PyCon Feedback and Volunteers (Re: Pycon disappointment)

Aahz aahz at
Mon Mar 17 01:09:02 CET 2008

[warning: rant ahead]

Before starting my rant, I would like to encourage anyone who was at
PyCon but has not provided formal feedback to use the following URLs:

For the conference:

For the tutorials:

In article <5776428b-82b3-4921-945a-69beab134edd at>,
fumanchu  <fumanchu at> wrote:
>This is my third PyCon, and I've found a reasonably-sized cadre of
>people who come for the hallway conversations plus a Bof or two,
>having given up on hearing anything new, useful, or inspiring in the
>talks. There are several people I know who would like to see a more
>advanced academic track.

Let's leave aside the issue of how sponsor talks were handled: assuming
that there's general agreement that this year was a failed experiment,
fixing it is easy.

What you're bringing up here is a much more difficult issue, and it is,
in the end, not a solvable issue in the general case.  For starters,
speaking as someone who has been going to science fiction conventions
for more than twenty years, there will inevitably be plenty of people
like your cadre.  I rarely go to organized programming anymore, but I
still have a great time because I'm seeing all my friends.  PyCon is a
similar community-oriented event.

Moreover, PyCon's success rests on many legs: tutorials, Open Space,
Lightning Talks, formal presentations, keynotes, and sprinting.  That's
aside from the myriad opportunities to network with people.

Finally, trying to satisfy a thousand people is impossible.  People who
want to emphasize specific topics (e.g. an academic track) will need to
start organizing other kinds of Python conferences.

Now the rant:

If you did not like the programming this year (aside from the sponsor
talks) and you did not participate in organizing PyCon or in delivering

PyCon is built on the backs of its volunteers.  I personally spent more
than twenty hours just doing Program Committee work.  We rejected half
the proposals that we received, simply due to lack of space.  We had
difficulty evaluating some proposals because nobody on the PC had subject
matter expertise.

None of the speakers received any kind of honorarium.  Except for keynote
speakers (e.g. Ivan Krstic), no speakers received free registration
unless they requested financial aid.

There are no requirements for volunteering other than a willingness to
volunteer and a modicum of courtesy in working with people.

PyCon is what YOU make of it.  If you want to change PyCon, propose a
presentation or join the conference committee (concom) -- the latter only
requires signing up for the pycon-organizers mailing list.

This doesn't mean that we are uninterested in feedback.  We love
feedback.  But there are stark limits to what we can do unless people get
involved and push their pet projects.
Aahz (aahz at           <*>

"It is easier to optimize correct code than to correct optimized code."
--Bill Harlan

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