IndiaFOSS 3.0 - Feedback

Some quick feedback on IndiaFOSS 3.0

Organisation

  • Participants were diverse and enthusiastic
  • Volunteer energy was awesome
  • Website / Ticketing went smooth
  • Designs were slick
  • Social media was great
  • Venue was great
  • Hosting / timing was perfect
  • Talks were well managed
  • Food / catering was great
  • Conference needed a single point of contact - specially first day morning
  • Let’s avoid stalls giving away merch (stickers are fine)

Talks

While people remember the networking and connections they made, the conference’s “weight” is the quality of ideas / talks that are shared.

  • We got good talk proposals. The selection process could have been better. (My bad)
  • Opening note should have been done by someone with more experience / credibility (the volunteers did an excellent job). The opening note should lay down the context of the event and setup the audience for what to expect. Something that is inspirational and motivating.
  • Talk sequences could have been better. More general talks should have been upfront and specific talks in 2nd half. Later half for panels and discussions.
  • We should prepare a document on what makes a good conference talk → Narrative (I will do this!)

Ideas for 4.0

  • Make it a fair along with a conference: We should open up the space and add many more tables / stalls. We can give away tables to all FOSS projects for a very low price.
  • End the day with music: We can find volunteers for this as well.
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We should start later (10-10.30 would work i guess) so that we have more time to set up everything in the morning… In the livestreaming side, it takes easily 30-40 minutes to setup everything which makes everything tightly packed and results in us not being able to cover a good portion of the first talk in some cases.

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Here are few Suggestions, from few of us of FOSS United Kochi

  • Set up WIFI and Power at least 1 or 2 days before. And provide WIFI and enough power outlets for Participants also, if budget permits. separate access points for internal usage(streams, stalls, workshops) and participants would be ideal.
  • Finalize the talks and workshops and publish the schedule early.
  • Assign on ground responsibilities to volunteers well much in advance. Guide them as required, there is a limit how much we could learn on the go.
  • Test registration desk process, others, and those team members at least 1 day before.
  • Panellists could have been better.
  • keep all experience desks and such in ground floor, where they would get more visibility
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Context : I attended the conference on Saturday and Sunday till 12 PM. I wasn’t able to attend any talk or panel discussion during the conference and I spent all of my time networking outside the auditoriums.

I didn’t go up to the first floor at all so I’m not sure how the stalls/showcases on the first floor were compared to those on the ground floor. We should ask the people/projects who manned those stalls for feedback on their experience. There was space around/behind Audi 2 that we might have used for these stalls instead of going up a level.

As someone who was taking care of a young child during the conference, it would have been great if there were a small corner of the conference dedicated to young participants. There were two other girls who found a small corner to do craft on their own. In the future, especially if we want to improve the diversity of the audience (age-wise and gender-wise), we should seriously consider setting aside a small space for young audience and communicating this ahead of time with the speakers and the audience.

Regarding Food & Beverages, it would have been great if coffee and tea were available throughout the day instead of only at specific times of the day.

6 Likes

Agree with the above comments.

The event was amazing and high energy. For its scale and smoothness (any hiccups have been minor compared to the scale), the positive reviews and stories, it was indeed a great success. Good food too!

Things to further improve:

  • The quality and organisation of sessions can be improved further.

  • We need a process / system for training volunteers and clearly communicating responsibilities. We have to do justice to the energy and enthusiasm volunteers bring. I think this requires a dedicated person, someone whose sole focus is nurturing, mentoring, and enabling volunteers. Not just for IndiaFOSS, but for the community in general.

  • Reduce points of manual and adhoc intervention with automation as much as possible. All the little things that broke this year. Ticketing, refunds, scheduling, CFP management, speaker notifications, review comments etc. Hopefully, by next year, the platform will have all this.

  • Make CFP reviews fully external / community based with only minimal guidance / involvement from the organisers and volunteers with other responsibilities.

  • CFP reviews, speaker invitation and management etc are big, complex tasks. Delegate better and reduce fee individuals taking up too many big tasks.

  • Explicitly advertise that the event is kids friendly. Invite the community to organise activities for kids (like we had last year). This was also brought up in the open mic session.

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IndiaFOSS 3.0 - Insights and Feedback

IndiaFOSS’s third edition marked a commendable growth in scale and impact, demonstrating the potential of a volunteer-driven event. Within the spirit and energy, there are several lessons and insights that I’ve observed and curated from feedback, to further enhance the quality and effectiveness of future editions:

  1. To have a clear division of labour between individuals who take ownership of the different workgroups and aspects - which could be logistics and non-logistics, to have better accountability.
  1. Most of our volunteers were new to volunteering for large events and had to be briefed to make them more familiar with our workflows. The bottleneck occurred when the communication wasn’t that effective for handling the event days, and led to confusions at some points

  2. Managing communication and coordination more effectively is in scope for improvement.

    • One of our goals until the next IndiaFOSS is to nurture a process for the same, not just for event volunteering, but for all contributions to the community.
  3. Tracking our progress/decisions in public (forum) is the better way, as it demands more accountability. Even though it was a point duly noted while we started, it got mixed as the event neared, and some of the logistic aspects were missed to be updated on our planning thread.

