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Open Conference Expectations

Open Conference Expectations

This document lays out some baseline expectations between conference speakers and conference presenters. The general goal is to maximize the value the conference provides to its attendees and community and to let speakers know what they might reasonably expect from a conference.

We believe that all speakers should reasonably expect these things, not just speakers who are known to draw large crowds, because no one is a rockstar but more people should have the chance to be one. We believe that conferences are better -- and, dare we say, more diverse -- when the people speaking are not just the people who can afford to get themselves there, either because their company paid or they foot the bill themselves. Basically, this isn't a rock show rider, it's some ideas that should help get the voices of lesser known folks heard.

These expectations should serve as a starting point for discussion between speaker and organizer. They are not a list of demands; they are a list of reasonable expectations. Speakers should freely adapt this list to reflect their personal expectations, and conferences should keep these expectations in mind during planning. We do not recommend that speakers send this document with their talk proposal, because that would be rather tacky. We do believe that these guidelines will help ensure quality content and quality conferences that benefit everyone.

What We, As Speakers, Ask from Conferences

  1. Recordings: Organizers should prioritize recording all talks and sessions. Now, ideally this would involve video recording, but hey, we acknowledge that quality video recording is both expensive and time-consuming -- audio recordings paired with the slides is a decent compromise if video isn't possible. Recordings should be made available under a permissive license (CC-BY-*) within six months of the event, information can get too stale after that. (If you're worried that releasing video will depress ticket sales, other conference organizers will vouch that, to the contrary, recordings are an excellent tool for driving ticket sales in future years, and are also an excellent sponsorship opportunity.)

  2. Travel reimbursement: Conferences will offer to reimburse travel and reasonable transportation costs, such as airport taxis. In some situations, speakers may opt not to accept such reimbursement, either because they prefer to pay for it, or because their company will pay for it.

  3. Lodging: Conferences will offer to obtain and pay for lodging for speakers for at least the night before and the night after a speaker's talk. Again, a speaker may opt out of provided lodging, and those saved costs can be put to good use.

  4. Wifi & Internet Access: The speaker hotel should provide wifi; if the wifi isn't free, the conference should ensure its cost is covered. Wifi can be really rough at events, so a prioritized wifi for speakers (or ethernet) works very well.

  5. Honoraria: Some events are epic and large and can cost above $1,000 for attendees. In these cases, a speaker honorarium of at least 50% of the ticket price seems fair compensation.

  6. Food & Beverages: ⅔ of our bodies are water, so let's keep plenty of drinking water on hand at the conference. The conference will provide the speaker with lunch on the day of their talk. If ticket prices are over $300, then lunch, beverages and snacks for speakers and attendees should be provided.

  7. Schedule: Conferences will let speakers know the time and duration of their talk at least two weeks before the event.

  8. A/V & Power: Conferences will provide a quality projector with at least 1024x768 resolution, projected onto a screen that is appropriately sized and readily viewable by all attendees in the room. Conferences will also provide video adapters for the computers that speakers are most likely to use, and power outlets at the podium.

  9. Call for Speakers: The call for speakers should occur at least 90 days prior to the event, with invitations to speak sent out no later than six weeks before the event (if this trip is going international, additional lead time would be nice).

If an event costs less than $200 to attendees, then it is absolutely acceptable to only meet some of the expectations listed above.

Good to Have

Conferences that want to make a real impression with their speakers can go the extra mile:

  • Provide a space at the venue where speakers can focus and prepare for their talk.

  • Organize a speaker dinner; you can even help fund it by selling VIP tickets that let a small number of attendees join.

  • Share a summary document with important times, locations and info immediately preceeding the event.

What We Promise to Conferences in Return

Speakers should appreciate that their obligation does not start and end with the few minutes they spend on stage. Speakers who have the above expectations should expect to spend days researching, preparing, and rehearsing their talk. They should expect to spend time with attendees, and they should expect to help the conference be a success.

Specifically, speakers who expect the things above should agree to the following:

We will deliver a quality presentation. We will speak clearly, not too fast and not too slow. We will observe the audience's reaction and adjust accordingly. We will read more books than is probably useful, but at least Presentation Zen and Confessions of a Public Speaker -- in order to improve our presentation skills.

We will respect our audience. We will rehearse our talk in front of a small audience in order to ensure we are prepared. We will ensure that our talk does not go over the allotted time. We will think about the people in the back row, and think about whether the room will be light or dark, when we design our slides. We will say "um" as little as humanly possible. We will deliver talks that are current, correct, and of genuine interest to attendees; we promise not to make our talks a sales pitch. We will refrain from language, images, or behavior during the conference that may reflect poorly on the conference, and will adhere to a conference's code of conduct if one is established. We will post our content and demos on the web within 48 hours after the conference.

We will help the event succeed. We will consent to the distribution of video and audio recordings under a permissive license. We will commit to spending time with attendees during your event. We will commit to publicizing the fact that we'll be speaking at your event. We will gladly make reasonable adjustments to our expectations -- and go with the flow if the unexpected occurs -- as long as you treat us as you would want to be treated if you were in our shoes.


This document written by @rmurphey @divya and @paul_irish in June 2012 and has been updated since then. It is a living document and open for edits from anyone -- just fork this gist, and get in touch if you think we should include your changes. Organizers and speakers should feel free to reference or adapt this document when discussing the arrangements for speakers.

Changelog

  • 07.13.2012: Revised introduction. Significant rewording of the items. New ending promises.
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paulirish Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker, if you agree, please comment below that you support the document.

I support the OCE 👍

If any items in particular you don't totally agree with, feel free to mention that. For example:

I support the OCE, except for clause 5, as I'm paid by my company to speak.

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paulirish commented Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker, if you agree, please comment below that you support the document.

I support the OCE 👍

If any items in particular you don't totally agree with, feel free to mention that. For example:

I support the OCE, except for clause 5, as I'm paid by my company to speak.

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jwill Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

jwill commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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davemo Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

davemo commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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anselmh Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. And I support it fully from a speaker's view as well as from a organizer's view.

anselmh commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. And I support it fully from a speaker's view as well as from a organizer's view.

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addyosmani Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

addyosmani commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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rmurphey Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

rmurphey commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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brianarn Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, although I find clause 8 to be a bit vague with regards to what constitutes a common computer, and I would find it reasonable to expect a speaker to have the appropriate adapter to go VGA. Seems like that would be more of a "Good to have", IMO.

brianarn commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, although I find clause 8 to be a bit vague with regards to what constitutes a common computer, and I would find it reasonable to expect a speaker to have the appropriate adapter to go VGA. Seems like that would be more of a "Good to have", IMO.

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ralphholzmann Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

ralphholzmann commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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ttrenka Jul 12, 2012

I do my best to not speak at conferences, but I support the OCE. I'd also make an addendum to #1; video recordings are great, but often not much is paid attention to the idea that a Q/A that follows a talk is caught well on tape. Either mic the room or provide a way for a microphone to be handed to someone asking a question, so that the speaker does not have to repeat the question in order for it to be caught (probably a microphone to the questioner, a la Kevin Smith Q/As).

ttrenka commented Jul 12, 2012

I do my best to not speak at conferences, but I support the OCE. I'd also make an addendum to #1; video recordings are great, but often not much is paid attention to the idea that a Q/A that follows a talk is caught well on tape. Either mic the room or provide a way for a microphone to be handed to someone asking a question, so that the speaker does not have to repeat the question in order for it to be caught (probably a microphone to the questioner, a la Kevin Smith Q/As).

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dcorb Jul 12, 2012

Lodging costs included? wow.. Respectfully, but I think you went a bit overboard there. Where to sleep is a personal decision (maybe the event is in your city), the same than what airline to choose.
Maybe a fixed cost (30% of ticket price for lodging costs) will be something more reasonable.
Rest of points I see reasonable +1:

dcorb commented Jul 12, 2012

Lodging costs included? wow.. Respectfully, but I think you went a bit overboard there. Where to sleep is a personal decision (maybe the event is in your city), the same than what airline to choose.
Maybe a fixed cost (30% of ticket price for lodging costs) will be something more reasonable.
Rest of points I see reasonable +1:

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jaubourg Jul 12, 2012

Very nice and let me support this even if I don't speak as often as you guys :)

jaubourg commented Jul 12, 2012

Very nice and let me support this even if I don't speak as often as you guys :)

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wesbos Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

wesbos commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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paulirish Jul 12, 2012

@dcorb in the case of local cities, yes, typically you'll stay at your own place. That should always be your option. Aside from that, lodging MUST be offered for all speakers.

Mr @cowboy brought up the Call for Proposals/Speakers cycle, and that the conference should allow plenty of time for that to happen (such as minimum 90 days before the event).. probably more.

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paulirish commented Jul 12, 2012

@dcorb in the case of local cities, yes, typically you'll stay at your own place. That should always be your option. Aside from that, lodging MUST be offered for all speakers.

Mr @cowboy brought up the Call for Proposals/Speakers cycle, and that the conference should allow plenty of time for that to happen (such as minimum 90 days before the event).. probably more.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

I like the idea of this but it seems to be very much from the perspective of speakers and organizers. I think it's a great idea to have a list of expectations from speakers to organizers but it should be named as such. "Open Conference Expectations" sounds more general than this really is.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

I like the idea of this but it seems to be very much from the perspective of speakers and organizers. I think it's a great idea to have a list of expectations from speakers to organizers but it should be named as such. "Open Conference Expectations" sounds more general than this really is.

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davidkaneda Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

davidkaneda commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

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ibjhb Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

ibjhb commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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suissa Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

suissa commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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rmurphey Jul 12, 2012

+1 re lodging. For some events, a night or two in an acceptable hotel will cost as much or more than the plane ticket to get there. As a speaker, I shouldn't have to crash at a friend's place or hunt for an affordable Airbnb or stay at some no-name motel. This is an area where I'd absolutely make an exception if the conference tickets were < $100, or if there were other extenuating circumstances, but a decent place to sleep when I'm away from my home and family is generally a must.

rmurphey commented Jul 12, 2012

+1 re lodging. For some events, a night or two in an acceptable hotel will cost as much or more than the plane ticket to get there. As a speaker, I shouldn't have to crash at a friend's place or hunt for an affordable Airbnb or stay at some no-name motel. This is an area where I'd absolutely make an exception if the conference tickets were < $100, or if there were other extenuating circumstances, but a decent place to sleep when I'm away from my home and family is generally a must.

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paulirish Jul 12, 2012

@Mikael that's true. hmm..

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paulirish commented Jul 12, 2012

@Mikael that's true. hmm..

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leobalter Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

@paulirish please include in schedule: "Conferences will let speakers know the flight hours and hotel´s place at least two weeks before the event."

There were an event last year telling me the flights and places only 1 day before the event. This is ridiculous but common.

leobalter commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

@paulirish please include in schedule: "Conferences will let speakers know the flight hours and hotel´s place at least two weeks before the event."

There were an event last year telling me the flights and places only 1 day before the event. This is ridiculous but common.

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nickcooley Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

nickcooley commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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davidkaneda Jul 12, 2012

This isn't the right venue, but would be cool to highlight some conferences that do this well already. Breaking Development, for example, was fantastically hospitable to speakers when I went two years ago.

davidkaneda commented Jul 12, 2012

This isn't the right venue, but would be cool to highlight some conferences that do this well already. Breaking Development, for example, was fantastically hospitable to speakers when I went two years ago.

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marcosmlopes Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

marcosmlopes commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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neopunisher Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

neopunisher commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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mhaidarh Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. 👍

mhaidarh commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. 👍

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rupl Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

rupl commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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zenorocha Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

zenorocha commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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steveklabnik Jul 12, 2012

I like this, but I'm not sure that being able to pay for loding+travel for speakers would be viable without increasing ticket prices in many cases.

