend? No problem! Organize your own Working Group, recruit some participants, and do it in your local area.

Location / Venue

There are many places that you can book private meetings at, including hotels. Having the meeting location adjacent to a hotel for people who are coming in from out of town is good.

Must have:

  • tables & chairs
  • power outlets
  • wifi
  • projector

Nice to have:

  • video capture
  • live stream

Note: generally a working group should be small enough that you don’t need a microphone / audio amplification, other than if you are live streaming or doing video capture.

Sessions & Agenda

Start the day with everyone introducing themselves and their affiliated company / project, their presentation if they are giving, and anything they hope to get out of the Working Group.

A Working Group shouldn’t just be a full day of presentations. You may have some presentations, but ideally that should then move into extended Q&A and discussion.

Depending on attendance, you can also go full unconference / open space – have a rough high level topic to discuss, see if people have things they want to talk about ahead of time, and then plan the day on the day of.

You can do “multi-track” where people break off into smaller groups and separate meeting spaces. Make sure each group “harvests” their learnings, and bring everyone back together to share some notable outcomes and resources that came out of the break out sessions.

There will be people that want to have sidebar conversations. Make sure there is room for this so that the main sessions aren’t distracted by the noise from private conversations.


Various facilitated sessions like voting / prioritizing, brain storming, card sorting exercises, or other group exercises are encouraged.


Materials and Supplies

Name tags: basic stick on name tags so everyone knows each other.

Paper: paper & pens for note taking and sketching

Stickies: sticky notes from small to large if you are going to do

Projector: with lots of dongles / adapters available


People traveling from some areas of the world to the location may need visas. There will need to be a formal corporate entity that takes responsibility for issuing invitation letters and other paperwork.

Basic signage out front of venue or entrance, or someone there to let people in

Signs or clear guidance on where washrooms are.

Print out an agenda with clear times, placed both in any “main room” as well as in the sidebar / mingling space.

Expenses & Sponsorship

These are working sessions. Everyone should be comfortable and secure, but think office, whiteboards, basic meals.

Sponsorship is encouraged to help cover costs, and can cover a number of different items:

  • event management
  • venue
  • food
  • live streaming, plus video capture / editing
  • bursaries for travel costs

Sponsorship can also be in-kind (“we provided our office”, “we paid person X to do the organizing & event management”).

Having your company pay travel costs for you to attend should not be considered a sponsorship.

Sponsors might also want to support an evening (eg attendees dinner) or adjacent broader community event.

It is appropriate:

  • for sponsors to say a few words at the beginning and/or end of the day
  • for sponsors to be thanked and acknowledge by name / logo / links in various materials

Side Events

A Working Group can be scheduled alongside a larger conference where a number of people are attending in any case. You can reach out to the conference and see if they have set aside space / time for BoF (Birds of a Feather) for even smaller, ad hoc gatherings.

Usually it’s best to have a space more dedicated to working groups, especially if code, design, or group facilitations are being done.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are starter FAQs. The EIP0 discussion could be considered a working group as well, although on much broader topics that people feel philosophical about, rather than getting UX / code working. Feel free to edit these bits, or maybe it should be deleted and we can debate in the comments? Frankly, anyone that wants to organize an event can and should set their own rules.

Why can’t everyone that wants come?

The goal of a Working Group is to move forward on issues with the people that “do the work”.

Conferences or meetups which have presentations – with one presenter and many listeners in the audience – works for larger, more passive audiences.

Cost and physical space constraints are another issue. Event management and organizing is a lot of work already, and it ramps up dramatically above a certain number of attendees.

Who gets to decide who comes?

Whoever organizes the Working Group.


Please add links to resources here


Working Group session notes that have been completed


These are likely to be separate Working Group / event template threads.

  • Make a badge design template for conferences (not really a Working Group item)
  • Make a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) template (for conferences, not really a Working Group item)
  • Make a Sprint template (for local / regional areas to work on core code / core projects together – are any Ethereum projects encouraging this yet?)
  • What’s the process for announcing Working Groups? How do we do this in an open way while still having curation of people who can “do the work” in the room?
  • Diversity – how do we bring in people who can’t afford to travel? How do we make sure we have diverse participants?

