Starting a dojo with the platform

  • So, I’ve started a dojo the “old way” and I’m now doing one in a new area with the platform. Some things I’m finding a little difficult for a fresh dojo:

    • You need a location before registering your dojo on Zen:
      This is a pain b/c Zen is one of the ways dojos attract mentors and volunteers (like parents). It’s also useful to show prospective venues your entry when you discuss exposure for supporting the dojo and it lends legitimacy to the dojo. A “prospective” entry/status would be useful.

    • You must have volunteers before registering the dojo on Zen:
      See above. I guess you could just put “1” if you’re just expecting to use the Zen page gather volunteers… My advice is use or similar to attract mentors (SO much easier)!

    • Should a dojo create a dojo email?
      Yes, IMO, and the setup requires that you have. Now that you can get a domain address, you may think a Gmail/Yahoo/etc. address is unnecessary. But I suspect it’s just an email alias (I’m not a webdev), so you should DEFINITELY have a dojo-specific email address that can be shared/passed along.

    • Should a dojo create a Google Group?
      This is a legit question and I would say ‘yes’ at this point. The Zen forums aren’t intended for specific dojo conversations (yet!), but I hope in the future Zen can become a “one-stop-shop” for all CoDo communication. It can be hard enough for some mentors to interact on their local dojo forum so to foster a strong CoDo community, I think the Foundation will want to unify more tools in the future.

    • Naming your dojo
      Gosh, this was so much easier when you’re the only one in the area! Now I’m in a large city and the second dojo to start - since I don’t have a venue yet and I’m planning for the future, how do I name my dojo? What if “<city> @ <venue/area>” moves from venue/area?
      The best suggestion IMO is to pick the most reasonably, inclusive name and pass the buck to the next dojo that comes around… (IMO, the Scouts got this right - troops aren’t named after their location, they’re just stamped with a generic 3-4 digit number and sent packing). If there are other dojos near by, get their Champion(s) input as well, if possible.

  • CoderDojo WA Moderators

    Hiya David,
    Did these issues with the platform end up being resolved?
    I am helping people in Western Australia start Dojo and I’m curious to know if the points you raised have been addressed?

  • AFAIK, they haven’t been - this post was mainly to start the conversation about starting a dojo.

    With an N=1, I don’t think any feature request would be high on the Foundation’s list so be sure to follow up with what works/doesn’t work in your neck of the woods - maybe you don’t have our problems or you find some different ones?

    I will say this, I’d LOVE to see the Zen mimic more of the functionality of Eventbrite for scheduling and running a dojo (e.g. reformatted name badges, attendance stats, the ability to ‘add your own’ questions to the registration forms, more flexibility with reoccurring dojo scheduling) are all done wonderfully there.

    Zen does make it MUCH clearer for parents when it comes to which tickets to select - we’ve had a lot of parents get only a ‘ninja’ ticket when they also needed a ‘parent’ ticket so recording actual attendance numbers ends up being a manual task at the dojo and just one-more-thing to do, but we still find the Eventbrite’s advantages are too much to overlook. For instance, we want to know what school districts our ninjas attend so we can 1) reach out to them, and 2) identify districts where we haven’t “penetrated.” That’s HUGE if you’re looking to reach underrepresented populations!!!

  • CoderDojo Foundation

    Hey Dave,

    Apologies for the delayed response - didn’t pick up on this in my notifications!

    Going to write a few things under your first post headings. Most of these changes actually came prior to the Platform being created, as we took a more structured approach to verifying Dojos! We don’t verify a Dojo until around 1/2 months before their start date now as there were many Dojos before who got verified but never actually got started!

    You need a location before registering your dojo on Zen:
    This is something we are looking into building - a new map which would be for prospective champions/mentors! You can see the issue here > A volunteer has even got to the stage of creating wireframes - so it would be great to get additional feedback!

    You must have volunteers before registering the dojo on Zen:
    As above - the new hidden map, if and when built should be able to help connect you with potential mentors! Though meetup is a great tool for this too! however we need this to ensure Dojos that are verified will get started!

    Should a dojo create a dojo email?
    Dojo email is required - we make sure every listing that is created is created with a personal email profile and has a public facing Dojo email! Mainly this is so Dojo specific emails can be delegated to volunteers which makes it easy for the Champion and then the requirement for registering with personal email means if the Dojo ever becomes uncontactable we can reach out and check that the Dojo is definitely inactive before pulling it from the map.
    Should a dojo create a Google Group?**
    This feature is being launched early next week! If you email I can get you set up with your own Dojo forum group which you would moderate as the Champion - along with anyone else you want to request to moderate :)
    Naming your dojo**
    We get this frustration! Generally we recommend town, state [@ sponsor] or if in a big city then neighbourhood, state [@Sponsor]. We used to have Dojo numbers which were in the URL of the old Zen listings, however we have moved away from this in favour of better SEOed URLS. This may be something we will look into doing again so once Dojos are verified to give us unique identifiers for each Dojo - however the Dojo names will be staying put irregardless! If you have any ideas for a different format let us know :)

    The events feature on eventbrite is definitely still a work in progress. We have an issue in for the addition of custom questions here. If you want to chime in to add support that would be great.

    Let me know if there is any other feedback and I can add appropriate issues into Github! Also feel free to browse the issues and see if there are any you want to give support to!

    Best wishes,


  • CoderDojo WA

    Hello, I’m the current Champion for CoderDojo in Geraldton where we currently have 50 Ninjas each weekend. I’ve had a good look through Zen and appreciate the effort gone into it. I also read this post with interest. We’ve created some parallel systems, and would appreciate any feedback or guidance.

    Groups — For an online group for the parents, mentors and participants (separately) ‘Slack’ seems more appealing than Facebook, a new group on Zen or a Google Group. Clean, fast, phone app, separate from FB…so probably Ninjas could join too on a separate channel and be chatting away during and between sessions, but will wait until parent’s start using it before Ninjas as can already imagine there might be issues.

    Roster — We’ve got a roster going for mentors, parent volunteers to bring morning tea etc. we are using a Google Sheet and instead of registering via Zen (creating an event keeps not working). Our participants are registering via a Google Form and just check-in against their name each week. Form feeds straight into sheet, and I just started that way as I hadn’t really figured out all features of Zen yet and creating an event wasn’t working.

    Appreciate your advice. While I don’t want to create totally parallel systems, I can see that Zen is mostly for champions and moderators and think systems we’ve got going could be a better fit for local people.

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