YAPC::NA or not?

I keep thinking I should go to YAPC::NA.  I’ve had co-workers suggest it.  I can get myself there, I can get the time off work.  All the blogs I’ve read say it’ll be great!

I don’t see the greatness on the web anywhere, though.

I see lots of stories about how the best part was the hallway, and talking to all the people, and the amazing things you’ll talk about and the connections you’ll make.  If I were the kind of person who actually talked to people like that, maybe it would be.  Maybe it even will, if I don’t go hide instead.

The descriptions of the talks are minimal.  I haven’t found what I consider a really readable schedule, by time and date.  I found a list of talks with a note, “The time and place of the following talks haven’t been decided yet.”.  How can I tell if the things I want will be all at the same time?  (The first three things listed are “Lightning Talks” which I simply have no enthusiasm for, despite many people saying they’re wonderful.)

The web site says “training and hackathon” on days before and after.  What are those going to be?  Am I interested?  I can find a hint about part of the hackathon – it’s a topic I don’t have any interest in.  What about the training?  What?  Who from?  How much money?  Will it help me, or do I know too much?

I’ve given two day Perl classes myself, plus spoken to the local Perl user’s group on Template Toolkit, DBIC, Catalyst, and a recent one on Cross-Platform Perl (which I have YET to put up – will fix that!).  Maybe I should be a speaker, but what would I speak on when the creators of several of these technologies will be on hand to do so with far more accuracy and panache?

I found a Tweet from the 6h of May that says they’re deciding what the training is soon.  Meaning: They hadn’t decided yet.  It linked to a tumblr – one using the 2013 advertisers and city and dates – which said the main blog would have all the details on 10 May when they’d selected.

Today is 19 May.  The last post on the main blog was 28 February.  The front page still lists the early bird price, and hasn’t got any information.  The Call For Sponsors is “coming soon”.  I’d say the conference is soon – they’d better have sponsors by now.

Another thing I find in searching the Internet is a lot of kerfuffle from the last couple of years about the Code of Conduct.  I can’t tell if that’s been addressed or not.  The Code they have seems… light.  While may not need the protection of the code as much as others (meaning, I’m a large white male, who’s got a USENET hardened skin, and thus not likely to have too much problem) I don’t like that no one was willing to stand up and say, “Enough!  We Are Fixing This.” and clearly doing something about it.  That leaves me with yet another poor opinion of the conference.  This shouldn’t be a hard thing to solve, but ignoring it and leaving the (notoriously poor) status quo isn’t the way to go about it.

This conference isn’t telling people things.  How can people decide to go if nobody tells them what will be at the convention?  These things need to be published, often, and loudly.  The site needs to be updated consistently and kept current!  I realize that actually telling people about the convention you’re hosting is a lot of work, but if you want anyone to come, that’s what you’ll have to do.

I’d better decide soon.


18 Responses to “YAPC::NA or not?”

  1. Wade Wachs says:

    We have been wondering the same thing for a few months now. We want to sponsor YAPC, but even the back channels have been silent. We are sending a bunch of devs to Orlando, we’re still not sure there is actually a conference happening for them to go to.

    Hopefully your post gets someone’s attention.

  2. Chris Prather says:

    So let me see if I can respond a bit. First we have been atrocious at communicating this year. There are reasons (I’ll explain below) but the result is inexcusable and will not be repeated if I have any say in the matter.

    I once described myself as a card carrying member of the Introvert Club, or at least I would have been card-carrying had attending the meetings been something I could bring myself to do. For the sake of my career I have pushed myself since 2003 to speak at conferences, not because I wanted to, but because I knew doing so would make me more employable and I have a family to feed.

