Joy Payton
Joy Payton

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What are the purpose of user groups? At CHOP, we have an R User Group and a Python User Group, that began when users of these languages, from across various areas at CHOP, decided to get together regularly. These groups don’t belong to a single initiative at CHOP and aren’t sponsored by any single division or department. Rather, they are grassroots efforts that aim to bring people together across departmental boundaries.

For novice users of R or Python, the user groups are a way to learn more from friendly coworkers who are a few steps ahead. For experienced users, the user groups allow for opportunities to speak, present, and mentor. For everyone, they give a forum to discuss interesting new tools, share code snippets, and talk computational tactics. We generally have fun, too, and sometimes a department will pick up the tab for coffee or snacks.

The R and Python User Group meetings usually draw 10-30 people, and are led on a rotating basis by volunteers who share something they’re working on, a trick they’ve learned, or a new package they’ve discovered. Speakers don’t have to be experts – anyone with something relevant to share is welcome to hone their speaking craft. It’s a friendly group, and speakers don’t need to know how to answer every question or solve every problem posed to them.

User groups can take on many forms but what seems to work well at CHOP is periodic (monthly or twice a month) meetings that have a remote teleconference option, coupled with a Slack workspace that allows users to interact with one another daily. In the Slack workspace, news articles of interest get posted, questions are posed (and frequently, answered!), and people get to know each other. Curious about the user groups? Reach out to Arcus Education at DL-Arcus Education, and we’ll get you added to one or both user group mailing lists and Slack workspaces.