The Con is a Lie

I hadn’t planned to post this, but enough people asked me that I feel obliged to explicitly state:

DetroitBSDCon is a joke. So is Oracle buying BSDCan. I did not play off of Dan’s posting: we planned it together, as well as the resulting fight on Twitter. (I must concede that Dan won the Twitter argument by enlisting Randi Harper for Oracle BSDCan. Nobody can stand against @freebsdgirl‘s awesome social networking mojo. Mind you, Dan has absolutely no clue about how we do things here in Detroit.)

I don’t expect anyone to believe anything posted anywhere on 1 April. Dan and I did not expect to fool anyone, but we did find the idea funny. And so did a lot of other people, so that’s okay. A few folks hate 1 April in general, but they’re not going to change the world. I won’t do gag posts on random days–unless, of course, something is laugh-so-hard-you’ll-herniate-yourself funny and must go on a certain day as part of the joke.

I’ve done three 1 April gags: this one, the Great Committer in 2011, and FretBSD (also with Dan) in 2003. I only do them if my inspirational muse kicks me in the head.

A surprising number of people contacted me about DetroitBSDCon — not because they believed it, but because they want me to do it. They don’t care if I hold it in an abandoned factory, they just want DetroitBSDCon to happen. I have run conferences before, but these days I lack the time, energy, and flexibility to do so. Plus, it fails the WIBBOW test. Like, utterly fails the WIBBOW test. Fails with screeching and tears and thrashing about on the ground, running from the test room bawling like a whipped piglet.

Holding a conference is easy. A lot of work, but it’s very straightforward work.

If you want a BSD event in your city, here’s what you do.

  • Start small. Try a one-day event, like NYCBSDCon. If you’re successful, up it to two days next year.
  • Find space and a date. The space needs chairs, a screen for slides, projection gear, and clear lines of sight for attendees. mug.org rents a really nice space in the Farmington Hills library. NYCBSDCon found a restaurant with a screen. BSDCan sucks half a dozen rooms off of a university. EuroBSDCon takes over part of a hotel. Space can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Get the date well ahead of time, so people can plan ahead. Don’t overlap a big BSD event.
  • Get speakers. Local speakers are good. Try to coax a couple “big names” into making the trip, sure, but having locals helps make it your conference.
  • Food. People will want to eat. Either have lunch brought in (tricky), or identify the local restaurants that don’t suck. Talk to the restaurant managers before the event; they might do a special rate for a large group at a predictable non-peak time, or at least staff up to handle a flood.
  • Figure out how much all of this costs. Divide by the number of attendees. Double it. That’s your admission rate. Every plan that says “we’ll break even” loses money — you will have unexpected expenses, and everything costs more than the quote. If you make a profit, either use it to bootstrap next year’s con or donate it to various BSD projects the way NYCBSDCon does.
  • About 3PM, everyone starts to drag. Have caffeine, cookies, and for us health-conscious sorts, fruit. (My only critique of NYCBSDCon? No afternoon snack.)

    My conference appearances for this year end in May. I don’t want to travel. But if you have a BSD event within a couple hours drive of Detroit, and it didn’t conflict with my prior commitments, I’d show up. (Or, if you ask politely, I’ll stay home. Whatever you prefer.)

  • 2 comments to The Con is a Lie

    • Fredrik Ludl

      I have been to numerous conferences. Different subjects/disciplines.
      Your Detroit CON was a conference I wanted to go to.
      First, its without the touristes. Conferences in Hawaii and other flashy places gets a lot of people who are just touristes.
      Second, the whole thing was a description of a conference for the enthusiasts, who just want to give away knowledge. They want to give it away because they will get something back. :)
      Your joke is spread around in my personal environment as a blueprint :)

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