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From Nick Burch <n...@apache.org>
Subject What info does a BarCamp need, and what needs to be on the website?
Date Tue, 19 Mar 2013 22:17:52 GMT
With a few BarCamps coming up soon, and some new organisers, I thought it 
might be good to give a bit of a brain-dump on what you need to say to 
help announce a BarCamp, and what needs to go on the website/wiki when. If 
some kind soul could work this missive up a bit and sling it on 
events.apache.org via the CMS, that'd be wonderful :)

So, BarCamps. They're "unconferences", which can be a strange/scary 
conference. They're also immensely rewarding :)

As I often say in my BarCamp intros, they're an event where everyone can 
take part, and is encouraged to take part, in whatever ways they can / 
feel comfortable with. They tend not to be the best fit for "one person 
knows a huge amount, let's share that with lots of people" type topics - 
those are often best served by traditional confernces. (BarCamps are much 
less work than a traditional conference!) BarCamps work very well in cases 
where several people know the topic, and can share it between them. They 
work well when lots of people know a bit, and can combine it between them 
to share a lot. They work well for discussion oriented topics. They work 
well for interesting things that are too new / niche for a long CFP 
process. They work great for people who are new to speaking, and don't 
have the confidence to lead an hour's session, but can be tempted out of 
their shell to lead a session and speak for 5-10 mins over 30 mins. They 
never quite go where you expect, but almost always go somewhere better 
than you thought possible! They're fun :) That, in a bit of a nutshell, is 
why we keep doing them :)

So, announcing a BarCamp. You need a theme / few themes. The schedule is 
decided on the day, by those who come. It isn't lined up by a cabal in a 
smoke filled room 3 months before. What you need to do is explain what 
topics will be the core of what'll be covered, so people can work out if 
it's something that will be a good fit for them or not. Most likely, only 
50% of the sessions proposed + scheduled will be on those themes! However, 
it gives a guide to help people decide if it's something for them to come 
to or not.

In some communities / parts of the world, and especially for new events, 
the idea of a blank schedule grid at 9am can be daunting. In those cases, 
it can help to point people to filled-in schedule grid from other similar 
events (much easier on year #2, as you have year #1's grid to show off!). 
In some cases, you may wish to announce a few of the sessions from known 
people, to act as a draw. However, if you do announce some sessions, you 
do risk having people think they can't contribute, which risks the vibe of 
the day. If you do announce some talks in advance, do stress that many of 
the other slots are open. Also, don't schedule the planted talks first, 
you want to make sure there are discussion inviting sessions first, so 
people get into the feel of it. If you start with 90 minutes of 
near-lectures, it'll be almost impossible to get people engaged with 
contributing to later sessions

Talking of planted events - BarCampApache's only have two requirements. 
There must be an Apache Way session, and an Incubator session. These two 
should be scheduled as normal. However, they do need to happen, so someone 
will need to stand up and write them on the schedule grid. This can help 
with breaking the ice during scheduling, as there will be two people 
guarenteed to kick things off

Right, so announcing. To announce, you need a date and a venue, and some 
way to sign up (ideally lightweight). That's about it. You need to explain 
what it is, what the themes are, and what isn't decided (exact sessions, 
and likely refreshments!). That's enough to get the word out

By about a week before the event, you really need to have worked out the 
sponsors, what is and isn't covered (esp. lunch, coffee/tea, tshirts etc), 
exact start times (registration, welcome, scheduling, session #1, session 
#-1 etc). If you're doing drinks/dinner before/after, what the plan is for 
those. Also, what's the capacity limit. Oh, and the hashtag!

As the day goes by, encourage people to tweet / blog etc, and update the 
wiki/website if possible with the schedule. That helps people coming late 
to know what'll be happening, and lets people in a session that's not for 
them know what else is on. However, there's a trade-off with posting the 
schedule online + making copies. Copies+online makes it easy to know 
what's happening, but makes it much harder to move sessions around based 
on interest, schedule follow-on talks etc. Organisers need to decide the 
right mix based on their venue, audience and community.

So, what needs to be on your website when? The best bet is probably to 
show examples from past events as a guide

Around the time you announce:

In the run up to the event:

By the end of the day:

So, key takeaways:
* BarCamps are fun! Attend! Organise one!
* They're sooooo much easier to organise than a full conference
* But they do require a *little* bit of work... They don't just magically
   happen :)
* Set the expectations in advance. Pitch the message based on your
* Take care at the start, mind it doesn't accidently turn into a
   traditional conference with no discussions
* If you have questions, ask on this list (soon to be the events public
   list), or ask your mentors, or if need be ask your mentors here ;-)
* Enjoy your BarCamp! Do more of them!


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