[Members] FOSDEM 2012 / Summit 11 "XSF Board Chair Report"

Dave Cridland dave at cridland.net
Thu Feb 9 11:06:54 UTC 2012


Hiya folks,

As you'll all be aware, last weekend was FOSDEM weekend, and as usual  
we bracketed the weekend with the XMPP Summit.

On Monday, we had a (quite early) post-mortem of the event, and I  
thought it'd be useful to go over this in more detail on the list,  
and bring together a little more input. Note that I'm looking at this  
from a purely "business" perspective - ie, I'm not going to go into  
detail of the technical discussions held, although they were very  
interesting.

The summary is that we didn't recoup our costs - although we haven't  
lost much and can easily sustain the loss - but we did have a highly  
successful weekend, and those present were extremely enthusiastic  
about how well things had gone.


First, the financials:

I'd stress that the XSF has never treated the Summits as a  
fund-raising event, but nevertheless we do try to break even on the  
event. This year, I would note that t-shirt sales were vastly down on  
previous years (a combination, I think, of repeating a design, there  
being a *lot* of t-shirts for sale around FOSDEM, and selling  
t-shirts in -12°C is generally hard), but the hoodies sold well,  
although not quite exhausting our stock. Although the  
t-shirts/hoodies in isolation broke even, and we made some additional  
funds through the XSF Dinner, this was outweighed by other costs,  
such as the sandwiches at Cisco for the summit, and the "Lounge"  
furnishings.

We spent, roughly:

T-Shirts / Hoodies: €2,000 XSF Dinner: €1,300
XSF Dinner Transport: €500
XMPP Summit Lunch: €700 (~€350 per day)
Real Time Lounge: €120

Total: €4,620

We raised:

XSF Dinner Sponsors: Isode Ltd: €1,000
&yet: €300
buddycloud: €300
Surevine: €200
ChatID: €150
RSi Project: €150
Winfried Tilanus: €100
T-Shirts / Hoodies: ~€2,000

Total: €4,200

Due to shuffling money around, it's difficult to track exactly how  
much we raised through t-shirts. We raised €400 on Friday, spent  
some on Ikea furniture for the lounge, brought up the total to  
€1150, spent some on XSF Dinner Transport and XSF Dinner (€500  
and €350, as I recall), and then restored the running total to just  
over €1000 - I admit we could have been more diligent in tracking  
exactly how much and when, but these are as accurate as I can figure  
out.

This means that our total loss (which was unaffected, as it happens,  
by the t-shirts and hoodies) is about €420.

We do have money in the bank to cover this loss, but we should  
consider fundraising methods for next time that actually raise funds  
- in particular, the days of t-shirts are over. Other attire may  
work, but we might want to consider mouse-mats, mugs, or other promo  
goods next year.


Next, logistics:

All present on Monday agreed that the early date for FOSDEM makes  
organization extremely difficult. The best time to get the majority  
of the prep work done happens to clash badly with our election cycle,  
so effectively the new Board has to immediately gear up for FOSDEM.

The knock-on from this meant that I didn't get the t-shirts and  
hoodies sorted until very late, which resulted in us carrying them  
manually from the UK - this was, as those involved will testify,  
astonishingly hard work.

Equally, we were late organizing the talks, and we could have done  
much better with the demos at the lounge. We'd be well-advised next  
year to put out a call for talks very much earlier, and put out a  
call for demos early, too.


FOSDEM:

FOSDEM generally went well - the quality of the talks was high, and  
the vast majority of the speakers were both well-prepared and  
entertaining, from what I hear. I'd note that - partly due to Kevin  
Smith moderating the room, and partly due to the quality of the  
speakers - we kept to our schedule very closely, and this in itself  
is great. I'd note that "sticking" Kev with all the moderation was  
unfortunate - we need to organize a better rota for moderators.

As anyone present will know, this year we managed to swap our stand  
for a large, wide space that we dubbed the Real Time Lounge (I'd note  
some people think this was my idea - far from it, the name is Florian  
Jensen's, and the concept grew from a discussion between Florian,  
Ralph Meijer, and I - in the end, Ralph and Florian really sorted  
most of it out, with me as enthusiastic supporter, and carrier of  
stools).

The Real Time Lounge was a qualified success - I think most of us  
agree we could have organized more demos and mini-talks there, but  
there was a considerable flow of people coming in, sitting down, and  
chatting about XMPP with people. I had a number of interesting  
conversations, and in general it felt much more satisfying than just  
selling t-shirts. I'd note that buddycloud had one corner and drew  
plenty of attention - we should encourage other XMPP-related projects  
to colocate next year.

I'd also suggest that we get some stickers with spoken languages on  
them for next year, too - matching people up so they could have  
conversations in their own language worked very well.

It went well enough that there's no doubt that we should aim to  
repeat this next year (and put a little more effort into it to get  
the maximum benefit). A particular suggestion was to have  a  
timetable of demos - we actually discussed this but didn't have time  
to organize it beforehand.

Overall, I felt that the XSF's presence at FOSDEM served to promote  
XMPP far better than at previous years, and the format we used this  
year shows marked promise.


Summit:

We ended up having a number of lively discussions on both Friday and  
Monday, and not actually doing any of the hackfest/interop type  
things as far as I'm aware. This seemed - in my opinion - to be fine,  
but we did note that we're all very tired on the Monday after the  
effort and intensity of FOSDEM, and we may consider switching to  
Thursday/Friday instead of Friday/Monday for next year.


Aftermath:

We now have roughly 180 t-shirts and a handful of hoodies, plus three  
tables and 8 stools/chairs, and a bunch of cushions, at the Cisco  
offices in Diegem - Cisco having kindly agreed to store them for us.  
It's enough t-shirt stock that we needn't worry about t-shirts for  
next year, and we could ship them whereever we need them. We can also  
buy more "loungey" furniture next year.

I personally feel that we've had one of the most productive and  
successful Summit/FOSDEM combinations of recent years, and I feel  
that while we can, and should, work to improve it next year, we've  
got a format that is really working well for us.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank - profusely - the efforts  
of all those involved in making the weekend a success, including  
Ralph Meijer, Edwin Mons, Peter Saint-Andre, Kevin Smith, and Florian  
Jensen - as well as our speakers, sponsors, and attendees.


Dave.
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