15 Lessons Learned From Organizing a WordCamp

15 Lessons Learned From Organizing a WordCamp

I bet you didn’t know that I organized the first WordCamp in Sweden, in all of Scandinavia in fact, last year. WordCamp Stockholm 2010 was a nice little affair that featured an all night hack at a museum, a lot of awesome talks, and a live talkshow, among other things. I was pretty happy with how it turned out in the end, but things could have ended badly. When I – we really, it was a team effort  – tackle that beast again (which I will), it’ll be knowing this.

  1. People tend to promise to do a lot, then fail deliver. A no brainer really, people talk, but this hit our event pretty hard and in the end we ended up doing everything ourselves.
  2. Sponsors aren’t just bags of money. I knew this already of course, but with an event like this you really need to devote time and energy to your sponsors to make sure that everything gets done right, both by them and by the WordPress community.
  3. Organizing an event with over 100 participants takes a lot of time and energy. ‘Nuff said.
  4. When the caterer tells you that a cupcake is enough to keep the visitors sustained between lunch and dinner, know that he’s a lying bag of shit and should be spanked for it.
  5. Museums are cool.
  6. Museums housing the original Pirate Bay server, sporting a space exhibit, and having an entire hall dedicated to old machines are even cooler.
  7. Unfortunately, just because it is a technical museum, that doesn’t mean they know jack about modern technology such as wifi networks and whatnot, and you need your internet fix in this business.
  8. It is a good idea to print out the conference schedule and make it available, something that gets crucial when there’s no reliable internet for looking it up online between talks. Pro tip: Print the schedule on the back of the badge.
  9. Logo contests can result in a pretty wicked logo.
  10. When hacking all night long, make sure there are ample night snacks, not just sugar and candy.
  11. Whisky with friends is nice. Whisky with friends of WordPress is even nicer.
  12. Shared playlists are fun and dandy, but a lot of people have really bad taste in music. Especially late at night, I might add. But that’s OK, I went to bed to be able to manage the workshops the day after.
  13. Speaking of workshops, when the key players in said workshops are tired after a night of hacking, things might get a bit lax.
  14. When the event is over, the applause has died down, make sure you don’t have to clean up.
  15. Did I mention that events like these are really hard work?

And no, you’re not allowed to make money organizing WordCamps. If you’re looking for the next big commercial conference around WordPress, call it something else. We did it for the Swedish WordPress community.

Did we make all these mistakes and assumptions? Of course not, but some of these things happened and that obviously affected the outcome of the event. We had a blast though.

I still consider WordCamp Stockholm 2010 to be the best Swedish WordCamp ever! That must mean we did something right, right? Right.

Space image by Malin Jonsson (CC), stage image by David Hall (CC)