> Yes, we have. We've even had people want to come to the preconference
> (and pay the preconference charge) but not attend the regular
> conference. :-)
They've wanted to do it, but have they actually been able to? What makes
c4l worthwhile is the ability to mix it up. If people attend with the
intention of just receiving specific training, they're not contributing and
that undermines the experience for everyone.
C4l has seen both free and paid preconferences and it's easy enough to
rationalize either. Since fundraising takes loads of time and effort, it's
tempting to use preconferences as a source of revenue. On the other hand,
they encourage people to come early, meet, socialize, and get fired up so
that the hive mind is already buzzing when the main conference begins --
which leads to the best possible experience for everyone.
The preconference is not supported the same way as the main conference is.
Meals and snacks are not provided, and since they're using the same
infrastructure we had to pay for to support the main conference, the
marginal costs of adding it are minimal (i.e. preconference fees would
actually be used to cover main conference costs). Even with no charge, the
preconference helps keep costs down for the main event because we have to
sell a certain number of room nights to avoid substantial penalties.
C4l is a lot cheaper than other technical conferences, and the reason is
that a lot of forces come together to make that happen. Sponsors cover a
huge chunk of expenses that have dollar figures attached. An army of
volunteers do things that would be cost prohibitive if they had to be paid
for. Even speakers (i.e. the ones who provide content that attracts the
attendees) pay to register. All this is necessary so barriers are low as
possible to participation and the dynamic is as strong as it can be.
Digital Services Program Manager
Orbis Cascade Alliance
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