[EuroPython] Work on Call for Participation for EuroPython 2015 has started

Paul Boddie paul at boddie.org.uk
Fri Jan 31 13:03:47 CET 2014

On Friday 31. January 2014 09.20.28 Christian Theune wrote:
> I’m close friends with some of the EP 2014 organizers. Seeing them in such
> pain an despair caused by the EPS makes me feel so sad for our community.
> Many of the current organizers have a lot of experience in organizing a
> conference and getting things done. Being volunteers they should not have
> to deal with this arrogance of bureaucracy. *ANY* organization having
> volunteers work for them should be extremely humble for having *anyone*
> spend their spare time for them. The EPS is the opposite. They position
> themselves as strong leaders of whatever (starting with a back-chamber
> election two years ago) and having to defend the good name of the EPS (for
> whatever reason) to avoid the volunteers doing anything wrong.

I haven't had anything to do with EuroPython for the last three years, so I'm 
not able to comment on anything beyond my last involvement and what has taken 
place in public, but I think that any discussion about dissatisfaction with 
the way things are done should be a constructive one.

I agree with you completely that the efforts of volunteers should be 
recognised and that organisations shouldn't make more work for those people 
because it is convenient to do so. My impression was that the way EuroPython 
has been organised since I last participated back in 2010, with a certain 
level of agreement preceding that, involved (and would involve) more 
coordination from year to year and from venue to venue, meaning that the 
needless dumping and subsequent reinvention of tools and systems, and the 
needless loss of expertise would not continue. Not least because only the most 
motivated and well-resourced groups are able to perform such "tear downs", and 
even then they are arguably wasting their own time doing so.

The way this should all function is that local and general expertise is 
combined so that everybody benefits. Both the Italian and UK organisers had a 
track record in organising conferences before taking on the role of hosting 
the EuroPython conference, and neither were likely to experience problems in 
doing so. Similarly, there's a lot of expertise amongst this year's 
organisers, so in principle they could get by doing everything themselves, 
too. But unless EuroPython is going to be a bit like the (previously) rotating 
EU presidency where the name just gets used by existing conferences who are 
doing just fine, there has to be some accumulation of knowledge and experience 
so that others can consider hosting the conference themselves.

In principle, having a parent organisation is beneficial because it should be 
able to offer substantial support to potential organising groups and be able 
to retain expertise that is independent of any particular local group. It has 
always seemed quite absurd that as people rewrite some system or other for the 
nth time because they didn't like the last one, that people didn't all 
collaborate on such things - wherever they happen to be situated, because that 
is of relatively little significance - over the many years that the conference 
has been in existence. Nobody has to sit somewhere local to the venue a couple 
of months before, hacking away, even though the circumstances have finally 
managed to focus their mind on the task in hand.

> Again, to any organization that deals with volunteers: shut the fuck up,
> enable people, get out of their hair and get your ego down.

Well, yes, I agree in principle that volunteers should be able to contribute 
and not feel like they are doing someone's job for them, although I think that 
everyone involved with EuroPython is a volunteer, so perhaps it is all about 
figuring out a consensus.

If I were more involved with EuroPython now, I would be worried that no-one 
would be able to pick up the conference once all the interested organisers of 
big conferences have taken it on and have decided that once/twice/thrice was 
enough. My feeling is that conferences should perhaps grow organically, 
anyway, and this would also allow them to experiment with new formats, which 
is what PyCon UK has apparently done quite successfully. But that shouldn't 
mean that there isn't a role to play for an organisation who can assist groups 
in getting started: there are certainly many useful lessons to be learned from 
such an entity and its members.

It may be the case that this year's organisers don't really need the help - I 
couldn't say - but others might benefit from it in future. But I think people 
need to work constructively towards a collaboration that benefits everyone now 
and in the future.


P.S. And before anyone asks, no, I've never had any EuroPython Society role.

P.P.S. And I'll gladly take any thread of this nature to another list if this 
is desired, and before I get mistaken for being the secretary of random people 
on the Internet for whom the notion of self-service is a new one. (Read the 
message footer, people!)

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