Then again, the conference I'm helping to plan did have like $50 tickets, so...

steveklabnik commented Jul 12, 2012

I like this, but I'm not sure that being able to pay for loding+travel for speakers would be viable without increasing ticket prices in many cases.

Then again, the conference I'm helping to plan did have like $50 tickets, so...

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suissa commented Jul 12, 2012

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panaggio Jul 12, 2012

Awesome. I support the OCE. 👍

panaggio commented Jul 12, 2012

Awesome. I support the OCE. 👍

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hakanson Jul 12, 2012

MIght be nit picky, but I first read the the title as (open conference) expectations instead of open (conference expectations), so I was thinking they were expectations of an open conference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_conference). Maybe change to Open Expectations for Conferences, but I am also not a subject matter expert here.

hakanson commented Jul 12, 2012

MIght be nit picky, but I first read the the title as (open conference) expectations instead of open (conference expectations), so I was thinking they were expectations of an open conference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_conference). Maybe change to Open Expectations for Conferences, but I am also not a subject matter expert here.

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steveklabnik Jul 12, 2012

@suissa we did have sponsorships as well.

steveklabnik commented Jul 12, 2012

@suissa we did have sponsorships as well.

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getify Jul 12, 2012

I'm a speaker and I support this OCE in its entirety.

getify commented Jul 12, 2012

I'm a speaker and I support this OCE in its entirety.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@suissa "With sponsors you can."

I don't think we should make this assumption. Some ideas are too crazy and different to get sponsorship. The first NodeConf SummerCamp was very difficult to get sponsored because it was so different. TacoConf only had one sponsor and it was very cheap to do so because nothing like TacoConf had ever happened before.

Making assumptions like largish budgets, or even having sponsors, is too presumptuous.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@suissa "With sponsors you can."

I don't think we should make this assumption. Some ideas are too crazy and different to get sponsorship. The first NodeConf SummerCamp was very difficult to get sponsored because it was so different. TacoConf only had one sponsor and it was very cheap to do so because nothing like TacoConf had ever happened before.

Making assumptions like largish budgets, or even having sponsors, is too presumptuous.

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sylvinus Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE both as a speaker & organizer (http://dotjs.eu) ;-) I'd say that of all those guidelines, #1 is the hardest to get right when you want decent video quality.

sylvinus commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE both as a speaker & organizer (http://dotjs.eu) ;-) I'd say that of all those guidelines, #1 is the hardest to get right when you want decent video quality.

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garann Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

+1 to @mikeal (I think). Would be cool to see a version of this from the perspective of attendees. Both for the benefit of attendees who don't want to waste their time and money and for conference organizers who, lacking any static baseline, might feel like they have to try and please everyone.

garann commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

+1 to @mikeal (I think). Would be cool to see a version of this from the perspective of attendees. Both for the benefit of attendees who don't want to waste their time and money and for conference organizers who, lacking any static baseline, might feel like they have to try and please everyone.

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mathiasbynens Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, except for the part on publishing all slides/content in 24 hours. Some talks have slides that are useless or confusing unless accompanied by the speaker’s story. If this is the case for one of my talks, I’d rather wait until the video is released, and then link to that instead.

mathiasbynens commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, except for the part on publishing all slides/content in 24 hours. Some talks have slides that are useless or confusing unless accompanied by the speaker’s story. If this is the case for one of my talks, I’d rather wait until the video is released, and then link to that instead.

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revin Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

revin commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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paddycarver Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE in theory. In practice, I will make many exceptions for a conference run by hard-working people who do their best to adhere to the OCE, but are unable to. Funding and running a conference is hard work.

I also agree with @mikeal.

paddycarver commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE in theory. In practice, I will make many exceptions for a conference run by hard-working people who do their best to adhere to the OCE, but are unable to. Funding and running a conference is hard work.

I also agree with @mikeal.

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puredanger Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker and an organizer, I disagree with the premise of this doc (in particular I do not agree that points 1-6 should be a minimum expectation). As an organizer, I think I should be free to prioritize what my conference provides (which may or may not meet these for some or all speakers). [Note that while I do cover essentially all of these in conferences I organize, that's my choice and others can choose differently for perfectly valid reasons.]

As a speaker, what I really want is a clear statement of what a conference provides. If that isn't sufficient, then just don't speak there. I do think it's helpful to have a standard list of items that a conference organizer and speaker should agree on.

More detailed thoughts: http://tech.puredanger.com/2012/07/12/conference-expectations-from-speakers/

puredanger commented Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker and an organizer, I disagree with the premise of this doc (in particular I do not agree that points 1-6 should be a minimum expectation). As an organizer, I think I should be free to prioritize what my conference provides (which may or may not meet these for some or all speakers). [Note that while I do cover essentially all of these in conferences I organize, that's my choice and others can choose differently for perfectly valid reasons.]

As a speaker, what I really want is a clear statement of what a conference provides. If that isn't sufficient, then just don't speak there. I do think it's helpful to have a standard list of items that a conference organizer and speaker should agree on.

More detailed thoughts: http://tech.puredanger.com/2012/07/12/conference-expectations-from-speakers/

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say2joe Jul 12, 2012

I'm not a speaker, but everything Paul's (et al.) written here seems to be completely reasonable and should invariably be an expectation (except in the regard of reimbursement to the speaker by some other means, of course).

say2joe commented Jul 12, 2012

I'm not a speaker, but everything Paul's (et al.) written here seems to be completely reasonable and should invariably be an expectation (except in the regard of reimbursement to the speaker by some other means, of course).

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jcleblanc Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

jcleblanc commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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iannsp Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

iannsp commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

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savetheclocktower Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. 👍

savetheclocktower commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. 👍

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remy Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker: This is nice that public speakers are publishing this kind of thing, because new folk coming to the platform of speaking should expect many of these items.

As a speaker: It's funny that I bowed out of speaking at the first jQuery conference because of points 2 & 3!

As an organiser: The first point is the bit that a) seems to have been prioritised, but b) doesn't take in to consideration any of the costs that come with video. Full Frontal doesn't record video. It's simply because there's no space at all, and yeah we're <300 people big, so you're saying the conference isn't (or shouldn't be) worthwhile to the speaker. I've put out the audio the first and third year (the first year the audio was shot to shit, and the second year really bad, but I'm still hoping to revive it). We're trying another approach this year to attempt to get a video camera in place, but it's a long shot so I'm not holding out too much hope.

Conversely when (rather than if) we move to a bigger venue (400-600) videoing is actually easy, and often these venues off video as part of the package.

Maybe I'm completely alone, but the smaller venues, that aren't for meetups, are harder to pack in AND get full video and editing that represents the content of the conference. I think if you're going to get a following on this gist, audio and slides is an acceptable alternative if you're not able to provide video.

remy commented Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker: This is nice that public speakers are publishing this kind of thing, because new folk coming to the platform of speaking should expect many of these items.

As a speaker: It's funny that I bowed out of speaking at the first jQuery conference because of points 2 & 3!

As an organiser: The first point is the bit that a) seems to have been prioritised, but b) doesn't take in to consideration any of the costs that come with video. Full Frontal doesn't record video. It's simply because there's no space at all, and yeah we're <300 people big, so you're saying the conference isn't (or shouldn't be) worthwhile to the speaker. I've put out the audio the first and third year (the first year the audio was shot to shit, and the second year really bad, but I'm still hoping to revive it). We're trying another approach this year to attempt to get a video camera in place, but it's a long shot so I'm not holding out too much hope.

Conversely when (rather than if) we move to a bigger venue (400-600) videoing is actually easy, and often these venues off video as part of the package.

Maybe I'm completely alone, but the smaller venues, that aren't for meetups, are harder to pack in AND get full video and editing that represents the content of the conference. I think if you're going to get a following on this gist, audio and slides is an acceptable alternative if you're not able to provide video.

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kennethreitz Jul 12, 2012

I encouraged and support the OCE for privately funded conferences.

kennethreitz commented Jul 12, 2012

I encouraged and support the OCE for privately funded conferences.

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danielfilho Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

danielfilho commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE 👍

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climboid Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE!

climboid commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE!

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fabriziogiordano Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

fabriziogiordano commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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leobalter Jul 12, 2012

@remy about the video recording, I agree with the acceptance of slides, but we are considering events costing more than $100 to attendees. I´m also considering it´s value proporcionality outside the US, not only currency conversion.

leobalter commented Jul 12, 2012

@remy about the video recording, I agree with the acceptance of slides, but we are considering events costing more than $100 to attendees. I´m also considering it´s value proporcionality outside the US, not only currency conversion.

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rmurphey Jul 12, 2012

@remy Very good points about video; I think all of these should be considered as extremely reasonable starting points for a discussion between speaker and organizer. As you mention, new speakers should know what's reasonable to expect, or at least discuss. Organizers may have specific and very good reasons for not meeting all of these expectations -- for example, serving food at the Full Frontal venue would be a nightmare, but the venue is amazing and makes it OK (for me, anyway) that we're on our own for lunch. As a speaker, if conferences feel they have good reasons for not doing everything on this list, I'm very open to hearing them out. (cc @puredanger)

rmurphey commented Jul 12, 2012

@remy Very good points about video; I think all of these should be considered as extremely reasonable starting points for a discussion between speaker and organizer. As you mention, new speakers should know what's reasonable to expect, or at least discuss. Organizers may have specific and very good reasons for not meeting all of these expectations -- for example, serving food at the Full Frontal venue would be a nightmare, but the venue is amazing and makes it OK (for me, anyway) that we're on our own for lunch. As a speaker, if conferences feel they have good reasons for not doing everything on this list, I'm very open to hearing them out. (cc @puredanger)

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johnbender Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker I guess I'd like to see a better set of expectations around presenting material and experience if we're going to ask this much of conferences. Maybe:

We will agree to present the material in some form to a smaller audience for feedback before the conference.

I'd also like to see a checklist for simple things that presenters should do like content too low on the slides, bad contrast, etc.

johnbender commented Jul 12, 2012

As a speaker I guess I'd like to see a better set of expectations around presenting material and experience if we're going to ask this much of conferences. Maybe:

We will agree to present the material in some form to a smaller audience for feedback before the conference.

I'd also like to see a checklist for simple things that presenters should do like content too low on the slides, bad contrast, etc.

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gilesbowkett Jul 12, 2012

Good hospitality is a great thing, but I like swearing in my talks, and I agree with @remy's point that many of these requirements impose a lot on smaller conferences. I really don't like the implication here, which is that smaller conferences which can't afford video are somehow bad people or not good enough.

I also don't think this is about conference expectations at all. When you go on tour as a band, you have something called a rider. It's a contract your venue has to sign, guaranteeing that you'll have what you need/want when you arrive. What you have here really is an open sourced rider for conference speakers.

It's semantics, but it matters. If you were to impose this document on a community, that would be a complete dick move. It would signal extraordinary distrust of the community as a whole, and disdain for smaller conferences in particular. But if you're facing conferences which want you to come because your name is a draw, but which have widely varying ideas of how to treat you, that is exactly what a rider is for.

