Hello Montreal WordPress Community!
A scene of organizational bliss from WordCamp Montreal 2011 by Elida Arrizza.
On Thursday Feb 16 we had a public meeting to discuss logistics for WordCamp Montreal 2012 with the community. We went over as many issues as possible, considering questions as a group and hearing explanations of why things go the way they do from the core organizers from last year (i.e. main organizers again this year).
A notable change this year is that WordCamp Central has mandated that they play a much more involved role in all WordCamps, including many rules about sponsors/speakers as well as overseeing our budget.
Below are various issues and what we discussed about them.
- We are investigating pricing and availability at the renovated SAT (venue of WCMTL 2009)
- It is unnavailable this summer unfortunately. Maybe next year.
- Diane Bourque recommends Alfred Dallaire memorial space, but it’s probably too small.
- Our likely venue is UQAM Coeur Des Sciences like last year. Effective, affordable and well-known to us. It has what we need and allows us to choose our own catering.
- That said, we decided that if UQAM CDS is used again we will use the space differently.
- Unfortunately the three rooms used last year (Agora, Chaufferie and Polyvalente, with Polyvalente being very far away from the other two) are the only ones available for rent, so we have to work with them.
- To try to avoid problems from last year we will have talks in the Polyvalente and Agora, and socializing/food/Happiness bar in the Chaufferie (in the center).
- NOTE ON FREE VENUES
- WordCamp Central has a strong belief that free, appropriate venues are always available if you look hard enough, and that WordCamp budgets should be slim in accordance. While this seems to work well for many WordCamps I’ve attended, it just doesn’t pan out for WCMTL in our experience.
- Shannon Smith, co-organizer and lead venue researcher for the last two years but who couldn’t make it to the meeting, explained the situation succinctly in an email:
The venue we have been using in the past is part of one of the 4 universities in Montreal. We’ve contacted all 4 universities in the past. We’ve gone through specific departments but none is willing to donate space for this kind of event. One of the 4 is unable even to rent space at all due to space constraints. One only allows department sponsored events, but all three departments contacted refused to sponsor our event. One requires 5$ per day per person using wifi, even for sponsored events. I’ve also contacted the city about using community space, but there are no cheap/free venues that have rooms that hold over 100 people. I’ve contacted local community colleges and language schools. They are either in use for school events or do not have large rooms. I’ve contacted over 30 venues, as well as done internet research. «
- Plan was to have it during Jazz Fest (Jun28-July7) to attract Matt Mullenweg like last year. This would mean June 30-July 1 or July 7-8.
- July 1 is Canada Day/Montreal Moving Day and thus off the table.
- Because WordCamp San Francisco (the main WordCamp of the world and Matt’s baby that he will both attend and organize) is likely to happen on July 14, we’ve been informed that having our WordCamp less than 2 weeks before or after that date will mean that Matt and other core developers will almost definitely not attend.
- SO: We probably have to give up on Matt attending this year though maybe he will come to an earlier/later date, it’s hard to say.
- CURRENTLY the most likely date is August 18-19 as that is when the UQAM Coeur Des Sciences is available (it is much more booked than last year).
- WordCamp Central proposes that we should have donors, not sponsors, with the idea that it is not marketing for them, but a gift.
- In the US they offer tax-deductible donations, so this makes more sense. In Canada we can’t offer that, so it is still more of a sponsorship.
- WordCamp Central would prefer we have much cheaper sponsorships than we have had the last two years ($1000 or less), but we have found our former sponsors were happy with what they got for their money and never complained. (See our sponsor info from previous years here.)
- We would like to welcome sponsors at similar rates to last year and contacting local agencies as well as former sponsors to make it happen.
- To be involved in fundraising please sign up to the Facebook group and Twitter account, as well as this blog and wait for our announcement that we are looking for sponsors. At that point you can promote the idea of sponsoring and send potential sponsors to the form we will set up on the new WCMTL 2012 site (coming soon!)
- Unlike previous years where the money was handled by the core team, this year all money will flow through WordCamp Central. They will accept payments from sponsors and make payments to the venue and service providers.
- Part of this relationship is that the organizers are forced to come up with a full budget before a single dollar is collected or spent.
- Meeting attendees agreed that this seems precarious, and as such our initial budget should be flush rather than sparse, leaving room for unforseen costs.
- It was also emphasized by many attendants that they do not want potential fun things to be limited by the initial budget, and that if more sponsors come in later we would like to be able to add things to the event rather than being artificially limited by the initial budget.
- Everyone agrees that the caterers used in 2010 and 2011 were both insufficient and frustrating. We will avoid them both.
- avocadotraiteur.com was specifically recommended. We will investigate.
