[Pharo-users] Smalltalk Programming Competition

Ben Coman btc at openinworld.com
Fri Jun 22 01:20:31 EDT 2018

> SergeStinckwich wrote
> > Ok, the subject is completely different and maybe his topic is sensible
> > for a lot of people but the concerns are the same. At the end, you need
> to
> > convince people to give you money.
> >
> > What is your budget ? what kind of competition you will organize ? how
> you
> > will convince schools/university to participate ?
> > How you will reward people for their participation ?
> >
> > Sorry to say, people will not give money just because you wrote a
> > half-page statement.

On 21 June 2018 at 23:52, horrido <horrido.hobbies at gmail.com> wrote:

> I hear what you're saying. Here's my rationale...
> #1. As far as I know, I'm the only person on the planet who has worked
> full-time and without pay as a programming language advocate for nearly
> four
> years. Did I mention full-time and without pay? So I think you can trust me
> to deliver, come hell or high water.

I applaud your commitment, but there are many people giving free time to
(although more technical oriented than pure advocacy)

> #2. For the past four years, I've shown my marketing skills in promoting
> Smalltalk. If you believe I've done a good job, then you can trust me to
> convince schools and the media to stand behind the competition. If you
> don't
> believe, then ignore me; I cannot convince you otherwise.

Its not just marketing skills that are important here, but logistics.

#3. It is not my style to plan everything in advance and in detail. I do
> things by the seat of my pants, relying on my organizational skills,
> communication skills, and intuition. (That's how I develop software, too.)
> I
> can picture the whole competition in my mind and I trust my vision. I'm
> asking others to trust it, as well. If they don't, then this whole thing
> dies with me.

But that vision is just in *your* head. So its easy for you to trust your
while we don't get an opportunity to trust your plan, we only get the
choice to trust you,
and while I don't doubt your intent, I'm not clear on your ability to
You've got no *demonstrated* experience in this area of geographically
dispersed competitions with kids,
so naturally that affects people's confidence in your ability to deliver.

Now if you could team up with an organisation like CoderDojo
and leverage their proven experience running the logistics to motivate kids
to program
and also their existing network of kid programming teams and mentors,
I'd be much more interested.

My assessment comes down to direct personal experience (the ultimate root
of trust)
where in my town of just 5000 people (Collie) two hours south of
the most remote capital city in the world (Perth, measured as distance to
next closest capital city)
there is a CoderDojo group that my kids got involved with for a while
(before work took me away from home a lot).
Typically about 30 kids at a session each week.

I think you'll have more success tapping such a domain specific market than
generic high schools.
>From their 2017 annual report, they have 1542 active dojos in 92 countries,
regularly engaging 55000 young people with 8000 champions and mentors.

Coderdojo has a well established governance structure and "proven"
reliability dealing with donated money.
One or two teams from each dojo could make a very successful competition.
In such a case I don't think it need to be as much as $2000 prize for an
individual (indeed that seems quite rich to me).
These kids are already programming "just for fun" and probably care less
about which language.
A good approach would be half the prize going to the winning team and half
to their dojo.
A secondary benefit is that the dojo mentors get exposed to Pharo, many of
whom are IT professionals.
The ultimate result would be Coderdojo picking up Pharo as one of their
regular languages.

The downside of Coderdojo would be the average age of kids being late
primary school level,
might not match your vision (but 10 is the the age I taught myself Basic
from books).
Such a sponsored competition could entice back past members who faded out
after "popularity" hit at high school.
Coderdojo could advise.

Now since the younger kids program in Scratch, perhaps there could be
synergy with a junior prize using Phratch,
particularly if its paired with the IoT activity with Pharo - maybe
creating some kind of dynamic art installation.
And some mentors might contribute to Phratch and come to Pharo through that

> In the final analysis, all I can do is my very best. I am who I am.

I'm sure you will give your best.  But success needs much more than intent.
A big question is... what is the "challenge".  I would imaging that is a
very important
component of a successful hackthon.

Perhaps another way to achieve similar results with less risk is to
a series of existing hackathons.  Offer smaller sub-prizes for the best
solution using Pharo.
Then you don't need to provide a first, second and third prizes that
accumulate to a large cost,
and all of the other logistics are taken care of by the existing

cheers -ben

P.S. Don't let our detractions discourage you. Adapt and overcome.... :)
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