DrupalCon 2.0, Reloaded

nickvidal's picture

Exactly 2 weeks ago, the Drupal Association canceled DrupalCon Sao Paulo. I believe that this provides us with a unique opportunity to reflect about how DrupalCons are organized and how we can make them better in the future.

A Brief History

Before looking at DrupalCons now and into the future, let us first go back in time and analyze how DrupalCons got started. The Drupal Association has a nice page that summarizes all DrupalCons. The first one was in 2005, and it was co-hosted with FOSDEM. Less than 50 people showed up and the event was free. It's nice to see so many familiar names (and pictures): Moshe Weitzman, John VanDyk, James Walker, Matt Westgate, Neil Drumm, and of course Dries Buytaert himself. The topics seem surprisingly relevant even today: Drupal Commerce, Multimedia, Workflow, and (oh my) CCK!

Sure enough, the first DrupalCon was not as glamorous or fancy as current DrupalCons, but I bet it was a truly marvelous experience. Since then, year after year, DrupalCons have grown in size, attendance has exploded, entrance fees got more expensive, and the event is becoming more like a trade-show.

The Community Spirit

Many individuals have expressed their concerns about DrupalCons losing their community spirit. Luckily, DrupalCons are still run by volunteers, who work hard to provide this community feel. Sadly, these “amateurs” are losing their voices more and more, while professionals are taking over the organizing process. DrupalCons used to be organized in a bottom-up manner. More and more they are being organized in a top-down manner. If this trend continues, sure enough DrupalCons will lose their community spirit and become a truly corporate event.

DrupalCon Sao Paulo failed for one simple reason: lack of community involvement. This was not because the community did not want to get involved, much the contrary. It was because they weren't allowed to. The organizing committee was composed by the Drupal Association and 3 locals, of which I was one of them. We were forbidden to reach out to the community. When I did reach out, the reaction from the Drupal Association was so humiliating that I decided to leave the group (this was on February 2012). From then on I believe things only got worse. The Latin community did not participate in the planning process of the event. Even the 3 locals who theoretically were part of the organizing committee felt out of the loop several times. The community was only allowed to participate in the execution of a flawed plan. Their time and effort into this was totally wasted and I can only imagine what we could have accomplished if it were more valued. Volunteer time might be free, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Much the contrary. It's just like free software. It has more value than ever!

What happened to Sao Paulo unfortunately is not an exception. I have confirmed with a few past DrupalCon organizers that this is indeed a trend. It's a battle between bottom-up and top-down management. It's a battle between community events and corporate events.

Corporate events might be highly successful and profitable, but you have to throw money at it to have a return. Community events are not so dependent on money, but you do have to open it up for community participation. You can't have one's cake and eat it too.

The Inspiration

It was a sad coincidence that the day before the cancellation of DrupalCon Sao Paulo, Dries Buytaert tweeted the following: “People ask me how big @drupalcon can get. Let this article spark your imagination?” The article talked about large corporate events like Salesforce.com, with 70,000 attendees, Oracle's OpenWorld, with 50,000 attendees, and VMworld, with 21,000 attendees. Interestingly enough, some members of the Drupal Community immediately tweeted back expressing their concerns.

I hope our inspiration for future DrupalCons are not Salesforce.com, Oracle's OpenWorld (sic), or VMworld. I wish our inspiration comes from the event who has received the very first DrupalCon with open arms: FOSDEM.

Taking on the World

Felix Delattre, who is a leading member of the Latin Community and who was a Community Lead for DrupalCon Sao Paulo, has a very nice write-up with reflections about the Cancellation of DrupalCon São Paulo. I specially like this quote:

It seems very strange to me that there is this iterative thinking that DrupalCons should always grow to show success and professionalism, when extending to the world is a so much bigger success because it is about people and their work. This might be a better resource for Drupal than money of northern markets. Why is the DA taking this as the meta/objective? The community might have a very different view on that.

I agree with Felix: let's grow Drupal horizontally, not vertically! There is a whole world ready to join Drupal and solve the Talent Gap! If we would only give them a chance...

Let's spread Drupal everywhere, specially in places that have so far received little attention. Let's expand Drupal to new horizons and foster new opportunities in places where it's most needed!

Closing the Gap

One might think that Drupal is not mature enough in these places to deserve our attention, but I believe that this is a classic chicken-and-egg problem. The more we concentrate our attention in promoting Drupal in North America and Europe, the bigger will the gap get between Drupal adoption in North America and Europe when compared to the rest of the world.

