Posted Aug 31, 2012 12:12 UTC (Fri) by pboddie
In reply to: Rethinking linux.conf.au
Parent article: Rethinking linux.conf.au
are people attending the conference to see the conference content, or to see the city?
This seems like the least important reason to pick a location, especially for a FOSS conference.
It has a bigger impact than one might think. Even repeating a conference in the same place risks losing attendees because it becomes harder for them to justify going if they don't get the full benefit of combining it with some sightseeing. That said, going to the same place again does allow you to use your knowledge of the location and perhaps enjoy it a bit more.
Of course, you need to have a large enough volunteer population so that you don't become completely dependent on a small number of people and burn them out. This is partly a location issue and partly related to how the particular staff handles newcomers (and this can vary from team to team even within one conference)
I think a key issue is managing the interactions between local and long-term organisers. I've seen a lot of enthusiasm when organising conferences, but this can manifest itself as throwing existing solutions overboard and trying to show everyone how things are done. People can demonstrate a lot in doing this, but it encourages the same mentality in others, and this can lead to the loss of long-term organisers.
Mentioned in the article, possibly the biggest challenge is related to conference size. Everyone seems to want to ramp up their conference to be the biggest, but not only does this potentially undermine the conference experience, it also makes it very difficult for another local organisation to take over. Nobody getting into the conference game wants a thousand person conference to land in their lap when they've organised nothing larger than a user group meeting or something on that scale.
I actually think this tendency to super-size conferences is actually quite destructive, and I think more - not larger - conferences is the answer.
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