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[Debconf-team] [Coordination] Timeline changes proposal for DC16

We talked a bit about this during the DebConf Sprint that we had
during DebCamp and my feeling was that there was rough consensus about
it. I'm sending it team-wide now, as a request for comments.

The main change that I'm proposing is renaming our original
"registration" period to "pre-registration" (or similar) and the
"reconfirmation" period to "registration". Additionally, I also
propose that the official event submission is moved much earlier than
what it was this year. Please read on.

The pre-registration period is for people that are requesting
sponsorship or submitting event proposals.  They would only express
their intent on going to DebConf (and DebCamp if applicable) and then
fill in the sponsorship fields and/or submit proposals. Nothing else.
We can also allow other people to sign up for this, but this would be
only in order for them to get notified when actual registration opens.

When the registration period opens, everyone needs to fill in all
their registration data (dates of attendance, t-shirt size, food/accom
choice, etc). This avoids a problem that we've had over and over of
people filling in random dates when signing up, and then never
correcting them, or people registering because we tell them to, but
then never reconfirming, because they don't intend to attend anymore.

The timeline of when things need to happen would be tied to the dates
for the conference.  In order for bursaries to have decisions 3 months
before the conference (needed for not-so-expensive flight tickets),
the pre-registration needs to close 4 months before it.
Pre-registration needs to be open at least one month, maybe two.

Regarding the actual registration, it should probably start 3 months
before the conference. The deadlines regarding this period need to be
clarified. i.e. "last date for sponsored attendees to register", "last
date to get a conference T-shirt and conference bag", "last date to
register for accommodation at the venue", etc. There were several
comments this year of people claiming that it was not clear what the
reconfirmation deadline meant. We could make all of these the same
date, but it needs to be clear for everybody involved what happens if
you register after that.

As far as I understand it, for DC16, this would mean:
 * Pre-registration starts sometime in January.
 * Pre-registration closes end of February.
 * Bursaries decisions by end of March.
 * Registration opens in April
 * Last day for sponsored attendees to register: Apr. 30th
 * DebConf16 starts first week of July.

Regarding talks (this needs input from those involved in the Content
team), the feeling I got from several pieces of feedback is that most
people will submit talks on the last days before the deadline (or even
a few days after that), regardless of what the deadline is; and people
want to know approved talks early so that they can know if they have
been selected, justify their trip to their work, and generally plan
ahead whether they want to attend or not.

This year we had the submission deadline in the middle of the
reconfirmation process, which meant that approved talks were not
announced until after the reconfirmation process had ended. Also,
bursaries was interested in knowing if an attendee had submitted a
talk and the approval status of it when deciding whether to sponsor
them or not, but this information was not available at all. It is my
opinion that both things should be avoided if possible.

Using an equivalent correlation as the one used before, I'd propose
that talk submissions for the official schedule need to be submitted 4
months before the conference and approved talks get announced 3 months
before it (right about the time registration opens). Bursaries and
Content will need to coordinate sharing their information during that
month of work, but it should be possible to do it.

Regarding announcement of the conference schedule (also part of
Content team), I believe it would make sense to at least state the
time and date of the welcome and closing talks plus -if possible- the
speakers and time and date of the keynotes, by the point registration
opens, so that people can plan their trips with that information
already available.

Adding it all up, the timeline I'm proposing would be:

 * Pre-registration + official event submission starts sometime in January.
 * Pre-registration + official event submission closes end of February.
 * Bursaries + official events decisions by end of March.
 * Basic schedule announced + registration opens in April
 * Last day for sponsored attendees to register: Apr. 30th
 * DebConf16 starts July 3rd.

I hope this makes sense.  I'm not trying to put artificial pressure on
people, but rather trying to have a timeline that makes more sense for
more people.


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