Je leest het goed. WordCamp The Netherlands 2016 was (voorlopig) de laatste editie van dit populaire en druk bezochte WordPress evenement. In deze blog wordt uitgelegd waarom deze beslissing is gemaakt.
De WordCamp organisatie
Voor het organiseren van een WordCamp is toestemming nodig van WordPress Community Support (voorheen WordCamp Central), een onderdeel van de WordPress Foundation. Deze organisatie beoordeelt het organiserende team, het budget, de naam en de locatie en geeft dan goedkeuring om te starten met het organiseren van het evenement.
In sommige gevallen wordt er geen toestemming verleend, bijvoorbeeld door een niet sluitende financiële planning of te weinig ervaren organisatoren.
De reden dat WCS dit doet is om er voor te zorgen dat alle WordCamps aan een bepaalde standaard voldoen en dat iedereen weet van hij of zij kan verwachten. WordCamp is tevens een handelsmerk van de WordPress Foundation.
Beleid van WordPress Community Support
De laatste jaren is er een verschuiving te zien van land-gebaseerde WordCamps naar lokaal georganiseerde WordCamps. Dit is ook het beleid van WCS, en sinds 2014 is er bij aanvang van het organiseren van WCNL steeds een discussie geweest of we door mochten gaan als WCNL. Als organisatie van WCNL hebben we tot dit jaar dus toestemming gekregen om dit te doen.
Proces en communicatie rondom WCNL 2017
Na het succesvolle WCNL 2016 (met bezoekersaantal van 68% meer dan 2015), is begin 2017 gestart met het vinden van nieuwe leden voor de organisatie. Nadat het nieuwe team samengesteld was, hebben we op 8 februari de aanvraag voor het organiseren van WCNL 2017 verstuurd naar WCS. Op 17 februari, heb ik met WCS gepraat op Slack, en hebben we het beleid van WCS nogmaals besproken. Omdat er al een aanvraag voor WordCamp Nijmegen aangevraagd was, leek het op dat moment geen probleem om ook een WCNL te organiseren. In onderstaande quotes en email conversaties is te zie hoe de uiteindelijke beslissing tot stand is gekomen.
WCNL: So to resume, I don’t have to call off the organising team for WCNL 2017?
WCS: no – you don’t
i just wanted to talk over that stuff first
and i think doing WCNL this year is all good with me
after the regional wordcamps discussion at the summit this year, we’ll see what the general decision is and reevaluate next year
Helaas kreeg ik na 10 minuten het volgende bericht:
WCS: just thinking about this a bit more – we generally enforce the non-regional camps for all other communities and WCNL is pretty much the only exception to that rule right now – that doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but i think i need to chat to my team a bit more about it first – they’re mostly offline right now of course, but im going to get some feedback from them then ping you again – is that alright?
i don’t want to discourage you or anything, but with NL being the only exception, other countries that have switched to city-based camps will be confused
Op 20 februari kregen we een mail waarin werd gesteld dat men toch graag wilde dat we naar city-based WordCamps gingen alvorens er een overkoepelende WordCamp voor de Nederlandse community kon worden georganiseerd.
Hierbij werd aangegeven dat WCS op dit moment het gevoel heeft dat lokale (city-based) WordCamps nu tegen worden gehouden door een overkoepelend evenement.
Thank you for your patience as we discussed the WordCamp Netherlands question – I just needed to discuss it all with the rest of the other community team members as I was not fully aware of the history of your camp and I needed some general clarity on what has previously been discussed and what the best way forward is for everyone.
After some discussion and thoughts around it, we have come to some conclusions and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it all. From what I can gather, there has been a lot of talk about moving from a country-wide WordCamp in the Netherlands, to city-based ones. When we received the WordCamp Nijmegen application earlier this year, we thought that was starting to happen and that you (as a community) had decided to go with city-based camps.
Until recently there have been three other communities (aside from the Netherlands) who have been doing country-wide camps and all of them have changed things this year so that they are doing city-based camps instead. The Netherlands is now the only country where that is not directly happening (aside from Nijmegen of course). We had long discussions with all of those communities and, in the end, they all understood the importance of local city-based WordCamps and how country-wide camps don’t really accomplish the goals of the WordCamp programme.
I know you have been doing a country-wide camp for a while, but I think at this point it’s worth going over the two reasons/scenarios where a country-wide camp makes sense under the guidelines and expectations of the WordCamp programme:
- Regional (or country-wide) WordCamps need to inspire local cities to have their own camps – if a regional camp prevents (or otherwise detracts from) local communities doing that, then it is very much missing the point of why we do regional camps.
