FSCONS 2014/Evaluation Meeting
FSCONS Evaluation meeting 2014-11-24
In the following participant will be used to refer to a participant at the conference, and attendee will be used to refer to an attendee at the evaluation meeting. Unless specifically noted, opinions expressed below are those of individual attendees, not of the meeting as a whole. If you feel that the minutes are missing something that was said at the meeting, or if you have something to add that was not said at the meeting, I suggest that you use the Discussion page before making too large alterations. /Skymandr (talk) 20:27, 8 December 2014 (CET)
Round table and discussion
The meeting started with a round where all attendees at the meeting briefly summarised their experiences and thoughts about this year's conference. This was followed by a discussion.
All agreed that the feedback from participants at the conference and on social media had been mostly positive. The meeting attendees expressed that the lightning talks (in particular on Sunday), the mix of subjects, and the booths had worked well. That being said, all but one attendee had points they felt needed to be addressed. Many thought the conference had been understaffed, and that the responsibilities had been poorly communicated. It was agreed that workshops in the evenings were a bad idea. It was also suggested that the role of the café be thought upon: What is its social function? What services does it need to provide? This is important, since the café is the single major user of volunteer hours.
The process of how the work leading up to the conference was conducted was criticised as being inefficient, draining and frustrating. It was suggested that the process needed reformation, or else that more people needed to be involved in the organisation. It was also suggested by one attendee, that though the event was well received, it had only achieved the ”bare minimum of bringing together people who talk about interesting things.” The conference, the attendee argued, should be more about the mix of people than the talks, and the socially involving aspect was not fulfilled. A more intimate event might be one way of dealing with this, another would be of going towards a more collaborative format, such as an ”un-conference”. There was no consensus at the meeting either of the importance of this problem, or of what solutions would be the best, though most agreed that thinking about the foundations of the conference might be a good idea.
Though a lot of concerns were raised, it should be stressed that most of the attendees also reported having had positive experiences, and that one attendee expressed only positive observations. The attendees also agreed that the conference is good and important, and that it is worth doing the work next year again, if the points of concern are addressed.
The ensuing discussion started with cautioning both against letting negative experiences over-shadow the fact that we have made a well received and important conference yet again, and against letting the fact that we have made it work again this year over-shadow that fact that things under the hood need seeing to. The discussion concluded with an appeal to everyone involved of documenting their part of the work on the wiki, and with electing a task-force to prepare suggestions on how to move forward until the next meeting. The task force includes Gregoire, Leif-Jöran and Oliver.
Summary of points that the the thought were positive:
- The lightning talks, particularly on Sunday
- The mix of topics was good: ”up to previous standards”
- The Booths, though not visited very by many, worked well
- Good feedback from participants, both at the venue and on social media
Summary of points raised that the attendees thought needed consideration:
- Stressful (some preparations started too late)
- Took a lot of energy, while only fulfilling ”minimum requirements”
- Poor communication of responsibilities
- The process leading up to the conference was ”frustrating, inefficient and draining”
- Venue felt empty: too few stayed in the evening, possibly too few in general (also larger venue)
- The conference dates had been poorly promoted, leading to participants missing the dates
- The booths felt like they were too much out of the way of the participants
- Having workshops in the evenings didn't work well.
- Children's' event was not properly organised
- Café took too much time, energy and money
Suggestions (not decisions!)
- Consider out-sourcing
- If not, consider splitting responsibilities between more people
- Think about the role of the café at the conference
- Rather serve lunch than dinner: make lunch a social hub
- Don't hold workshops in the evenings
- If events for children are to be in the schedule, then someone has to take responsibility for those.
- Decide things earlier, including, but not limited to:
- layout of the venue
- volunteer schedule
- Start earlier with most preparations
- Include elements of un-conference to increase collaborative spirit, e.g.
- Rethink process in terms of energy management:
- passion and energy are not infinite resources, are they well spent?
- can the process and/or the conference be simplified?
- Make conference more intimate, focusing on meeting and discussions rather than talks.
- Seek out volunteers with the right DIY/proactive mind set (or find ways to inspire this, or at least communicate to volunteers that we expect it)
- Involve more people in the organisation
- Make step-by-step guides for all that needs doing available and accessible on the wiki
The economy after the conference is looking good, with the café almost breaking even, and the conference as a whole making a positive result of approximately 20 kkr.
No visitor survey was conducted at the conference this year. Andreas S, Fabiana and Gregoire will try to construct an online survey based on the old one. A survey should, as a minimum, let participants state:
- Positive experiences
- Negative experiences
- Constructive comments
Date for next meeting is set to Monday 19th January 2015. At this meeting, dates for FSCONS 2015 should be decided.