Hi, Simon Taylor wrote:
I was wrong about the only value of any event right now for any people likely to come being social. That was because I missed an important group of people (even more surprising as I am probably one of them!) - the people who actively follow Haiku but have not actually contributed despite being technically able to. A few people made good suggestions - I'd love to go to an event to get to meet people and also have an intensive session on creating drivers - and then attempt to use my new-found knowledge to get my wireless card supported in Haiku (it's a Ralink chipset, I bought it on purpose because there are OSS drivers available). So that group are the target for WC07. Interests would be both social and educational, probably wanting to learn more advanced driver-level stuff and some Haiku internals. There is a major content overlap with what would be presented for the new-to-the-project potential developer that Koki is keen to attract, so that is a nice side effect. I still think it unlikely it will attract anyone outside of the regulars (due to high initial time and money commitments). However it will attract more of the regulars, and may convince them to take a more active role, so it is definitely worth doing.
I don't know your definition of regulars (and this is where the whole disagreement may lie), but mine is those who actively code or make any other form of tangible contribution. This group is currently quite small, and the goal should be to grow that pool of *active* contributors.
There are many people that are silently watching the progress of Haiku on the side (the website alone has roughly 1.5K registered users) who are not actively contributing to the project in any tangible form. An event like Waltercon could be what some of these people to become active contributors. You have to make it worth for them to attend and you give them the training that they would need. Some of them could be returnees (like Ryan), but there could be a lot more that are new to Haiku (but not to software development or even to BeOS).
One more audience profile to target should be students. Among students you have a great pool of young people that eager to learn new things and are full of energy and time. Haiku could leverage the fact that it has 8 GSoC students this year, and and outreach to students with a challenge to start getting engaged now with Haiku to increase position themselves as candidates for GSoC 2008. These could become the next generation of Haiku developers.
I'm with Michael on his 3 points regarding who goes to conferences and who pays. That's why I insisted on mentioning professional developers - those are people who would potentially attend a conference as their first introduction to Haiku - but the time is not right for them yet. I now believe that WC07 can be successful but only by engaging the regulars.
I don't think this necessarily applies for small scale open source conferences with a niche focus. If WC is held in Europe, you and Michael could be for a surprise. :)
Given Europe's ease of mobility and relatively economic transportation, it is not unreasonable to think that people from one country will attend a conference in another. Granted, there are always budget and timing considerations; but before anyone would even entertain the idea of attending such an event, it has to have value that is worthy. This is a prerequisite: if the event itself is not perceived to have value, then people will not show up even if they had the time and money.
There is one more thing that plays in favor of WC. In the case of Linux, for example, people have plenty of face-to-face venues to choose from, including many local LUGs and regional conferences. In the case of Haiku, WC/BG are the only ones; it's either there or nowhere.