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Re: [Debconf-team] Advertise being short on money?

On Tue, Apr 25, 2006 at 11:15:36AM +0200, Christian Perrier wrote:
> I recently heard/discussed about the short money problems and the
> impact it has on communication with participants to the conference,
> especially when it comes at the org. team making requests as tentatives to
> lower the budget on lodging and such topics.

this is not really new. we have tried to squeze as much out of the
budget as possible for every debconf so far. we always asked people to
unload the conference budget by trying to pay as much as they could
compfortably afford. your aim is not to provide a conference and pay for
much as possible but to provide a conference for as many as possible. We
try to be open to everyone who actually makes sense to have at a

But we are still selective. from previous conferences we know that we
get requests from people who are most interested in a visa, or for a
chance for a fee vacation. we know of people who came to Helsinki
without much of a debian background or any intention to build one in the
future or do much besides hanging out or drinking. Aparently these
people did not go to a single talk, for example. yet debconf gets more 
popular and we try very hard to pick out the bad apples without throwing
out the good ones. this is not new, though. This year there were also
people who expected an eternal debian day with lots of introductory
talks all the time and we tried to tell them in a friendly way that they
were coming to the wrong place.

By cutting down on breakfeast and setting a hard limit on the
reconfirmation date we managed to free enough money to have a money
reserve to cope (hopefully) with surprises that certainly will come.

> As an outsider, it is my understanding that the fact that the Debconf
> organization is pretty short on money is not advertised as widely as
> it could be, which makes most registered participants pretty likely to
> not understand some of the requests from the org. team or even the
> negative answers by the org. team to some of their requests and/or
> expectations.

if this is about the request from Alexander about starting to prepare
for debcamp (in that mail sent to all people indicating to be arriving
during debcamp), this is not new at all. we did the same thing in oslo,
Puerto Allege and helsinki. In helsinki i used even stronger words then
Alexander did this year. (I think i wrote something like "if you just
intent to surf the web and read mail please stay home, you can do that
there just as well.) That is why i asked Alexander to write that mail
this year, since he has a good way of making friendly requests. I was
quite pleased with his mail, acually. We try to encourage working in teams since we
belive in it (working as a team ourselfs). But working on debian alone
is fine just as well. I would think that discussing debian and social
matters is very important (and an unique opportunity that debconf/camp
cna provide), too. Having fun during that and in between is great. 

The reason we send out these mails before every debconf is that we
noticed a significant difference in both productivity and contentment of
the ones that come prepared and those that come to "just drop by and
work on something" without a clear idea what that might be.

> In short, it's probably a Good Idea to just say "hey, we're really
> short of money so every saved peso is worth it".

this is what we do every year. this year we got ~130kUS in sponsorship
requests which was not possible for us to life up to.
(http://munin.debconf.org). Organizing debconf has always been a balance
between being short on money and prioritizing the most important bits
and making the confernece as pleasent, inspiring and cheap for the
participants as possible. This gets harder as more people want to
attend. we try very hard to stay open for everyone and at the same time
not support scroungers and inform people that have a very wrong
expectations about the conf and it´s technical and very special social
nature. We are bound to make mistakes, even though we strive for balance
and fairness.

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