[RFC] Converging IndiaFOSS and FOSS Hack

The purpose of this post is to have a discussion that could potentially reshape our flagship events – FOSS HACK and IndiaFOSS.

We had over 500+ participants at FOSS Hack 3.0 (including 150+ folks who joined in person), and 1200+ people at IndiaFOSS 3.0. Now, as we scale up, we need to enhance the experience for both participants and volunteers alike.

Currently,these events are organised with a few months of gap between them so as to ensure enough time and effort can go into planning them. As we tread this path, a new dea has emerged – to combine FOSS HACK and IndiaFOSS into one extended event of innovation, learning, and collaboration.

Why Consider Combining?

Running two major events within a short timeframe demands an immense amount of effort and dedication from our community. By merging FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS into a single event we envision creating a seamless experience that maximizes the impact of both events while minimizing exhaustion for the team and volunteers.

It also helps the energy of a hackathon seamlessly transition into the knowledge-sharing spirit of a FOSS conference.

Consolidating our efforts for a joint event allows us to streamline logistics, reduce duplication of tasks, and ensure a smoother experience for everyone involved.

We would like to hear the community’s thoughts on the same, potential concerns, challenges, benefits that you may be able to foresee. Please share your insights, questions, and suggestions in the comments below.

Ideas so far

  • Conduct the events together, a 24 hour hackathon starting on Friday Morning transitioning to IndiaFOSS on Saturday, perhaps at the same venue. NIMHANS first floor could be used for the hackathon while volunteers make arrangements for the conference on ground floor. This will ensure consolidated efforts going into logistics, since the events happens in a collective period.

  • Conduct both events spanning over two adjacent weekends. A localised FOSS Hack where each city chapter will conduct their own FOSS Hack, culminating into IndiaFOSS 4.0, conducted as a single event at one venue in the flagship model.
    This ensures that people don’t have to take a leave from their workplace/institute for a weekday event, and also reduces the amount of travel and accomodation requirement for speakers,volunteers and participants since the hackathon may be happening in a city nearby them. It will also definitely help us reach more people for FOSS Hack, and have both events more smoothly and involve more of the community.


I strongly disagree with the idea.

While it is true that organizing the conference took a lot more time and energy than originally anticipated, I believe merging FOSS Hack with IndiaFOSS 3.0 will not solve the fundamental problem. As a volunteer with the sponsorships team for IndiaFOSS 3.0, I’ve seen (but not personally experienced) the various inefficiencies during our efforts to organize the conference. We need to have an honest conversation about all of the different mistakes that happened over the course of planning the conference, and during the conference, to ensure that we are all able to organize a better conference. Otherwise, we are doomed to make the same mistakes, at a bigger scale/worse impact if FOSS Hack is held together with IndiaFOSS.

Benefits of the existing format (of 6 months gap between FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS)

  • the entire community continues to have a reason to gather twice an year instead of just once an year
  • winners/runner ups/participants of FOSS Hack can continue iterating on their projects and maybe speak at IndiaFOSS afterwards, if they continue developing. For example, Raven was one of the winners of FOSS Hack 2023 and their project matured enough to be present at IndiaFOSS 2023. That way, we can provide projects an opportunity to continue interacting with the community, instead of leaving an year long gap between broader community updates

Ensure that FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS retain volunteers

From what I have heard, and seen, most of the volunteer team this year wasn’t active for last years’ IndiaFOSS. The additional burden of learning things/people/communication/processes/tasks for the first time while also organizing a 1000+ conference was, in my understanding, a major source of pain and frustration.

I strongly believe that the long term solution for the problem is to ensure that every “team” retain atleast one volunteer from IndiaFOSS and FOSS Hack.

In addition, I believe that the organizers need to actively groom volunteers to take on leadership roles for a future IndiaFOSS. One way to do this is to have “Shadows” e.g. every team “lead” has a “shadow”, who will be present for any activity/task the “lead” is performing. And after being a “shadow”, the person could potentially be promoted to being a “lead”.