- Regional camps only exist (and are only approved) in regions where all of the major cities already have their own WordCamps. Even though we haven’t formally come to a decision about approving regional WordCamps, the current expectation (and most likely the expectation going forward) has always been that regional camps are only approved in those circumstances.
WordCamp Netherlands has been held 6 times to date and neither of those points are true for the region. It has not inspired any local WordCamps (in fact, I think it’s probably fair to say that local camps have not been happening because people don’t see a need for them with the country-wide camp happening each year) and, with the exception of Nijmegen, which is still in the pre-planning phase, no cities in the Netherlands have their own WordCamps.
With that in mind, we feel that the time has come for your community to move from the country-wide camp to running local camps. This has started happening with Nijmegen already and can easily start happening more with WordCamps in Utrecht, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and other cities.
I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this and hear any concerns you may have about any of these things. If you feel you disagree with any of this then please say so and we can talk through it.
Looking forward to hearing back from you!
Na het delen van deze mail met het team, hebben we een uitgebreid antwoord gegeven met voldoende motivatie om toch een uitzondering te geven voor WCNL.
Korte versie van deze mail: We zijn het niet eens met de argumenten van WCS en we willen WordCamp The Netherlands graag behouden om de Nederlandse Community het beste te blijven bedienen. Hier enkele van onze argumenten:
- Geografisch gezien is Nederland kleiner dan (bijvoorbeeld) Tokyo, die ook zijn WordCamp heeft
- Nederland heeft al een sterke Meetup cultuur, in plaats van vele locale city-based WordCamps
As a team we have discussed this and the following is a result of our conversations.
TL;DR: We do not agree with your arguments, and believe we should keep WordCamp The Netherlands to best serve the Dutch WordPress community.
Replies to your arguments
“From what I can gather, there has been a lot of talk about moving from a country-wide WordCamp in the Netherlands, to city-based ones.”
Over the last years, there has been a lot of push from WordCamp Central/Community Support to move to city-based WordCamps in the Netherlands. Due to the size of the Netherlands, and the way our community is formed we have always fought this idea. We’ll explain the ‘why’ later on in this email.
“Until recently there have been three other communities (aside from the Netherlands) who have been doing country-wide camps and all of them have changed things this year so that they are doing city-based camps instead.”
The fact that other communities adapted to your interpretation of the rules, does not mean that we should follow. Rules are there to be negotiated when the circumstances call for it. The Netherlands has its own culture, which is unaffected by decisions made in other communities.
“how country-wide camps don’t really accomplish the goals of the WordCamp programme.”
Without full explanation, this is a pretty useless statement. WordCamp The Netherlands/Nederland has been connecting the Dutch WordPress community for years. It’s been open to everyone, it was locally organized, it’s been all about WordPress, it’s been promoting collaboration and making connections, it hasn’t been about the money and it accurately represented the WordPress project as a whole. We’d very much like you to elaborate on how specifically we did not accomplish the goals of the WordCamp program.
“Regional (or country-wide) WordCamps need to inspire local cities to have their own camps – if a regional camp prevents (or otherwise detracts from) local communities doing that, then it is very much missing the point of why we do regional camps.”
This argument has been used quite a lot over the last years. That’s why we, in particular Taco who’s also part of the WCNL organization, decided to show that WordCamp The Netherlands wasn’t holding back the organization of city-based WordCamps. Since Taco first joined the WCNL organization and then gained the confidence to organize a city-based one, he’s the ultimate proof that WCNL did inspire a local event. And we know for a fact that other local events are already being discussed and prepared.
Reasons to keep WordCamp The Netherlands
Apart from the arguments you provided not to allow a WordCamp The Netherlands, we have four very good reasons to have a WordCamp The Netherlands, next to city-based WordCamps.
The first reason is a geographical and population one. The popular definition of a small city (worldwide) is when it has between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people. There are three cities in the Netherlands in that category, as you can see here: https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lijst_van_grootste_gemeenten_in_Nederland. We do not have any medium (1,000,000 – 2,000,000), large (2,000,000 – 3,500,000) or giant cities (3,500,000+) in the Netherlands.
The city of Tokyo (population: 13,200,000+) has just one WordCamp. The whole of the Netherlands (population: 17,000,000+) isn’t that much bigger and will have – at the very least – two WordCamps; WordCamp The Netherlands and WordCamp Nijmegen.
Everyone in The Netherlands can reach the WordCamp The Netherlands location in less than 1,5 hours by car. This is less than it is for some people who live in the city of New York to reach the WordCamp New York location. Why do we give these examples? To give you an idea of how small The Netherlands really is.
