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FUDCon sponsorships, fares, roommates, and you.

One of the hallmarks of the Fedora Users and Developers Conference, or FUDCon, is that it’s gone global. We just wrapped up another stupendous European event in Zurich this weekend, and we’re already deeply into planning another FUDCon in Tempe in January. Lots of people may also know that we make sponsorships (subsidies) available for our global FUDCon events.

But how do these sponsorships actually work, with regard to paying for stuff like airfares and lodging?

Travel fares

The cost of actually getting from Point A to Point B can be a hindrance for contributors. So we try to make it easier for people who are doing good work to get to FUDCon where they can collaborate in person. The way we do that is by directly buying airfares or other travel tickets. To some extent, we become a little travel agency that serves a small pool of attendees who otherwise couldn’t get to FUDCon. Sending cash advances is possible in some cases, but it’s non-optimal because of the way the accounting works. Buying directly saves time and effort, plus it’s a little more of a personal touch.

No matter the method, there’s always some work involved. It’s worth it, though, when you consider not only what contributors get out of the event, but what they put into it as well! A day of person-time to book travel for a dozen people yields a dozen people coming to FUDCon and clocking several dozen hours of learning, teaching, and good old-fashioned work. That’s a pretty phenomenal ROI before you even start counting the thanks and goodwill of colleagues that you get to send to a fantastic event!

Lodging

We rely on the subsidized people to make their own hotel reservations. Most people who come to FUDCon can cut their costs by sharing a room with someone — double occupancy saves money. The logistics of finding roommates can seem complex, but I’m hoping this post makes it simpler:

  • We have a space on the wiki pre-registration table for Room sharing. When you mark a yes there, it means you want or need a roommate to share costs. When you find a roommate, you mark your roommate’s name in that box — and so does your roommate.

  • We ask the people we subsidize, wherever possible, to find a roommate who is also subsidized. That means we can simply put their room on our “master account” at the hotel, and the subsidized folks don’t have to worry about a thing when they check out. Putting together people whose funding comes from one place just makes sense. If we get all the subsidized folks rooming together, it’s much easier for other people to figure out open roomsharing connections.

  • Finally, all the people who have an open connection for roomsharing — a yes in the Room sharing column but no identified roommate — can easily contact each other through email or IRC to find roommates. It’s like the way BarCamp works. The crowd can solve the problems more easily in a pareto efficient way than just a few planners.

At the hotel, sponsored folks should have to worry as little as possible about their lodging. We take care of the bill for anyone we’re subsidizing at checkout time — it’s that simple. Having a group set up at the hotel where the organizers can deal directly with the hotel management makes things easy for everyone, and also ensures us a good rate on the hotel.

By the way, for the upcoming Tempe event, we were able to secure a rock-bottom price on lodging for a very popular area (the Phoenix area in wintertime) because we knew there were a lot of people who would be participating in the event and would want to stay for the weekend. You can help by making your reservations as soon as possible. Our group rate ends on November 5, so visit the lodging section on the FUDCon Tempe wiki page now, and use one of the handy links to make a reservation!

Decision making

We have a wiki page devoted entirely to the sponsorship/subsidy process. The decisions are made by those who show up to help plan and execute the FUDCon event, and they’re all Fedora community members who want to make sure the maximum number of participants can attend. And just like other FUDCon events, the planners work hard to include people from other regions, ensuring we have some participation from LATAM, EMEA, and APAC regions for the North American event for example.

In the specific case of the upcoming Tempe event, the planners focused on bringing in people who would commit to help plan and execute future FUDCon events in their region, regardless of whether it was held in their locale or country. That helps us spread the sparkling, rainbow-shooting unicorn magic* of FUDCon globally, and increase the community’s ability to drive and improve these events.

Current status

While we have hit our limit on subsidies for the moment, we are still looking for other ways to enhance our subsidy fund. For instance, some of the event organizers are reaching out to potential sponsors who love free and open source software, to see if they’d like to help us defray a few costs. That helps us divert more funds to sponsor additional community members. You can see our current ticket list in the Trac instance we use for planning.

If you’re interested in helping with the work of planning and organizing, why not join our mailing list and come to a meeting? We welcome community participation and you’ll find it’s a great way to help your fellow Fedora community members. See you there!

* Just seeing if you’re still reading.

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