    • As a measure, we are now making a point to be more active on forum, and share notes on our discussions here. A few to be regularly updated - the platform changelog, new design strategy, organisational updates and decisions etc.
  4. Our selection of talks and sessions went through a delay - in curation, decisions, publishing and feedback. Though quality was maintained on the selection, the process itself had nuances - and making it more open makes it effective for better.

    • We are developing a CFP management and review module in our new platform that helps the review of proposals better.

    • @rushabh is on to create guidelines on how a good talk/proposal is to be.

    • The platform will also channelise our efforts into automating as much workflows and experiences - ticketing, emailing, scheduling, information management etc.,

  5. FOSS Awards’ nominations and plans are on hold for this time. The updates on the same will be shared soon.

Most of the post-event action items are in process - feedback curation, auditing and budget reports (will be published after reimbursements are done) etc.,

With all the insights, we are now set for another year at FOSS United - and our efforts are streamlined for its growth as a community-driven organisation.

Cheers :innocent:

6 Likes

IMO the event was very fabulous and from what it looked like I can surely say that there was a lot of networking happening outside the auditorium.

What could be improved ?

  • Most of our volunteers were very young and had been volunteering and managing stuff for such a big event for the very first time (including me). I feel next year, we can try communicating more with them and invest little more of our time into properly explaining them what needs to be done on their side. At some points, I felt that some of them were a bit confused about what they had to do.
  • More FAQ: We structured the FAQ more accordingly thinking from a participant’s perspective. We should also plan for a speakers session.
  • I totally agree with arya on this. Because we were a bit late for the setup in the beginning, we had to cancel QnA for most of the talks in the beginning which made the sessions not so interactive. We can try including at least one question from the audience.

The event was great for more than one reasons. I was there last year too and could see same energy this year with lot of improvements.

What I loved?

  • Venue - The choice of venue was good. It was nearer to Metro station and the auditorium was sophisticated to host such an event.

  • Food - Like last time, food was great.

  • Range of Topics in Sessions - The sessions had a good variety of topics. Some of them that I liked are Open Biology, VGLUG, Open Telemetry, DNS Toys, Private 5G, Building Load Balancer

  • Workshops - Thanks for this initiative. This made the event more interactive. I got to learn the basics of OCaml.

What could have been Done Better?

  • Ticket Presentation at Desk - The QR Code was only sent to mail of which I had forgotten password. I had to take out my laptop, login to the mail and show the ticket. It would have been helpful if the QR code was sent to WhatsApp or Telegram too (At least as an option)

  • Ticket Presentation on Day 2 - I had the physical sticker that was given to me on Day 1. I did not understand why we were asked to present the QR code again on Day 2.

  • Sensitization of Volunteers - Volunteers had great energy but could be sensitized a little more. One of the volunteers spoke to me in Hindi which I did not understand. I asked them to repeat the same in English. They asked me if I don’t understand Hindi. I said I’m not great at it. They did not repeat whatever they said.

  • Availability of Charging Points - It will be great if this is made available at the event. I had to struggle to charge my phone in the venue.

  • Workshop room was congested. The room for workshop was too small for the number of participants. Better rooms or capping the number of participants would have been helpful.

Overall, it was a great experience to see the impact of FOSS in two days. Thanks to the whole team for organizing.

2 Likes

Ticket Presentation at Desk - The QR Code was only sent to mail of which I had forgotten password. I had to take out my laptop, login to the mail and show the ticket. It would have been helpful if the QR code was sent to WhatsApp or Telegram too (At least as an option)

We try to take the least info possible (though regulatory stuff requires us to take some extra stuff), you could try screenshotting and sending it to yourself on another platform though :slight_smile:

Ticket Presentation on Day 2 - I had the physical sticker that was given to me on Day 1. I did not understand why we were asked to present the QR code again on Day 2.

Many people came only on day 2, and the physical sticker once stuck on day 1 cannot be reused easily since glue wears off… This was more to ease logistics on our side.

Availability of Charging Points - It will be great if this is made available at the event. I had to struggle to charge my phone in the venue.

This and WiFi for general use (especially with LTE not being that good) would have been nice.

Workshop room was congested. The room for workshop was too small for the number of participants. Better rooms or capping the number of participants would have been helpful.

Unfortunately workshops were organized/thought of pretty late so we weren’t able to get better rooms for it (not sure if NIMHANS had bigger rooms we could hire). Parallel sessions is something we will give more heed to in the next IndiaFOSS for sure!

PS: I am just a volunteer, not part of FOSS United

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Hey, not sure about how one would encourage the use of closed source platforms like Whatsapp or Telegram for a flagship FOSS Conference. But yes, this really gives a good idea of having a download button for next year.

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