Also, http://xkcd.com/927/ -- you call it a standard, you're just asking for trouble, but call it what it is, and you've got something. An open source conference rider is something which anybody can fork and modify.

edit - I just saw the footnote about "enormous exceptions" for <$100 conferences. still rubs me the wrong way, so bureaucratic, so hostile. bureaucracy bad, infinitely forkable good.

and the other reason you need forkability -- "this document is open to edits from the community." THE community? which community is that? the people who wrote this all seem to be JavaScript people, but they don't even acknowledge that anywhere in the text. that's not even honest.

there is no "the community." Python conferences have very, very different atmospheres from Ruby conferences, and JavaScript conferences are a third thing -- it makes a lot of sense to accomodate the fact that "the community" is actually a whole network of fragmented and interrelated communities.

gilesbowkett commented Jul 12, 2012

Good hospitality is a great thing, but I like swearing in my talks, and I agree with @remy's point that many of these requirements impose a lot on smaller conferences. I really don't like the implication here, which is that smaller conferences which can't afford video are somehow bad people or not good enough.

I also don't think this is about conference expectations at all. When you go on tour as a band, you have something called a rider. It's a contract your venue has to sign, guaranteeing that you'll have what you need/want when you arrive. What you have here really is an open sourced rider for conference speakers.

It's semantics, but it matters. If you were to impose this document on a community, that would be a complete dick move. It would signal extraordinary distrust of the community as a whole, and disdain for smaller conferences in particular. But if you're facing conferences which want you to come because your name is a draw, but which have widely varying ideas of how to treat you, that is exactly what a rider is for.

Also, http://xkcd.com/927/ -- you call it a standard, you're just asking for trouble, but call it what it is, and you've got something. An open source conference rider is something which anybody can fork and modify.

edit - I just saw the footnote about "enormous exceptions" for <$100 conferences. still rubs me the wrong way, so bureaucratic, so hostile. bureaucracy bad, infinitely forkable good.

and the other reason you need forkability -- "this document is open to edits from the community." THE community? which community is that? the people who wrote this all seem to be JavaScript people, but they don't even acknowledge that anywhere in the text. that's not even honest.

there is no "the community." Python conferences have very, very different atmospheres from Ruby conferences, and JavaScript conferences are a third thing -- it makes a lot of sense to accomodate the fact that "the community" is actually a whole network of fragmented and interrelated communities.

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amaxwell01 Jul 12, 2012

As someone who loves to go to conferences, and one day hopes to talk/teach at one, this is perfect.

You might want to include a way that users can get access to the videos and slides such as a URL, QR code, flyer or something similar.

One of the biggest frustrations of a great conference is that the speaker/conference does not always include the slides or a link to the video or if they do, it is hard to find. This is really important for bigger conferences and talks where you might not always get the best seat to see everything. If a conference can have a page on their website that links to the speakers content and video, that would be ideal.

amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

As someone who loves to go to conferences, and one day hopes to talk/teach at one, this is perfect.

You might want to include a way that users can get access to the videos and slides such as a URL, QR code, flyer or something similar.

One of the biggest frustrations of a great conference is that the speaker/conference does not always include the slides or a link to the video or if they do, it is hard to find. This is really important for bigger conferences and talks where you might not always get the best seat to see everything. If a conference can have a page on their website that links to the speakers content and video, that would be ideal.

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ttrenka Jul 12, 2012

@gilesbowkett:

"It's semantics, but it matters. If you were to impose this document on a community, that would be a complete dick move. It would signal extraordinary distrust of the community as a whole, and disdain for smaller conferences in particular. But if you're facing conferences which want you to come because your name is a draw, but which have widely varying ideas of how to treat you, that is exactly what a rider is for."

As a very long-time musician, seems to me like this is an open-source rider. Somewhat dickish, yeah...but that's how a rider evolved in the first place.

ttrenka commented Jul 12, 2012

@gilesbowkett:

"It's semantics, but it matters. If you were to impose this document on a community, that would be a complete dick move. It would signal extraordinary distrust of the community as a whole, and disdain for smaller conferences in particular. But if you're facing conferences which want you to come because your name is a draw, but which have widely varying ideas of how to treat you, that is exactly what a rider is for."

As a very long-time musician, seems to me like this is an open-source rider. Somewhat dickish, yeah...but that's how a rider evolved in the first place.

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adactio Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, except for clauses one and five, which I would modify slightly.

For point one, I think that audio recordings (perhaps together with slides) is sufficient (and can be a hell of a lot cheaper for conference organisers to produce than video). In fact, I would love it if every conference that provides video of talks also provided an audio version—I know a lot of people who listen to talks (in a tab open in the background) without watching the talks.

For point five, I think that any conference that charges attendees money to attend (or, let's say, charges more than $100) should be paying speakers a decent honorarium. The AV guys don't work for free. The caterers don't work for free. I don't think the person on stage should be the only person in the room doing a job for free.

I agree with every single point in "What We Promise to Conferences in Return."

This is a great document, and an excellent resource for anyone planning to organise a tech conference.

adactio commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE, except for clauses one and five, which I would modify slightly.

For point one, I think that audio recordings (perhaps together with slides) is sufficient (and can be a hell of a lot cheaper for conference organisers to produce than video). In fact, I would love it if every conference that provides video of talks also provided an audio version—I know a lot of people who listen to talks (in a tab open in the background) without watching the talks.

For point five, I think that any conference that charges attendees money to attend (or, let's say, charges more than $100) should be paying speakers a decent honorarium. The AV guys don't work for free. The caterers don't work for free. I don't think the person on stage should be the only person in the room doing a job for free.

I agree with every single point in "What We Promise to Conferences in Return."

This is a great document, and an excellent resource for anyone planning to organise a tech conference.

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Sophrinix Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. I would like to add a nice to have: Transcript of what the speaker said! Sometimes I don't have time to sit through a 30 or 45 minute talk to reference something I heard live.

EDIT: I see a lot of of the opposition treating this OCE like a RFC or a threat. I saw this more as a potential model.

No where did I ready into it that "ALL CONFERENCES MUST OPERATE THIS WAY OR NO SHOW!!"

I wouldn't support making this legally binding, but provided the conference is funded sufficiently enough to do these things, this is not a bad model.

Sophrinix commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE. I would like to add a nice to have: Transcript of what the speaker said! Sometimes I don't have time to sit through a 30 or 45 minute talk to reference something I heard live.

EDIT: I see a lot of of the opposition treating this OCE like a RFC or a threat. I saw this more as a potential model.

No where did I ready into it that "ALL CONFERENCES MUST OPERATE THIS WAY OR NO SHOW!!"

I wouldn't support making this legally binding, but provided the conference is funded sufficiently enough to do these things, this is not a bad model.

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amaxwell01 Jul 12, 2012

@Sophrinix I would love that, plus it would help search engines find the content for others to enjoy. Though that would bring a significant cost to the conference.

amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

@Sophrinix I would love that, plus it would help search engines find the content for others to enjoy. Though that would bring a significant cost to the conference.

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codepo8 Jul 12, 2012

We could add to offer at least screencasting/audio recording if video recording is not available. a dictaphone on the pedestal or a memory stick with VLC running on it for each speaker is cheap to do and allows for simple audio recording/screen casting.

codepo8 commented Jul 12, 2012

We could add to offer at least screencasting/audio recording if video recording is not available. a dictaphone on the pedestal or a memory stick with VLC running on it for each speaker is cheap to do and allows for simple audio recording/screen casting.

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nzakas Jul 12, 2012

I support the theory of the OCE. My exceptions:

  1. I don't think videotaping should be a requirement at all. I'm equally happy to speak to a room of 30 people as I am to a room of 300. Videotaping is a nice to have, not a need to have. It's completely worth my time to speak without being videotaped.
  2. I don't agree with the food and beverages requirement. Yes, speakers should definitely have water, especially on stage. Having organized the conference myself, food and beverages is always a tough one. It can get really expensive very quickly and is hard to organize. Tying this requirement to a dollar amount for tickets doesn't make sense because different venues cost different amounts in different conferences provide different things to attendees (for example, free phones, T-shirts, etc.
  3. The promises we make in return aren't all actionable. Delivering a "quality" talk is really vague. What defines a quality talk? Is it that the audience members gave you a certain number of stars? What makes a presentation well designed? who gets to decide? The first few bullets in this section either need to be clarified or should be removed in order to avoid confusion.

nzakas commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the theory of the OCE. My exceptions:

  1. I don't think videotaping should be a requirement at all. I'm equally happy to speak to a room of 30 people as I am to a room of 300. Videotaping is a nice to have, not a need to have. It's completely worth my time to speak without being videotaped.
  2. I don't agree with the food and beverages requirement. Yes, speakers should definitely have water, especially on stage. Having organized the conference myself, food and beverages is always a tough one. It can get really expensive very quickly and is hard to organize. Tying this requirement to a dollar amount for tickets doesn't make sense because different venues cost different amounts in different conferences provide different things to attendees (for example, free phones, T-shirts, etc.
  3. The promises we make in return aren't all actionable. Delivering a "quality" talk is really vague. What defines a quality talk? Is it that the audience members gave you a certain number of stars? What makes a presentation well designed? who gets to decide? The first few bullets in this section either need to be clarified or should be removed in order to avoid confusion.
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codepo8 Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

codepo8 commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

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codepo8 Jul 12, 2012

@amaxwell01 No need, as Camtasia is first of all bad for cross-platform and VLC is open source and free to use. They used that at YUIconf when I was at Yahoo and it worked really well. Run VLC from a memory stick in the presenters computer and save the recorded video to it - dump on on a laptop between sessions. Simple.

codepo8 commented Jul 12, 2012

@amaxwell01 No need, as Camtasia is first of all bad for cross-platform and VLC is open source and free to use. They used that at YUIconf when I was at Yahoo and it worked really well. Run VLC from a memory stick in the presenters computer and save the recorded video to it - dump on on a laptop between sessions. Simple.

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remy Jul 12, 2012

@codepo8 to clarify, are you suggesting that the speaker under their own volition captures their talk (as you do)? If so, a great idea.

If you're suggesting the organiser provide the software to capture the screen recording (as @amaxwell01 is - which... I don't think you are), it's a nice idea, but utterly unfeasible. As an organiser you want everything to go smoothly - but installing custom software on a Mac, Windows or Linux based machine to capture the speaker's talk before they speak would be possibly an even greater feat than pulling off the event itself. As a speaker, there's absolutely no way an organiser is going near my machine before the event - I make sure that I don't need the internet and videos will play fine - and installing some extra software is a no go area!

Pretty sure you mean record it ourselves as speakers - which is a really nice thing to do for the folks that are interested in your talk for consuming later.

remy commented Jul 12, 2012

@codepo8 to clarify, are you suggesting that the speaker under their own volition captures their talk (as you do)? If so, a great idea.

If you're suggesting the organiser provide the software to capture the screen recording (as @amaxwell01 is - which... I don't think you are), it's a nice idea, but utterly unfeasible. As an organiser you want everything to go smoothly - but installing custom software on a Mac, Windows or Linux based machine to capture the speaker's talk before they speak would be possibly an even greater feat than pulling off the event itself. As a speaker, there's absolutely no way an organiser is going near my machine before the event - I make sure that I don't need the internet and videos will play fine - and installing some extra software is a no go area!

Pretty sure you mean record it ourselves as speakers - which is a really nice thing to do for the folks that are interested in your talk for consuming later.

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amaxwell01 Jul 12, 2012

It was just a thought that I threw out for smaller conferences that want to help out. For people like me who can use my Chromebook, there is no desktop recording software. But if a conference is small they may use a single laptop between the speakers, which can use Camtasia or VLC (Thanks @codepo8, I forgot about that one)

amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

It was just a thought that I threw out for smaller conferences that want to help out. For people like me who can use my Chromebook, there is no desktop recording software. But if a conference is small they may use a single laptop between the speakers, which can use Camtasia or VLC (Thanks @codepo8, I forgot about that one)

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nodebotanist Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

nodebotanist commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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rdodev Jul 12, 2012

Is the motivation behind these guidelines a bad experience where an organizer failed to provide adequate compensation/reimbursement to a speaker(s)? Or is it a "trend" where organizers seem to short-change speakers in general?

rdodev commented Jul 12, 2012

Is the motivation behind these guidelines a bad experience where an organizer failed to provide adequate compensation/reimbursement to a speaker(s)? Or is it a "trend" where organizers seem to short-change speakers in general?