There is a tendency for undervaluing the importance of Africa, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. The reality is that, despite the challenges, there are huge markets in these regions. For example, we have Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

Furthermore, and most importantly, it's a matter of social responsibility promoting Drupal participation in these regions, since these are the regions where Drupal has the biggest potential for truly changing people's lives and making the world a better place.

Nurturing the Ecosystem

If Drupal is truly suffering from a Talent Gap, the world can help. And by help I'm not suggesting offshoring Web development to emerging economies for a miserable price while ripping-off huge profits locally. This only hurts the world and local developers alike. I'm suggesting nurturing a healthy business ecosystem with no boundaries or frontiers.

This is the opportunity to close the gap between those who are at the top of the pyramid and those who are in the bottom. Let's stop admiring companies like Microsoft and Apple, with their ever-increasing accumulation of wealth and power, and seek inspiration from individuals and small businesses, who are the true responsible for the creation of most innovation.

Freedom to Innovate

Drupal, the software, is as powerful as it is today because of its healthy ecosystem, where most innovation comes from the edges (the contributed modules). Think about every great thing in the Drupal world: Fields, Views, Rules, Entities, etc. Every single one of them started either by an individual or a very small team, “scratching their own itch”. This is the beauty about free and open source software. The freedom to study, to learn, to adapt, to collaborate, and to contribute back. The freedom to innovate!

This same reasoning applies to businesses and events. We have to cherish this freedom to innovate not only in software development, but also in business management and event organization. We have to promote a healthy, bottom-up, free and open ecosystem worldwide!

DrupalCon 2.0, Latino Style

After the fallout of DrupalCon Sao Paulo, the community decided to pull itself from the burning ashes and reinvent itself. DrupalCon Latin America, as it was being organized, was a huge distraction. We went back to concentrate our efforts in organizing an international event BY the community, FOR the community based on our previous experiences in organizing DrupalSummits and DrupalCamps. That's how DrupalPicchu came to be. We are organizing the event in a totally open and transparent manner and everyone is invited to participate:

http://groups.drupal.org/node/257563

DrupalPicchu is DrupalCon 2.0, Reloaded, Latino Style.

With the mission of “celebrating the freedom and cultural diversity of the Drupal Community”, we are looking forward to bring together individuals and businesses who share these values and who are determined to build a healthy ecosystem.

We would love to have this humble and adventurous spirit in our event:

The Drupal Association 2.0

Let me start out by saying that the Drupal Association has done a wonderful job in many areas, specially in terms of providing the infrastructure that the Drupal community needs. Also, initiatives like the Drupal Community Cultivation Grants and the Drupal Global Training Days are an example to be followed because they provide incentives to the communities without taking over the process.

However, the Drupal Association needs to completely review their top-down approach that they take in some areas, specially regarding the organization of DrupalCons.

I believe the role of the Drupal Association should be to act as catalyst, identifying emerging initiatives and throwing all its weight in to make it spread faster.

For example, we have Drupal DownUnder, a successful Drupal event that has been organized by the Australian/New Zealand community in the last few years. Identifying this emerging initiative and supporting it by having a DrupalCon in Australia is exactly what the DA should do. By support I don't mean taking over. I mean letting the community still organize the event independently, but help them to achieve the next level by giving them guidance and visibility.

A similar emerging initiative has happened in Latin America, which is the Drupal Summit Latino. But for DrupalCon Latin America, the DA took over the planning/organizing process of the event and didn't let the community participate until the last few months, when it was already too late. This is the reason why DrupalCon Sydney will succeed and why DrupalCon Sao Paulo has failed.

Final Words

People like to think that Drupal will conquer the world and become a dominant force.

But the truth is that Drupal is mostly irrelevant. It is just a tool.

What really matters is the community, the people, the heart and soul that they put in to make things happen.

We need to nurture that with love and care.

If we ignore them, then we have already lost, no matter how successful Drupal becomes.

Let the burning ashes of DrupalCon Sao Paulo be a reminder of what we want to avoid. And let the free spirit of the Latin Community be an inspiration to where we want to go.

Kind regards,
Nick Vidal

Dedicated to my friends - Fernando Paredes Garcia, Nancy Contreras, Joaquin Bravo, Karim Boudjema, and Felix Delattre - who have gone above and beyond for the Drupal Latin Community. Let us have the strength to reach the top of Machu Picchu together!