Document processes

Despite our best efforts, it might so happen that a few teams don’t have any old/experienced volunteer. To handle such situations, we should extensively document all of the tasks that are handled before, during, and after IndiaFOSS and FOSS Hack. Exhaustive documentation can be annoying but for a conference organized by a rotating group of volunteers who are spread across the country, documentation is the only long-term solution, in my humble opinion.

Documenting the tasks and how they were performed will, hopefully, over time reveal the right set of processes that the leadership team could put in place.


While I agree on that fact that a lot of things could’ve been done better and can be improved upon, I don’t think it took more energy or time than I anticipated. Organising a conference of this scale with just 40 volunteers like we did is always going to be a lot of effort.

The cityFOSS conferences tour will be wrapped up earliest by April, that doesn’t leave 6 months of gap between two events. Not just in terms of time, but considering the effort and planning that goes into both events, I doubt if we’ll be able to organise both in 2024.

Do you think the FOSS United team that focuses on the events side of things ( currently Vishal, Riya, Me, Mangesh and you) will have the bandwidth to look into two yearly major events, cityFOSS conferences, meetups along with other community work?

As a volunteer for the Community Partnerships team, I can imagine the repetition of effort that will take place at my end for two seperate events. I can think of the same issues being faced by the Logistics team, who would have to deal with vendors seperately for both events.Combining FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS could actually reduce the overall workload by consolidating planning and execution efforts, making the process more efficient.

With both events happening together ( with a gap of a week/one day as proposed), we would be able to announce FOSS Hack Winners directly in the conference, have the hackathon participants take part in project showcase and also have the winners give a talk at the conference. Of course, while we won’t be able to give time to these people to actually iterate more on their projects, I believe we’ll be giving a platform to a good number of projects that can be showcased.

The winners of foss hack can also make use of cityFOSS conferences and present to local communities rather than just one big event.

For example: Raven’s participation at HydFOSS.

Can we expect volunteers to work for the whole year, if we organize a major event in every 6 months? In terms of volunteering, we still see the same folks handling meetups, CityFOSS conferences and contributing to the yearly events.

Asking them to take up the same activities twice a year is additional workload and not something that can help us retain people.

Following an extended format, like PyCon India’s Devsprints + Conferences 4 day model helps us ensure lesser workload for volunteers, a chance for our conference participants to consider participating in the hackathon (currently there is a huge difference in number of participants)


The concept of having a shadow will definitely help, but consider a scenario where a volunteer, shadowed for an entire event, lacks the bandwidth to lead the next one. A possible compromise could be that the shadow starts documenting conversations and mistakes, while the lead focuses on execution. This way, even if a new lead steps in next time, they’ll have a record of what happened previously. As of now, we only share the minutes of major discussions.

I agree that having two major events per year will benefit the community. This is feasible if we dedicate one person to manage the yearly events. This person would communicate with all the volunteers (around ~40) before and after each event. Documentation will assist this person, in successfully running these major annual events. As Ansh mentioned in the previous reply, if we rely on just 4 or 5 people for all events, plus organizational and ad hoc tasks, we risk repeating some mistakes and might not be able to give our best to the community.

What do you think?

I take full responsibility for the oversight in not documenting the planning of FOSS Hack 2020, 2021, 2023, and IndiaFOSS 2.0 and 3.0. To avoid repeating past mistakes, I am committing to documenting the entire process of previous FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS (as much as I can from my memory) before we start planning the next big event.


Setting up a deadline for each event documentation here:

IndiaFOSS 3.0 - Dec 15th 2023
FOSS Hack 2023 - Dec 30th 2023
IndiaFOSS 2.0 - Jan 15th 2024
FOSS Hack 2021 - Jan 30th 2024
FOSS Hack 2020 - Feb 15th 2024


I disagree with the basic premise of a 3-4 day long consolidation of multiple distinct events.

Currently,these events are organised with a few months of gap between them so as to ensure enough time and effort can go into planning them. As we tread this path, a new dea has emerged – to combine FOSS HACK and IndiaFOSS into one extended event of innovation, learning, and collaboration.

