Fedora's Flock wrapped up two weeks ago, after a lovely week in Krakow, Poland. Here's an organizer's-eye view of the conference and some updates.
Overall, I think this was a great event. At least, the feedback I got from folks who attended was that it was productive and they had a good time.
First, let me say we were really pleased with the attendance overall. Flock had a really good attendance, and the folks who showed up were friendly, engaged, and (I think) had a great time.
Flock is a free conference, so we're a bit less picky about registration and tracking than conferences that are trying to ensure people pay to go to sessions. We printed about 240 badges, plus blanks, and we think we had about 180 to 200 people at Flock in total. Some of them showed up without registering, some showed up and didn't pick up badges, and a lot of people who registered "in case" didn't show up.
We're strongly considering having some kind of fee for Flock next year due to this problem. Because Flock provides meals and evening entertainment, we wind up either losing money on meals not consumed or risk not having enough to feed everybody. It's inevitable that some people who register for any conference will be unable to make it last-minute. Flights are canceled, people get sick, people have family emergencies, or have job changes that affect their ability to travel. It happens. But that should be maybe two or three percent, not twenty percent or more.
We will certainly make sure next year that folks have an easy way to un-register if they find they can't attend. Several people did email to let us know they couldn't attend, and we appreciate that!
Where Be Mah Videos?
We recorded presentations (but not workshops) at Flock, and will be making those available shortly. Most have been uploaded to YouTube already, and just need to be titled and made public. We appreciate your interest, but contrary to popular belief, inquiring frequently about when videos will be released does not accelerate the process even a little bit.
To tide y'all over, here are a few photos from the event that I've put up on Flickr. Many other folks have taken pictures, but nobody could agree on a central location for photos. We might do a post on the Fedora Community Blog that ties them together soon. Natalie Ardasevova has put together a great overview of Flock blog posts already.
In the absence of a Fedora Community Lead, I stepped in to moderate the budget session on Friday morning. Many of the questions centered around problems with reimbursing ambassadors in different parts of the world.
This has been, and continues to be, a problem for a few reasons. First, moving money around the world isn't quite as easy as you might think. Fedora has settled on PayPal as it standard means to reimburse ambassadors, but it's not perfect and it's not universally available. There are a lot of boring accounting reasons for this, but it boils down to hassles in certain parts of the world when it comes to doing something like sending $75 to have posters printed for an event.
Secondly, there are several people involved in the reimbursement flow and sometimes they get busy and forget to file things. Or sometimes a region does a bunch of stuff and the ambassador holding the regional credit card hits their card limit. And there can be communication gaps between people.
So those questions and problems consumed a fair amount of the budget session (again) this year. One thing that the ambassadors agreed on was to start tracking their expenses in a central location, probably a Google Spreadsheet. This will help the next Fedora Community Lead track spend and pending reimbursements, if the regions keep the spreadsheet updated properly.
We don't have a solution for PayPal, unfortunately. We'll continue to the best we can.
Many Thanks to the Organizers and Sponsors
Flock is the work of many hands, and I want to thank everybody who worked on bringing this together. I'd like to call out a few people in particular who have really gone above and beyond in putting Flock together. (This is not a 100% comprehensive list, apologies to anyone I neglect to mention!)
Flock wouldn't exist without the hard work of Ruth Suehle, Tom Callaway, and Josh Boyer who have driven the conference for several years and also helped extensively for Krakow, 2016.
Brian Exelbierd drove this year's bid, and did a ton of work on the ground before and during Flock. I can't overstate how much Flock owes to Brian's hard work this year. Also a major hat tip to Rafal Luzynski for helping to organize evening events in Krakow.
Jen Madriaga, from Red Hat's events team, also did a ton of work before, during, and after Flock on all types of event logistics.
Also a big thanks to Ryan Lerch, Mary Shakshober, and Máirín Duffy, for their work on Flock swag and other designs. And thanks to Patrick Uiterwijk, Paul Frields, and many other folks for their contributions as well.
Flock wouldn't have been possible without, you know, money too. Oddly enough, hotels, caterers, t-shirt vendors, and other businesses aren't willing to just thrown us freebies, so we have to come up with cash to do things. Red Hat, of course, put in its share. And also a big thanks to SUSE for its gold sponsorship. We also appreciate the sponsorships from Linux Foundation, Sticker Mule, and UnixStickers.
More to Come
We had so much fun doing Flock this year, we figure we should probably do it again next year too. The where and when are yet to be determined, but North America in the second half of 2017 is a sure bet. We will be talking more about Flock 2017 planning very soon, likely to be led by the next Fedora Community Lead. Stay tuned for more, and watch Fedora's Community Blog for details.
About the author
Joe Brockmeier is the editorial director of the Red Hat Blog. He joined Red Hat in 2013 as part of the Open Source and Standards (OSAS) group, now the Open Source Program Office (OSPO). Prior to Red Hat, Brockmeier worked for Citrix on the Apache OpenStack project, and was the first OpenSUSE community manager for Novell between 2008-2010.