WordCamps are the weekend (sometimes 1 day) long conference that revolve around WordPress. Most “camps” are community organized and every speaker is a volunteer. Price point is set at $20 per day, typically $40 for the weekend including a couple meals (this may vary). Overall WordCamps are a great way to not just meet your local community, but also learn as speakers apply to speak and are selected by the organizers.
The typical WordCamp speaker applies to speak and gives a talk with slides of around 30-45 min. While there are different variations on time, panel discussions, etc. that is most of the session formats you see at a WordCamp. Speakers are able to apply to speak at any WordCamp they choose, so if I in Los Angeles wanted to speak at WordCamp Miami, I’d wait for their speaker submission form to open, and apply. If I get selected to speak, I need to spend the time creating my talk, and then pay to get to (and stay in) Miami for 3-4 days.
— MortenRandHendriksen (@mor10) July 19, 2017
This is where the conversation started, by Morten, on Twitter. While we talk about it mainly in the WordCamp space, this is not isolated by any means to WordPress or WordCamps, in fact Morten’s original tweet which started the conversation (that then blew up Twitter), is a retweet from someone else in another tech community.
Morten, Andrew N, and myself all have experiences with other tech conferences, and it is not surprising to see ones wither higher ticket prices cover the cost of a speaker to travel and stay for the conference.
For example when I spoke about WordPress at ngConf I had my round trip flight from LA and hotel in Salt Lake City paid for. While I could make the excuse it was a “free vacation” it wasn’t, I had to spend time to create my presentation and take a few days off from work. The financial ease of not having to pay for a flight and hotel? Definitely helpful. I was able to justify to myself that it was worth going to this conference, because of it. However the biggest takeway is that ngConf is not a WordCamp, it is not a local-focused camp.
Morten brought up an interesting thought. Maybe the caliber or level of WordCamps should stay closer to all beginners, and be more focused on local speakers, while a potential “next level” WordCamp would exist that would give (some, if not all) speakers the option to opt out of having their travel and accommodations paid for. Morten’s idea also included a sponsorship level for those who do opt out since the money did not need to go to their travel. I personally liked this idea, I think its a good compromise.
There has been an influx of other conferences coming into the WordPress realm lately. LoopConf, PressNomics, and Post Status Publish are just a few examples. So what is the difference with these? For LoopConf (the only one I’ve been to) the ticket price is a more, but its a conference focused on WordPress development. The talks were all focused on development, code, etc. This was great for me as a developer, I learned a lot and the networking opportunity was very focused on development.
Another benefit of these conferences is they do not need to be “jack of all trade” conferences like WordCamps are. They can focus on making the content really geared towards 1 subset of WordPress professional.
There are many ways we talked about why and how to start covering costs for speakers, and i do think something needs to be changed, however there are plenty of other WordCamp issues that need ot be addressed as well. So maybe its time for a WordCamp overhaul?