Perl Conference Orga BOF report

At the European Perl Conference 2018 in Glasgow we had a BoF. about organizing Perl conferences and events. I set it up because in the last two years (2018 and 2019) we did not get any proposals to host the conference from the community (and luckily were saved by crazy people who agreed to host the conference if nobody should apply).

I prepared a few topics to discuss. Salve had some similar ideas so we joined forces.

I also took notes during the meeting, which I dump here until we can move them to some better-suited collaboration tool for further processing. Of course you welcome to add some comments (using all the tech I presented). I've also added some notes from the hallway track & a short meeting with Rene and Gregor on Friday night

Professionalize the orgas

  • Involve people who love doing the things we suck at
  • Pay for somebody to organize / hire a marking conference
  • Find somebody to hire somebody
  • Find a marketing professor looking for a project
  • Concentrate on make organization tasks doable by others
  • Set up a general forum for ALL orgas (from meetup to YAPC). Mailinglist? Is there one to reuse?
  • US: They have a fixed team and just pick the location
  • Set up a core "European Perl Conference" team (like in US).
  • "Virtual / remote orgas" need tools and processes to help the local orgas
  • Set up a monthly video call

Money / sponsors

  • Unbalanced value proposition: companies using open source -> could "pay back" by providing sponsorship or resources
  • Make it clear to companies that they get a lot of value from open source / Perl
  • Sponsors don't see themselves as part of the Perl community
  • "You can be a sponsor, or you can become a partner"
  • Provide concrete items for sponsors ("Lunch break on day 2", "T-Shirts") and make sure to mention this during the conference
  • Go to general tech companies, because we use a lot of stuff / are customers (AWS, Google, Lenovo...)
  • Is there EU funding for Open Source? No (it seems)

Tap existing resources / pool knowledge

  • YAPC::Asia playbook
  • Perl Jam,
  • Knowledge lost between conferences
  • List of sponsor contacts
  • Step by step guides (what to do each morning, checklists for tasks during the conference, checklists for everything)
  • Force orgas to contribute knowledge
  • Gather info after the conference (what worked, what went wrong, ..)
  • Glasgow has instructions & equipment for video recordings

The conference

  • Expand to a more general "Open Source Developers Conference"?
  • Invite non-Perl talks which might be of interest to us
  • Promote general talks to non-Perl people (there were a lot of general interest talks this year: git, docker, vue, accessibility, db schema management, ...)
  • Send marketing material (poster, stickers, featured talks, ..) to sponsors; and to companies & universities in the hosting city
  • Get "big names" (from other communities than Perl) to attend (which could attract more non-Perl speakers)
  • Get "big names" a payed gig, an have them give a free keynote (maybe only works in high-price countries)
  • Don't pay speakers, but provide some speaker benefit (eg a special trip / event) after the conference
  • Beginner track, see also my post from last year
  • Announce the dates as early as possible (at least half a year in advance)
  • Announce workshops / hackathons as soon as possible so people can prepare their travels while tickets are still cheap (or available)
  • Accept and announce talks as soon as possible (so attendees can convince their bosses to send them; so we can market the talks to non-Perl people)
  • Regular updates / news / tweets (at least once a month, or more often)
  • Provide slide review / talk preview for first time speakers
  • "Presentation Aikido"
  • Make it clear that we encourage talks from beginners / non-native speakers, not only from "rock-stars"
  • Each room has to have a moderator which keeps the time and introduces the speakers; the moderator should also prepare one question to start the discussion after the talk (in case the discussion does not start on it's own)


  • Great software, but very outdated (mod_perl1, custom ORM, ..)
  • Is being killed by technical debt
  • There have been various attempts to modernize, all failed
  • Data is very valuable
  • Needs project manager and/or product owner
  • There is a trello board with features requests etc, but where?
  • "Looks like a mountain of work with a lot of dead bodies"
  • Technical issues (mod_perl1, ..), but also procedural issues (no way to contact attendees, payment process is awkward, ..)
  • There are several branches / forks flying around, but none are finished
  • Not a "Conference orgas" toolkit, "just" an attendees toolkit
  • Probably a great startup idea, but nobody has time to start it
  • What are other communities using? Is there some cool tool we could just use?

If you are interested in helping us making the European Perl Conferences even more awesome, please contact me at or add you thoughs in the comments section below.