Today I would like to talk about CAD.de which is probably the biggest German-language CAD/CAM/CAE community on the Internet. Don’t worry, I am not asking you to learn German and join...
I am bringing this up, because I have just recently learned about CAD.de’s "offline" activities. CAD.de is a huge community covering all the major CAD systems and related products in designated forums. Founded in 2000, it has now over 115,000 members and 2.5m visitors per month.
Most of the forums are administrated by independent moderators and CAD.de is proud of its independence, allowing every topic to be discussed from various perspectives. Clumsy marketing attempts are being deleted right away
The folks managing CAD.de are taking their mission very seriously and they are enthusiastic about their work. What I’d like to highlight here is that they also take the discussions offline by organizing user meetings, and attending and participating in several industry events. As an example, CAD.de is a regular exhibitor at PlanetPTC Live, too.
A big event in their calendar year is the Euromold show that just happened in December 2010. With the help of some vendor sponsorships, PTC among them, they organized a huge booth where attendees met the forum moderators and networked face-to-face, discussed technical challenges and exchanged best practices – just as they would do online.
Being an Internet addict myself, I still like the idea of meeting people face-to-face and being able to connect a face to a name. What do you think? Are you participating in a local community that does a similar thing?
As stated above, they would discuss topics "just as they would do online" – would they really? I was wondering how people are using this great opportunity and I reached out to Meike Ballhause, who is one of the moderators at CAD.de and volunteers at many live events. She is also one of the moderators of the Creo Elements/Pro forum on CAD.de and I asked her about the nature of questions asked at Euromold 2010 and if there are any differences between online- and offline interaction.
She explained that the CAD.de booth at Euromold was not set up like a normal trade show booth, as it is not a commercial offering. The moderators really just want to be there and take the time to chat, network, and help their peers.
Most registered CAD.de users, she said, come to the booth and introduce themselves with their online user names, there were only a handful that wanted to stay entirely anonymous.
"We as moderators always look forward to such live events, especially the large ones like Euromold. For some of us this is the only opportunity to meet throughout the year", she says.
"It is also a great opportunity to talk across various CAD systems and learn from the experiences of other users. CAD.de is a great networking platform. Over the years, I have seen many friendships evolve from a first forum conversation via a personal meeting at a trade show up to establishing regular meetings on a shared topic of interest."
Being asked what the typical questions were at Euromold 2010, Meike said:
"The users usually don’t come to the booth to have ‘normal’ questions answered, they are more interested in networking, but also generic questions around the CAD market – in this case, at the Creo Elements/Pro section, they were of course asking questions about Creo.
They typically ask for best practices instead of feature/function guidance -- offline meetings allow for more detailed discussion sometimes! Other times, users also bring very elaborate tasks to the booths and then we end up sitting there with several moderators brooding over a complex task for hours!"
According to Albert Ranig, founder of CAD.de, this offline format will be continued in a smaller scale at the HMI show in Hannover and at the same large scale as in past years at the Euromold 2011 – pending the support by us vendors!
Mark your calendars!
April 4-8, 2011, Hannover, Germany
Nov. 30 - Dec. 03, 2011, Frankfurt / Main, Germany