On WordCamps and WordCamp San Francisco

There’s been quite a bit of noise the past week about WordCamp San Francisco. It appears as if some organizers of past camps are pissed off because WordCamp San Francisco is bloody expensive to sponsor, and they have been told they can’t ask for that much sponsor money. I don’t know about this, when I organized WordCamp Stockholm in 2010 no one asked me what the sponsor rates where, and I didn’t tell. We managed well enough anyway, obviously.

The problem here really isn’t that it is expensive to be a WordCamp San Francisco sponsor, after all it is a huge event and I bet it costs a bundle. No, it is a matter of perceived different rules for WordCamp San Francisco, Matt Mullenweg’s very own WordCamp, and all other WordCamps. Jane Wells wrote long about this and wanted to call the San Francisco event for WordCon, or something else, but ran into trouble with the wordcon.com domain as well as Matt Mullenweg’s reluctance. So she states this, in bold, instead:

WordCamp San Francisco is the official annual conference of the WordPress project.

With this she, and the WordPress Foundations, wants to tell us that WordCamp San Francisco is special.

Regular readers know that I think there are some problems within the WordPress ecosystem, such as Akismet shipping with WordPress for example, and this certainly sounds like such a problem. Not that WordCamp San Francisco is special, I’m fine with that. I’m less fine with calling it “the official annual conference” but I get the idea with that so I’ll let it slide. The only thing that isn’t OK is if WordCamp San Francisco truly abides to other rules than other WordCamps. That’s just plain wrong, should it be the case.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is not about the sponsor money and that it is expensive to sponsor WordCamp San Francisco. That’s fine, I don’t mind that. Every event is unique, and if the event is expensive to run, then let it be expensive to run as long as there’s money enough to make it work. What I’m reading in Jeff Chandler’s post however, is that WordCamp organizers have been held back because the WordPress Foundation won’t allow their sponsor price tags. And that, my friends, is not OK, not at all, should it be the case.

Why would the WordPress Foundation even bother with sponsor pricing at all? My guess is it is a matter of helping the less experienced organizers not biting off more than they can chew, because it can be expensive and at best mean that the WordCamp just will be cancelled. Nothing anything wants obviously, so I like to think this is meant to help organizers.

Does this ruckus make you less inclined to organize a WordCamp? For me, WordCamp Stockholm is still on, because as long as I can create the best possible WordPress convention I’ll want to call it “WordCamp”. But should that change, should I have to limit the experience for the participants, that’ll change in a heartbeat. I don’t think that’s the idea here, do you?

Photo by Eva Blue (CC)

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Comments (8)

  1. I don’t believe they limit the sponsorship and have such restrictive rules to “help organizers”… I think it’s more to let WCSF be on a whole different level and that other WordCamps cannot overtake its size etc. — So what would be the message if “WordCamp Chicago” (or place in any city of this world…) would draw twice as much people as WCSF? Then the WP community would see that as the “annual WP conference”?! Makes sense? :)

    So this way Matt puts in a barrier to just save (t)this WCSF thing… They should really rename it to “WordConference San Francisco” or rename the “WordCamp” label for all the others.

    This way as it is now it makes absolutely no sense!

    I just imagine Jane or Matt calling organizers of WordCamp Germany, saying, “you are too big, please cut attendees or sponsorship”… How crazy would that be? Absolutely nonsense!

    • I don’t care if other WordCamps are bigger than San Francisco, in fact they should be given that many are growing in metropolitan areas much larger than the SF Bay area. A few of the Chinese WCs have been bigger than WCSF before, I know for a fact.

      The point of a WordCamp isn’t to be large — it’s to provide a great experience to the people who attend. Being large can actually go counter to that.

  2. Well written Dany! For those might know,a WordCamp is a low-cost or no-cost event, usually held on a weekend where WordPress enthusiasts can get together to meet one another, and learn more about how to get the most out of WordPress…Hope it goes well as every time and the sponsorship issue gets sorted..

  3. WordCamp San Francisco event was structured as a three-day, dual-track conference which is nearly a 200% increase in sessions with a very modest ticket price bump. The overall value is unbeatable if you’re a member of WordPress community. I had the opportunity to volunteer and help emcee the developer sessions on Saturday.his year the event was structured as a three-day, dual-track conference which is nearly a 200% increase in sessions with a very modest ticket price bump. The overall value is unbeatable if you’re a member of WordPress community. I had the opportunity to volunteer and help emcee the developer sessions on Saturday.

  4. My bigger issue is with the “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality. I fail to see how this camp is any different than any other. I have heard the rumors yes, the plan is to change the name and make it the one true WordPress conference. Great, then change the name and differentiate it, don’t hold it under the same name, hold everyone to one standard, and yourself to another.

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