Some of you know that there was suppose to be an Atlanta WordCamp this month. It was cancelled about six weeks ago for a variety of reasons. In the spirit of open communication and getting people involved, I thought I would take a minute and let everyone know about a new initiative in WordPress to get the WordCamps under a common set of rules and expectations and what specifically we are doing in Atlanta to put one on here.
WordCamps were meant to be a way that local WordPress Meetups could stage a low cost event for their members and the WordPress Community. As WordPress has become more and more mainstream and people were excited to put on a WordCamp all over the world, WordPress stepped in to make sure there were some guidelines in place for people who were using that trademarked name. These changes have been in the works for the past year and are now required for people to follow in order to out on a WordCamp.
WordCamps are now being managed financially out of the new WordPress Foundation. This offers a lot of advantages to people putting on WordCamps since the foundation can front the money needed for deposits on space and so forth and then if there is extra money made, in most cases, it would go back to the Foundation.
These changes are meant to keep the WordCamps associated with the local Meetups, and to make sure they are inline with the Open Source Philosophy of keeping WordPress available, and affordable. For example, there is a suggested cap of 20.00 per day on the amount that can be charged for the tickets. Given that the ticket prices have to remain low, WP would like the WordCamps to be held in spaces primarily sponsored by Universities or sponsored by a local Business. These are but a few of the requirements to be met by people putting on a WordCamp and you can read more about them on the Wordcamp Central Website.
In the fall of 2009, Brandon Sheats and Tessa Horeheld went to WordCamp Birmingham and came back to Atlanta all psyched up to host one here. They held our first WordCamp Atlanta at SCAD in January of 2010 and it was a big success. They were going to host one this June, but got caught up in the changes that had come down from the WordPress Foundation and since few of the details of WordCamp Atlanta 2011 had been nailed down by the time the changes took effect, there was not enough time to put it on and so the prospective date in June was cancelled.
One of the new requirements was that the local WordPress Meetup Groups should host their WordCamps. Neither Brandon nor Tessa were members of our Meetup. In order for them to be in compliance of the new requirements they asked Russell Fair, as the coordinator of the WP Developers Meetup, and I as one of the Coordinators of our WP Users Meetup, to get involved. We agreed. Brandon continues to be on the committee and Tessa decided to take a leave and travel the world.
Since the June event was cancelled we have been scouting around to try and find a new venue for the fall. We were looking at having about 500 people since we know a WordCamp in Atlanta could definitely draw that number of people. Finding a centrally located venue for with a conference room large enough to hold 500 people with plenty of large breakout rooms and Internet Access has been a bugaboo.
We thought we had found the ideal place at Ga State’s Realto Theater and also using some of the Ga. State classrooms across the street for session break out rooms. But it was going to be very expensive. Not hotel expensive, but still in the realm of $12,000 expensive. And they couldn’t guaranty that we would have good Internet access, so there would be additional costs in getting enough bandwidth for that many computer and mobile device using peeps.
Hmmm. At 40 dollars for the tickets, we would need a pile of sponsors to cover that nut and then we talked to Jane Wells from Automattic. Jane had some wise suggestions to make. First, she said that 500 people is a lot and the number does not lend itself to having an intimate experience with access to speakers and other attendees. She suggested that we think about keeping it smaller. This would also make it easier to find a location. And Jane also thought she might have a contact in SCAD from a different department than helped with the 2010 event, that would agree to sponsor the space basically at no charge.
We decided that limiting the number of attendees made sense. And who could argue with a free space so we called and spoke to her SCAD contact that was thrilled with having an opportunity to host the conference there. The SCAD administration agreed to sponsor the space, but - the first available time we could reserve it would be sometime in February 2012.
Before we go ahead and forgo having a WordCamp Atlanta in 2011 we wanted to put the word out there to see if anyone has knowledge or access to a space for 250 people that is available in the fall. Otherwise, we will probably be back at SCAD for 2012, which ain’t too shabby!
Once we get this nailed down we are really looking forward to setting up a team to help with all of the details. But that is where the thing stands at the moment.
Sorry for the long e-mail but in the spirit of open communication I wanted to let everyone know about the changes to how WordCamps are being put on what is going on with our efforts to get WordCamp Atlanta off the ground.