- As usual our intention will be to find a reasonably priced, nice meal on saturday, and probably a more compromised Pizza-style meal on Sunday.
- It was proposed that if we have a pizza lunch then there should be some kind of fallback vegetables for people who like that kind of thing. We’ll keep it in mind.
- It was agreed that the bottles and bags from last year were useful and appreciated. Great!
- Some people missed getting t-shirts, while others re-inforced the fact that not everyone wants t-shirts and we should avoid getting everyone shirts if at all possible.
- Jer proposed that we have a mix of mementos including both things like shirts and things like bottles/bags/mugs.
- Ideally this will be a question on the sign-up form so that people can choose either a shirt (indicating their size) OR an alternate gift. At the event only those who chose shirt will get one, which would hopefully also help to simplify issues around shirt sizing and trying to predict sizes of late-ticket-buyers.
- It was agreed at the meeting that past volunteer organization was less than ideal. This year we will have one or more meta-volunteers tasked with co-ordinating the team and ensuring everything is handled during the event.
- Zoonini’s friend Alex will be contacted as she already expressed interest.
Design (programs, shirts, signs, screensaver)
- Historically most printed materials were assembled by Jer in the leadup to the event.
- Last year we spent the following: Posters $205, schedule postcards $227, stickers $150. Badges and directional signage brought the total to about $650
- We would like to have similar stuff this year.
- In past years the branding was done by the core team working together to come up with something nice.
- We opt to not have a ‘design competition’ because administering it is complicated and we dont’ necessarily want to have to live with a submission.
- IF YOU WANT TO BE INVOLVED IN THE DESIGN BRAND: Despite not having a competition we’re open to design ideas and submissions! Use the contact form on this site or the upcomming WCMTL 2012 site to send us your logo ideas and we’ll seriously consider them. We might use them as inspiration or ask you for more sizes etc. We might not use them at all. If we do use your design to some significant degree we’ll give you a free volunteer pass to the event.
- Any design ideas should be focussed on the combination of WordPress (i.e. the WordPress logo should figure prominently) and Montreal (Whatever you think that means).
- The website will be hosted on wordcamp.org like last year (2012.montreal.wordcamp.org, should be available soon)
- Like last year, the core organizers will be responsible for managing page content and posting updates whenever relevant.
- We’ll be looking for one or more EN->FR translation volunteers to make sure that content is available in both languages.
- Everyone agreed that the speaker interviews were good last year, so we plan to do that again.
- Shannon has historically taken charge of this. Creating a PDF to promote the event and sending it to mainstream media outlets.
- At the meeting we agreed that the main ways to promote the event are by getting participants to spread the word to their friends and associates:
- Everyone needs to retweet the notices and write about it wherever they write stuff.
- Call your friends you think could benefit rather than assuming they’ll see it on facebook!
Speaker selection, schedule
- Historically the speakers and schedule has been managed by Jer with help from Carl and the rest of the organizational team (especially when making tough/controvercial decisions).
- A talk proposal form is added to the website and anyone can apply.
- Usually the majority of talks are accepted, some with ammendments to their content to be more relevant or compelling.
- Everyone at the meeting agreed that there were no real issues with this system and accepted that it would happen roughly the same again this year.
- For the past three years we have had the party at St-Sulpice because it is very large and can accomodate our group even if a lot of people turn out. They always find space for us and offer reasonable drink ticket specials to us (usually we buy $500 worth and spread it out among whoever is there.
- Some people at the meeting wished that we could try a different venue this year, both because we could do better (St-Sulpice is not montreal’s classiest bar) and for variety.
- Wherever we go needs to be able to accomodate 30-80 people and preferably give us a dedicated space.
- If you have a location to propose please do so in the comments and we will consider it.
- This is a WordCamp tradition where the night before the event all speakers and organizers meet up for a free dinner. This allows them to get to know each other before the event so they can talk to attendees during WordCamp.
- Some speakers at the meeting proposed that we go somewhere other than L’Academie, where we’ve gone for the last two years. FINE GUYS, WELL TRY TO SPICE IT UP OKAY 😛
Transportation and travel details
- People at the meeting didn’t care much about having hotel deals for attendees.
- Of course, they are very biased because we were all Montrealers who presumably don’t need hotels.
- If anyone wants to contact hotels near the venue get in touch. Usually we just link to the list of hotels close to the venue on the venue’s website.
Little things that make people love WordPress more. !important
Diane brought this up and I think it’s a good place to close. The goal of WordCamp is to have an event where everyone learns about WP and also falls a bit in love with it. Once again this year that is our aim. We’re all doing it for free and trying our best. We welcome your input about anything and hope to include the community in all major decisionmaking, while also making the executive decisions necessary to keep things moving smoothly.
Big thanks to everyone who came to the meeting! See you guys soon!