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MACSkeptic Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

MACSkeptic commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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camilonova Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

camilonova commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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1stvamp Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

1stvamp commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE

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nimbupani Jul 12, 2012

Comments on concerns raised:

  1. Video Requirement: It would be awesome if some of the conference organizers share how to do this on the cheap (or zero cost) if possible. Videos provide context to a talk and publishing just the slides or even just the audio does not convey the force of the talk as much as video would.
  2. The Community: The community here is all the people who are involved in front-end development, not just "JavaScript". I do not consider myself a 'JavaScript person'. This is the same community we talk about in http://movethewebforward.org
  3. Publishing content ASAP: We could definitely choose to do this, but at the minimum, it would be nice to at least gather links and post them for reference to attendees who do have context. Perhaps this is very talk-dependent, and could be better described (@mathias how would you do it?)
  4. Unactionable Deliverables: Definitely needs to be spelled out as @Zakas mentioned. Perhaps we could talk about this in detail separately. But we do need them more actionable.
  5. Food & Beverages: I honestly think this is not a big deal. At best it is going to cost about $20 per person per meal, and the only suggestion is to offer lunch on the day of the speaking event. I can't imagine this ballooning the cost of hosting an event.

More than anything I think conference organizers could also put forth tips/tricks of making an event happen in terms of logistics and how to get this done with as less cost as possible, because at the end of it, everyone wants to leave buzzing with ideas, collaborative plans, insightful conversations, and actionable new lessons about web development.

@gilesbowkett I am unsure what you mean by "bureaucratic", the intention is to say, we will go out of our way to accomodate the tight constraints small conferences have and the huge efforts they need to put in to get it started to begin with (see @mikeal's point about TacoConf/NodeConf).

nimbupani commented Jul 12, 2012

Comments on concerns raised:

  1. Video Requirement: It would be awesome if some of the conference organizers share how to do this on the cheap (or zero cost) if possible. Videos provide context to a talk and publishing just the slides or even just the audio does not convey the force of the talk as much as video would.
  2. The Community: The community here is all the people who are involved in front-end development, not just "JavaScript". I do not consider myself a 'JavaScript person'. This is the same community we talk about in http://movethewebforward.org
  3. Publishing content ASAP: We could definitely choose to do this, but at the minimum, it would be nice to at least gather links and post them for reference to attendees who do have context. Perhaps this is very talk-dependent, and could be better described (@mathias how would you do it?)
  4. Unactionable Deliverables: Definitely needs to be spelled out as @Zakas mentioned. Perhaps we could talk about this in detail separately. But we do need them more actionable.
  5. Food & Beverages: I honestly think this is not a big deal. At best it is going to cost about $20 per person per meal, and the only suggestion is to offer lunch on the day of the speaking event. I can't imagine this ballooning the cost of hosting an event.

More than anything I think conference organizers could also put forth tips/tricks of making an event happen in terms of logistics and how to get this done with as less cost as possible, because at the end of it, everyone wants to leave buzzing with ideas, collaborative plans, insightful conversations, and actionable new lessons about web development.

@gilesbowkett I am unsure what you mean by "bureaucratic", the intention is to say, we will go out of our way to accomodate the tight constraints small conferences have and the huge efforts they need to put in to get it started to begin with (see @mikeal's point about TacoConf/NodeConf).

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issackelly Jul 12, 2012

It's curious. I don't think that conferences are as cut and dry as this. I'm going to leave out particular conferences because I don't want any witch hunts or particulars

Conference A is huge, national, expensive, run by a non-profit, and everybody pays, all speakers, all attendees (with the exceptions of grants) and managed by volunteers. Nobody makes money. There are way too many speakers, and expenses to consider paying for speakers, there are too many speakers volunteering and paying (and providing great talks) to accept them all.

Conference B is free and regional. Expenses are covered by grants from the national org, as well as sponsors. Some people travel, including speakers, everyone pays their own expenses.

Conference C is paid (sub $500) and national. It's niche, national conferences are expensive, even with sponsors, everybody travels, there are a load of speakers (multiple tracks, multiple days), and it's a community run conference for a community run project. An individual (really his LLC) takes on fidicuary responsibility and risk because the organization can't. He makes a very small profit (my best guess is that this does not pay for the time he puts in, at least by much).

Conference D is a one-day regional conference with an explicit goal of making a profit, or a multiple day national conference run by a specific corporation to promote their interests. Maybe, 6 speakers, 200 attendees, cheap location, cheap(ish) lunch, and only Tier 1 speakers (looking at several of you here).

OCE makes sense in Conference D. A, B, and C are just not clear. If you feel that you're above speaking and paying, don't apply to speak at those conferences, and don't pretend that your motives are entirely to contribute to the community if you don't also support and speak at those when you are financially able, interested, and have the capacity.

issackelly commented Jul 12, 2012

It's curious. I don't think that conferences are as cut and dry as this. I'm going to leave out particular conferences because I don't want any witch hunts or particulars

Conference A is huge, national, expensive, run by a non-profit, and everybody pays, all speakers, all attendees (with the exceptions of grants) and managed by volunteers. Nobody makes money. There are way too many speakers, and expenses to consider paying for speakers, there are too many speakers volunteering and paying (and providing great talks) to accept them all.

Conference B is free and regional. Expenses are covered by grants from the national org, as well as sponsors. Some people travel, including speakers, everyone pays their own expenses.

Conference C is paid (sub $500) and national. It's niche, national conferences are expensive, even with sponsors, everybody travels, there are a load of speakers (multiple tracks, multiple days), and it's a community run conference for a community run project. An individual (really his LLC) takes on fidicuary responsibility and risk because the organization can't. He makes a very small profit (my best guess is that this does not pay for the time he puts in, at least by much).

Conference D is a one-day regional conference with an explicit goal of making a profit, or a multiple day national conference run by a specific corporation to promote their interests. Maybe, 6 speakers, 200 attendees, cheap location, cheap(ish) lunch, and only Tier 1 speakers (looking at several of you here).

OCE makes sense in Conference D. A, B, and C are just not clear. If you feel that you're above speaking and paying, don't apply to speak at those conferences, and don't pretend that your motives are entirely to contribute to the community if you don't also support and speak at those when you are financially able, interested, and have the capacity.

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amaxwell01 Jul 12, 2012

We should focus on what are the conference groups, and then figure out what the common characteristics are for each of them.

Conference groups (per ticket):
Free - $50
$50-$100
$100-$500
$500-$1000
$1000 - up

Feel free to adjust these, just throwing our some figures.

amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

We should focus on what are the conference groups, and then figure out what the common characteristics are for each of them.

Conference groups (per ticket):
Free - $50
$50-$100
$100-$500
$500-$1000
$1000 - up

Feel free to adjust these, just throwing our some figures.

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fhwang Jul 12, 2012

I think @gilesbowkett 's analogy to musicians is fairly apt. There's no world in which a college rock band is going to get treated the same on their tour as Radiohead. And there's a similar (if not as extreme) range among tech speakers: Some people are huge draws and some people are not. If you're a huge draw, and you want to insist that conferences treat you a certain way, then more power to you. Many conferences won't be able to meet those demands. Many speakers won't be able to force conferences to do so. I don't really think either of those situations are huge problems.

In general, I support this document's intentions, as both a tech speaker and a tech conference organizer. When possible, conferences should endeavor to treat their speakers well; their attendees will have a better experience as a result. But in practice, standardization is a tricky thing.

fhwang commented Jul 12, 2012

I think @gilesbowkett 's analogy to musicians is fairly apt. There's no world in which a college rock band is going to get treated the same on their tour as Radiohead. And there's a similar (if not as extreme) range among tech speakers: Some people are huge draws and some people are not. If you're a huge draw, and you want to insist that conferences treat you a certain way, then more power to you. Many conferences won't be able to meet those demands. Many speakers won't be able to force conferences to do so. I don't really think either of those situations are huge problems.

In general, I support this document's intentions, as both a tech speaker and a tech conference organizer. When possible, conferences should endeavor to treat their speakers well; their attendees will have a better experience as a result. But in practice, standardization is a tricky thing.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

I'm in the process of writing a very long article about this but it's prudent to comment now.

I think this is the wrong conversation to be having. Conferences that might lack these items do so out of either a lack of budget or a lack of giving a shit. We've forgiven lack of budget and are left only with not giving a shit. This list can't force the small number of opportunists who run conferences for their own motivations rather than community enrichment to actually care about the community. We'd still not like them or their conferences if they hit every point on this list.

The end result of this document is an increase in the list of things a conference is likely to be criticized for even when run by people who care. This list does nothing to help new organizers achieve the points on the list, which are mostly targeted at appeasing speakers than attendees.

I want to see more people from the community organize events and push out opportunists. I'm afraid that this will only serve as another barrier to entry for those potential organizers.

I'm available for anyone that would like my help organizing a meetup or conferences. The only criteria is that you are from the community you are trying to serve and that your goal is to make it better.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

I'm in the process of writing a very long article about this but it's prudent to comment now.

I think this is the wrong conversation to be having. Conferences that might lack these items do so out of either a lack of budget or a lack of giving a shit. We've forgiven lack of budget and are left only with not giving a shit. This list can't force the small number of opportunists who run conferences for their own motivations rather than community enrichment to actually care about the community. We'd still not like them or their conferences if they hit every point on this list.

The end result of this document is an increase in the list of things a conference is likely to be criticized for even when run by people who care. This list does nothing to help new organizers achieve the points on the list, which are mostly targeted at appeasing speakers than attendees.

I want to see more people from the community organize events and push out opportunists. I'm afraid that this will only serve as another barrier to entry for those potential organizers.

I'm available for anyone that would like my help organizing a meetup or conferences. The only criteria is that you are from the community you are trying to serve and that your goal is to make it better.

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janl commented Jul 12, 2012

What @mikeal said.

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ajpiano Jul 12, 2012

I think that #1 would be better phrased as "IF your budget is such that you can afford video recording and editing services, the products of those services should be available online for free, for everyone." I think most folks are reasonable enough to understand that sometimes, a conference might not have the wherewithal to afford video production services, and that if no video exists of the presentation they gave, they can move on. What's frustrating is knowing that video is available, but is just being kept behind a paywall, and if six months down the road, I think it would be really useful to pass that talk along to someone who needs it, I can't because the conference organiser still wants a few hundred bucks for it, now and forever.

Part of me just wishes this whole thing could be summarised down into "do right by your speakers while still doing right by your budget." I don't think this document is meant to discourage people who are organising things at the grass roots, but rather as a salvo against the conferences at the top of the food chain that can definitely afford 1-8, yet still chintz out on it.

ajpiano commented Jul 12, 2012

I think that #1 would be better phrased as "IF your budget is such that you can afford video recording and editing services, the products of those services should be available online for free, for everyone." I think most folks are reasonable enough to understand that sometimes, a conference might not have the wherewithal to afford video production services, and that if no video exists of the presentation they gave, they can move on. What's frustrating is knowing that video is available, but is just being kept behind a paywall, and if six months down the road, I think it would be really useful to pass that talk along to someone who needs it, I can't because the conference organiser still wants a few hundred bucks for it, now and forever.