We should consider the possible reduction in number of people who will join the later parts of the event, which are arguably more “important” than FOSSHack. As we have seen from IndiaFOSS itself, the day 2 numbers is usually 3/4th to 1/2 the numbers on day 1 and this might be exacerbated if we have two events in a 3-4 day structure.

The ability of people to take leave and travel for so many days straight is also another thing I am concerned about.

It also helps the energy of a hackathon seamlessly transition into the knowledge-sharing spirit of a FOSS conference.

This could possibly result in volunteer and hackathon participant burn-out, and generally less activity in the later parts of the conference.

NIMHANS first floor could be used for the hackathon while volunteers make arrangements for the conference on ground floor. This will ensure consolidated efforts going into logistics, since the events happens in a collective period.

IndiaFOSS Volunteers should be allowed to participate in FOSSHack as well? :slight_smile:

Collectively doing this will also for sure result in more tension for volunteers since they will have to make sure not to disturb happenings in the other areas.

Conduct both events spanning over two adjacent weekends. A localised FOSS Hack where each city chapter will conduct their own FOSS Hack, culminating into IndiaFOSS 4.0, conducted as a single event at one venue in the flagship model.

This will not work at all for people who live outside of Bangalore.


After reading through all this thread, I feel that this is a type of discussion which needs to be given multiple cross checks and thoughts so it does not lead to any wrong decisions.

Talking about Merging both the Conference and Hackathon, it might be a great idea looking at how it cuts down most of the Foundations resources and volunteers time and energy. But, it might effect badly on the participation of folks from far away cities. As bangalore is a very costly city it surely is not affordable for a student or a professional with not as stronger of a background. It will surely lead to burnouts for the Hackathon Participants to straight attend the conference next day.

What I have in my mind is:
As Ansh has mentioned before, that we can organize FOSS Hacks on an individual basis in each of chapters (depends upon the chapter team and leads to take up the call whether they want to do the hackathon or not). Something we can do is:

  • Organize the city level hackathon exactly one week before IndiaFOSS 4.0 (Bangalore chapter can hold as well).
  • The next week everyone gathers in Bengaluru for IndiaFOSS 4.0.
  • The Volunteers for both the events should be separated. As city volunteers will already be recovering from the burn out of hackathon. They can hang around in IF4 and volunteer on somethings solely if they want to.
  • Implementing Sai’s suggestion of having “Shadows”.

A benefit out of this would be, we will be having a new set of enthusiastic volunteers
who would be willing to invest their time into the Conference. We can ask someone from the City Chapters to lead these newbie folks and help them with guidance.

There might be issues we plan to organize the Events in the month of June, July, and Aug because these are basically the exam days afaik.

Another thing would be wrapping up all the CityFOSS Conferences by the month of April as planned by @ansh. Thinking accordingly with respect to the CityFOSS Conferences, the ideal for the hackathon and IndiaFOSS can be the month of September and October. As volunteers need to finish with the Conference and get started with the prep for Hackathon.

Totally agreed upon Sai and Arya’s comments, I find that this supposedly can be a way to converge the events and optimize the volunteer energy and everything in general.


My 2 Rupees.

  • FOSS Hack really is an online event. Submissions, uploads, live updates, project showcase, presentation video, evaluation, all happen online.
  • Last year, local groups organised physical venues for people to congregate and participate in a couple of cities, just to hang out together. I’d gone to the one that was organised in RV college Bangalore. It was fun. Participants from different places got together and worked on their own respective projects. There were mentors going around helping them and there was food. The org had taken the lead in this and sponsored catering, but it very well could have been a group of interested folks at RV itself (there were some great volunteers there who helped run the whole thing).

This format, decentralised local group/chapter run off-line congregations seems to be win-win? There doesn’t need to be an “official” venue run by the org itself. Anyone can organise a FOSS Hack meet-up anywhere. Maybe multiple colleges in the same city if there is interest. Actual participation in the hackathon is all online anyway. The org itself runs no offline congregation.

Then the question of when to run FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS, two months apart or six months apart, becomes easier and can be weighed more in terms of benefits for the community and participants than organisational headaches.