The second, and more important reason to keep WordCamp The Netherlands is because it is for everyone in The Netherlands. We as a people are proud to be Dutch. Being Dutch is something that unites. Being Dutch overrules all the issues there are between people from different cities and regions.
For example, if we drop WCNL in favor of city-based WordCamps, the people from Amsterdam wouldn’t visit a WordCamp in Rotterdam, or any WordCamp east of Utrecht. The people of Rotterdam wouldn’t visit a WordCamp in Amsterdam, or any WordCamp east of Utrecht. The people from Groningen wouldn’t visit a WordCamp in Eindhoven, and vice versa. Of course, you could argue that WCNL could become WordCamp Utrecht. But that has a few issues too.
None of the current organizers are from Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam or The Hague (to name but a few large cities in The Netherlands). So each and every one of us would be disqualified to organize the event. Second, people would be less likely to travel to Utrecht for a local event, than they would for a national event.
Our third reason to keep -most of- the status quo, is that The Netherlands has a very active meetup culture. Even though we have just three small cities, and everyone can reach the center of the country within a 90 minutes drive, we do have 13 meetups. On average, these meetups happen once every three months and draw up to 100 attendees every time. They are the local events that star local talent, invite locals to speak and are organized by locals. We don’t need WordCamps to fill that role.
As a result, by losing WordCamp The Netherlands, we’d lose the event that binds all the smaller (meetup) communities in The Netherlands. We do not want fragmentation.That cannot be your goal, right?
Fourthly, we feel we’re not being taken seriously in stating these facts and arguments over and over again. We get that rules change, we get that there should be a continuous evaluation of the status quo, but we think – we of course double checked this with many of the WP Meetup organizers and leaders in our community – that we, as Dutch WordPress Community, really would NOT benefit from your ruling.
Also, after building a WordPress community in The Netherlands and organizing WordCamp The Netherlands for 8 years, the new ruling feels like a disappointment to all our work done and is completely ignoring the success we’ve had.
Subsequently, several organizers have expressed the feeling that they’re not being taken seriously having built a Community in The Netherlands, and indicated/are thinking about to completely stop volunteering their precious time into organizing a WordCamp. That is, if we need to abandon the WordCamp The netherlands organization / setup.
The WordCamp The Netherlands team
Met al deze argumenten op een rij hadden we het gevoel dat we genoeg lokale kennis en ervaring hadden gedeeld met WCS, en hoopten dat ze dit ter harte zouden nemen en ons alsnog goedkeuring zouden geven voor het organiseren van WCNL 2017. Na een week kreeg ik een verzoek om samen met mijn contact bij WCS een gesprek te hebben. Dit gesprek heeft gisteren plaatsgevonden.
In dit gesprek werd er niet bepaald ingegaan op onze argumenten en nogmaals benadrukt dat WCS graag ziet dat we overgaan op kleinschaligere city-based WordCamps. Om deze reden is WCNL voor 2017 dus niet goedgekeurd. Hieronder vind je het verslag van dit gesprek:
Thanks for taking the time to chat today – was good to be able to talk through things on a call instead of on email 🙂
As promised, here’s a summary of everything we spoke about for future reference:
After discussing things internally, we (as the WordCamp Central team) would like to see the Dutch WordPress community move from a single annual WordCamp The Netherlands (WCNL), to more frequent city-based WordCamps. Not only is this in keeping with guidelines of the WordCamp programme in general, but we feel it would be a much better representation of the WordPress community in the Netherlands. Your country may be small (as you pointed out), but with 13 meetup groups of the sizes that they are, there is a huge amount of potential for multiple WordCamps across the country every year. To that end, we will not be approving WCNL for 2017.
You brought up a concern about sponsors potentially not being willing to sponsor local (city-based) WordCamps as they will be smaller than the national WCNL event, but the way I see it, multiple smaller camps would be cheaper to sponsor (due to lower costs) and there will ultimately be more people attending these camps in total than there would be at a single event every year. On that note, I indicated that we would be happy to assist you by writing a letter to past WCNL sponsors about the change in situation and giving them some motivation to continue sponsoring local WordCamps just as much as they have sponsored WCNL in the past – if you would like us to do this at any stage hen just let me know!
The next steps from here are very much up to you and your fellow organisers, but what we would like to see would be a few applications for city-based WordCamps across the Netherlands (Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Utrecht spring to mind as good options to start with) to go alongside the upcoming WordCamp Nijmegen that is in pre-planning at the moment. In a few years time, if there are a number of local WordCamps happening regularly around the country, then we can look at doing a WCNL again, but as a way to complement those local camps rather than replace them.
