[OSGeo-Conf] FOSS4G Discount for Charter Members proposal

Andrew Ross andrew.ross at eclipse.org
Thu Aug 14 20:51:44 PDT 2014

Hey Jeff, Everyone

I'd like to comment briefly.

I feel a 800+ person conference is of a sufficient size that it's not a good idea to burn out volunteers organizing. To throw a new team to the wolves each year is extremely risky.

The obvious options are to not have such a large event, or choose a different model to organize.

I feel that a conference of such size is very important. It's what draws the ecosystem together and helps it grow. Not having the large event would be a loss.

It is simply too big to hold at most Universities, and especially in the fall.

For what it's worth, I also feel smaller regional and plenty of local events are important too. That's orthogonal to the global event though.

I've been open about what the Eclipse Foundation & LocationTech can do. It has full time staff with experience to run a consistently great technology conferences with lots of camaraderie.

Let's work together. FOSS4G NA 2015 will be a nice opportunity, test, and display. For those who are highly motivated, feel free to go back to the D.C. bid and provide feedback. I feel it was a great bid, credible, and a good indication of the kind of event we'd hold in the future. Maybe this is a good option to address many of the issues? Worth exploring a bit in any case.


On August 14, 2014 9:54:49 AM EDT, Jeff McKenna <jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com> wrote:
>Hi Darrell,
>I can say that in 2011 I did bring this issue strongly, and very 
>publicly, to the OSGeo Board.  I even proposed a part-time position to 
>manage the main FOSS4G conference (google 'foss4g advisor' for some 
>history and fun reading, all there outlined in a public wiki page
>Well, that didn't happen.  And as you just mentioned, it's still
>Or, if that cannot happen, we need to realize this, and change our 
>mindset, back to the origins of FOSS4G: a meeting of the tribe, cheap 
>admission, affordable university venues, bare-bones (essentially what 
>our FOSS4G regional events are doing now).
>Because yes I agree, to assume a bunch of volunteers can run a ~1,000 
>attendee event in the best conference venue in the city and still make 
>it affordable for the tribe to attend, will not work.
>On 2014-08-14 12:10 AM, Darrell Fuhriman wrote:
>> I’m trying to formulate a response to this, but it ties into an
>> that I owe this list, but haven’t had time to send because I’ve been
>> busy finalizing the conference preparations.  Also, I’m well into my
>> third pint this evening, so it’s probably not the best time. :)
>> While I agree the early bird discount is important for the reasons
>> state, there actually aren’t that many commitments that can be
>> after the deadline. Frankly, the only significant contracts unsigned
>> our early bird deadline of June 15th were the catering contracts.
>> admittedly, that’s a substantial portion of the budget – if we were
>> that red line, we’d be jettisoning coffee breaks like ballast in a
>> sinking ship.
>> I think right now the quickest thing I can say is that OSGeo has so
>> shown minimal interest in actually taking responsibility for FOSS4G.
>> OSGeo is going to increase the demands made on the committee, OSGeo
>> needs to be stepping up and taking a more hands-on approach to
>> conference organization.
>> For the record, I believe OSGeo needs to step up and take such a more
>> hands on approach. I’d love a chance to talk about in person at the
>> board meeting.
>> SotM.us <http://SotM.us> runs very different, and I know from talking
>> with the organizers that it was a challenge to break-even this year.
>> difficulty is that as conferences get bigger, they get more expensive
>> put on (primarily because the supply of possible venues shrinks very
>> rapidly, and the per attendee costs go up substantially). They also
>> logistically more challenging, and having dedicated resources, either
>> employee or outsourced, can vastly decrease the workload on the LOC.
>> Frankly, unless something changes on this front, it’s just a matter
>> time until there’s another 2012.  To be honest, I’m not sure SotM.us
>> <http://SotM.us> would have been a success if Mapbox hadn’t devoted
>> significant employee resources to making sure it was (as they have
>> the past three SotM.us <http://SotM.us> conferences). Conferences
>> huge numbers of hours to organize. The inefficiency introduced by
>> someone re-learn the job every year is substantial, wasteful, and
>> incredibly risky.
>> Anyway, I’m supposed to be on vacation.
>> Greetings from Yellowstone,
>> Darrell
>> On Aug 13, 2014, at 13:41, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com
>> <mailto:cameron.shorter at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>> I'm open to the idea of providing benefits to osgeo charter members,
>>> but suggest having an early bird discount apply to all ticket
>>> categories. I'd suggest something like a 5% discount for charter
>>> member tickets instead.
>>> Note: conferences organisors need to decide whether they will also
>>> give such a discount to professional bodies as well (such as
>>> professional institute of surveyors). Such organisations often
>>> aggressively request a discount for their members in return for
>>> publicising foss4g to their membership.
>>> There is a very important reason conferences have a early bird
>>> discount. It means that conference organisors get an early
>>> of the number of attendees coming to the conference. This helps
>>> significantly with regards to making financial decisions about the
>>> conference. In particular, it enables organisors to decide to cancel
>>> the conference before having to lock into key financial commitments
>>> and potentially sending OSGeo bankrupt. This was very important for
>>> in FOSS4G 2009, the year of the global financial crisis, when
>>> registrations were much lower than expected. At the early bird
>>> deadline, we were aware that we had enough people attending that we
>>> would loose less money by going ahead than if we cancelled, so we
>>> ahead. Without that confidence, we likely would have decided to
>>> the conference. (In the end more people did register, and we were
>>> able to make a modest profit.)
>>> On 14/08/2014 4:56 am, Kate Chapman wrote:
>>>> Hi All,
>>>> I think the comparison between the SotM model and the FOSS4G model
>>>> interesting, but it is important to think about the financial
>>>> objectives of each conference. My understanding was that FOSS4G
>>>> provides most of the funding for OSGEO over the year, this isn't
>>>> case for SotM. Though successful sponsorship programs could
>>>> make up the difference between the discounted tickets.
>>>> One note, I've worked for a few organizations that have paid my
>>>> ticket for SotM. I've also paid the mapper price myself previously
>>>> well. I would have not been able to get them to pay for FOSS4G
>>>> though. Some of you may have noticed I have given a workshop every
>>>> year I've attended FOSS4G. I would not be able to attend otherwise.
>>>> Not that it is conceivable for everyone to give a workshop to be
>>>> to attend.
>>>> Best,
>>>> -Kate
>>>> On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 11:46 AM, Daniel Kastl
><daniel at georepublic.de
>>>> <mailto:daniel at georepublic.de>> wrote:
>>>>         SotM finances are based on the expectation that most people
>>>>         attending will be ‘mappers’ who pay the lower rate, I doubt
>>>>         they make much money from the business tickets.
>>>>     Hi Steven,
>>>>     I agree that SotM is a bit extreme in the price difference. It
>>>>     doesn't need to be that much. But I can speak for SotM Tokyo,
>>>>     where I was involved, and there were more business tickets sold
>>>>     than I expected and they made up a large share of the total
>>>>     revenue through ticket sales.
>>>>     My main point is, that for delegates, who get paid the
>>>>     by their employer, a slightly higher price doesn't really
>>>>     (it's just a fraction of the total cost anyway), because they
>>>>     just pass the costs to the employer. For the employer it has a
>>>>     value, if one can see the company name on the badge.
>>>>     But someone from nearby for example or tries to keep the travel
>>>>     costs low and takes a holiday to attend FOSS4G, such a
>>>>     community ticket makes a difference, whether the person is a
>>>>     charter member or not.
>>>>     I think we should strengthen the value of the community, not
>>>>     "club" of charter members. ;-)
>>>>     Daniel
>>>>     --
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