[OSGeo-Discuss] Costly FOSS4Gs

Hans Gregers Hedegaard Petersen gregers at septima.dk
Tue Oct 17 00:56:05 PDT 2017

Dear Arnulf, all,

> if we want to compete then we have to play the game. Party is great but the money is not in the party and fun part. The money sits in large corps and governments. Folks coming from there are not expected to party or hang out and have fun. They are expected to see the bleeding edge technology first hand, learn about the reliability of Open Source and Free Software licensing and learn about the leading businesses in that domain. Companies who choose to support FOSS4G with their sponsorship and come to the global big business FOSS4G industry event. Honor them. Honor those who organize those events. Consider paying them professional rates instead of burning them out and then complain that they have left.

As a consultant that has had big entities (companies/governments) use
FOSS in their platforms - and sponsor consulting and development from
core developers - I agree at least to some of the above (I would guess
it is indended as a caricature anyways). It is often important for at
least my clients, that they can meet and greet the people and
companies behind the work (it is important, as it is often the result
of the very[!] long journey of getting to understand, that there is no
"MapServer-company", no 300 page EULA, after legal has commented on
the use of weird licenses etc). They want to see were the money goes.

In my experience they do not expect a grand show with sponsored lions,
elephants, and champagne - what they do expect is a "professional"
conference. The professional conference has a certain shine and style
that they can relate to from their visits to other conferences (with
way larger budgets). The global FOSS4Gs *are* those conferences.

The global FOSS4gs are big enough to get lost in - remember as a
newcomer who is aware that you are certainly not like 'the group,' a
small and cozy pizza party can provoke anxiety - we have all been
there as children, and can get there as adults too. When the
conference is big enough, it is OK for us to do our little small talk
maneuvers, it is OK for us to not fit in.

The global FOSS4Gs has a number and mix of talks, workshops, and
"conference stuff" that shines a light on the size and professionalism
of the community behind the software - we all need to believe that we
are being taken care of, or said in another way that we are making the
right choices (or else we fall back to our known ways - 'nobody ever
got fired for hiring IBM').

> The good thing is, we do not have to stop anything. We can and we already are doing both. We have great local events and code sprints and fun and party and all. Plus we have a one time per year event that is expensive and attracts the money. Where is the problem? Don't like it? Then don't go. Cannot afford it? Then promote it so that those who can afford it go (and indirectly pay your pizza during the fun events). How cool is that?
> Honestly, FOSS4G "global" should stay (or become even more of) an industry event. What do you think where the (admittedly tiny) OSGeo budget comes from? It is the surplus generated by well organized, efficient and shiny (plus fun) FOSS4Gs. This money is used to support the pizza and coffee for local code sprints. Why on earth would anybody in his or her right mind jeopardize or even criticize an event that helps fund everything else we do?

I would agree here. Personally I usually get something else from
visiting local events (for me it is FOSS4G-EU) than from the global
events. I even brought my (now) wife to Como to meet the "geo-family".

I can see several drawbacks of making the global FOSS4G less "business like".

Best regards,


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