I am part of the organizing committee for this year’s (2013) Pycon SG (Python Conference, Singapore). To provide some context, our organizing committee for this year’s conference is made up of very interesting and competent volunteers with diverse experiences organizing other conferences such as the JSCamp SG, Geekcamp SG.
What is Pycon?
“Pycon” (Python conference) is a world wide conference held in different locations all over the world – the big ones being held in USA as Pycon USA and in Europe as EuroPython, as examples. Various countries also run their country-specific python conference, such as Pycon Taiwan, Pycon Italia – just to name a few. I have personally participated as a speaker in EuroPython 2011 and in Pycon Asia-Pac (SG) 2010 as a tutorial facilitator. Unfortunately, because of work reasons, I did not manage to participate in any Pycon in 2012.
One of the often controversial issues that has come up as part of the organization of Pycon is the issue of conference tickets payment for organizing committee members and speakers.
- Do speakers have to pay?
- Do committee members have to pay?
This issue has surfaced several times in djangocon in the US and in Europe (which is somewhat related, but not directly, to Pycon and Python Software Foundation) and in our own organization of Pycon SG since it started in 2010.
Jesse Noller has written a long article about this in 2011 explaining the context of “policy” decisions made in the organization of Pycon and why certain things are done in a certain manner. The full text of his article can be found here - http://jessenoller.com/blog/2011/05/25/pycon-everybody-pays
Different approaches to handle a Problem
Understandably, not every conference is organized in the manner which Pycon USA/Jesse Noller does it. I have attended conferences in Singapore where it is completely free for everyone – free for participants, free for speakers, free for organizers – in which case the costs of running those conferences completely fall on the shoulders of anchor sponsors.
I have also attended conferences where participants have to pay for the conference tickets but speakers and organizers do not have to pay. In short, there are different ways to organize a party. :-)
I draw this approximate analogy -
A zouk party is not free for the standard customer. However, organizers (the owners of zouk and the staff for zouk) obviously get to walk in and out without needing to pay a single cent. In addition, beautiful girls and, to be gender-neutral, handsome model dudes (the rough equivalent of speakers) may not have to pay a single cent because they are considered the main attraction for the party.
There are other kinds of parties – for instance, potluck parties, where both guests and hosts (“the organizers”) and no matter how “beautiful you are”, you bring your own “food” (i.e. you pay) and you contribute to the party.
Well, hopefully my analogy clarifies the confusion for my peers or any speakers who might be more used to organizing or participating in a “Zouk party”.
No One Right Way
There’s no one right way to organize a party – zouk or potluck and as Jesse Noller puts it, “I’m not going to state that this policy is perfect; nor that it won’t be changed“.
It is pretty much up to the organizing committee to decide how they would like to throw their party. But at the moment, for this year, Pycon 2013 is a potluck party where “everybody pays”. And with a caveat that there is Financial Assistance available for people who do need it on a case-by-case basis.
To quote Jesse Noller:
“”"Now; an interesting aspect of this is that PyCon, as a conference, offers a very generous financial aid program – this means that some attendees, speakers, tutorial presenters, etc have some, or in rare cases, all of their expenses such as flight, hotel and admission provided to them from the PyCon budget. PyCon goes out of it’s way to encourage people to apply for financial aid – even if we can’t cover all of your expenses, we will give you free admissionbased on need. The FA application process is simple, and straightforward. It’s also very liberal – the only caveat is that speakers at the conference “get bumped to the top” of the applications so that we don’t lose a good talk because of financial need. We also don’t ban anyone from applying (for example, I needed assistance in 2010 even as the PC chair).”“”