Organizing a non-WordCamp

This year has seen two past WordCamp organizers decide to organize an independent WordPress conference in their city instead of doing another WordCamp. This is a bummer, since we hate to lose experienced organizers who have a passion for WordPress, but diversity and experimentation make the ecosystem stronger, so it’s kind of exciting at the same time. That said, some boundaries have already become a bit blurry in these situations and we need to reduce confusion for local communities and attendees, so let’s decide on best practices for how to make the transition from being an official WordCamp organizer to running an event that’s not officially affiliated with the WordPress project so that everyone’s clear on what’s appropriate. When we’ve got some agreement here, I’ll add a page to plan.wordcamp.org with this information.

Please read this draft of a plan.wordcamp.org entry and share your thoughts.

Change makes life interesting, and just as we encourage each local community to continually mentor and develop new leaders, sometimes leaders move on to new projects — in this case, organizing new WordPress-focused events.  It’s fun to experiment with other kinds of events, and certainly WordCamp is not the only kind of WordPress conference in the world. More WordPress events is better for WordPress, so everyone wins. And even if you move on to an independent event as your main focus, you are still welcome to participate in WordCamp as well!

Before blazing a new trail, it’s worth checking with WordCamp Central to see if the event type you want to run could take place under the official banner — new event types are encouraged — so you can keep the benefits associated with being an official WordPress event. But if you’ve been involved in past WordCamps and decide to organize a different kind of WordPress event on your own — specifically, one that is not officially associated with the WordPress open source project — it’s important to make the decision to leave the WordCamp program understanding a few key things.

  1. Sooner or later, there will be another WordCamp in your city. 
    Don’t want to organize another WordCamp? We’ll be sad to see you go, but we want WordCamps to continue. WordCamp Central will post a call for new organizers, and it’s likely that someone else in the local community will be interested in organizing a WordCamp. Would-be organizers can apply to WordCamp Central and, if approved, will get the support we provide to all WordCamp organizers. We believe that multiple events can peacefully co-exist and create a more vibrant community, and it’s expected that any past WordCamp organizers will be supportive of new organizers rather than competitive or adversarial.
  2. WordCamp resources are for WordCamp organizers.
    Social media accounts, attendee and sponsor registration and contact information, etc, are resources built and gathered for the sole purpose of running a WordCamp. As a past organizer, you probably contributed a lot to build/gather those resources, but the work on WordCamp Anytown is tied to future WordCamps in Anytown, and shouldn’t be appropriated by past organizers for their personal pursuits. To put it in specific terms, if you take the attendee mailing list and send them all messages for your new event, then it breaks the privacy policy of WordPress.org sites that states we will never rent, sell, or otherwise give away their information, or use it for any purpose other than that for which it was collected (in other words, WordCamp communication).
  3. WordCamp statistics and history don’t apply to your new event.
    Your new event, because it’s new, doesn’t have a “last year.” It’s accurate to say “Last year, WordCamp Anytown had 750 attendees, so we expect WPEvent to have about 1,000″ but not “WPEvent expects about 1,000 attendees this year, since we sold out last year at 750,” or “WPEvent is typically attended by web savvy people between 18-65 with an annual household income of 38-150k per year,” since there’s no “typical” for your new event yet. It’s important to be clear about this so that people don’t think WordCamp is being replaced rather than a new event being created.
  4. Respect the WordPress trademarks.
    When you were organizing an official event, the WordPress and WordCamp trademarks (including the WordPress logo) were available to use and WordCamp Central kept an eye on things to make sure there were no issues with how those trademarks were used. As an unaffiliated event. you’ll be responsible for making sure that if you use one of these trademarks it is within the scope of the WordPress Foundation Trademark Policy.
  5. You can submit your video content to WordPress.tv.
    We will not provide the recording equipment as we do with WordCamps, but sharing the content created at your new event can still take place on the official channel if you like, as long as it meets the submission guidelines.
  6. You’re welcome to participate in future WordCamps.
    Don’t worry about being “blackballed” — we hope not to lose your WordCamp experience and insight even if you are running your own, separate event. As long as you’re still cool with the guidelines and active in your local community, you’re welcome to participate in an official capacity at WordCamp under the next generation’s leadership, or even to organize a WordCamp again.