skip to main content

DEF CON Hacking Conference

Home

How To Start a New
DEF CON Group

by @aprilwright

A local DEF CON group (DCG) is part of “a global community of hackers, thinkers, makers and others bent on being part of the elegant chaos they want to see in the world” (--The Dark Tangent)

DCG is a great way to meet, learn, and share with local hackers.

If there is not a local DCG within a reasonable commute from your area, you may want to start your own group.

Is there a local group already?

Click here to check if there is already a DCG in your area. The work to organize may have already be done for you!

If there is a local DCG, get involved!
End instructions.

Elseif the local DCG is not active, talk to the original organizer and consider bringing it back to life!

Else - No local group, keep reading!

Start planning

If you’re working alone, you may want to enlist some friends to help you.

Pick the name of your DCG

This step can be a little confusing - we get a lot of questions about it. For a careful, step-by-step guide to finding your correct DCG name, please refer to this blog post by April Wright.

Find a meeting location

You will need to decide where everyone will get together It can be the same place over and over, or it can be a different place every time you meet.

A location might be something like:

  • A coffee shop
  • A makerspace
  • Someone’s house
  • Your company’s conference room (with approval)
  • A restaurant or bar (be careful if you expect people under legal drinking age)
  • A co-working space
  • A public park
  • A food court
  • A community center
  • A library

Use your imagination!

You can look through the existing group lists to see where other groups are meeting Or, you can social media DM (direct message) or email other group organizers individually. Most are more than willing to help and share.

Decide when to meet

Will you meet once a month? Twice a month? What time will you meet? It may be after work or on the weekend.

Determine your group’s structure / leadership

Will it be a democracy? Will you have a leader, or multiple leaders? Who will help organize when the leader or leaders are not available/sick/traveling?

Establish an online presence

Twitter is a popular option for finding and keeping in touch with new and existing members of your group. Create a new account on Twitter for your group. You may have to compromise on a name if your preferred name is not available, some examples are “DEFCON123” or “DCG789” or “DefconGroups0123”

Facebook allows you to add a “group” to your existing account, and you can make other people “admins” of the group to post updates, respond to messages, etc.

A website is not necessary, but you can find free website publishing / building tools or register a domain and start your own. Blogspot is one free example, but there are many others.

You might want to set up an email mailing list for people who want to receive updates via email rather than social media. Mailchimp is one free example, but there are many others.

Get the word out

Use your email lists, word of mouth, and social media to find group participants. Mention the official “@defcongroups” on Twitter when you announce your meeting in advance and you may get retweeted.

Form your group officially

Read the FAQ on the DEFCONgroups.org website Get the New Group Template and fill in your new group’s info. The template is available here.

Use the link at the bottom of the Template Page to email your completed form to dcgroups@defcon.org

It may take some time for the website to be updated.

We will reply to your email to confirm that your info has been received, ask any questions, and confirm that your registration is being processed. NOTE: This may not happen immediately. We are all volunteering our time to organize DCG, and we appreciate your patience.

Meet, have fun, learn, share

Once you’ve started your group, what happens when you meet occurs rather organically. You can work on projects, try challenges, have discussions, give talks / lightning talks, share stories, show-and-tell gadgets, lock picking, learning labs, showing off what you’re working on, whatever you want.

The organizers may be in charge of coming up with things to do, at least initially. We suggest being democratic and allowing group participants to come up with ideas, as well. Some groups partner up with other DCGs around the globe (either as teammates or on opposite sides!) to work on CTFs and other challenges.

If you have any questions, contact dcgroups@defcon.org