Comments

Rethink indeed

sime's picture

i've been thinking that this DrupalCon branding is simply over-rated. Regional events should play more hard-to-get. DrupalWorld anyone?
https://plus.google.com/u/0/108763565784680476845/posts/CBTVaQnLSX3

Exactly

nickvidal's picture

Hi Si Robbs,

Wonderful opinion! We share the same ideas!

All the best for DrupalDownUnder... oops, I mean DrupalCon Australia! ;)

Kind regards,
Nick

Thanks Nick! Like others, I

sime's picture

Thanks Nick! Like others, I would have voted for you in the DA elections. If I am elected, I'd certainly try to represent the DA better than what you experienced. But then again, I feel that this issue is more about the community coming of age than about the DA, the DA should be irrelevant for anything other than administrative stuff, the community can lead itself.

Ryan, yeah actually my Google+ post was simultaneous with this post. Must have been a planetary alignment!

DA irrelevant

nickvidal's picture

Ryan, yeah actually my Google+ post was simultaneous with this post. Must have been a planetary alignment!

Indeed Sime! Not only were the posts published almost simultaneously, but they strike the same chord!

I feel that this issue is more about the community coming of age than about the DA, the DA should be irrelevant for anything other than administrative stuff, the community can lead itself.

Based on what you wrote so far, I'm sure we agree. I would just like to clarify your words. When you say that the DA should be irrelevant, you mean that when the time is right, the event will be successful independently from the DA (because the maturity of the community is the real factor here). Even so, the DA should play a relevant role by acting as a catalyst (and certainly not as an obstacle). Prohibiting the community from participating in the planning of a DrupalCon will almost certainly lead to a complete fail. As you said, the community can (and should) lead itself.

crossposting

rcross's picture

umm... ended up reading Sime's comments first before coming here. I've posted a longer response there with some details from Sydney's history if anyone is interested.

You should have run for elections

jcnventura's picture

I would have voted for you, Nick :)

One of the things that I see is the problem here is what exactly is a DrupalCon? The name seems to have evolved from:

  • Drupal Conference (the early ones which were just barcamps, FOSDEM rooms and small camps) -> any DrupalCamp is now one of those
  • DrupalCamp with a DriesNote -> Like DrupalCamp Foz or DrupalDownUnder
  • DrupalCamp with a DriesNote, every 6mo in Europe and North America
  • DrupalCamp with a DriesNote, every 6mo in Europe and North America and organized by the Drupal Association -> the past DrupalCons
  • DrupalCamp with a DriesNote, all over the world organized by the Drupal Association -> the future

Honestly, I don't think we should dilute the 'DrupalCon' brand.. There's no need for that. It would also be nice if Dries went to Cusco in January 2014, but honestly, the Drupal Picchu 2014 can be a huge success regardless of that.

As in the Kevin Costner movie: "If you build it, they will come."

I'm fully prepared to go. Just promise me you won't cancel 2 months before.

As to the DA, I'm pretty sure they're also adjusting from having been forced to cancel São Paulo.. We need to give them some time, and see what new 'energies' come from our community representatives.

João Ventura

Obrigado

nickvidal's picture

Thank you João for all your support!

DrupalPicchu will happen, no matter what. It's impossible to be cancelled.

Let's look up to the mountains, but climb it one step at a time!

As for the elections, what a great reminder. I advise everyone to vote wisely:

https://association.drupal.org/vote2013

Help create the Drupal Association 2.0 of our dreams!

Hey Nick There is some pretty

mortendk's picture

Hey Nick
There is some pretty heavy accusations in there - i have been critical towards the DA's approach to DrupalCons, but if what you are saying here is true .. #sadpanda - well theres things that dosnt add up with the reasons for canceling DrupalCon Sao Paulowhatever happend it looks like a heartbreaking relationship gone very wrong, or what i normally looks like a "Clusterfuck".
Your story here puts the arguments i have been corrected with to shame I hope, to be honest that you are not right (or its misunderstandings) else well we have a lot of work ahead of us... lot of work

Lets be honest Its not easy to building a DrupalCon. Its a pain in the ass with speakers, attendees, wifi, coffe, broken dreams, hotels, hangovers and a shit ton of work - I know ! I was local lead at the first con where the DA began to take the economical risk on their shoulders DrupalCon Copenhagen 2010 - and event that ended with sweet 50.000€ plus :) Which imho was a pretty good job taken everything into consideration - and if the numbers are correct then was still the most profitable here in europe ? - But we had shit food and no coffee - which still is painful :(

The DA have been growing fast & now have a staff n ED & what have we not, so some eggs are gonna be broken :(
Im sad that it had to happen just south of the DA. "DrupalCon Mars" would have been a better place for a failed strategy to happen. The DA do have a shit ton of other things todo (d.o servers, legalstuff etc) so it might just be a case of Bandwith, bad planning, the wrong people at the wrong time & good old bad luck.

