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

Jacob Hallén jacob at openend.se
Fri Jan 31 19:34:51 CET 2014

I am writing this from the sidelines, since I am not actively participating in 
the EPS board work, though I am formally treasurer for the EPS. This has given 
me access to what is going on, but I don't have a deep emotional involvement 
in the ongoing discussions and negotiations. I'm still writing tis in "we" 
form, since I feel a responsibility for the future of EuroPython.

I have been involved in the setup of all new locations for EuroPython and this 
is the first time we have run into real difficulties in the collaboration with 
the local organization.

In the Call for Participation that was the basis for the selection of a new 
site for Europython, there was a requirement for the cost of attendance. It 
turns out that the promised figures from the Berlin team can't be met and that 
cost of attendance will take a serious jump, compared to Florence.

This is a serious problem for the EPS, because our explicit goal is to arrange 
a really affordable conference. We are now looking at conference fees that are 
5 times higher than the ones for Göteborg and it is starting to hurt. Worries 
about getting enough participants and getting a reasonable mix of people has 
gotten the EPS board more involved in pricing issues than they would like to 
be. This is not only a concern for the conference this year, but for future 
conferences. A large number of the attendees have come to EuroPython for many 
years. If they are scared off by the price this year, they are less likely to 
come back in the future.

This may be the first EuroPython where I won't be able to afford going.

There was another requirement in the CfP, for the local organization to use 
the conference system that was used and developed by the people in Florence. 
As Paul Boddie correctly guessed, this is a way for the EPS to enable future 
local organizers to work with exiting tools, instead of having to invent their 
own. What happens when people invent their own is that we lose functionality 
and make conference participants fight buggy software. We actually had a 
working conference system with voting on talks, accommodation booking and all 
sorts of features in 2005, but it was abandoned by the people at CERN.

It came as a surprise and chock to the EPS when the Berlin team flat out 
refused to use the system that has been developed by the Italians. They argue 
that the system is not of production quality. I can't really say much about 
that, since I haven't seen the code, but there were resources available from 
the Italians to improve the system and to help with setting it up for the 
Berlin conference.

The EPS has ended up accepting that the Berlin organizers build their own 
system, but having a system that a new conference organizer can just start 
using is still a strategic goal.

The final issue is that the Berlin team designed a new conference logo. At the 
same time they decided that they wanted to market the conference as EP14.
This is not acceptable to the EPS. We feel that it is important that 
EuroPython is called EuroPython. We have accepted the logo under the condition 
that EuroPython is spelled out underneath it, wherever it is used. We have 
also required that URLs, Email addresses and other communication channels use 
the EUroPython name and not ep14. This has met severe and (in my opinion) pig-
headed resistance from some of the local organizers.

Having worked with past organizers, I know that every one of them would have 
quickly and fully complied with our request.


The first two points I have mentioned have been resolved with the local 
organization, but the outcome is not what the EPS would like it to be. The 
third issue seems to be mostly sorted out, though there may still be some 
holdover left.

This means that there is a working collaboration between the EPS and the local 
organizers, though there are still points of friction. I hope the 
collaboration climate can be improved and I am sure that the local organizers 
are working on it. The EPS board certainly is.

I think much of the controversy could have been avoided if we had had direct 
communications with more people on the ground in Berlin before the 
preparations for the conference started.

The announcement of a CfP for 2015 should be seen in this light. There are a 
couple of important goals for the EPS that can be better fulfilled by putting 
out a CfP, based on the things we have learned from the previous process. The 
winning bid may still come from Berlin, but this time with a clearer 
understanding of expectations.

Now, the EuroPython Society is an open membership organization. If you think 
the board is mishandling or misjudging the situation, you are free to join and 
change the way the society operates.

Jacob Hallén

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