[Linux-aus] LCA2014 update

Paul Wayper paulway at mabula.net
Tue Aug 28 22:32:29 EST 2012

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On 28/08/12 19:16, Kathy Reid wrote:
> Donna hit the nail on the head when she mentioned toxic community 
> members. There were times during LCA2012 when I seriously questioned why 
> I was giving up months of my life for a community which whinged and 
> moaned about something as trivial as whether a t-shirt came in their 
> size. Do I really, really, really want to give up half my life for 18 
> months (6-12 months if we ruthlessly outsource) for a community which 
> has people that do this?
> On the flipside, there are so many *fantastic* members of this community 
> that balance this out that it's still overall very positive.

I think this is the fundamental problem for LCA, and why it is difficult to run.

Caveat: I'm speaking with a bit of experience from being in the LCA 2013 team,
but I'm not speaking in any official capacity.  These are my own opinions.

We now, in the LCA 2013 team, are spending huge amounts of time trying to find
things that will be both inoffensive and appealing, for a whole range of the
things we do for the attendees at LCA.  I won't go into details - it'd spoil
the fun :-) - but there are heaps of things that we worry about because
someone, often months or years ago, complained about that thing publicly.
Even stuff like the conference network - someone, somewhere, will complain
that they weren't getting 54mbit when they were using their laptop in the
toilets (to make up a not too far-fetched possibility), and everything the
team has done to provide wonderful, easy to use networking everywhere else
will be overlooked because of that one gripe.

No matter how well publicised any change to LCA is, no matter how many people
here or anywhere agree that it's absolutely necessary to do something
different at LCA in order for it to survive, there will be someone somewhere
who decides that that's their own Custerian Last Stand and will vocally
criticise the team because cutting that back is a personal affront to their
very dignity.  We've seen this with many things that are, in relation to
getting five days of awesome technical content from some of the brightest
people in Australia and the world, trivial.  I fear to think what would happen
if a fundamental change was made to LCA.

Now, it seems to me that the only reason to try to make radical changes to the
way LCA runs is if the whole bid process is irrevocably FUBARed.  That, to me,
does not seem to be the case.

So while I think there's lots of good ideas in this whole discussion about
ways that LCA could be different, I think - personally - that some of the
voices that have been most critical of changing LCA in the past are now the
ones proposing radical changes that don't inconvenience them at all or
detriment their experience at LCA.

There are plenty of models for ways to run LCA that could be easier and
cheaper.  Lots of them can be done by the actual team running LCA - I'm sure
Linux Australia would look with interest at bids that proposed to make LCA a
simpler conference to run.  There are also things that Linux Australia can do,
especially when it comes to reducing the amount of learning each new team has
to do of the mundanities of running a conference.  LA, and the LCA teams,
already do a lot of things that make the next team's life hugely easier.
These are not to be overlooked.

And LCA has a reputation to maintain, a history of doing certain things.
No-one would say that turning off the conference wifi would be a bold step
forward in making the conference simpler.  Change happens, but with something
as complex, interconnected and multi-faceted as LCA it happens slowly.

Ultimately - and this is a lesson I'm learning the hard way - life is not a
git repository and one does not have admin rights.  One does not automatically
get the right as an attendee to tell conference organisers what they should or
should not do.  Attendees make the conference what it is not only by being the
awesome people they are but also by what they say and do and blog about.  It's
too easy to be negative and to say "they should totally have done it some
other way" when one is not responsible for actually doing it.  Keeping a
positive attitude, contributing where you can, and forbearing negative
comment, is what makes an LCA really epic.

Have fun,

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