On Mon, 09 Jan 2017 12:07:32 +0100
Brian Exelbierd <bex(a)pobox.com> wrote:
Warning: This email is long. I don't know how to avoid that.
debated making this a wiki, but I think we need more discussion that
just editing. There is no tl;dr. If you want a tl;dr perhaps you
should wait a while and participate near the end of the conversation.
Warning: The opening text is the same for both Part I and Part II.
During 2016 I had the privilege of helping to plan and execute Flock
and attended both FUDCon LATAM (Puno) and FUDCon APAC (Phnom Penh).
Talking to people has led to me to believe that these events may not
be meeting all of our goals. Specifically we are spending a lot of
time and money on them and may not be getting our full value. I
also heard a lot of comments about how the events are not equal from
people who thought they should be and not well distributed across
the world from people who thought they should be. This led me to
believe that there is a lot of confusion about why we do these
events and what we want out of them.
In the spirit of it is easier to edit than to create, I am going to
propose some ideas. My goal is less to present this as a polished
proposal ready for a vote and more to allow us to have a discussion
around the finer points of the events strategy. It would be nice to
see this discussion come to an end by the end of March so that it can
have impact this year. The planning for Flock will begin soon (see
my another of my emails today) but the FUDCon processes are not
heavily started, as far as I can tell.
Additionally, while history is important, I think it is equally
important that we consider what we want to accomplish today and in
the next few years, not just what we tried to accomplish in the
past. Therefore, I've written this without too much reference to what
is being changed and instead as an idea of what we should be doing.
I look forward to folks bringing forward suggestions for continuing
activities from the past or better incorporating lessons learned that
I may have missed.
I look forward to your feedback and input.
As mentioned above, I attended both FUDCons in 2016. These are the
only two FUDCons that I have ever attended. I was told by attendees
at both events that while every event is different, these two were
fairly typical in the areas I was concerned with.
FUDCons have been described to me as being for Fedora Users and
Developers (hence the name). What is never clear from the people I've
talked to is what kind of users they think are targeted and whether
the developers are "developers who use Fedora" or "people who develop
(contribute to) Fedora." Both events this year were held in
partnership with Universities. Both had large attendances on the
first day, typically when students were incentivized to show up by
their faculty and poor attendance on the non-incentive days. It was
unclear that many people took a lot away from the conference or that
there would be significant follow up activity. These comments are
not to single out the organizers for these FUDCons. They all worked
very hard and pulled off very good events. I just didn't get a
feeling that the events had a lot of impact and changed much in the
short or long term.
I believe that for our investment of time, energy, and money in
FUDCons to be successful, the goals of these events must be clarified.
I think one of the problems is that FUDCon has been trying to do much.
Trying to get collaborators together and get new people on board. My
experience is that bringing new people on board takes a lot of time,
and it is not feasible during fudco. This is not to say that we should
not show case the best talent of the region with open to public talks.
But we can reduce that and avoid at all cost preaching to the choir.
FUDCon it is a good opportunity to push people in the pool that has
been in the edge for some time. But most important thing like stated
for flock ... bonding, planning, cross-pollination.
I believe we need to remove some of the restrictions we place on
these events, chiefly on where and how often they can be held.
Therefore, I believe we should simply state that FUDCons can be held
anywhere in the world and any number of times that is appropriate.
This means that we can have FUDCons in places like EMEA and NA (which
helps to relieve pressure on Flock).
Additionally, while FUDCons are inherently regional events, I believe
that the Fedora Council should nominally "own" them. This means that
the budget allocation should work like most FADs and be approved by
the budget. I don't think this is a change from current practice.
While I hope that Ambassadors will take the lead in organizing and
running these events, I believe that any contributor should be able to
make a proposal.
Finally, I believe these events do not need to be standalone. I think
they can have greater impact when collocated with other conferences or
run as "+1 days" to other events. While this shouldn't be a
requirement, I think it is a good practice to encourage.
Another challenge for FUDCons that we should remove is to make it
easier to organize them. Once a FUDCon is approved, we need to
ensure that we have enough people and resources engaged to make the
event a success. In the case of Flock we see several core organizers
working with the local organizer to make things happen. FUDCons
should be able to rely on more support from the FCAIC and possibly
others to help with organizational details. We should also see
FUDCons being proposed with robust organizing committees that are
appropriate to the size of the event.
Talking about structure before goals is not the best approach. Having a
smaller event as a +1 day to a large conference can be good. But if the
event is too big, we can have people tired. Also a big event may
dilute fedora event. Not bad, but something to be careful.
It is hard to write a single set of goals for a varied set of events.
Instead, I think that we should consider these in a way that I hope is
similar to how the Ambassadors consider events they attend.
Specifically, I believe that we should be asking the following
* Who specifically is this event targeting and why? How does this
group align with the target audiences for Fedora?
* What are the specific desired outcomes of this event? How can we
see evidence of achieving these goals? Evidence doesn't need to be
quantitative, it can be qualitative, but you need to have thought
through how you know you were a success.
* Why should we hold a FUDCon in this specific city?
* How will you ensure you attract the right audience and that they are
engaged? What preparatory activities need to happen? How will those
happen? What follow up activities are needed? How will those happen?
* If this FUDCon is collocated, why is this conference or event the
right one to collocate with? If this FUDCon is not collocated, why is
an independent event better?
I thing that it is good to have the best people of a region together to
plan how to do better, exchange expertise, and help collaborators to
get interested in other areas of the project. It will be a great
opportunity if the local team has a group of people that is interested
in contributing and give them the final push. This means trying to have
people from different part of the project is key. Even bring some
people from outside the region if the region do not have participation
in one area of the project.
Programming for FUDCons is extremely important. In 2016 one event was
run as a Bar Camp and the other was run as a programmed event at a Bar
Camp. While Bar Camp voting should result in the conference that
people want to attend, that also means that the speakers need to be
talking about topics that matter to the audience. In the case of a
programmed event, this is also critical.
Voting usually help to make the schedule, so topics with more votes are
not allocated at the same time. FUDCon 2014 got online voting before
Therefore programming at FUDCons should be based on the goals and
target audience, not just based on which Fedora contributors want to
attend. Ideally the proposal should include the kinds of topics that
will be presented and even a provisional list of speakers who will be
## Funded Attendance and Costs
To increase the number of activities, we should cleanly divorce
FUDCons from Regional FADs. FUDCons are necessarily a reason to fly
in contributors from all over a region or the world. Let's keep them
locally focused. Depending on the goals and target audience all of
the speakers do not even need to be Fedora contributors. For
example, a non-Fedora contributor speaking about Eclipse (on Fedora)
at a developer focused FUDCon may make a lot of sense.
Therefore I believe that budgets should trend toward the smaller side
with an emphasis on impact being directly related to budget size. To
give some (highly contrived) examples, a +1 day event for FOSDEM may
have a large budget because the event needs good publicity to draw the
huge attendance opportunity from those attending FOSDEM. A +1 day
event for DevConf.cz may have a small budget because we have a
friendly environment for advertising and a ton of local contributors
to help with programming. A +1 day event for FISL may need a medium
size budget because of the need to fly in Spanish speaking presenters
for some sessions. (These are just examples, don't read into them.)
As a local event, it is a problem with how the public will react to an
event. It is really difficult to ask a developer to be good at logistic
to create a great event. There are challenges to overcome and sadly as
local event the experience gained in one place may not be relevant for
the next place. What I mean is that we can not expect a continuity
with events that are focused locally, because life has challenges.
I am very happy that we are talking about this, I strongly believe that
we need to have a clear set of objectives if we want to FUDCon to
produce real value for the community and the project.