Transparency Report 4: Structuring the WordCamp

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In a series of posts, we lay bare our processes and list the tools that we use. For the sake of absolute transparency and so that other events may pick up a few, since we’ve already tried and tested them. We’ll be revealing the organiser selection, speaker selection and volunteer selection criteria and processes.

Using our guiding principles, we started structuring the WordCamp. We used observations from other tech and startup conferences since they were the most relevant, apart from WordCamps in other cities in India and elsewhere.

Just one day

One day conferences had better attendance because of the cost of staying and the fatigue.

Parallel tracks

Not all attendees were in interested in all the sessions which led to section of disinterested audience who had nothing else to do. It also led to the speakers working with an unnecessary audience load and less interaction. So, parallel sessions were a great idea.

More than lectures

Not all attendees are interested in lectures/ talks. More people learn by doing or experiencing rather than just seeing and listening. We had to accomodate interactive formats like Workshops, Discussions, Debates, QnA, etc.

Local language

We wanted to be more inclusive and hence decided to get rid of the language barrier by inviting sessions in Hindi and Marathi. We have had such a great response that you can just attend the Hindi, Marathi or multilingual sessions the whole day!

Session Overflow

Sessions almost always end with a discussion. Some discussions are interesting and everyone wants to explore it further. But, we run out of time. So we decided to have some extra time that can be had in a separate room that can be used to continue the discussion that overflows from the session. What else to call it?

Unconference

We are not the best judge of who’s a good speaker. Sometimes we can’t accomodate some speakers. Sometimes people miss the call for speakers for various reasons. Sometimes people feel like taking a session at the last moment, maybe because another session or event inspired them to. So, we decided to have a BarCamp style unconference space of two slots that anyone can take up on the day of the WordCamp to conduct a session!

The WordPress Lounge

Not all attendees are interested in any kind of formal sessions. We had to find something for them to do. People should attend WordCamp Pune for any reason they have, not ones that we enforce. We decided to have a WordPress Lounge which would include the Happiness Bar or Support Desk or a similar concept. Basically you can just walk into the WordPress Lounge and meet some speakers, experts and other WordPress users and discuss anything under the roof. Someone will always moderate the Lounge so that the discussions are always fruitful!

Networking

It is possibly the most important reason that everyone comes to a conference or an event. WordCamps are no exceptions. So, we decided to have longer breaks and some other activities (that we will announce soon) that will make sure everyone interacts with everyone else even if they are extremely shy and won’t talk to strangers! 😉

Fun & Frolick

And while we are at a conference, why not have fun! We decided to include some activities and contests purely for fun! Some of these we haven’t talked about before and some we will spring as a surprise! Some of the activities include the Buddy Program, a Photography contest and a Treasure/ Scavenger hunt!

Swag

Everyone loves wearing T-shirts, especially from events they’ve been to. A WordCamp Pune t-shirt won’t just popularise WordCamp Pune but all WordCamps and WordPress itself. A t-shirt was must!

The best swag we saw wasn’t something that commemorated an event. That can be done with a piece of decorative wood/metal/paper/plastic/ceramic/cloth with text engraved on it or maybe a certificate! The best swag was uitilitarian.

We have often felt extremely thirsty in the middle of a session, especially looking at the little water bottles the speakers have and some other smart people brought with them. How we wish we remembered to carry a small bottle. It’s very inconvenient to keep going to the water dispenser for a sip of water, all the time. Added to the fact that we didn’t want to use plastic or paper cups for serving water, we decided to provide a sipper that attendees can fill with water and carry wherever they need.

There’s some other stuff that some sponsors and well-wishers are itching to give you but we’ll let that be a surprise!

The total cost & Convenience

We didn’t base our calculations on simply the money the organising group spend in the WordCamp. We also considered the additional costs that our attendees had to bear. We have even finalised a deal with autowale.in for a ₹100 discount on all rides that have the venue as source or destination. All you have to do is use their app and book your ride. Autos are as it is cheaper than cabs and Pune in September is great for an auto ride!

We’re even speaking to hotel booking services for a one stop, convenient service for you to book your stay in Pune! Look for an announcement soon.

We also considered the environmental cost of the event and made sure we reduced what we wasted, reused and recycled what we used.