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Created July 10, 2019 15:37
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I attended WWDC this year, and overall it was a fantastic experience. I would, however, like to give some feedback on one particular aspect of the conference.

Before I begin, I understand that it would be easy to brush off my feedback as coming from just some grumpy English guy, but I genuinely believe this is important feedback. Please do read until the end.

I would like to ask that the cheering, whooping, clapping and hollering by conference staff is toned down.

I'm a person that would describe myself as "slightly introverted". I cannot begin to describe how deeply uncomfortable it was to walk into the registration room on Sunday to multiple employees cheering and clapping at me, trying to give me high fives. I understand the want to make people excited, but this needs to have its limits. During the conference, I got cheered and high-fived pretty much the entire week for things like:

  • Picking up a bag of chips.
  • Walking down some stairs.
  • Coming out of the toilet.
  • Walking back up the earlier-mentioned stairs.
  • Walking down the street outside the conference when I was going somewhere else.

The core of my feedback is that WWDC is an event that takes pride in being open to people of all kinds. Ignoring that many, many cultures find the American-style whoopin' and hollerin' just plain strange, I have also met several people over the years at WWDC that find the conference completely overwhelming - it's a situation that can produce an incredible amount of anxiety. For some people, they're in a strange city with lots of strange people for the first time, and while cheers and high-fives from strangers in bright clothing can seem friendly and inviting to some, it can also be absolutely terrifying for others.

I'm not asking that WWDC turn into a dry, boring event — there are plenty of opportunities where it's great fun. The keynote line, the little pop-up events for dancing and pin badges, the AR game… all great! However, when it's completely impossible to go near the premesis without getting yelled at, perhaps it's gone a little too far.

Again, I want to stress that overall, I found WWDC 2019 to be a wonderful experience. But, you really don't need to high-five me for picking up a muffin.

Thanks, Daniel.

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iKenndac commented Jul 10, 2019

Some clarifications:

  • There were people cheering and high-fiving attendees coming down the stairs into the main downstairs area where food and tables were. One of the toilets was located very close to the bottom of those stairs. I don't think I got intentionally cheered at for exiting a toilet. But I did exit a toilet then get cheered at.

  • "American-style whoopin' and hollerin'" is an unnecessary generalisation of US culture, and I apologise for the mistake. It's left here to exactly match what I wrote in my feedback.

  • Please read my Twitter thread for more context on where this feedback is coming from:

  • While my tone in this feedback is light, this is not satire. It's a genuine piece of feedback that I submitted.

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mahboud commented Jul 10, 2019

This was all merely a way to spread germs to far flung destinations.

In all seriousness, I don't think you have to be an introvert to feel like the enthusiasm was a bit over the top, and seemingly contrived. When it was still going on at midday on Thursday, I was wondering what kind of uppers they were on.

I understand that most of those Apple employees working the doors and hallways were Apple Store reps and not Apple Engineers.

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mykeln commented Jul 10, 2019

Is this possibly a case of Apple's culture conflicting with its developer ecosystem at a micro level? Apple employees and engineers should be cut from the same cloth, and share the same values. The same can't be expected for an entire world of developers.

All of that to say: I'm not sure it's on Apple to regress to an introverted mean. WWDC is an opportunity to showcase their culture, not suppress it.

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In all seriousness, I don't think you have to be an introvert to feel like the enthusiasm was a bit over the top, and seemingly contrived. When it was still going on at midday on Thursday, I was wondering what kind of uppers they were on.

Unfortunately I don't think I did good job on the emphasis there. I meant to express that I consider myself slightly introverted. Only a little. If I found it horribly uncomfortable, I'm certain there are people who found it worse.

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I think actually this is pretty important. I’ve been to wwdc many times and the cheering can seem a little ... forced?

It has its place. Giving me a high five during checkin ... when I got my badge and stuff is gonna start - cool!

But just to get pass you to get my food ... please.

Also - I have a number of friends and family that are on the autistic spectrum. Some of them are amazing coding geniuses and love all things Apple. But I know how stressful it would be for them - the yelling and the feeling that you are obligated to participate. It’s not the emotional picker upper for many that I think the conference hosts believe it is.

I don’t think Apple needs to stop. But some training for the cheerleaders about making sure that they let people CHOOSE to get the high five. And make sure you are in a space where people can feel free to dodge the whole interaction. Don’t be in the middle of a thoroughfare. Be just off the side and let people come to you.

Give your guys official “high five giver” tshirts so people know it’s okay to participate, but also give some us enough warning to politely sneak pass, or lurk safely from a distance.

Build experiences that are good for everyone!

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@mishagrey Thank you for your comment. I agree with pretty much everything you say — having a way for people to opt-in/out would be great.

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sstadelman commented Jul 10, 2019

maybe add a sticker to the badge, like an organ donor.

For the record, I noticed I was actively dodging more 5s this year... personally I chalked it up to a growing generational gap. But I relate to the OP sentiment.

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What he said.

In fact, I think Daniel is way too polite.

That stuff — which was certainly not around when I first attended in mid-2000s — is tacky, and insincere.

It may work on some Americans, but I can tell you that the other 6.7 billion inhabitants of the planet find it over the top dross.

Not cool. Certainly not the Apple cool we are used to. Cultish even.

Tone TFD.

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Very reasonable feedback. Maybe on the walk in it would have been OK, and at the parties but all day every occasion was a little over the top. I can really appreciate this could have caused some people discomfort.

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I have been to WWDC ....
I think this is just breaking the ice and make you comfortable. After few high fives you feel really comfortable and can reach to them for anything.

Without that it I think people might not be that comfortable .

of-course this is my own opinion.

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I am definitely an introvert, and for a number of reasons I was already incredibly nervous going to pick up my badge this year already, and this was nearly overwhelming, I was shaking by the time I got my badge and got out of there. Having badges, pins or lanyards that indicate level of interaction desired would be great. I would also have loved to see them have a space designated as a quiet room for those who might need to get away from the crowd for whatever reason for awhile can.

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