Like all of you, I just found out that the upcoming Joomla! World Conference in Melbourne was postponed due to... a rain forecast?! I understand that this is a figure of speech (OK, I'm Greek, I'm not stupid). The "rain" is used metaphorically and this is exactly why I tweeted yesterday that “It takes more than a website and a joomla.org announcement to organize a world conference. It requires COMMUNITY involvement”. Some people mistook my tweet as a bad take on the Australian and Asian Joomla! Community and the event's organizers, implying that they're incapable, or unimportant, or something like that. On the contrary! This is why I am writing this blog post.
It all started many months ago, when an initiative to organize a global Joomla! event sprung. The organizers tried to get OSM approval for the use of the Joomla! trademark in the event's name, but their attempt fell short. So it was named “J and Beyond”. Irony: one of the organizers became a member of the OSM board a couple of months later. This was an event organized by the community, for the community and without official OSM backing, even though members of the board and its president did attend it – and we all had a great time together!
But – if an event has no official backing, it doesn't get mentioned AT ALL in the joomla.org sites but for 2 days before it begins, can it be a success? You can bet your life on it, it does and it really did! The secret ingredient was community engagement. All of us tweeted and blogged about it, put banners on our sites, convinced one another to attend it... In short, it went viral and it quickly reached capacity. There was a maximum of 200 tickets available and we were 187 Joomla! geeks from 27 countries attending. Not too shabby. Let me say it again: JaB10 was registered as a success in the minds of all attendees because it sprung from the community, it was marketed by the community and brought the community together.
At first, I tried to visit http://conference.joomla.org/ to find more information. Nothing but generic talk. Then, a few days ago, I went to
- What is your target audience? Developers? Businesses? Users?
- If you do not have a solid idea of what it's going to be about (trade fair? community meetup JaB10-style? a party with free beer?), how can you aim to have a larger number of attendees?
- If you don't tell us what it's all about, how can we (the word-wide community) help you make it a success?
You have to communicate clearly and honestly your intentions to the rest of the community if you are to expect us to help you make this conference a huge success. Because, you know, it does take community involvement to make a world conference about an Open Source project and product a success. You need the community to attend it, market it and help. Please, be transparent. Tell us what went wrong and we (all of us!) can help fix it! Being cryptic simply puts us off.
I strongly believe that this miscommunication wasn't intentional. I sincerely hope that on the second take of this conference's organizational attempt you will be more verbose and the rest of us will strongly support you. On a rainy day, all you need is a community umbrella. Let us be that umbrella. Let us all be one big community, marching united towards common objectives.