We also briefly discussed the possibility of a non-WordCamp event maybe happening in the Netherlands after this. That is, of course, your decision and we would happy with that. You would just need to bear in mind, of course, that if you organise an event outside of the WordCamp programme you will not be able to use the WordCamp tools, branding and trademarks, and you would not receive funding from our global community sponsorship programme. That isn’t necessarily what you are planning on doing of course, but I think it’s good to be aware of the implications there.
That about sums up everything we spoke about – if you think I misrepresented (or left out) anything that we discussed then please reply to let me know so we have an accurate record here.
Please know that we are not trying to diminish the great work that you and your team have done over the years in the Netherlands. We are, in fact, hugely excited about the growth of the community so far and we feel that moving to city-based camps will only encourage further growth across the country – something that we will all be happy about!
In een laatste poging om WordPress Community Support er van te overtuigen om toch nog, al is het maar voor de laatste keer, een WordCamp The Netherlands te mogen organiseren, stuurden we deze mail:
We have a few things to add.
The recap doesn’t mention the part where we were told that WCNL 2016 would be last country-based WordCamp in The Netherlands. Yes, the organisers had a nice conversation with Sam, of which the outcome was: let’s see if local-based WordCamps are going to happen. Nothing in this conversation indicated that there would be no more WCNL. We would very much like WCS to reply to this.
We’re incredibly sad and disappointed that we didn’t get any answers whatsoever to our arguments of why we think it’s best for the WordPress community in The Netherlands to have WCNL? Right now it just sounds like you want to drive your plans forward and disregards our arguments altogether.
Despite your decision, we would like you to consider in having us organize one final WCNL though. This will allow us to prepare and explain the attendees and sponsors and the community at large about the shift to local WCs. And even more important, it will allow us to recruit and stimulate people into organizing more locally scattered WCs. On the other hand an expected number of 750 people await the announcement of a WCNL 2017. The absence of a final WCNL 2017 will with all certainty not be compensated with a similar, local WC. And at least not in 2017.
Helaas was dit het antwoord:
I’ve had a lot of input about this from the rest of our team, as well as others with a vested interest in the WordCamp programme. Thanks for your patience in waiting for a reply.
To clarify our decision here (as I think I couched the language a bit too much in my last email): we will not be approving WordCamp The Netherlands 2017. We would like to see city-based WordCamps happening around the Netherlands – Nijmegen being a great start to that process.
We’re confident that with the space that WCNL filled being vacated, we will see some of the meetup organisers around the country stepping up to fill that space for their local communities. The local city camps may be smaller, but in many ways that can be a much better than a single large camp.
As I said before, we would be happy to look at doing WCNL again in a couple of years time once there are a few city-based camps around the country happening regularly. In that case, however, WCNL would be there to complement, and not replace, the city-based camps.
I don’t think there’s really any benefit to responding to all of your points in the last email individually – if there’s anything specific that you would like a response to then please tell me and I’ll give you our input. We’re not just trying to drive our ideas forward and bulldoze you, but as we disagree on the way forward here, I can understand how it may seem that way.
I get what you’re saying about hosting one more WCNL to prepare people for doing city-based camps from next year, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to “recruit and stimulate people into organizing more locally scattered WCs.” That kind of thing can be done very easily by contacting meetup groups and getting the word out that way. In addition, you said that “the absence of a final WCNL 2017 will with all certainty not be compensated with a similar, local WC. And at least not in 2017.” We actually agree with you there, but that’s OK. We fully expect that growth of local WordCamps to happen from 2018 onwards and that isn’t a problem at all, so if that’s the case then that’s alright with us 🙂
I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point, but if you have any further questions then please ask and I’ll do my best to answer!
Hoe nu verder?
Op dit moment zijn er een aantal initiatieven opgestart om lokale WordCamps te starten in Nederland. Dit juichen we uiteraard toe en we hopen dat dit de WordPress gemeenschap in Nederland versterkt. Zoals door WordPress Community Support is aangegeven is het misschien over een paar jaar weer tijd voor een WordCamp The Netherlands.
Namens de organisatie wil ik iedereen die bijgedragen heeft aan WordCamp The Netherlands (organisatoren, sponsors, sprekers, vrijwilligers en natuurlijk de bezoekers) bedanken voor hun toewijding, interesse en bijdrage aan dit mooie evenement.
To all the WordCamp The Netherlands attendees who do not understand Dutch well enough to understand the post above:
If you’ve read through the emails above, you already know what we’re going to summarize here. WordCamp Community Support hasn’t given the WCNL organization permission to continue organizing WCNL, because they decided to enforce the city-based WordCamps only policy.
This means there will be no WordCamp The Netherlands 2017.