OK, I initially included this in the body of the post, but it makes more sense as a reply, since it’s very much my personal experience.

Background: I started contributing to the Drupal project in 2003 (CSS edits!), held the first meeting with Dries in Vancouver in 2004, was a Founding Director of the Drupal Association, and helped to organize / run the first several years of DrupalCons.

Back then, open source was fighting for its life, all of this was new, and we didn’t have programmable money to power bounties. There are a bunch of other interesting aspects around DrupalOrg, the Drupal Association, and Dries the community lead that may be relevant – but mostly not, because we are actively trying to decentralize and let disparate activities lead to good outcomes for the broader Ethereum community.

I also attended the Ethereum Web3 UX working group that just completed, and think that we can scale these events by helping create templates and models for organizing them (and funding them, which is a separate issue – we need to build in sustainability of both peoples’ energy and compensate everyone fairly).

The very first DrupalCon was a part of FOSDEM, with a shoulder event that was titled a Drupal Developer Sprint. 27 people attended. It was multi-track, but mainly long working sessions hashing out different approaches to model code and implementation.

The notes from that first event even outlines working groups — with a shout out to “self-hosted digital identity solutions” and a meta discussion on software upgrades to DrupalOrg to help with collaboration.

Oh yeah, and I led a session on “Business in Drupal”, talked about reverse bounties (where developers write a spec they want to build, rather than end users bounty-ing a feature) AND … wrote up a summary.

Eventually, DrupalCons became quite large, so the Drupal community came up with “camp” as a complement to big annual DrupalCon events, sometimes also known as “regional summits” that tends to be smaller and more regionally focused. Here’s a page on organizing DrupalCamps.

The Ethereum community being decentralized should also have a sort of template for these types of smaller / regional events to help people succeed. Being decentralized, there is no one to give or deny permission for anyone running these, although we should think of a “code of conduct” and transparency – eg. for-profit or non-profit?, transparency on whether presentations are pay-to-play or have an open speaker submissions, availability of bursaries and other commitment to diversity, etc. etc.

Are there any rules around the use of the Ethereum logo?

Today Sprints still exist, which tend to be focused on a particular area of core, modules, or themed, like getting new contributors onboarded, or reviewing the issue queue, or writing documentation. That Sprints link has a bunch of sub pages with tips on organizing that we should review.

In practice, many of these sprints happen at Drupal conferences where many core contributors are already attending, although there have also been separate, dedicated sprints around certain working group items.

Finally, many conferences set aside time and space for BoFs – Birds of a Feather. This is another thing we can create a template for. This means that interested groups can arrange to come to an event and have space set aside them to talk about a particular topic, which might range from “Let’s meet in Classroom 2 at 4pm to talk about ticketing on the blockchain” to mini working groups or multiple presentations.

Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project lead, publishes stats on community contributions. The 2016 - 2017 edition included a very pointed look at the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities and their “core”. Useful reading for a number of ideas.

@jpitts can I get a wiki blessing on this page, too?

Thanks for posting this HOWTO and your experiences in the Drupal community, @boris .

A lot of this can feed into our planned Berlin Council in July. This will be an opportunity to further define the process for WGs and to find which ones have strong support, in person.

Also, the Devcon4 planning going on at the Ethereum Foundation can benefit from a “birds of a feather” template!

The first post has been wiki-ized :slight_smile:

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Great. I’ll actually be in Berlin in July. This is the the topic I should monitor?

I also had several people suggest a Security for Smart Contracts WG in Berlin in July. Would it be appropriate to have that as a side event to the Council?

I’m going to add this link here as a reference, on how in-person events should be designed very differently in order to bolster online activity:

@jpitts @gcolvin this is the article I was mentioning.

Thanks so much for this @boris! We will be sure to use this for the smart contract security one!

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