For all purposes, and from the description, it sounds almost like a normal WordCamp. In their words:
A cross between the looseness of a Barcamp and the structure of a conference.
I, for one, applaud any initiative which tries to bring WordPress users, designers and developers together, no matter which format is chosen. Given the size of the community today and the rate at which it is growing, many more meetups, WordCamps, WP On Tours and other events are sorely needed as nothing replaces meeting people face to face to create ties. Case in point: WP Realm. It would probably have not happened had not its founding members met (and had drinks) at some point.
What I do not understand is organizing an event and not calling it “WordCamp” for reasons that, to me, sound either misguided or border line untrue. The organizers of WP Camp explain their reason for the naming of the event thus:
The short version: it’s about naming rights and to reduce the stress within the community.
The longer version: WordPress is a registered trademark, which the WordPress Foundation manages the name and makes sure it is not misused. The Foundation determines, for example, who may use the WordPress and WordCamp words in a domain name and (since last year or so) also who is allowed to organize WordCamps (although this designation doesn’t seem to be currently protected by any trademark law). For a WordCamp to name itself as such, it has to follow a set of guidelines issued by the Foundation on how the event is to be organized and conducted. The default guidelines are probably part of a bag of good intentions, drafted by some young bureaucrat at his new job at the Foundation – well-intentioned but equally
idioticdoubtful as to their benefits to the international community.
- Have neither the desire or the time, to be dragged into an existing organization and allow it plan the event and dictate the price of admissions,
- Do not want to see any leftover funds be transferred directly to the Foundation, rather than, as Inpsyde did last year, transfer them to a charity and
- Are careful enough to want to avoid a possible conflict of American data protection criteria with the German ones before they arise,
We have, after due consultation, even with experienced WordCamp veterans (thanks!), decided to rename this baby otherwise. We organize an event for our community – that is challenging enough! What we do well, we do well and when we make mistakes it is our fault. We do not need a planned economy, but a lot of good humor and dedicated guests!
(I’ll skip over the patronizing, almost insulting tone, i.e. if “doubtful” was what was meant, what is the reason for the visible correction?)
In as far as the Foundation’s description is concerned, there is little to say. Protecting the names and guiding its applications in real life is indeed what it does, even if for more reasons than the ones mentioned above, such as:
We’d like to make it hard for anyone to use the WordPress or WordCamp name and logo to unfairly profit from, trick or confuse people who are looking for official WordPress or WordCamp resources.
That said, it is certainly not my place to argue here if these guidelines are being done in the right or wrong way. As in any other open-source community everything is always open to corrections, adjustments and input from the community itself. Confusions and mix-ups have happened before and the world didn’t end because of them. Being the strong and vibrant community that we are, we argue, disagree and, to misquote Frank go “up and down and over and out but we know one thing: each time we find ourselves flat on our faces, we pick ourselves up and get back in the race.” In short, we are strong and vibrant precisely because the majority of us doesn’t turn their backs on each other; we consistently aim to fix things so that it benefits the whole community.
Now, it may well be that all of this amounts to no more than a logistics quibble; it is not unheard of and would be perfectly acceptable were it not for the remainder of that FAQ item. I’m not sure if pointing out that the WordCamp brand isn’t protected by any trademark is either a hint or a simple statement of fact. Should it be the latter, there was no need to even make the point and I certainly hope it’s not the former as it sounds either childish or low (newsflash: it’s your brand, too).
Frustration with social conventions is a fact of life. At some point we’ve all suffered from having to compromise with guidelines that differ from our own vision of how things should run. Living in a family, to name but one situation, is a perfect and daily example of that. Storming out of the room in anger or sarcasm is not, however, the way to solve issues.
In other words, no “young bureaucrats” were harmed in the preparation of those guidelines. As far as I’m aware, there are no bureaucrats at the Foundation, young or otherwise. The guidelines were prepared by those directly involved in coordinating WordCamp organizers, from the experiences of the past. They may not be perfect, but then again, we’re the WordPress community, i.e. we’re not shy of discussing anything. If a new situation isn’t contemplated or is being handled in a way with which you do not agree the proper course of action is to debate it first, not storm out of the room. Who knows, you might well not be the only one with the same objection.
This applies specifically to the argument that the guidelines’ benefits are “doubtful as to their benefits to the international community.”. I’m sorry but it is not enough to state that. It may come as a surprise to the organizers that an “international community” exists outside Germany but I am (as are we all at WP Realm) part of that community and would very much like to know why they don’t benefit some, if only because I too have some issues that I’d like to point out in a public debate.
I’m not sure how much the organizers have read of the planning site, but it seems that they didn’t read enough, if at all. The leftover funds argument is simply not true and I sincerely hope that it is just an oversight. To quote the guidelines:
Leftover funds from a WordCamp budget should be disposed of in one of the following ways: used to fund the continuing WordPress meetup group’s activities, donated to the Foundation to support other WordCamps and community initiatives, fund the development of a contribution to the WordPress.org community (such as releasing a free plugin or theme) , or provide partial refunds to attendees and sponsors. Excess funds are not to be pocketed by the organizers; organizers are considered community volunteers. If you are interested in putting together a for-profit WordPress conference, you should do so under another brand, as this is not allowed under the WordCamp brand.
The funds can be donated to the Foundation, they don’t have to. I’ll agree that charities aren’t listed, but know from experience that donating to charities is allowed. A simple email to the Foundation would have sufficed to clear that up.
Since we are on the subject of money, the Foundation does not impose a lower cap on ticket prices. It is disingenuous to list that as a reason when the event’s admission is 10€. What it does is try to regulate the maximum price, to guarantee that anyone can attend without having to rob a bank and to dispel suspicions of trying to make money with the event.
I’ve organized and help organize my share of WordCamps to know that organizing an event of this dimension is no small feat and juggling all the requirements can be daunting. My (wholly personal) point is that having attended even more WordCamps than that, I can safely guarantee that all that effort pays off in a very big way not only by creating long-lasting, cross-border relationships but also and especially by fully connecting with the local community.
In hoping that I have made it abundantly clear that all of this is my own opinion, not necessarily WP Realm’s, the Foundation’s or the community at large, come back in the room. Let’s talk about it.
Update: After conferring with the WordPress Foundation, I can confirm that the WordCamp name is, in fact, registered. As to donating to charities, I was wrong; donating to charities is not something the Foundation allows. The logic behind this is that tax-wise, the Foundation would be supporting them and that isn’t proper. Also, if people are giving their money to a WordPress event, that’s how the funds should be used and not for some randomly chosen charity, i.e. it would equate to having attendees fund a cause they did not explicitly choose to fund.