Online Collaboration Cafe


The section below is re-used and adapted under a CC-BY license from The Turing Way online collaboration cafe

The Environmental Data Science Collaboration Cafes (or ‘Cafés’ with an accent) are virtual co-working spaces that are held fortnightly on the fourth Tuesday every two months for 2 hours. The schedule will be updated periodically on the [Google Calendar] (The schedule for the show and tell can be viewed from the community calendar as per the community requirement).

We host these calls online using Zoom where we make use of the breakout rooms feature to allow small groups to use the 2 hours as best fits them. One or two members from the core team are always available on the call to support anyone wanting to learn more about collaborating on GitHub, getting a virtual tour of our GitHub repository or the book, and help you to make your first pull request (PR).

Attending an online Collaboration Cafe

The schedule for the collaboration cafe can be viewed from the community calendar. We also announce calls through Twitter.

Though scheduled for 2 hours, we understand that for many interested participants it might be impossible to commit to the entire 2 hours on one or multiple occasions. Therefore, you are welcome to join for as long as your schedule allows.

If the current schedule of the online Collaboration Cafe is not suitable for your time zone, you are welcome to host a separate collaboration cafe for your community/time zone. Please open a new issue or reach out to The Environmental Data Science team members for details.

Resources used for the call

Here are the resources we use for these calls:

  1. Shared notes by HackMD: You can access these notes online at and can take notes together with others on the call.

  2. Online call by Zoom: The Zoom link is provided in the HackMD before the call, and members can click to join the call by opening zoom window on the web or by using the Zoom app that should be installed locally (available for free).

  3. An online Pomodoro clock on During the call, the clock is set for Pomodoro work intervals that can be live-tracked by everyone through their browsers.

We coordinate our tasks on the shared HackMD and/or The Environmental Data Science Book GitHub repository, where we can work collaboratively or independently while working on an older GitHub issues/PRs, creating new issues/PRs, taking notes as comments on the GitHub repository or working on a branch locally.

Format of the call

We have a template for the Collaboration Cafes, which is updated on the shared HackMD for each call.


We’ll run the following schedule during each Collaboration Cafe:




👋 Welcome, code of conduct review

10 mins

Introductions and personal goal setting

20 mins

🍅 1st Pomodoro session

5 mins

☕️ Break

20 mins

🍅 2nd Pomodoro session

5 mins

☕️ Break

20 mins

🍅 3rd Pomodoro session

5 mins

☕️ Break

30 mins

Open discussion: celebrations, reflections and future directions

5 mins

👋 Close


The call begins with the team members welcoming the participants, sharing the Code of Conduct, reminding how to participate in the call, and setting the stage for quick introductions by everyone.


We will take short breaks after each Pomodoro to discuss what we are working on, ask questions that might help you in your next Pomodoro session, share any error or progress, and celebrate each others successes.

We will use the last 30 minutes for themed discussion, collaborative troubleshooting, or idea exchange for the project and community.

The welcome, introductions, breaks, and the open discussion will all happen in the main room.

Pomodoro sessions

Pomodoro sessions can happen either in the main Zoom room, in silence, or in breakout rooms. We won’t record the Pomodoro parts of the Collaboration Cafe, nor conversations in the breakout rooms. You don’t need to know in advance what you’re going to do in these Pomodoro sessions! There will always be someone who can help you develop a goal, or allocate a task that you can do in a couple of rounds of 20 minutes.

If joining the call later

During a typical Pomodoro session, attendees are sent to breakout rooms based on the topic they are working on. If you join later, you will be able to check the remaining time in the ongoing Pomodoro by opening the shared clock in your browser (link should be provided in the shared notes). You can use that Pomodoro session to sign up, read notes from other attendees in the shared document, and explore what you would like to work on during the next Pomodoro session.

If you know in advance what time you will join the coworking call, you can let the host know before the call or leave a note in the shared document.

Sign-up and icebreaker

If you are interested in joining the next Collaboration Cafe, please let the organisers know by adding your name to the Sign Up section of the HackMD notes page. Adding your name is helpful for the organisers, so they can prepare for the call. But don’t worry if you don’t sign up in advance. It’s okay to join at any time for as long as you’d like.

In addition to your names, we will encourage everyone to add a short response to an icebreaker question, that will help us all learn something personal about all the different people on the call.

Here are a few example questions (so you know what to expect):

  • what was your biggest achievement this week?

  • what are you most excited about this year?

  • what is your favorite flavor in cake/ice-cream?

Do you have another interesting question to ask others? Get in touch and let us know! We love creative suggestions!

Here’s an example from the first Collaboration Cafe in June 2021:

Name + Something you watch (video, movie, documentary. etc) recently that was inspiring for you? + emoji that best explain your day (Remember that this is a public document. You can use a pseudonym if you’d prefer.)

As you can see, there’s a reminder in the notes that they are in a public document. It’s totally fine for you to add as much or as little information as you feel comfortable sharing.

Conversation starters

In the Conversation Starters section of the HackMD notes page, we encourage everyone to advertise their events or give an update from their community.

These don’t have to be Turing Way “branded”! We want to know about all the cool things you’re working on.

Good first contributions

We want the Collaboration Cafes to be a place that welcomes new and old members to The Turing Way community.

In brainstorming these events, we imagined that some people may want to add new material that they’ve created to the book, others may want to finish a contribution that they’ve started, and still others might want to learn new skills including how to contribute to The Environmental Daata Science book. These are all great reasons to join us!

We’ll always have someone on the team available to help you brainstorm your first contribution, and answer any questions about how to incorporate your work.

Good first contributions might include:

  • Finding a typo in the book and/or repository and fixing it.

  • Looking for duplicated information in the book and opening an issue to discuss how it can be combined.

  • Finding an old issue or PR and try to summarize the discussion so it is easy to decide on the next step.

  • Adding your personal experience of reproducible research in the always open google form:

Breakout rooms

Zoom allows groups of collaborators to chat in one “main room” altogether, or to split up - within the same call - and talk with each other in smaller “breakout rooms”.

During the online Collaboration Cafe sessions, we’ll use the breakout rooms to allow people to talk about multiple different topics in parallel during the Pomodoro sessions.

You’ll see in the HackMD a section that says:


If you have an idea for a topic you’d like to discuss in a breakout room, please add it below and put your name next to it. If you like one of the topics that are already suggested, please add your name next to that one. Teamwork makes the dream work. For more information about breakout rooms see the description on GitHub.

For each session, you can propose a conversation to have in a breakout room or add your name to join a suggestion that is already on the list.

You don’t have to add your name in advance (although you’re welcome to) and you don’t have to stay in the breakout room you’ve put your name next to.

Breakout room conversation topics might include:

  • GitHub new user or refresher questions (and answers)

  • Finding a good first issue

  • Reading and giving feedback on a chapter with the original author

  • Reading and giving feedback on a chapter with a new reader

  • Brainstorming where your topics could best fit into The Environmental Data Science book

  • Bug squashing - removing barriers (technical and otherwise)

The person chairing the call will put you into the specific breakout rooms for the Pomodoro sessions and then bring you back into the main room for the 5-minute breaks and the broader conversation at the end of the Collaboration Cafe.