I do think that you and the the "broken hearts & Dreams of a South American Conference" are doing the only right thing to do: RISE! - make it right! in the way that make sense the South American community. The european and American conferences used 7 years to be where they are now, network and trust have been build, where we know each other and which shoulders to build upon - Cause you are so damn right that this is about people & the Love we have to each other and that CMS "that sucks less than all the others": Drupal

We are nothing without the Community ! - damn right we aren't who should write, patch, scream, cry & develop the code if they were not there. but those suits do provide some cool $, that we can use for good stuff - So DAMN how good WE WILL ALL BE when the Drupal Association get is growing pain fixed! -to serve both the three hugging hippies & the suits :)

YES i do believe, that this can work out - but it takes some time & planning
Hell if we can get wysiwyg into Drupalcore, then how hard can it be to build up an international DA, that dont screw over communities ;)

I think there's many around the world that are looking at the south american community now with a great respect so Highfive/fistbump/Whatever for doing this stepping up for the Drupalistas in South America, you are a true inspiration to us all. -

Fuck it this demands for the epic double horns \mm/ - this is to much metal for 1 hand.
/mortendk

/morten.dk king of rock
morten.dk | geek Royale

Just a detail

pcambra's picture

I clearly remember the closing session in London reporting that it was the first european con with positive balance, those numbers you posted of CPH are a real surprise for me

well a lot of us in cph are

mortendk's picture

well a lot of us in cph are - and well we still dont understand how the numbers could change that much - well theres a lot of different aproaches to why that is. I personally dont get it & wasnt at the closing in london to hear it. ...

/morten.dk king of rock
morten.dk | geek Royale

well a lot of us in cph are

mortendk's picture

well a lot of us in cph are - and well we still dont understand how the numbers could change that much - well theres a lot of different aproaches to why that is. I personally dont get it & wasnt at the closing in london to hear it. ...

/morten.dk king of rock
morten.dk | geek Royale

I'm not sure how what Nick

linclark's picture

I'm not sure how what Nick said puts what I said to shame, and this is a rather infuriating way to frame my comments.

you said:

Do we then really wanna experiment moving DrupalCon around each year between different cultures, languages barriers, new sponsors logist problems etc
I have one anwer for that NO!

I said:

I believe that we DO want to engage with this challenge because it is in line with our core value of community and inclusion. I think projecting this core value is much more important to our brand than making sure that we have a polished corporate event every time in every place.

From what I can tell, it seems like Nick and I are on the same page about that.

Same page

nickvidal's picture

I believe that we DO want to engage with this challenge because it is in line with our core value of community and inclusion. I think projecting this core value is much more important to our brand than making sure that we have a polished corporate event every time in every place.

Yes Lin, we are on the same page! ;)

Community driven events

pcambra's picture

I love the idea of the Picchu, nick, just brilliant.
There are many stable events community driven that are a great inspiration for the community as a whole, Downunder is one good example, but Badcamp and the EU events (Devdays, frontunited, business days...) and it's definitely time to have one in South America too!

I don't see this post, which I love from beginning to end, as an attack to Drupalcon "brand" whatsoever, it's just a great transparency exercise from someone very involved at many levels.

Cheer up Nick! you've got the support of many people for pushing the Picchu forward.

Sincere

nickvidal's picture

Indeed Pedro. This was not an attack whatsoever, and it shouldn't be interpreted as one. I was being very sincere and I hope that this discussion will help improve both the Drupal Association and the DrupalCons.

There are many stable events community driven that are a great inspiration for the community as a whole, Downunder is one good example, but Badcamp and the EU events (Devdays, frontunited, business days...) and it's definitely time to have one in South America too!

I was aware of these events, with the exception of Devdays. Very interesting! Thank you for the pointer and Congrats!

We do indeed have such events in Latin America: DrupalSummit Latino (entering our 3rd year) and Drupal CentroAmerica (entering our 4rth year).

