With the eyes of the main organizer of the Free Software Conference in Szeged

With the eyes of the main organizer of the Free Software Conference in Szeged

This was the tenth time we organized the conference, of which I was once again the main organizer. In this article, I would like to share with the dear readers one of the experiences that have crystallized in me over the years, which may even be useful in the organization of other types of events.

This experience is related to the alignment of goals. The more you manage to coordinate the different goals according to their nature, the more successful an event can be, especially in the medium and long term. What are the goals?

The “spiritual” goal of the event

This gives the event its spirituality, which all participants perceive in some way, especially the key actors, who in our case are the performers and the audience . The most important thing is that they get what they come for as much as possible, because without them the other goals will not be sustainable either. In our case, this goal is approx. it sounds like this: sharing our knowledge about free software, with the possibility of connecting to each other. This provides the spiritual backbone of the event, but at the same time, each speaker and participant may have additional individual goals, which should be paid attention to separately if possible. For example, in our case there was a speaker for whom the most important thing was to make a recording of his presentation, which he will be able to distribute on other platforms. Furthermore, speakers who do not speak Hungarian came for the first time this year, so we tried to shape the event in such a way that it could be as useful as possible for them too – e.g. for the lectures in English, we made sure that they were not parallel to each other if possible (the lectures were held in 3 rooms at the same time), so that they could listen to all of them.

Aim of the supportersWe have always subordinated the “business model” to the spirit, and since the sharing of free software with each other is not of a financial give-and-take nature, we have tried to enable the sharing of knowledge at the conference since the very beginning in such a way that the speakers and the audience the money should not come into view, but should come solely for the sake of sharing knowledge and connections. However, there are costs, not small ones, which are always a challenge to raise, and thus the contribution of supporters is crucial from a “financial” point of view. For this reason, the goals of the sponsors are also important for the existence of the conference, and we tried to give them as much space as possible – as long as it did not contradict the above spirit. In the case of most of our sponsors, this meant visibility and the opportunity to find a colleague, and in the case of those with grant funds, the administrative conditions of the given grant.

The experience In addition to the general or individual goals set in advance, there is also an experience side of the event: overall, what does each participant experience, how does each participant feel . Perhaps this kind of experience, in addition to the fulfillment of big goals, mostly depends on attention to details and on prior and on-site communication.
This can be helped by imagining ourselves in the place of the different types of participants (presenter, sponsor, student, etc.) and based on the information planned to be sent to them, in imagination we run through it to see if everything is clear to them and what overall impression they get, and if necessary, we change our communication.

FeedbackIn different forms, but every year we asked for feedback from the participants. This year, 60 people filled out the feedback form. In the general evaluation, we received an average of 9.15 points on a scale of 10 for the organization, and 8.51 for the professional quality of the presentations. Many highlighted the online broadcast, the diversity of topics, and the opportunity to talk with the speakers as the best thing. Several people highlighted the good atmosphere. We received many diverse insights on the question “what could be improved”, which we will consider one by one when organizing the next conference.We hope to see you again next year!

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