[Inpycon] PyCon India post mortem.

Dhananjay Nene dhananjay.nene at gmail.com
Mon Sep 19 08:10:37 CEST 2011

On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 10:34 AM, Noufal Ibrahim <noufal at gmail.com> wrote:
> It would be useful if we could wrap up the AGM quickly since it's really
> just a formality and then focus on discussing the conference, next years
> venue and other things to make the execution smoother next time.
Here's a quick top of the mind recall of matters I think should be
discussed. I suspect I might add a few more issues later.

- Segmentation : While there was far less feedback of their being
introductory talks, some students conveyed to me that some of the
talks / tutorials were too advanced for them. We need a broader
discussion on exactly what segments we would want to adhere to and
then figure out how we satisfy each such segment within the context of
overall constraints for an event like this. This is a bigger
discussion which needs to be conducted and we need to gather more
points on the same.
- Scheduling and booking : Especially if capacity is going to be a
constraint we need to have a mechanism of people pre-booking their
slots and us having the ability to confirm their ability to be able to
seat in the preferred track. On a few occasions capacity constraints
made some of the talks heavily attended with no seating or standing
space left, and at least on one occasion required us to move the
session from one track to another given that the number of people
wanting to attend was a significant multiple of the room capacity.
Note: If we have to go down this path, the CFP will need to be
completed and the schedule announced before the registrations begin
(with some standard caveats around the fact that while we will attempt
to satisfy the registration time scheduling requests - such could get
changed based on evolving circumstances - eg. in this case the
classrooms were changed for tutorials due to other VIP presence at the
- Early bird advantages: There need to be stronger early bird
advantages. If the fee is going to go up from just Rs. 300 to 400
there is no incentive to really book earlier. Perhaps combining early
registration with ability to register for specific tracks upto the
capacity available will be more helpful.
- Capacity Planning: Moreover people seem to imagine that a conference
has infinite capacity and thus they can wait till the last moment.
That is completely untrue. We had to close registrations this time
one/two days before the conference due to capacity issues. Note that
there are some serious issues around stuffing a room with a very large
number of people way beyond its capacity (eg. contingencies like
fires). In interest of public safety as well - I think this issue
*must* be resolved better the next time. Arbitrary attendance of
tracks in excess of venue capacities are safety hazards.
- Gate Fees : I think we need to substantially increase Gate Fees for
the amount of value provided. For students and full time employees of
FOSS bodies the early bird registration fee should be >= INR 500 while
for all others it should be >= Rs. 2000
- Wifi and Network planning - We screwed up in terms of delay, and
even though we did get it working in the end, this definitely needs to
be better taken care of and done much more in advance than we were
able to do.
- Sponsorships: Sponsors need to have more specific takeaways apart
from a pure branding perspectives. Either in terms of increased
promotional visibility (inclusion of sponsor brochures on registration
??) or assistance in some other way (job boards was being discussed
hotly). Also perhaps something more should be added for platinum
sponsors. I also suggest no upfront commitment of constraints on
#sponsors per slot (this was a big issue we ran into - while getting
platinum sponsors was hard, the gold/silver slots filled up so we had
to turn back other requests). Beside I just saw Pycon US seems to be
having like 50+ sponsors.
- Sponsor confirmations: We either should be able to confirm sponsors
based on a written confirmation from them with a promise to pay by a
given date, or should delay the sponsorship drives until a relatively
brief period before the event. It is hard to muster sponsorships, and
then not be able to confirm the sponsorships - since the current
policy dictates that we need to receive the payment before we can
confirm, and yet sponsors are unlikely to want to pay many many months
before the event.
- Sponsor tier for small startups : We should have a tier for very
small startup sponsors to allow such companies to also extend support.
At the same time we need to ensure that sponsor benefits remain
commensurate with the slabs and amounts (something that seemed to be
an issue between Platinum vs. Gold/Silver this year).
- Clear definition of what other activities Pycon can officially
promote - I used to get requests to promote some site or other - but
had no way to respond to them given no formal policy. I suggest the
policy should be no formal support of other local or national python
(non FOSS) based software or startups beyond what can be made feasible
from a clearer definition of sponsorship tiers.

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