Drupal+(local identity) open to the world!

develCuy's picture

Nick, I agree 99% with what you say and what so awesome in this community is that we can move together in the same direction, though our difference of opinions.

Your call for "Drupalcon v2.0" is a great contribution to make DA re-think about what is the future of Drupalcons. We know that Drupalcon is reserved by the Drupal trademark, but everybody is free to organize any event and use any sort of other cool name, just like DrupalPicchu.

So, there is another proposal inside your proposal: Drupal+(local identity), it is an invitation to local communities, from all around the world, to highlight their local values, culture, tradition and everything else that draws a "Local identity", to find a venue(a whole city), then call for open participation and organize a celebration of our core community values, together, breaking a sort of barriers and paradigms!

In short, we are back to the "Drupal movement", a global community around the FLOSS Drupal Project, that is making world change, with code, passion and freedom!

Make Drupal, not war!

P.S: Can't wait for a DrupalNilo, DrupalSabana, DrupalMaya, DrupalEgypt, etc, etc, etc.

DrupalSummit Latino

nickvidal's picture

Dear Fernando,

The best thing you did was to organize DrupalSummit Latino almost 2 years ago. This is the event that gave birth to our identity in Latin America. We will have our 3rd DrupalSummit Latino and, with DrupalPicchu in 2014, we are taking this to the next level!

My word of advice to Asia and Africa and just about everyone: grow your events organically! When the event starts crossing borders, don't wait for the Drupal Association to create a DrupalCon. Create your own DrupalEverest, or DrupalFuji, or DrupalKibo, etc. So Fernando, I guess we do agree 100%! ;)

Let's nourish the community spirit in every corner in the world!

Kind regards,
Nick

Indeed, let's make it happen!

develCuy's picture

Indeed, let's make it happen! :D

Dimensions

nickvidal's picture

It's amazing what the Drupal Latin Community has already achieved, and to understand how significant that is, I would like to provide you with some details about Latin America.

Latin American has an area of 21 million sq km (7,9 million sq mi).
For comparison, Europe has 10 million sq km (3,9 million sq mi).
The US has 9,83 million sq km (3,79 million sq mi).
Brazil has 8,5 million sq km (3,3 million sq mi).

So roughly, the US, Brazil and Europe are about the same size. Latin America is twice as big.

Both North America and Europe have a MUCH better infrastructure than Latin America, so travelling is much easier and cheaper.

Drupal Summit Latino 2011 brought together people from 16 Latin American countries, plus Europe and the US.

To attend DrupalCamp Foz 2011 (where we received Dries for the very first time), Joaquin (from Mexico) traveled 7.750 km (4.800 miles). A volcano in Chile cancelled flights in Argentina, and the Santex team drove 24h to reach us. BTW, the event was organized and announced in less than 50 days, so people from all over Latin America had very little time to organize themselves.

For comparison, a trip from New York to London is 5.600 km (3.500 miles).

As you can see, Latin America has epic dimensions. While in Europe you can drive for a few hours and you'll be able to cross several countries, to hold a continental event in Latin America is a real challenge.

So why do we do it? To celebrate the cultural diversity of our community!

Our DrupalSummit Latinos already have an international feel (not only because of the distances involved, but because of the different cultures, the different languages, and the community spirit).

So the Latin Community really has to celebrate these achievements. Of course DrupalPicchu will be a big step forward, but we are already on our way towards that goal.

Another View

greggmarshall's picture

This is a great conversation on the future of DrupalCons, DA, "local" conferences, etc.

I have done conference planning for a trade association. Putting on a decent conference is no small task.

And I have personally wondered if the North American DrupalCon isn't getting so big that the intimacy of the early DrupalCon's is gone forever. It is becoming less and less likely you'll end up meeting a lot of the people you might want to meet by random methods like ending up at the same lunch table. There are ways to help encourage connections that have been used by other conferences that could be applied to a DrupalCon.

There is a dark side no one has mentioned. There is a lot of financial risk putting on a big conference like a DrupalCon. If there are 4,000 people at a big DrupalCon and half stay in a hotel an average 5 nights and you want to make sure the availability and rates are consistent, you usually sign a contract with the hotel for those nights. Underestimate and the association can be on the hook for the shortfall. The same is true for the meeting space with catering. Usually to book a hotel or convention center you make a substantial commitment. Cancel all together after a certain date and the association could be on the hook for the whole amount, called attrition. I know one association that canceled its conference right after 9/11 and was looking at a $750,000 bill, basically forcing it into bankruptcy. Fortunately the hotel chain announced an amnesty for conferences cancelled that fall so they got lucky. I know other associations who have had to absorb $100,000 attrition charges because their conference that had been growing each year shrank for whatever reason, sometimes there's a business slowdown.