Part of me just wishes this whole thing could be summarised down into "do right by your speakers while still doing right by your budget." I don't think this document is meant to discourage people who are organising things at the grass roots, but rather as a salvo against the conferences at the top of the food chain that can definitely afford 1-8, yet still chintz out on it.

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issackelly Jul 12, 2012

If I could alter my comment I would. Being invited as a speaker at a commercial conference is totally different than applying as a speaker at any conference. Even the smaller ones may have some budget for "keynotes" and such, having a list of requirements for that is your own deal. I guess I'm not sure that there's a need to standardize that list, just make your case and say yes or no if you can/can't/don't want to do it.

issackelly commented Jul 12, 2012

If I could alter my comment I would. Being invited as a speaker at a commercial conference is totally different than applying as a speaker at any conference. Even the smaller ones may have some budget for "keynotes" and such, having a list of requirements for that is your own deal. I guess I'm not sure that there's a need to standardize that list, just make your case and say yes or no if you can/can't/don't want to do it.

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dcousineau Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE as a Speaker and as an Organizer.

dcousineau commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE as a Speaker and as an Organizer.

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puredanger commented Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal +100

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getify Jul 12, 2012

I'd like to further add that whatever subset of the OCE you do or do not agree with, conferences should put out that list of what they provide (at a minimum) BEFORE they post a CFP. I had to turn down speaker invitations from proposed talks at 4 events already this year because they didn't explain what they covered until the invitation time.

I recognize that can create a catch-22 for smaller/first-year confs, because you may not know what kinds of sponsorships you can get, or how many tickets you'll sell, etc. But I think you have to post a base-line for what you can cover (even if that's nothing), and then sweeten the deal as you get more $$, rather than the other way around.

I also recognize that some confs will want to have different levels of coverage for different types of speakers (the keynote speaker may get more than the guy in a 30-min lunch slot). Again, you should be as open and transparent about this as possible, before the CFP. Tell me that you're only covering airfare for the keynotes -- that helps me know if I should respond to the CFP or not.

getify commented Jul 12, 2012

I'd like to further add that whatever subset of the OCE you do or do not agree with, conferences should put out that list of what they provide (at a minimum) BEFORE they post a CFP. I had to turn down speaker invitations from proposed talks at 4 events already this year because they didn't explain what they covered until the invitation time.

I recognize that can create a catch-22 for smaller/first-year confs, because you may not know what kinds of sponsorships you can get, or how many tickets you'll sell, etc. But I think you have to post a base-line for what you can cover (even if that's nothing), and then sweeten the deal as you get more $$, rather than the other way around.

I also recognize that some confs will want to have different levels of coverage for different types of speakers (the keynote speaker may get more than the guy in a 30-min lunch slot). Again, you should be as open and transparent about this as possible, before the CFP. Tell me that you're only covering airfare for the keynotes -- that helps me know if I should respond to the CFP or not.

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timsavery Jul 12, 2012

As a new organizer (http://node.ph) we did everything laid out in this document (minus compensating the speakers directly) on an extremely small budget, but one step further with live streaming of the event. The only reason we were able to achieve this was through the incredible participation of members and companies who want to build a stronger community. I think this sets a pretty high bar IMHO for any new conferences, which is likely prohibitive with a small conference's budget. None of the points laid out here were brought up by our speakers, they accepted because of the cause. Maybe this should be the OCE for "for-profit" conferences?
@mikeal +1

timsavery commented Jul 12, 2012

As a new organizer (http://node.ph) we did everything laid out in this document (minus compensating the speakers directly) on an extremely small budget, but one step further with live streaming of the event. The only reason we were able to achieve this was through the incredible participation of members and companies who want to build a stronger community. I think this sets a pretty high bar IMHO for any new conferences, which is likely prohibitive with a small conference's budget. None of the points laid out here were brought up by our speakers, they accepted because of the cause. Maybe this should be the OCE for "for-profit" conferences?
@mikeal +1

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@timsavery careful about drawing lines at "for profit". there is a huge financial risk in running a conference and everyone I know that does it keeps around an "oh shit, the sky is falling" emergency budget. this came in handy when the venue's wifi, which they said would work great, in fact did NOT work and i had to call in a last minute microwave hookup. if the sky does not fall, you're left with some money, which you might need for taxes, paying an accountant, or just investment in equipment for the next time around. and also, there are a few people that do this so well and care so much for their community that I would be happy if they made a living of it, although none of them do now I think that they could do it with integrity.

that's why i draw the line at "intention." is the purpose of this conference to genuinely enrich the community or are they trying to make money, or get famous, or they just felt like a conference would be a great way to promote their brand. these intentions are easy to see but for some reason we're a little too afraid of call in to question the motivations of others, to being honest and calling them opportunists but I think it's the only way we can get past this and to be true.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@timsavery careful about drawing lines at "for profit". there is a huge financial risk in running a conference and everyone I know that does it keeps around an "oh shit, the sky is falling" emergency budget. this came in handy when the venue's wifi, which they said would work great, in fact did NOT work and i had to call in a last minute microwave hookup. if the sky does not fall, you're left with some money, which you might need for taxes, paying an accountant, or just investment in equipment for the next time around. and also, there are a few people that do this so well and care so much for their community that I would be happy if they made a living of it, although none of them do now I think that they could do it with integrity.

that's why i draw the line at "intention." is the purpose of this conference to genuinely enrich the community or are they trying to make money, or get famous, or they just felt like a conference would be a great way to promote their brand. these intentions are easy to see but for some reason we're a little too afraid of call in to question the motivations of others, to being honest and calling them opportunists but I think it's the only way we can get past this and to be true.

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steveklabnik Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal yes, 'for profit' is complicated, but 'intention' is quite simple to determine. ;)

steveklabnik commented Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal yes, 'for profit' is complicated, but 'intention' is quite simple to determine. ;)

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

...and I also agree w/ the comments that it might cause a barrier of entry to community building.

Perhaps it could be updated to a "good, better, best" model to tier out expectations? Maybe a different set of standards for local confs / meetups vs large international, highly produced conferences. Maybe correlate expectations to scale up with attendance count?

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

...and I also agree w/ the comments that it might cause a barrier of entry to community building.

Perhaps it could be updated to a "good, better, best" model to tier out expectations? Maybe a different set of standards for local confs / meetups vs large international, highly produced conferences. Maybe correlate expectations to scale up with attendance count?

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amaxwell01 commented Jul 12, 2012

@thoward +100

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timsavery Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal agreed. Shows my inexperience as an organizer :). "intention" is a much better way to look at it.

timsavery commented Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal agreed. Shows my inexperience as an organizer :). "intention" is a much better way to look at it.

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codersquid Jul 12, 2012

As someone whose spouse records av for conferences, including small ones like pyohio, you can achieve screen capture, video, and audio for conferences that charge <= $100 per person but it takes a lot of work to do it and a little bit of insanity. but it is doable!

codersquid commented Jul 12, 2012

As someone whose spouse records av for conferences, including small ones like pyohio, you can achieve screen capture, video, and audio for conferences that charge <= $100 per person but it takes a lot of work to do it and a little bit of insanity. but it is doable!

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codersquid Jul 12, 2012

I feel like all the small community conference organizers should have a big meeting to talk to each other about conference planning best practices.

codersquid commented Jul 12, 2012

I feel like all the small community conference organizers should have a big meeting to talk to each other about conference planning best practices.

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steveklabnik Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid in ruby-land we have a private mailing list for that.

steveklabnik commented Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid in ruby-land we have a private mailing list for that.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid for the javascript stuff, we talk a lot actually :) we've also been kicking around the idea of "ConfCamp" for a while, which is a conference for conference organizers :)

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid for the javascript stuff, we talk a lot actually :) we've also been kicking around the idea of "ConfCamp" for a while, which is a conference for conference organizers :)

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vhata Jul 12, 2012

I do not support the OCE.

My friend and I single(double?)-handedly created and organized http://scaleconf.org/ - we spent three months of our lives sweating the details and crying over signup numbers and stressing about costs and worrying that nobody would come. A month before it happened, we were literally ready to call the whole thing off. And then it happened and it was amazing and we had 300 attendees and world-class speakers and I have never felt so good in my life.

But I was ready to take out a personal bank-loan to cover the costs of THE VENUE ALONE. Not the internet access, the lunches, the coffee, transport, etc. If we had had to pander to needy speakers the way this document describes, we would have been dead in the water after one speaker.

As it is, we had amazing, amazing, wonderful speakers from fantastic companies who saw the value of what we were trying to do, and helped us in every way they could. They all paid their own plane tickets, and we tried to reimburse them as much as we could, within our power - our main currency was exposure to the attendees, which is kind of advertising for the companies, but they thought it was worth it, and I think it was judging by the feedback.

If we had had to stick to these incredibly demanding rules, our conference simply never would have happened. I am not a company, or for-profit, or anything like that - I am just a guy who wanted to bring people to his city to talk about something he cares about, and lists of rules like this destroy any chance I would have of ever doing it again.

vhata commented Jul 12, 2012

I do not support the OCE.

My friend and I single(double?)-handedly created and organized http://scaleconf.org/ - we spent three months of our lives sweating the details and crying over signup numbers and stressing about costs and worrying that nobody would come. A month before it happened, we were literally ready to call the whole thing off. And then it happened and it was amazing and we had 300 attendees and world-class speakers and I have never felt so good in my life.

But I was ready to take out a personal bank-loan to cover the costs of THE VENUE ALONE. Not the internet access, the lunches, the coffee, transport, etc. If we had had to pander to needy speakers the way this document describes, we would have been dead in the water after one speaker.

As it is, we had amazing, amazing, wonderful speakers from fantastic companies who saw the value of what we were trying to do, and helped us in every way they could. They all paid their own plane tickets, and we tried to reimburse them as much as we could, within our power - our main currency was exposure to the attendees, which is kind of advertising for the companies, but they thought it was worth it, and I think it was judging by the feedback.

If we had had to stick to these incredibly demanding rules, our conference simply never would have happened. I am not a company, or for-profit, or anything like that - I am just a guy who wanted to bring people to his city to talk about something he cares about, and lists of rules like this destroy any chance I would have of ever doing it again.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@vhata amen. Chris famously put up his house as collateral to cover the first JSConf.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@vhata amen. Chris famously put up his house as collateral to cover the first JSConf.

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid Regarding video streaming...

For NodePDX, I went to Office Depot, bought the most expensive webcam I could ($99) and a tripod ($25). I signed up for a free livestream account, and sent an email requesting unlimited viewers because it was a not-for-profit event. They said no problem (within 5 hours of my email). I streamed through my laptop on the venue wifi, no probs. All those videos are now hosted on livestream at http://www.livestream.com/nodepdx

So, yeah, it's cheap and easy to stream and post video from your conference. Granted, those videos suck because the lighting in the room sucked, and we didn't do screen cap (even though we could have, had we wanted to mess with it). But for the amount of investment (next to none, and I can use the same equipment for many conferences), we got a pretty good product from it.

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid Regarding video streaming...

For NodePDX, I went to Office Depot, bought the most expensive webcam I could ($99) and a tripod ($25). I signed up for a free livestream account, and sent an email requesting unlimited viewers because it was a not-for-profit event. They said no problem (within 5 hours of my email). I streamed through my laptop on the venue wifi, no probs. All those videos are now hosted on livestream at http://www.livestream.com/nodepdx

So, yeah, it's cheap and easy to stream and post video from your conference. Granted, those videos suck because the lighting in the room sucked, and we didn't do screen cap (even though we could have, had we wanted to mess with it). But for the amount of investment (next to none, and I can use the same equipment for many conferences), we got a pretty good product from it.

