[OSGeo-Discuss] Free Developer Slots at FOSS4G events: [was RE: FW: [Board] OSGeo Board Priorities]

Bruce Bannerman bruce.bannerman.osgeo at gmail.com
Mon Mar 4 15:15:37 PST 2013

(Wearing my former FOSS4G Conference organiser hat)

Paolo and Jachym,

This is an issue that comes up on a fairly regular basis.

To be honest, as a person who has attended a number of spatial conferences,
I must say that the costs for the average FOSS4G international conference
are very reasonable and compare very favourably with similar events. They
also represent excellent value for money when you think of the typical
breadth and high quality of presentations.

As a conference organiser, there is a great deal of pressure on ensuring a
financially viable conference. It is not until the very last stages of the
planning for the event that you start to get an understanding of how many
people have actually committed to attend the event, and whether you will
cover your costs for the event.

There is a cost, even for 'free' slots. Think of meals, drinks and lost
revenue opportunities to cover conference costs.

So if a lot of free slots are given to developers and the conference fails
to attract sufficient delegates to cover the conference costs, who pays for
the short fall in funds that the conference has committed to? Do the
volunteer local organisers pay out of their own pocket? Does OSGeo?

We (FOSS4G-2009) did look at the idea of have a 'few' slots available for
developers who had done an outstanding job for the community. But who would
select these people? What would be the eligibility criteria? What process
would be used that would allow an open and auditable selection of
recipients? How would other hard working developers feel if they missed out
on a free slot? What then would the impact be on the community and on the
FOSS4G conference? So in the end, we decided out of fairness for all
developers that we would not offer free slots for developers.

So in summary:

   - FOSS4G events are good value for money and not overly expensive.
   - It does not make financial sense to provide a lot of free places for
   developers at FOSS4G conferences. If there are insufficient funds to cover
   the substantial conference costs, who pays?


------ Forwarded Message

*From: *Jachym Cepicky
*Date: *Mon, 4 Mar 2013 20:59:14 +1100
*To: *<cavallini <http://cavallini@faunalia.it>
*Cc: *OSGeo Discussions , OSGeo-Board List
*Subject: *Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] [Board] OSGeo Board Priorities


I fully agree, that the costs for individuals or small company are very
heigh. I'm aware, you were mentioning this issue already. Since I know,
FOSS4G-Global is the main source of income to OSGeo, I did not raise any
obligation so far - I have no clue, how to organize this better for the

Paolo's idea sounds not bad: having some kind of scholarship program,
where we could allocate some money for people who can not come but it's
valuable to have them there.

Do we have some "priorities" for FOSS4G as well? In general, when I'm
discussing this topic with people, general feelings are, that
FOSS4G-Global is very developer-oriented meeting, compared e.g. to
FOSSGIS (German local conference), which would be more user or business
oriented (correct me if I'm wrong, it is a while, I was there).

Having priorities of the FOSS4G-global could also point us the the
answer, whether we should financially support developers to come or not.


Dne 4.3.2013 08:33, Paolo Cavallini napsal(a):
> Il 04/03/2013 00:44, Cameron Shorter ha scritto:

>> A productive virtual meeting of the OSGeo Board
>> <http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Board_Meeting_2013-02-26> resulted in
general consensus
>> over OSGeo's priorities, which in turn should help the OSGeo Board and
>> committees when guiding OSGeo into the future.
>> These principles are:
>>   * OSGeo should act as a low capital, volunteer focused organisation.
>>   * OSGeo should focus support on OSGeo communities and initiatives
which support
>>     themselves.
> Hi all.
> Thanks for this. I welcome this change, that I think will make OSGeo much
> effective in promoting free and open source geospatial software.
> On the other hand, I still have problems with annual FOSS4G, which has a
cost that
> scares away many top developers. IMHO (sorry to insist, I raised this
point earlier)
> the meeting should be free for developers (committers to OSGeo projects),
and more
> expensive for businessman. The net cash flow should be from business to
> promotion, not drawing from our precious developers.
> All the best.
> _______________________________________________
> Board mailing list
> Board at lists.osgeo.org
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/board


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