I wonder about some of the local DrupalCamps. While they tend to use space that might not have such draconian cancellation clauses in contracts, there are volunteers signing contracts for space, catering, etc. in the absense of a legal entity that would protect them should something go wrong. The community has been very lucky so far.

There is also a lot of logistics that could best be done by the DA staff for any conference be it a big DrupalCon or a local DrupalCamp. I watched (I was too busy at the time to jump in) while volunteers for DrupalCon Denver spent hundreds of hours putting the event together. They were doing things that in any other association I've worked with the staff would have been coordinating and doing behind the scenes. Centralizing some of that makes a lot of sense. As an example I have provided power strips and extension cords to a couple of DrupalCamps and a DrupalCon. They were left overs from a conference I organized in my prior position. I had them because buying power strips was less expensive than renting from the venue one year.

The bottom line is DA should be the great enabler for anyone wanting to organize a DrupalCamp. And I absolutely agree that letting events grow organically is a great way to expand the number of options. I wonder how many DrupalCamps don't keep happening because of all the work it takes to put one on?

Community Venues

nickvidal's picture

The most spectacular venues in the world are part of the public sector (concert halls, museums, universities, etc) and are intended to provide a space for community events. They are either provided for free by the city/university or at a discounted rate.

The Drupal Latin Community has been able to hold their events in several wonderful venues with the best infrastructure because they have been organized at universities or government-sponsored public spaces.

If we want to avoid risks altogether, why not assume that the Drupal Association is a non-profit and that DrupalCons are a community event? As a community, do we really want to have corporate events?

Community venues

jcnventura's picture

Nick,

My experience with community venues is that they're great for small events, but for something the scope of a DrupalCon, you simply can't trust them. Don't forget that having an empty hall still costs a lot of money, so most community venues are not able to accommodate 1500+ attendees.

Since you're not paying for them, there's no contract and that means that at the last minute they can decide to withdraw the location, because they need it for another event related to the institution. While that is not common, the inverse is: they can't commit to any date, until they are sure they don't need it. That means that you'll be two months away from the event and you're still unsure if you'll have a venue.

For what most people expect of a DrupalCon nowadays, that does mean that you have to use a professional conference location.

But the breath of fresh air that this thread has generated does highlight something essential: you don't need to have an event being called DrupalCon and that way you don't need to follow the same rules that the DA organized DrupalCons have to. You're still free to call your event a DrupalCon, and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't get sued by Dries for using the 'Drupal' trademark. However, I'd recommend against it because it would confuse people and there is no need for such an hostile move.

Another thing not mentioned in this thread about how professional DrupalCons are becoming (especially the North American one) and how it's no longer the community spirit that it used to be - I actually think that's a sign of our success and we should embrace it, not reject it. Our solution to that in Europe was to self-organize a series of thematic events: every year 'we' organize a FrontEnd camp, a Business Days camp and a Developer's camp. They've been highly successful, and you get the sense of community you used to have. There's no DA organizing them (there's a lot of national Drupal Associations because it's easier to handle the €€€ that way), and we haven't seen Dries in one of those for some time now. But they're GREAT! I'm not naming any of the organizers, as some of them are running for the DA still, but we know who you are, and I do thank you.

I do encourage every community to not wait for the DA and make their own events. However, the current DrupalCon is the result of a long process that may need some changes, but I still think is valid (maybe not for South America). As a final note, even the Joomla! people are now using the same model (http://conference.joomla.org/), so we must be doing something right.

BADCamp

nickvidal's picture

I think we have a lot to learn with BADCamp:

http://badcamp.net/

They are reaching 1500+ attendees at the University of California and from what I heard the event has a great community spirit. Creating separate Summits to address different areas is a great idea to join people with similar interests.

I have reached out to Jennifer and she has kindly offered to provide some guidance for DrupalPicchu! With this help together with the experience from Pedro Cambra and other community event organizers, I think the DrupalLatin community is on the right track.

