It takes more than enthusiasm to build a dynamic user group. In this article we consider the practical things that have built the Atlanta PHP User Group into the premier PHP community in the southeast United States.

Why do User Groups?
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Mark Zuckerberg’s main criticism of „The Social Network“ was that it fabricated a completely bogus reason for creating Facebook. Hollywood just couldn’t wrap its mind around the idea that a person might want to create something simply because it’s cool. Running a user group may not make sense to someone outside the group, but it is definitely cool. You get to indulge your geek passion, learn about it, and socialize with people sharing your interest. It’s also a chance to contribute back to the community and (I hope) helping your members to advance their skills and careers.

I’ve been involved with the Atlanta PHP User Group (AtlantaPHP) for over eight years, and been pleased to see it grow into a solid and dynamic group that celebrated its 100th monthly meeting last September. We have a dedicated core of regular attendees and always see new people at each meeting. We’ve learned a few things, had great ideas that worked, and a few that tanked. I hope sharing our experience will encourage you and germinate a few ideas on how you can improve your own group, or get it off the ground.

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