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

@steveklabnik Fer real. I feel like there should be some kind of graph for this that plots expectations against quantity of attendees and amount paid for conference registration (adjusted for amenities like an included hotel room).

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

@steveklabnik Fer real. I feel like there should be some kind of graph for this that plots expectations against quantity of attendees and amount paid for conference registration (adjusted for amenities like an included hotel room).

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anselmh Jul 12, 2012

Regarding video recording: We paid much money on a professional film team for our first conference. They cam with big cameras and recorded the whole thing. Except they did it wrong: They used analog cameras, they focused fullscreen on the speaker. This resulted in enourmous costs of video capturing for videos that are not worth it because you only see the face of the speaker but not what he shows. Fortunately some speakers used slides and we could manage to cut them into video but this was a bad experience.
For the next event we will record the audience and the stage with a simple DSLR and capture the monitor with external hardware (to rent for about 300€ for 2 days). With that you will get both, the screen to see what the speaker does as well as the atmosphere on stage.

And by the way: Many thanks to all commments. I really like this conversation because it helps (at least me) to make better events next time.

anselmh commented Jul 12, 2012

Regarding video recording: We paid much money on a professional film team for our first conference. They cam with big cameras and recorded the whole thing. Except they did it wrong: They used analog cameras, they focused fullscreen on the speaker. This resulted in enourmous costs of video capturing for videos that are not worth it because you only see the face of the speaker but not what he shows. Fortunately some speakers used slides and we could manage to cut them into video but this was a bad experience.
For the next event we will record the audience and the stage with a simple DSLR and capture the monitor with external hardware (to rent for about 300€ for 2 days). With that you will get both, the screen to see what the speaker does as well as the atmosphere on stage.

And by the way: Many thanks to all commments. I really like this conversation because it helps (at least me) to make better events next time.

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codersquid Jul 12, 2012

@thoward I think perhaps there should be a forum for comparing video capture notes. people could swap tips on getting the highest quality possible with what they have to work with.

This guy named Tim gave a lightning talk at the last pycon about this kit he has spent time perfecting so that he can take it to some place like pycon or even just a user group meeting and have streaming. He also unofficially streamed the conference.

I want to clarify what I said earlier though -- I thought once people saw how to capture stuff and get it online that we could have a sort of kit library, but it turned out that people weren't obsessed enough to get equipment and run with it. We sent gear to someone and nothing came of it.

Is there some behavior hack we missed? Because it would be cool to have some non profit for obsessed streaming people, but I don't see it happen.

codersquid commented Jul 12, 2012

@thoward I think perhaps there should be a forum for comparing video capture notes. people could swap tips on getting the highest quality possible with what they have to work with.

This guy named Tim gave a lightning talk at the last pycon about this kit he has spent time perfecting so that he can take it to some place like pycon or even just a user group meeting and have streaming. He also unofficially streamed the conference.

I want to clarify what I said earlier though -- I thought once people saw how to capture stuff and get it online that we could have a sort of kit library, but it turned out that people weren't obsessed enough to get equipment and run with it. We sent gear to someone and nothing came of it.

Is there some behavior hack we missed? Because it would be cool to have some non profit for obsessed streaming people, but I don't see it happen.

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid StreamConf 2012? That actually might be really fun. No venue. All speakers stream from their location, all viewers watch online. Geo-distributed conference.

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid StreamConf 2012? That actually might be really fun. No venue. All speakers stream from their location, all viewers watch online. Geo-distributed conference.

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remy Jul 12, 2012

@thoward I hate to admit it, but Aral Balkan did that back in 2008 with <head> conference. Not sure if he intended it to be a one off or if the stress of running such a complicated operation put him off...

remy commented Jul 12, 2012

@thoward I hate to admit it, but Aral Balkan did that back in 2008 with <head> conference. Not sure if he intended it to be a one off or if the stress of running such a complicated operation put him off...

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid @thoward I don't live stream first and foremost because the quality is poorer than I'm willing to live with. Instead I record them, have them editing, and then release them, and i've invested a crazy amount of money this year on equipment to do so.

On live streaming in general: I don't like it. I think it makes some potential attendees feel like it's "just as good" as going which misses the real purpose of the conference which is to build community which live streaming mostly fails at. The other reason is that wireless is very hard and very expensive, especially upstream bandwidth, and using a significant portion of the upstream which will degrade the experience of paying attendees to provide a service for people who did not buy a ticket seems wrong to me. But most important is the quality comment I've already made.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@codersquid @thoward I don't live stream first and foremost because the quality is poorer than I'm willing to live with. Instead I record them, have them editing, and then release them, and i've invested a crazy amount of money this year on equipment to do so.

On live streaming in general: I don't like it. I think it makes some potential attendees feel like it's "just as good" as going which misses the real purpose of the conference which is to build community which live streaming mostly fails at. The other reason is that wireless is very hard and very expensive, especially upstream bandwidth, and using a significant portion of the upstream which will degrade the experience of paying attendees to provide a service for people who did not buy a ticket seems wrong to me. But most important is the quality comment I've already made.

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rmurphey Jul 12, 2012

I just want to weigh in here to say that even community-focused conferences actually can accomplish many of these things. I've been involved with a few of them that have done a decent job, including NCJS (one day, two tracks, $20-ish tickets, 3 out-of-town speakers whose flights were paid; lunch, drinks, and wifi for speakers and attendees; alas, the out-of-town speakers stayed at my house) and TXJS 2010 (one day, two tracks, 2010 tickets were $29-$149ish, lunch, wifi, open bar, pre & post party, all out-of-town speakers flights paid, and out-of-town speakers stayed for free at a fancy downtown Austin hotel).

Was it easy? No. Did I panic? A lot. Do I believe that conferences do not exist without their speakers, and regret that I was not able to pay them for the hours they spent preparing, but take solace in the fact that at least they didn't have to pay their own way? Absolutely.

Point: I didn't contribute to this list as just a speaker; I contributed to it as someone who knows that it's possible to live up to at least a big chunk of it, even as a well-intentioned community-focused conference. Reasonable people should and will make reasonable accommodations for individual conferences, but this list, in my mind, is what everyone should aspire to.

rmurphey commented Jul 12, 2012

I just want to weigh in here to say that even community-focused conferences actually can accomplish many of these things. I've been involved with a few of them that have done a decent job, including NCJS (one day, two tracks, $20-ish tickets, 3 out-of-town speakers whose flights were paid; lunch, drinks, and wifi for speakers and attendees; alas, the out-of-town speakers stayed at my house) and TXJS 2010 (one day, two tracks, 2010 tickets were $29-$149ish, lunch, wifi, open bar, pre & post party, all out-of-town speakers flights paid, and out-of-town speakers stayed for free at a fancy downtown Austin hotel).

Was it easy? No. Did I panic? A lot. Do I believe that conferences do not exist without their speakers, and regret that I was not able to pay them for the hours they spent preparing, but take solace in the fact that at least they didn't have to pay their own way? Absolutely.

Point: I didn't contribute to this list as just a speaker; I contributed to it as someone who knows that it's possible to live up to at least a big chunk of it, even as a well-intentioned community-focused conference. Reasonable people should and will make reasonable accommodations for individual conferences, but this list, in my mind, is what everyone should aspire to.

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal I agree with you on the quality issue and on the bandwidth issues. I actually think the best way to go about it (and this is what I suggested for 沪JS (damn! leaked it!)) is to record at a high quality to disk, and post the video online immediately after the talk.

That allows people to only have a slight delay from the time the talk was given until they get to watch it (for a 30 min talk it's maybe 35 minutes latency vs real time), increases the overall quality and lets the upload happen all at once, instead of constantly degrading upstream bandwidth during the entire talk. Also, live streaming can often be droppy even in the best of scenarios.

As far as the "almost like being there" comment.. I disagree. Conferences are not only about the content of the talks. They are about the interactions that the conference allows. I think most people realize that... and the ones that do aren't going to be buying tickets anyway, because they don't know how to value the conference experience.

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal I agree with you on the quality issue and on the bandwidth issues. I actually think the best way to go about it (and this is what I suggested for 沪JS (damn! leaked it!)) is to record at a high quality to disk, and post the video online immediately after the talk.

That allows people to only have a slight delay from the time the talk was given until they get to watch it (for a 30 min talk it's maybe 35 minutes latency vs real time), increases the overall quality and lets the upload happen all at once, instead of constantly degrading upstream bandwidth during the entire talk. Also, live streaming can often be droppy even in the best of scenarios.

As far as the "almost like being there" comment.. I disagree. Conferences are not only about the content of the talks. They are about the interactions that the conference allows. I think most people realize that... and the ones that do aren't going to be buying tickets anyway, because they don't know how to value the conference experience.

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fhwang Jul 12, 2012

At Goruco this year we did both livestream and video, and we've been fairly happy with the results. Generally speaking I think the expense and bandwidth tilts things slightly away from the attendee experience and more towards what speakers & sponsors want, but you just have to be conscious of the overall balance for everybody involved.

It is true that some people are going to think they don't need to attend if there's a livestream or videos after the fact. There's also been this interesting dynamic of people giving the same talk at a few different conferences, which is sort of a curious dynamic, but some people really do like being in the room even if they could've watched the talk online and not come.

Ideally, conference talks are the seed of the crystal but not the whole thing. There's just as much value from networking, hallway conversations, etc. But you can't have a conference without talks, and better talks make for a better conference (all other things being equal). It's like a bar. You don't go to a bar for the alcohol, but the alcohol needs to be there.

fhwang commented Jul 12, 2012

At Goruco this year we did both livestream and video, and we've been fairly happy with the results. Generally speaking I think the expense and bandwidth tilts things slightly away from the attendee experience and more towards what speakers & sponsors want, but you just have to be conscious of the overall balance for everybody involved.

It is true that some people are going to think they don't need to attend if there's a livestream or videos after the fact. There's also been this interesting dynamic of people giving the same talk at a few different conferences, which is sort of a curious dynamic, but some people really do like being in the room even if they could've watched the talk online and not come.

Ideally, conference talks are the seed of the crystal but not the whole thing. There's just as much value from networking, hallway conversations, etc. But you can't have a conference without talks, and better talks make for a better conference (all other things being equal). It's like a bar. You don't go to a bar for the alcohol, but the alcohol needs to be there.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@rmurphey sure, but where does this list help potential organizers achieve its goals?

I'm working with a lot of people to get new conferences off the ground and everything on here is something they already aspire to. But I don't think anything on this list is more important than "intention." Why don't we just say that we're talking about Fluent and that you guys are really pissed :P

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@rmurphey sure, but where does this list help potential organizers achieve its goals?

I'm working with a lot of people to get new conferences off the ground and everything on here is something they already aspire to. But I don't think anything on this list is more important than "intention." Why don't we just say that we're talking about Fluent and that you guys are really pissed :P

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fhwang Jul 12, 2012

Also, as an organizer, the videos benefit you. Because, from my experience, there's so much that comes up on the day-of that you don't actually get to sit and absorb the really good talks.

fhwang commented Jul 12, 2012

Also, as an organizer, the videos benefit you. Because, from my experience, there's so much that comes up on the day-of that you don't actually get to sit and absorb the really good talks.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@thoward

As far as the "almost like being there" comment.. I disagree. Conferences are not only about the content of the talks. They are about the interactions that the conference allows. I think most people realize that... and the ones that do aren't going to be buying tickets anyway, because they don't know how to value the conference experience.

I think you're right about people who have been to a good conference before. But for people that haven't been to a conference, or attended "trade show" or "expo" style conferences only, they don't fully understand the value of those conversations until they experience them.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@thoward

As far as the "almost like being there" comment.. I disagree. Conferences are not only about the content of the talks. They are about the interactions that the conference allows. I think most people realize that... and the ones that do aren't going to be buying tickets anyway, because they don't know how to value the conference experience.

