FOSS4G 2010 Lessons Learned

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communication inside the organization

every LOC is different and it's not easy to establish the connection between OSGeo Board, the Conf Com and the LOC. It's curious how, even if we all want to help each others, it's so easy to get into misunderstandings. The Chair has a key role to make this process smoother and bridge between these groups.

suggestion: don't sub-estimate the difficulties that can arise from the LOC and the OSGeo communities. Keep supporting an open minded approach.


Simplify process.

Attendee Survey

  • embed in the registration proces
  • add:
    • Have you been to FOSS4G before (to measure how well we are doing

pulling in new people, since education is such an important foss4g goal)

    • Do you use open source geospatial software currently? (to see

whether people are coming for skills upgrading or basic introduction of a what-is-this-stuff sort)

web platform

when to start


Get ready with your website so we can link to your site while many visitors are still on ours.

Create banners, logos, etc. of the same size and format so that folks who link to us simply have to exchange a file. We have conquered quite a bit of web space on others sites by now and should maintain this.

public website

The home page of the conference and all the contents to show to the public can be easily made in pure HTML (little php can help). Check other events websites.

abstracts platform

this can be the real PITA. As far we've seen there's not yet a good open source platform for this and the one from our conference company is nice to see but not even sufficient in terms of bugs, usability, features.

So double check your opportunities, you can avoid recursive heart attacks.

Academic track submission

  • definitely also collect keywords


  • don't wait for sponsors knocking at your door.
  • avoid mass e-mailing to potential sponsors.
  • prepare one-to-one e-mails to justify their involvement and offer support even to download a manual that's so easy to do. Let them feel comfortable.

abstract selection

  • We have received way more abstracts that what expected. 360 for 120 places.
  • coupling the selection of the Academic Committee and the Community Review is a tough job. We where 4 people during a long day together and we had to review our choices for the three days after from home.
  • Using a Google Spreadsheet has been really a good help. The chat included helps to let the LOC group to refine the selection but I would not use it instead of a face to face meeting.
  • suggestions: after the first selection, it's a good practice to leave 3-4 slots free to give the time to the community to react and help you choosing from the discarded presentations. There's always a good presentation that the LOC can miss and that can be added in a second moment.

media and communications

Start the media agreements ASAP, we've been little lazy with it. We decided not to spend money or free entrances with Media Partners and the time will tell if we did right. Anyway relations with media are important and we dedicated a person to it, choose one soon; he should take care of magazines and mailing lists for you. We hope to give a good list of international magazines and you will have just to extend the agreements.

Lessons at the Venue

Put a short bio of the speakers in the webpage with the abstract, hand them out to the session chairmans.

It would be a really nice thing to provide a backchannel from twitter in different places of the venue there is a whole paralel meeting there!

WIFI - that's always a problem. We couldn't do better. We reserved 500 connection but we had 500 passwords instead. So switching from one session to another would take too long even if the first computer was shut down. The lesson is: if you have to limit the total amount of connection be sure you receive something that can be easily switched from one computer/mobile to another so you grant you have always a maximum amount of connection active. Most of the people use the connection for few minutes a day and can share it with the neighbour.

Lessons at the workshops

Double check that your presenters are coming for sure. Even better if they provide a second presenter or alternate presenter (backup?!?). This should avoid what happened in Barcelona with the QGIS workshops that had no presenter and we had to move people and possibly refund them (40 people!).


selling VS gifting

We are still convinced of the idea of selling the t-shirts. The price is symbolic, there was no profit, we didn't want people to though the t-shirt to the first dustbin just because it was an unwanted gift.

We've chosen to print a number close to the half of the supposed attendance.


We did a mistake over the proportions. Expecting european sizes we decided about the proportion of 1-1-2-1 with the size M-L-XL-XXL. Unfortunately the provider had international US sizes (Fruit of...) and we had problems to place most of the XL and XXL, while M and L where quickly sold out. For the next conference I would suggest a proportion of 3-4-3-1, should better fit the attendance.

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