One of my near-term goals is to start up a community-focused podcast. Until I get hardware funding however, I’ve decided to start with blogcasts. For this episode, I’m having a conversation with some folks about community events and after-parties via email. These folks are:
To kick it off, I threw out a couple ideas:
- There is some debate about whether, for code camps, to have a speaker party or an attendee party, and whether to hold it the evening before or after the event.
- There is also some discussion about the practicality of having post-meeting events as well.
Here is the transcript:
Stephen Forte: I think that there should be neither. Code Camps are suppose to be community based and organized. So if you want to have some kind of party, everyone should just go to the bar afterwards, nothing official. That is what we did, and we were lucky, our DE was there and picked up the first round or two.
Rob Zelt: I completely disagree with Stephen. (I'm not sure I do, but it always makes for a better conversation this way ;-)
While I do think it is important for events like code camps to not put up barriers between speakers and attendees, I also think that creating an opportunity for speakers and volunteers to gather at a speaker dinner the night before a code camp creates an incentive for new speakers and volunteers to get involved. It doesn't need to be anything fancy (or funded), but can go a long way as a pat on the back for those putting in the effort to make the event happen.
I really like the model the SoCal groups use for their events that include a speaker/volunteer dinner of Friday and then a big attendee/speaker/volunteer event on the Saturday night. They go all out with a live band and everything, but I think the importance is in giving everybody a chance to socialize.
Steve Andrews: I agree with Stephen in that they typically shouldn’t be official. My thought though is that the speaker and/or attendee parties for Code Camps should occur after the event, as to attract more attendees and speakers, including those who come from out of town.
Daniel Egan: I agree with Rob... (obviously since he used us as a reference lol). The great thing about code camp is that you are able to find new speakers that are not on the "user group circuit" already. The Friday meetup allows you the time to make the contact with these individuals and encourage them to do the talks at the UGs also. We do leave ours "Semi-open" meaning that others are allowed to come but it is not announced to ALL the attendees, but if they find out about it, they are welcome.
As a matter of fact, I think I met Steve Andrews at the San Diego Speakers dinner. So I guess you can decide if that was a good thing or bad thing :)
Michael Eaton: I go back and forth on this one. While I think speaker dinners are ok, they can appear elitist. If I get into town early for an event, it's nice to hang out with friends (who, for the most part, are speakers), but this doesn't have to be an official event. As far as I'm concerned, anyone can show up, especially if it's not being paid for by the event organizers.
After parties are a great way to relax, especially if you've traveled and then spoken at the event.I think far too often though, the after-party *is* the event for many people.
Rachel Appel: I think I'm with Mike on this one. I don't want to appear elitist, nor do I want to exclude anyone. But I like to hang with my friends too, many of whom happen to be speaking.
Steve Andrews: I think opening up such events to everyone, and not just speakers or other influentials, is a great way to help grow local community. One suggestion I've heard for organizers who have some budget for food or drinks for speakers is to invite everyone, and issue drink and/or food tickets to speakers. Of course, I'd also propose raffling some off as well to attendees.
Michael Eaton: Hmmm, I don't know about that. I know at Codemash this year, the speakers got free drink tickets for one of the hotel bars. I was given a couple for being an "influencer", but honestly, it was weird because I had these tickets and many of my friends didn't.
On a related note, I know that at devLink last year, there was a raffle to win a chance to have dinner with the speakers. Maybe the national guys got off on it, but it was largely made fun of by the regional speakers.
I think speakers should be applauded for traveling to events and giving up their time, but I really think we need to be careful about setting them apart at after-events.