Actually DrupalCon needs to be what it is becoming...

jhodgdon's picture

One thing that hasn't been mentioned or stressed enough in this discussion is that one of the primary purposes for the DA in organizing DrupalCon events is to raise money to run the *.drupal.org servers and the other things that the DA funds (without that money, the server that is hosting this message would not be there, we wouldn't have our Git servers, etc.).

So given that the DrupalCons are primarily a fund-raising event, they have to net revenue. In order to have a DrupalCon that nets revenue, it has to be:
- Large ==> meaning you need professional organizers to pull it off and financial backing of a large organization to sign the contracts etc.
- Sponsored by large companies (that is where the revenue comes from mostly) ==> meaning it has to be attractive to them to sponsor ==> meaning that there have to be corporate-friendly things going on that potential clients of these large companies would attend so that the large sponsors are willing to pay to be present.

This does tend to make the DrupalCons more corporate-oriented and less community-oriented... and it does not make them the type of event that I want to attend, which is why I have not been at a DrupalCon in the last year. But that is actually fine with me -- there are plenty of smaller regional events that are organized by volunteers that I do want to attend. They do just fine without being called DrupalCon or being organized by the DA, and the DrupalCon does just fine without me in attendance.

So... what's the problem? I totally agree that the DA's DrupalCon organizers need to be more sensitive to the local volunteers they work with -- the stories here are not the only ones I have heard in that regard! But I don't want the DA to get involved with organizing smaller regional events (I don't want them to change or conform to some standards brought in by the DA). And I wouldn't want the DA to stop organizing DrupalCons either, given that they are the primary source of revenue for running our servers. I'll just continue to ignore the DrupalCons and go to the nice small events. :)

Builder of Drupal sites and modules, and Drupal tutor - http://poplarware.com
Drupal Core maintainer for documentation

Fundraising events

nickvidal's picture

Do fundraising events really have to be large to be successful?

Some counterexamples: local hospitals, schools and churches have been able to do community fundraising events quite successfully for centuries, even in small towns. Crowdfunding is a more recent counterexample.

The Drupal Association should:
- work the long-tail (and not stretch it further);
- promote a healthy bottom-up fundraising ecosystem;
- Allow small/medium businesses/events to be part of it;
- Make it fun for everyone to be part of it: attendees, volunteers and staff;
- Promote openness, transparency, collaboration, and inclusion always.

Open your minds!

develCuy's picture

Guess that this proposal is hard to understand given the context of Northern cultures, let's come to DrupalPicchu, most of this proposal is based on things beyond written words, you have to experiment first ;) there is no accurate way to translate life experiences into words.

Think out of the box!

Northern cultures

nickvidal's picture

Hi Fernando,

Actually, I think the proposal resonates well with the Northern cultures. The whole Free Culture and FLOSS movement was born there. Nowadays this movement is spread throughout the world.

But I do agree with you that the proposal is based on things beyond written words. It's a proposal about profound values like altruism, gratitude and humility.

Kind regards,
Nick

The context, not the culture

develCuy's picture

You are right Nick, those movements born there, inspired on what you said. I'm referring to the context, because even if FLOSS has born there, it is hard to understand there too. But that is another discussion :)

Anyway, just clarifying that I do respect all people, and they are welcome here in the South! Join to the party! yeah!

Also, we have some expats in Drupal Latino community, just to mention @xamanu, @KarimB and @jwilson3, they are from Europe and USA, guess they can help to "interpret" the proposal for those who still don't get it, or are getting it wrong, or have concerns because they don't know some unique details of Latino context.

Just one example, if you are an student in Peru and want to go school. You take a bus or microbus, and "at some point" of that very short ride, a person will ask you to pay it, you put hands in your pocket, take an small coin of S/.0.50 (20 US cents) and pay. Then, when you are one or two blocks close to your destination, you say: ¡¡ Bajo aquí !!. There are no pre-paid bus cards, no bus stations (just many bus stops), and you have 3 times in all this process:
1. Trust that the bus you need will come soon enough for you to arrive on time to your destination (they don't have an schedule, all you know is it will come... sometime...)
2. Trust that you will be able to pay for the ride -- at some point --
3. Trust that the driver will listen to you on-time to stop the bus, in the middle of a noisy city! And there is not fixed bus stop.

Yeah! Is like a big shared "taxi cab". It is not a Metro :) so there are many details that people will simply not get without details.

I taken 20 minutes to write this post, just to explain how to take a bus in Peru, imagine how long will it take to explain the proposal. That is my point :)

on community vs. corporate

coltrane's picture

While I respect your post and ideas, I think you're opening points verge on hyperbole.