    This is the second time I’ve organized a YAPC::NA, because YAPC (all of them not just NA) is a special thing. Hanging out with a couple hundred other people that not just share the same career experiences I do but share the same specific issues with Dist::Zilla or local::lib is qualitatively different. I get a chance to talk with the author behind Moose about why he decided to make class types implicitly created when you pass an unknown string to has(). I get to suggest my IRC bot package to someone who needs it for their side project, and explain why I think it’s awesome. Basically I get a chance to hang out with the people who make the modules that make me awesome for my clients or employer, and I get a chance to be there to find out who I’ve helped make awesome in whatever they’ve tried to do. That’s the power of the Hallway track.

    Regarding submitting talks, always submit. Turns out that Matt Trout actually gets tired of hearing himself talk about DBIx::Class. Turns out that even though he wrote it, and shepherded it, and uses it daily, he hasn’t run into every solution. So the odds aren’t stacked against you, honestly because we have something near a hundred speaking slots (not including lighting talks) and only a couple dozen “stars” like Matt the odds are actually in your favor that you will get a slot. When I organize I try to maximize the number of voices we have, I worked with John my speaker coordinator heavily on this when the acceptances were happening.

    Regarding the Standards of Conduct situation. I wrote a Standards of Conduct for 2011 at the request of the community. That Standard of Conduct is remarkably similar to the one we have now for YAPC::NA. We had an incident reported in 2011, it was dealt with to the satisfaction of everyone concerned. The fact that you never heard about it is because the system, although not perfect, worked.

    I firmly believe that everyone should feel welcomed and invited to any aspect of the community I participate in. I work to the best of my ability to ensure that is true.

    As for communication, I agree it’s been abysmal. YAPC::NA is coordinated by about 5 people … really it ranges between 3 and 7, but at any given time there are about 5 people actively working on it. This year of those 5 people, two were suddenly promoted to *much* more intense jobs, one changed jobs and is trying to change career fields, and another one runs a consulting company which was going through a rough spot. I’ve heard people suggest that we should just find people to replace them, but that’s not as easy as it sounds. There are a distinct lack of volunteers until the excrement hits the rotating turbine. At that point it’s too late to really add more people without running afoul of Brook’s observations in the Mythical Man Month.

    I’ve spent the lats 48 hours trying to make sure that all the issues you’ve raised here are being taken care of as quickly as possible. Hopefully you’ll see the results soon. Regardless of that though, this YAPC::NA will be happening, and it will be amazing, and you should attend because you will have fun.

    • Laufeyjarson says:

      Thank you for the reply, Chris!

      I certainly understand how hard it is to run a convention – I’ve been involved with science fiction conventions – and know that volunteers are scarce and people’s lives change. I’ve also seen great conventions happen despite those same challenges. It’s a giant pile of work!

      I never doubted that there would be a YAPC this year; I’m sure it’s going to go on. The title of this post was meant to be, “Am I going, or not?” but turned out to be ambiguous.

      I also want to say that I wasn’t trying to say bad things about anyone, but to simply state some of the things I couldn’t find and really would like to know before I schedule airline tickets, hotel, etc. I was hoping some of the people who follow via the Iron Man Perl blog would know, or would be able to point me to resources I have missed.

      More information will be greatly appreciated, and I’ll keep an eye on the web site etc. for those updates.

      Thanks again for the reply! Be well!

    • Leila says:

      Can we help?



      • Chris Prather says:

        Yes people can help. Unfortunately at this point for 2014 it’s a bit more problematic figuring out the places to put people. 2015 however is still wide open. Please send an email to admin@yapcna.org with the subject ‘Volunteering for YAPC::NA’ so we can track you down later :)

    • Stephen Wilcoxon says:

      Chris (or others), any word on when training schedule will be posted and available for registration. It is currently about 4 weeks before YAPC. For those of us that need to fly, we need to get our tickets soon (ideally within a week – 2 at the outside) to avoid paying hideous airfares.

  3. Wendy (woolfy) says:

    Please count me in as a “on-the-spot” volunteer. Since I live in Europe, I am not really helpful in all the organisational work before the conference starts. But I want to be helpful anyway, and normally i am that on the spot. I can and i will help clean rooms (glasses, cups, other garbage, chairs that are in the way, etc). I can help at the registration desk. I can help taking time at the talks. I can help directing people to where they have to go (even though I am not from your place, I seem to have a nack to find my way around). You can just assign jobs to me as if I am your secretary, your cleaning lady, your “do this timeconsuming chore so I can spend my precious time on other important stuff”.

