How do we know if a WordCamp is successful?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what activities and progress our team measures, and how. Tracking and reporting on our work is important for transparency, but also for a sense of accomplishment, which can help all of us stay excited and engaged.

We’ve always struggled with the close-out phase for WordCamps. Organizers are tired and want to catch up with the work and life that they neglected in their pre-event frenzy. Mentors shift their focus to the next crop of frenzied organizers, and the cycle continues.

The result, in most cases, is that organizers get a lot of attention and support while they’re planning an event, but almost no contact after the event is over. This is a problem, because:

  1. Organizers get no constructive feedback on what they did well and what they could improve, and
  2. we lose the chance to recruit them to work on year-round community team programs.

We’ve tried, a couple of times over the past 2-3 years, to improve our follow-up in scheduling WordCamp debriefs, but they happen more as the exception than the rule. So I’d like to see if we can try to solve *some* of this problem with technology — specifically, with automation.

A Proposal

I propose we build an automated reporting tool, which will run a report about a month after each WordCamp. This report can pull financial, attendance, and other information from the WordCamp website, and publish the data on this blog, with a notification sent to the lead organizer upon publication. Then the organizing team can contribute some context around the numbers, if they like, in a comment on the WordCamp CityX Report post.

The Big Question

What do we want to measure? What numbers are relevant to measuring the accomplishments of a WordCamp organizing team? Here is a highly incomplete list of possibilities:

  • Budget data: including event cost per attendee, where money was spent, and whether there was a surplus or deficit
  • Attendees data: including number of new and repeat attendees, number of new signups to the meetup.com group
  • Speaker data: percentage of new speakers, percentage of speakers identifying as women*, percentage of local speakers
  • Organizer data: number of new organizers, number of organizers identifying as women*

What other data should we try to include? Can we capture the “feel” of the event, maybe from the attendee survey?

Anticipating some implementation questions: We could post these numbers to a special page on this site called WordCamp Reports (or something), and then post a notice when new reports were added. That way we won’t be flooding the blog with reporting data, but hopefully we also won’t forget the reports are there. 🙂

Some of this data will be fairly easy to access; for example, we can export a profit and loss statement from Quickbooks quite easily. If we like the idea of getting some “richer” data about our speakers and organizers, collecting that would require some checkboxes added to the Speaker and Organizer CPTs (new, identifies as female, local).  I have no idea how hard it would be to pull info from 1-3 questions the standardized attendee survey. I know we can access the meetup growth figures from meetup.com.

What do you think?

Please share your opinions, thoughts, concerns, and ideas on this subject in a comment on this post! I’m really eager to hear from our team about this idea.

*We definitely want to encourage more speaker and organizer participation from a broad range of groups that are underrepresented in tech, but I propose we focus our tracking on gender balance for this first attempt at automated stats.

#finances, #report, #wordcamps