Having just returned from Sofia, Bulgaria for WordCamp Europe 2014 I have to say a massive thank you and well done to the entire organisational team. Looking at it from the outside in as an attendee the event ran flawlessly. Having also been privileged to get small glimpses of an inside out view; the dedication and unwavering determination of the team was admirable.
From the rock solid and incredibly well delivered content right though to an exceptional after party, WordCamp Europe 2014 had it all.
The National Palace of Culture as the venue was certainly something to behold. The shear size of the building set a standard for the entire event. In all ways WordCamp Europe was BIG. With around 900 attendees, 30 speakers, 50 something volunteers supporting two tracts across two days.
The quality of speakers coming from all over the world was remarkable, the talks given were inspiring, educational and of a standard you would expect from a conference you could be paying £500 or more for.
The WordPress community is, in my opinion, unique in this way. It will come together to produce such an event for little more than £20 a ticket. Yes companies pay to “exhibit” at WordCamps, although the term “support” (actively encouraged by the plan.wordcamp.org) is much more appropriate. I have no doubt this benefits them, however there is no hard sell or even much of a sales pitch at all when speaking with these companies. I rarely feel I am being sold anything and often just receive great advice.
Sponsorships are donations, given to support the WordPress project and official events.
What I enjoy about the companies that do choose to take the time and make the effort to building a stand, providing staff to talk to us and give away loads of great swag; is they understand the WordPress community because they too are the WordPress community.
Matt Mullenweg’s comments on Five for the Future have provoked a lot of debate around what constitutes as contributing. These companies supporting WordCamps and local meetups must be recognised as contributing to WordPress. Lots of educational content derives from such events, which ultimately builds a stronger and better-informed community.
Without the financial support from these companies WordCamps would have to charge much higher admission fees, potentially reducing the quality of attendance and making the events much more exclusive which just isn’t the WordPress way.
Lets embrace the companies that support our WordPress events and help ensure a happy, low cost, high quality future for WordCamps and local meetups.