"DrupalCons used to be organized in a bottom-up manner. More and more they are being organized in a top-down manner. If this trend continues, sure enough DrupalCons will lose their community spirit and become a truly corporate event.

(emphasis mine)

Does "corporate" describe the many small Drupal companies on Drupalcon sponsors pages like http://denver2012.drupal.org/sponsors? At DrupalCon Denver, sponsorship was less than 1/3 of the conference revenue, while ticket sales were double that. Attendees brought in more money than companies and the sponsoring companies often give back to the community in ways beyond just their money. These companies aren't evil and their involvement in Drupalcon should be welcome.

Our community is growing and there will be pain points along the way. Discussion about direction is encouraged and welcomed, but I don't think we're on our way to becoming a "corporate" event. I think community and staff organizers both understand the benefits of putting on a conference that appeals to a diverse group of attendees.

Corporate

nickvidal's picture

I'm not against companies. Much the contrary, I wish there were more of them! I myself have a small business. Most of the Drupal Latin Community organizers are small business owners themselves.

What worries me is to have corporate events like Salesforce.com, Oracle's OpenWorld, and VMworld as inspiration for future DrupalCons. Doesn't that worry you?

You're picking Dries' tweet

coltrane's picture

You're picking Dries' tweet as a basis of direction for DrupalCons under the DA. That's not enough supporting evidence.

Evidence

nickvidal's picture

For evidence, I think that the DA should conduct an anonymous survey with past DrupalCon attendees, organizers, staff, and sponsors. You'll be surprised with the results. I sure was by the number of private e-mails I've received in support of this post.

Some relevant questions:

For attendees:
- have you stopped attending DrupalCons? Why?
- do you feel the community spirit of DrupalCons have gotten stronger?
- do you think ticket prices are getting too expensive?

For organizers:
- did you feel burned out?
- how was the relationship with the DA?
- did you feel your work was well appreciated by everyone?
- were you able to conduct your work with freedom?

For staff:
- do you feel burned out?
- how's the relationship with DA board members?
- how's the relationship with organizers?
- were you able to conduct your work with freedom?

For sponsors:
- have you stopped sponsoring DrupalCons? Why?
- are sponsorship plans getting too expensive?
- do you think your sponsorship is well appreciated by everyone?
- have ROI gotten better?

I think both volunteer organizers and staff are having a harder time. As for attendees and sponsors, the answer will probably differ depending on the profile. Attendees and sponsors from larger companies will find that DrupalCons are getting better and better for business, and quite cheap too, much thanks to volunteers who do what in other corporate events is done by the staff.

Survey!

laura s's picture

Nick, I think your comment here is one of the most constructive. There are a lot of criticisms from various quarters that could be leveled at DrupalCon. Some might even say that the event isn't "corporate" enough! (Note: I'm not saying that, btw.) There are diverse opinions out there.

I also would like to point out that many of these questions are asked after each DrupalCon. How many people have opted to not fill out the post-event surveys? How can we get higher compliance on surveys to get valid feedback?

Laura Scott
PINGV | Strategy • Design • Drupal Development

Surveys

nickvidal's picture

Indeed we already have a rich set of data, although I'm not sure we have done surveys for volunteer organizers or staff members.

As any researcher knows, the way the questions are framed, and the way the answers are interpreted can lead to different conclusions.

For example, Trellon recently published some results about the demographics of DrupalCons:

http://www.trellon.com/content/blog/drupalcon-munich-demographic-observa...

DrupalCon attendees are getting older, which might mean that DrupalCons are becoming:
- more attractive for businesses (CEO's, sales guys, etc);
- too expensive for students or younger people;
- more attractive for mature developers.

There is also a report done by the Drupal Association:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KiiHELJeYd1bihvBGmByO2NDzwjP9Ee8K6-u...

It pointed out the ability to attract newcomers to DrupalCons, which could be interpreted as something good or bad:
- DrupalCons are helping spread the word about Drupal;
- Community members don't see the value in attending DrupalCons anymore, so the repeat rate is dropping.

Anyways, I think it's hard to deny the trend that DrupalCons are becoming more corporate. And we have to ask ourselves if that's the way we want/need to go.

Strategy

nickvidal's picture

A follow-up, with a strategy laid out for the Drupal Association to reinvent itself:

http://groups.drupal.org/node/258903

Drupal Association

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