I think you're right about people who have been to a good conference before. But for people that haven't been to a conference, or attended "trade show" or "expo" style conferences only, they don't fully understand the value of those conversations until they experience them.

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thoward Jul 12, 2012

@fhwang +100.. As an organizer, I hate that missing the content is a fact of life for most of the talks.

thoward commented Jul 12, 2012

@fhwang +100.. As an organizer, I hate that missing the content is a fact of life for most of the talks.

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remy Jul 12, 2012

@fhwang that depends on how you run your gig doesn't it? In the last 3 years of running Full Frontal, I introduce each speaker, then sit down in the front row and I enjoy the show. It just so happens there's 280 other people in the room with me. A good team will make sure the show runs smoothly (or more specifically: that people won't notice the bumps).

remy commented Jul 12, 2012

@fhwang that depends on how you run your gig doesn't it? In the last 3 years of running Full Frontal, I introduce each speaker, then sit down in the front row and I enjoy the show. It just so happens there's 280 other people in the room with me. A good team will make sure the show runs smoothly (or more specifically: that people won't notice the bumps).

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@remy +1 it depends on the conference. if Funconf were video taped it wouldn't have done proper justice to the experience. some things are best left as they are and enjoyed while they happen.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@remy +1 it depends on the conference. if Funconf were video taped it wouldn't have done proper justice to the experience. some things are best left as they are and enjoyed while they happen.

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rmurphey Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal I admit that helping potential organizers was not my motivation; I was motivated to contribute to this list because I've talked to too many speakers who don't know what's reasonable to ask for, and end up footing the bill for the privilege of speaking at a conference that could absolutely afford to pay them. As I said above, I see this list as a good starting point for conversation between speaker and organizer. Good conferences that have good reasons for not meeting these expectations should have no problem getting speakers, but again, all conferences should aspire to meet these goals. A system that only admits people who can afford to pay their own way will exclude certain people -- possibly people you'd really, really like speaking at your event -- and no one should be OK with that.

rmurphey commented Jul 12, 2012

@mikeal I admit that helping potential organizers was not my motivation; I was motivated to contribute to this list because I've talked to too many speakers who don't know what's reasonable to ask for, and end up footing the bill for the privilege of speaking at a conference that could absolutely afford to pay them. As I said above, I see this list as a good starting point for conversation between speaker and organizer. Good conferences that have good reasons for not meeting these expectations should have no problem getting speakers, but again, all conferences should aspire to meet these goals. A system that only admits people who can afford to pay their own way will exclude certain people -- possibly people you'd really, really like speaking at your event -- and no one should be OK with that.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

@rmurphey to be honest, while all of this is reasonable for you to ask, it is not reasonable for all speakers to ask. the "What We Promise to Conferences in Return" list is certainly something you and Paul can deliver on but not something that less seasoned speakers could claim.

think about it this way: you're right, a conference will not get the best speakers without providing these things. but, in order for that to matter they have to give a shit about having great content to deliver to their audience. conferences that fail to meet this list when approaching a seasoned speaker, I would content, already don't give a shit.

we should call out conferences that aren't interested in enriching the community and use that as a barometer for engagement rather than a list like this. we should help conferences that do care to find, and when they have the money pay for, the kind of speakers that will make their conference great.

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

@rmurphey to be honest, while all of this is reasonable for you to ask, it is not reasonable for all speakers to ask. the "What We Promise to Conferences in Return" list is certainly something you and Paul can deliver on but not something that less seasoned speakers could claim.

think about it this way: you're right, a conference will not get the best speakers without providing these things. but, in order for that to matter they have to give a shit about having great content to deliver to their audience. conferences that fail to meet this list when approaching a seasoned speaker, I would content, already don't give a shit.

we should call out conferences that aren't interested in enriching the community and use that as a barometer for engagement rather than a list like this. we should help conferences that do care to find, and when they have the money pay for, the kind of speakers that will make their conference great.

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PEM-FR Jul 12, 2012

As an organizer I would like to point out a few things :
#1 Video, if done by pros, costs a shitload of money, if you do it yourself, it means spending lots of evenings editing, encoding etc at the expense of your family time... Please also consider this. IMHO, video should not be #1 but a nice plus!

For Web-5 Conference 2012, we did all the points you said, except that I am not sure we will be able to release all the videos within the 6 months timeframe. Maybe one year makes more sense.
To give your a rough idea, at Web-5 we had 23 talks, in one year that'd make 2 talks / months, so one video to edit & encode per week ! Not mentioning all the work that follow a conference (paying everything, etc) aswell as organizing the next one...

About #5, I would say it is not really a matter of ticket pricing but more about benefits sharing... you could ask for 1000$, if organizing the event costs you 800$ for the venue etc, then you cannot afford giving 500 to the speaker.

What about favorizing Events done by non-profit organizations? :D

PEM-FR commented Jul 12, 2012

As an organizer I would like to point out a few things :
#1 Video, if done by pros, costs a shitload of money, if you do it yourself, it means spending lots of evenings editing, encoding etc at the expense of your family time... Please also consider this. IMHO, video should not be #1 but a nice plus!

For Web-5 Conference 2012, we did all the points you said, except that I am not sure we will be able to release all the videos within the 6 months timeframe. Maybe one year makes more sense.
To give your a rough idea, at Web-5 we had 23 talks, in one year that'd make 2 talks / months, so one video to edit & encode per week ! Not mentioning all the work that follow a conference (paying everything, etc) aswell as organizing the next one...

About #5, I would say it is not really a matter of ticket pricing but more about benefits sharing... you could ask for 1000$, if organizing the event costs you 800$ for the venue etc, then you cannot afford giving 500 to the speaker.

What about favorizing Events done by non-profit organizations? :D

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mahemoff Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

WRT honoraria, I think anything above covering expenses should be a negotiation between speakers and conference organisers, because:

  • Many speakers come from multinational organisations who don't need the minimum proposed honorarium of a few hundred bucks and who will ultimately benefit in terms of goodwill, recruiting, etc.
  • The minimum proposed fee would rarely come close to covering the opportunity cost of preparing a talk, travelling, and attending the conference. It only serves as a token of appreciation, and that's already covered by the invite, expenses, and hopefully general hospitality.
  • There is a wide spectrum of "agenda" across talks, ranging from the suit giving a sales pitch in the "sponsored keynote" to the tech enthusiast who enjoys a good soapbox. The majority of talks at a good conference are in between, good content with something to promote, be it a book, consulting services, the fact they're recruiting, or something developers can use. Should a talk from a browser vendor about some new APIs they hope to promote require payment, even if the talk is high in tech-content, valuable to attendees, and not deemed to be a sales pitch? I'd argue no, so there should be some flexibility according to the trade-off at play.

I'd propose to remove this as a requirement and put something like this in Good to Have: "An honorarium for speakers who are not backed by well-funded organisations and are providing high-quality content without promoting any affiliated products or services".

mahemoff commented Jul 12, 2012

I support the OCE.

WRT honoraria, I think anything above covering expenses should be a negotiation between speakers and conference organisers, because:

  • Many speakers come from multinational organisations who don't need the minimum proposed honorarium of a few hundred bucks and who will ultimately benefit in terms of goodwill, recruiting, etc.
  • The minimum proposed fee would rarely come close to covering the opportunity cost of preparing a talk, travelling, and attending the conference. It only serves as a token of appreciation, and that's already covered by the invite, expenses, and hopefully general hospitality.
  • There is a wide spectrum of "agenda" across talks, ranging from the suit giving a sales pitch in the "sponsored keynote" to the tech enthusiast who enjoys a good soapbox. The majority of talks at a good conference are in between, good content with something to promote, be it a book, consulting services, the fact they're recruiting, or something developers can use. Should a talk from a browser vendor about some new APIs they hope to promote require payment, even if the talk is high in tech-content, valuable to attendees, and not deemed to be a sales pitch? I'd argue no, so there should be some flexibility according to the trade-off at play.

I'd propose to remove this as a requirement and put something like this in Good to Have: "An honorarium for speakers who are not backed by well-funded organisations and are providing high-quality content without promoting any affiliated products or services".

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glenngillen Jul 12, 2012

👎

I support OCE except for clause 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

They should all be deemed good to have. Claiming you expect them seems outrageous to me, as though you as a speaker solely bear the burden of ensuring it's a worthwhile conference experience. And that you in return receive little in the way of benefit by speaking in front a paltry 300 people.

Can't afford it? Get your employer to pay. They won't? Speak at a closer conference.
Need wifi? Get a mifi or tether your phone. Or here's a novel idea, come prepared, assume the wifi will be shit so you have to run your live demos locally, or disconnect for a few days an pay attention to the conference rather than stressing about the twitter back channel. I found the lack of wifi at FullFrontal and Ruby Manor quite refreshing (thanks @remy and lrug guys).
Food? Water? You're an adult, work it out. Go for a walk, find a pub.

If the absence of these suitably disgusts you because you question the profit generating motives of the organizers, then don't speak. I'm free to decide that I don't want to pay $500 to attend a conference. That decision is much easier when there are few people talking there of interest to me. The fact ticket price is used as some way to gauge whether you can justify these seems equally ridiculous. Communities seem to have worked hard to move away from the whole "javascript rockstar" and "ruby ninja" approach to hiring, and yet here we are writing a list of demands for our promoters like we're rockstars.

The fact is the price of the ticket is going to naturally skew the audience the speaker is in front of. Want to talk to enterprise and CEOs/CTOs, then submit a CFP to Structure and talk to people that are happy dropping $2k on a ticket. And guess what, if these are your people and you're speaking here... you just saved yourself $2k by not needing buy a ticket to attend! Win! If you'd rather be building a movement among grass-roots developers then stop speaking at conferences that have a ticket price you're unhappy with.

And just be grateful people want to listen to you at all.

glenngillen commented Jul 12, 2012

👎

I support OCE except for clause 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

They should all be deemed good to have. Claiming you expect them seems outrageous to me, as though you as a speaker solely bear the burden of ensuring it's a worthwhile conference experience. And that you in return receive little in the way of benefit by speaking in front a paltry 300 people.

Can't afford it? Get your employer to pay. They won't? Speak at a closer conference.
Need wifi? Get a mifi or tether your phone. Or here's a novel idea, come prepared, assume the wifi will be shit so you have to run your live demos locally, or disconnect for a few days an pay attention to the conference rather than stressing about the twitter back channel. I found the lack of wifi at FullFrontal and Ruby Manor quite refreshing (thanks @remy and lrug guys).
Food? Water? You're an adult, work it out. Go for a walk, find a pub.

If the absence of these suitably disgusts you because you question the profit generating motives of the organizers, then don't speak. I'm free to decide that I don't want to pay $500 to attend a conference. That decision is much easier when there are few people talking there of interest to me. The fact ticket price is used as some way to gauge whether you can justify these seems equally ridiculous. Communities seem to have worked hard to move away from the whole "javascript rockstar" and "ruby ninja" approach to hiring, and yet here we are writing a list of demands for our promoters like we're rockstars.

The fact is the price of the ticket is going to naturally skew the audience the speaker is in front of. Want to talk to enterprise and CEOs/CTOs, then submit a CFP to Structure and talk to people that are happy dropping $2k on a ticket. And guess what, if these are your people and you're speaking here... you just saved yourself $2k by not needing buy a ticket to attend! Win! If you'd rather be building a movement among grass-roots developers then stop speaking at conferences that have a ticket price you're unhappy with.

