Thursday, September 22, 2016

From Not Paying to Speak to Timely Payment

European Testing Conference 2017 takes place in Helsinki, Finland on February 8.-10th 2017. Check also our web pages
It's never been as easy to organize a conference as today. Just decide you do it. If you want to start small, try a single track conference. Find a place that has flexible terms on number of participants  and invoices first part just a little before the conference (easy or hard depending on country). Find speakers to fill your day and attract the crowd. Finally, find people who will pay for the tickets. If you hook on to an existing community, that might be also straightforward.

The thing in particular that makes organizing new conferences easy is the fact that the common expectation for speakers still is that they pay their expenses to come and speak, or at minimum, when you promise to pay the expenses they expect that to happen after the conference. Speakers commonly act as a distributed loan office for the conferences.

The usual sums tossed around in conference budgeting is 700 euros within Europe and 1400 euros when from outside Europe. That's a significant amount of money to bind into someone else's conference for up to 6 months in advance. And surely you need to book on time, otherwise that budget won't be enough.  And you would rather see the conference not pay extra just because you, as a speaker, booked late. 

This is one of the many things  we've set out to do differently for European Testing Conference. Just now, 5 months into the conference, we sent out an expense link to all our recently chosen speakers to encourage them to submit their travel expense compensation claims as they incur. We also opt to coordinate the whole travel from our end with some speakers who don't have even momentarily these kind of assets around to move.

Why is this relevant? Why do we care? The reason is to enable voices that are worth hearing and learning from for you, our audience.  The speakers that would have to choose not to do speaking as finances are hard. We want true diversity, and it means for us that we are working actively to bring down blocks that stop people from sharing the great stuff they have.

Most of seasoned speakers (consulting speakers) are past this already. But they are not the only ones we want to hear from, as awesome as they are. And for them, it might be that a significant part of their assets is tied into payments to expect on expenses of various conferences they're doing. 

Not all of us have a company to back us up and we still have things to say. Asking for different (fairer) treatment seems like something that shouldn't need to happen, when it could be built into the system.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Safety at conferences

European Testing Conference 2017 takes place in Helsinki, Finland on February 8.-10th 2017. Check also our web pages

There's an item on the organizers to-do list that did not get done for the 2016 edition a Code of Conduct.

The reason why it is still on the to-do list is twofold. One is that it is easy to believe that this conference will reflect the values of its organizers. Another is that instead of copying a common code of conduct, we feel we have special needs. 

The code of conduct we want could be summed up as Don't be a jerk. We would like everyone to feel safe and included. And we recognize that with a special mix of testers and developers, and our history of separation it is easy to make someone not feel safe. We will have differences of backgrounds and opinions. We hope to work on those in spirit of dialog and aim of understanding the other over winning an argument. 
Testers say things that offend developers. "Developers can't be trusted with testing". "What developers do is only checking". And Developers say things that offend testers "You're not needed unless you become programmers too". "Why didn't you find that bug, testing is your responsibility".
We want to start this conference from the premise that we are all valuable. Testing is too important to be left only for testers - it's everyone's business. We need diverse views to make feedback make more sense in the world of software development. 

When there is any reason to feel unsafe at European Testing Conference, we hope people would approach us and we're committed to take things seriously. And we recognize that even we are not immune to offending people with out actions even with a good intent. 

We have work to do on this one. Creating a safe learning space is something we all do together. 

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