    Plus, I plan to bring tuits, stickers, buttons, brochures, toy camels, mugs of perl and quite some other stuff to show how awesome Perl is.

  4. You think the code seems light? It’s largely (an older version of) the anti-harassment policy on the Geek Feminism wiki (http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Conference_anti-harassment/Policy). There are some minor changes, some omissions, and some additions. It is clear in what will not be tolerated, and what the repercussions will be. Unlike on Geek Feminism, this starts out on an ideal “let’s be kind” note, but it contains the same meat.

    I had nothing to do with this SoC, and while it’s not perfect (lack of mentioning “gender identity and expression”, for example), it’s not this, either: http://www.windycityrails.org/code-of-conduct/

    • Laufeyjarson says:

      I didn’t say it was missing or bad; I said it could be better. So did you.

      I have no personal experience that the last couple of YAPC::NAs did have issues, but people I have met and respect said there were issues, and that this needed attention. There was a lot of contentious discussion about it.

      I said communication about it could have been better, to make it clear that it was understood that this was an important issue and had been addressed.

      I’m not sure if the example from Windy City Rails is the example of a good CoC or a bad one, honestly.

  5. Droidr says:

    please have a session ; a talk ; a demo re: Perl on Android. It is a lot easier to get 5.20.0 to build and run on Android platforms (and on several versions and hardware types thereof).

    Pre-built binaries and an installfest/BoF would be nice … An easy to install and use perl on Nexus Samsung and other Droid tablets means we might can haz and build our own apps, scripts and tools with HTML5 and [insert framework here … errm Mojo, Dancer, Kelp?] to show off perly goodness and make the damn tablets more automagical and usable. Once upon a time perl “fixed” Unix let’s rescue Android too!! There’s a Win32:: namespace on CPAN but I don’t see Android:: … yet …

  6. Laufeyjarson says:

    The room block at the hotel is filling up strangely. It isn’t clear I’ll be able to get a room; at this point I’ll have to call and badger the Group Sales folks. Which I can’t do until Tuesday.

    Don’t know if I’m going or not, yet, as there aren’t clearly rooms available for the time I’d been planning to go.

    • Stephen Wilcoxon says:

      Someone else said much the same on the (quiet) mailing list. The room block is full per the hotel but can be extended if someone from YAPC calls and arranges it.

      • Stephen Wilcoxon says:

        Someone else just posted to the mailing list that the hotel has now said that they may not be able to extend the room block (contrary to what they told someone yesterday). YAPC will be talking with them and some nearby hotels.

        • Jay Allen says:

          I have my flight booked but still no hotel so I hope this information comes soon. I notice that there ARE still rooms available at the Doubletree though they are $199/night. It would be good to know whether the savings from another YAPC-arranged hotel will be significant because I’d rather be in the Doubletree (taking the procrastination penalty on the chin) if not.

  7. Laufeyjarson says:

    I’m still dithering over if I’m going or not. Three days of conference for $1500, or an extra two mystery days for an extra $300. Is it worth it? I still don’t know, and must decide soon.

  8. Sam says:

    I booked 6 days from Saturday to Friday. I did that a couple of months ago. I know the website isn’t the best, but I don’t care. I want to hang out in the hackathon all week and sling some perl code with other perlers :)

  9. Laufeyjarson says:

    I’ve (finally) decided that getting there on what turns out to be “short” notice is crazier and more expensive than I’m prepared to deal with. The airfares left are not great (both in price and number of stops) and the hotel is entirely sold out.

    I’ll try again – much, much earlier – next year.

    Of course, I thought that this year, too. The idea that I needed to arrange this with $WORK in January never occurred to me.

Leave a Reply