And just be grateful people want to listen to you at all.

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bleything Jul 12, 2012

As a conference organizer, frequent attendee of small and large conferences, occasional speaker, and member of the Ruby community, I not only do not support this, I fear it is a perfect example of the sense of entitlement that pervades the hacker community.

It's perfectly fine to want certain things as a conference speaker. It's fine to ask for them, and it's fine to decline an invitation if the conference cannot or will not accomodate your requests. After all, an invitation to speak at a conference is a job offer, and it's fine to say no. The problem is that talking about them as "expectations" implies an attitude that conferences owe speakers something, and this is simply not true.

I assume that this is primarily targeted at large, for-profit conferences run in partnership with large, for-profit corporations. And, in that scenario, I think these guidelines make an excellent target for that kind of conference. If that's the case, though, I think it needs to be called out specifically. Applying these guidelines to small, not-for-profit conferences carries a better than average risk of killing them.

It's important to remember that every market is different, every venue is different, and your experiences putting on a conference in one region/city/venue for a specific audience don't mean a thing when compared with a conference in a different place, for a different audience.

I don't have the necessary data in front of me, but I'll come back later with details about what Cascadia costs, and what it would look like if we tried to accomodate these requests. I can tell you off the top of my head, though, that we'd be losing multiple tens of thousands of dollars.

I'm willing to give the authors the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they simply did not consider the language they used. This is too common a problem in our little slice of the internet... if this doc had been framed in terms of "the raddest conference ever would do these things", then I certainly wouldn't be feeling bad. Instead, it's phrased as "these are our demands, meet them or we won't bother with your conference".

bleything commented Jul 12, 2012

As a conference organizer, frequent attendee of small and large conferences, occasional speaker, and member of the Ruby community, I not only do not support this, I fear it is a perfect example of the sense of entitlement that pervades the hacker community.

It's perfectly fine to want certain things as a conference speaker. It's fine to ask for them, and it's fine to decline an invitation if the conference cannot or will not accomodate your requests. After all, an invitation to speak at a conference is a job offer, and it's fine to say no. The problem is that talking about them as "expectations" implies an attitude that conferences owe speakers something, and this is simply not true.

I assume that this is primarily targeted at large, for-profit conferences run in partnership with large, for-profit corporations. And, in that scenario, I think these guidelines make an excellent target for that kind of conference. If that's the case, though, I think it needs to be called out specifically. Applying these guidelines to small, not-for-profit conferences carries a better than average risk of killing them.

It's important to remember that every market is different, every venue is different, and your experiences putting on a conference in one region/city/venue for a specific audience don't mean a thing when compared with a conference in a different place, for a different audience.

I don't have the necessary data in front of me, but I'll come back later with details about what Cascadia costs, and what it would look like if we tried to accomodate these requests. I can tell you off the top of my head, though, that we'd be losing multiple tens of thousands of dollars.

I'm willing to give the authors the benefit of the doubt, and assume that they simply did not consider the language they used. This is too common a problem in our little slice of the internet... if this doc had been framed in terms of "the raddest conference ever would do these things", then I certainly wouldn't be feeling bad. Instead, it's phrased as "these are our demands, meet them or we won't bother with your conference".

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vhata Jul 12, 2012

@bleything: yes yes yes, this, so much, this is exactly what I was trying to say. If I, as a conference organizer, tried to accomodate these rules, I would just give up and never organize another conference again. I cannot afford the entitlement that this post demands, in the circumstances in which I have to hold http://scaleconf.org/ - it is simply not economically feasible.

What @bleything said - it's untenable.

vhata commented Jul 12, 2012

@bleything: yes yes yes, this, so much, this is exactly what I was trying to say. If I, as a conference organizer, tried to accomodate these rules, I would just give up and never organize another conference again. I cannot afford the entitlement that this post demands, in the circumstances in which I have to hold http://scaleconf.org/ - it is simply not economically feasible.

What @bleything said - it's untenable.

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AMorgaut Jul 12, 2012

I appreciate the OCE and will try to apply it as much as possible

Here my 2 cents comments:

  1. Video recordings: As some others said, I think it's a nice to have. As a speaker I was quite happy to have it, but maybe a bit shy the first times (not always easy to assume yours first talks still available in video on the internet with all your beginner mistakes...). As an organiser to record the talk, I had to ask the authorization to the speakers, and some of them may not accept. In case there is video recording, I would add that the sound should have a reasonable quality, and the recording should not start only in the middle of the talk (it happened to one of mines).
  2. Travel reimbursement: As a speaker I appreciate when a conference cover my travel expense, but I understand that all may not be able to do it. As an organiser, I'd say it easier to do when you have sponsors. In some cities, it's very hard to find an affordable venue which can handle the number of participants you expect. For many events, the attendee fees doesn't cover all the costs. Another point is that, as an organiser, I've been kind of more confident in the motivation of some speakers that were ready to pay for the travel to participate, than others that may only select conference in nice places with travel expense covered. Of course the organiser should still do as much as possible to help any speakers to come, and if possible try to cover everything.
  3. Lodging: mostly cool but maybe, as for point 2, not always possible
  4. Wifi & Internet Access: as a speaker I would agree, but I won't blame if I don't have it in some isolated places where Internet is less accessible (Africa, Asia, ...). Note that at the Sub Web conference in France, there was no wifi during all the conference ;-) but well... speakers probably had wifi at the hotel...
  5. Honoraria: well, I like the spirit but I'm not sure such rule can be always applicable... Some may not be allowed to receive money and some may even refuse it... The attendee could also pay $1000 for many days with many speakers with lunch included each day and many other cool things for them and the speakers...
  6. Food & Beverages: here again, I think it's a nice to have but... I went to many conference in which I didn't like the food. I'd prefer the Organiser to only provide food if its budget allow good one... Here again it's hard to take the ticket price as a reference... some conferences have many sponsors while others have only few if any... What I'm willing to pay for in a conference never depends of the fact food will be provided... If the Organiser use the money to enhance other components of the event, it's good to me ;-)
  7. Schedule: +1 - Only precision would be that speaker should be aware that sometime schedules have last minute changes. If it has an impact on the speaker, the organiser should take in consideration its potential constraints... (may need to leave the conference before the end)
  8. A/V & Power: +10000 - Had very bad experience once with no power and projector not even available when my session started (first session in the morning)

In the "Good to have", I'm not sure the dedicated space for speakers is always a good idea. I must admit I appreciated it once while I had many things I wanted to add to my presentation... but well maybe should I have come with my presentation ready. We are many doing last minutes changes, and adapting the presentation to the audience, the venue, or things that just happened... But I also do think that some speakers abuse of it and that attendees would appreciate to have more free time from them. It's very frustrating when you can only talk to the speaker within the five minutes after its talk with 8 other people waiting like you

About "what we promise..."
It looks great :-)
I'm not sure all speakers are allowed from their company to alway consent distribution of their talk either in video, transcript, slides or audio...
I love the "spending time with attendees (cf my comment on "good to have")

Even if I had some reservation, I love this kind of Guidelines. I hope some of those comments from my personal experience might help

Thank you very much to Rebecca, Divya and Paul for what you're trying to accomplish.

AMorgaut commented Jul 12, 2012

I appreciate the OCE and will try to apply it as much as possible

Here my 2 cents comments:

  1. Video recordings: As some others said, I think it's a nice to have. As a speaker I was quite happy to have it, but maybe a bit shy the first times (not always easy to assume yours first talks still available in video on the internet with all your beginner mistakes...). As an organiser to record the talk, I had to ask the authorization to the speakers, and some of them may not accept. In case there is video recording, I would add that the sound should have a reasonable quality, and the recording should not start only in the middle of the talk (it happened to one of mines).
  2. Travel reimbursement: As a speaker I appreciate when a conference cover my travel expense, but I understand that all may not be able to do it. As an organiser, I'd say it easier to do when you have sponsors. In some cities, it's very hard to find an affordable venue which can handle the number of participants you expect. For many events, the attendee fees doesn't cover all the costs. Another point is that, as an organiser, I've been kind of more confident in the motivation of some speakers that were ready to pay for the travel to participate, than others that may only select conference in nice places with travel expense covered. Of course the organiser should still do as much as possible to help any speakers to come, and if possible try to cover everything.
  3. Lodging: mostly cool but maybe, as for point 2, not always possible
  4. Wifi & Internet Access: as a speaker I would agree, but I won't blame if I don't have it in some isolated places where Internet is less accessible (Africa, Asia, ...). Note that at the Sub Web conference in France, there was no wifi during all the conference ;-) but well... speakers probably had wifi at the hotel...
  5. Honoraria: well, I like the spirit but I'm not sure such rule can be always applicable... Some may not be allowed to receive money and some may even refuse it... The attendee could also pay $1000 for many days with many speakers with lunch included each day and many other cool things for them and the speakers...
  6. Food & Beverages: here again, I think it's a nice to have but... I went to many conference in which I didn't like the food. I'd prefer the Organiser to only provide food if its budget allow good one... Here again it's hard to take the ticket price as a reference... some conferences have many sponsors while others have only few if any... What I'm willing to pay for in a conference never depends of the fact food will be provided... If the Organiser use the money to enhance other components of the event, it's good to me ;-)
  7. Schedule: +1 - Only precision would be that speaker should be aware that sometime schedules have last minute changes. If it has an impact on the speaker, the organiser should take in consideration its potential constraints... (may need to leave the conference before the end)
  8. A/V & Power: +10000 - Had very bad experience once with no power and projector not even available when my session started (first session in the morning)

In the "Good to have", I'm not sure the dedicated space for speakers is always a good idea. I must admit I appreciated it once while I had many things I wanted to add to my presentation... but well maybe should I have come with my presentation ready. We are many doing last minutes changes, and adapting the presentation to the audience, the venue, or things that just happened... But I also do think that some speakers abuse of it and that attendees would appreciate to have more free time from them. It's very frustrating when you can only talk to the speaker within the five minutes after its talk with 8 other people waiting like you

About "what we promise..."
It looks great :-)
I'm not sure all speakers are allowed from their company to alway consent distribution of their talk either in video, transcript, slides or audio...
I love the "spending time with attendees (cf my comment on "good to have")

Even if I had some reservation, I love this kind of Guidelines. I hope some of those comments from my personal experience might help

Thank you very much to Rebecca, Divya and Paul for what you're trying to accomplish.

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mikeal Jul 12, 2012

just published my thoughts on conference organizing, entitlement and criticism http://www.mikealrogers.com/posts/entitlement.html

mikeal commented Jul 12, 2012

just published my thoughts on conference organizing, entitlement and criticism http://www.mikealrogers.com/posts/entitlement.html

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codersquid Jul 12, 2012

@PEM-FR yes, a person can spend more time on this than with their family (i.e. me!) this is why I don't agree with making video a demand, for just one thing I have personal experience with. All of these are nice to have, but should not be requirements and would really kill small events.

codersquid commented Jul 12, 2012

@PEM-FR yes, a person can spend more time on this than with their family (i.e. me!) this is why I don't agree with making video a demand, for just one thing I have personal experience with. All of these are nice to have, but should not be requirements and would really kill small events.

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loadx Jul 12, 2012

As someone who is yet to speak at a conf. There is one thing I'm having a hard time understanding.
If you are from say the likes of Google or Adobe, aren't you being paid by your employer to be at the conference? I don't want to sound like i'm holding a grudge but if that's your job to go out and expose people to what you know or a specific idea that your company supports then shouldn't they be footing the bills? In some cases like smaller community events then I cant understand there might not be an agenda, you might just be interested to speak. As mentioned before though if you expect to be compensated and you