Does this make sense?


Thank you for your comments everyone. We ( Vishal, Riya, Mangesh and I) took into account all the suggestions and we agree that while holding the events in the same timeframe may solve some of our logistical issues and overhead, this may not be the ideal choice for the community and participants.

Our next steps will be to create a suitable timeline between both these events, which ensures there is enough gap between CityFOSS tour, FOSS Hack and IndiaFOSS 4.0 to ensure all events can be planned well. As Kailash said, FOSS Hack is an event that may not require a lot of involvement from the team’s side and can be opened for the community to organise, with the necessary support from FOSS United (For example, FOSS Clubs and CIty chapters can organise local FOSS Hacks)

We’ll be discussing more on this in the upcoming Community Call - December 2023
Please keep your inputs coming!


This is a bit of a tangent but I’m not sure why the deadline of April for the CityFOSS conferences tour. Why not allow the city chapters to spread them out throughout the year/decide when to host them?


Maybe we should have a whole new rfc for that

I generally agree about letting cities choose their own pace, especially if we plan to get new chapters in the future, but i also see the general advantage in just having it in one go.

Tangential note - For most RFCs, it makes sense to have a “comment by” date i.e. a deadline. This ensures that

  • the people asking for comments have a specific deadline that they can promote within the community (e.g. via monthly meetups or via Telegram)
  • the community knows the deadline and can plan to respond accordingly, in case they can’t respond immediately
  • the people asking for comments can “close” an RFC and document their learning (the forum post could still be kept open but newer comments won’t have an impact on the closed RFC)

The few RFCs that don’t have a specific deadline need to highlight this fact and that the team will attempt to incorporate meaningful comments within a reasonable time frame. RFCs on meetup guidelines, how to propose a talk, etc might fall into this category.

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They do have said freedom to conduct it whenever, but most of the cityFOSS conferences happened in this period last year and the volunteers in general seem ready to conduct it in a specified time frame,since it has anyway been a year to their last conference.

For our more recent and future chapters, we’ll assist them for conducting the conference in future as well (which is why we didn’t reach out to you and the folks at Goa for CityFOSS plans yet :D) , but it made more sense to get done with these 6-7 conferences in early 2024 so we (the FOSS United team that will be coordinating these events and then taking charge for IndiaFOSS) will have some time at hand for our future activities.

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I’m sorry but I presumed that the city chapter volunteer teams/leads will primarily be responsible for organizing the CityFOSS conferences. I presumed that the FOSS United “central” team will be involved but I only at a very high-level.

What’s the separation of responsibilities between the “central” team and the city volunteer team?

It really differs from chapter to chapter, some chapters have enough volunteers to easily plan and execute the conference while some may need more attention from our end.

We can’t really determine the effort required from our end at this time since all we have for reference is the last tour which Vishal (and Riya,starting from ChennaiFOSS) were handling at that point, but there was no existing city community back then and the volunteers needed to be guided at every step.

I’m hoping that things will go way more smoothly this time and we’ll only have to operate on the higher level, with some of our time occasionally going towards finances, outreach and designs ( most chapters don’t have design volunteers as of now).

There are still going to be weekly/biweekly calls for each edition that I personally think I should be part of (since one my key roles as a Community Intern is to oversee CityFOSS).

Our learnings and experiences from this upcoming tour will serve as a key to properly evaluating how events at FOSS United will be structured from then on, and I’m positive that by the next tour city conferences will become very sustainable and easily handled by just local volunteers.

With others from the team moving to other very effort intensive areas ( Riya,Mangesh in tech, Vishal in the various future plans he has for FOSS United) , I feel having some sort of structure to the current tour will make things a bit easier.

That said, if any volunteers feel the said timeline is not appropriate for their cityFOSS conference, we’d be happy to cooperate and do it when it’s best for the community.



We’ve documented IndiaFOSS 3.0 - IndiaFOSS 3.0 Documentation - Request for Volunteers Comment.

When I started documenting FOSS Hack 3.0 I felt it’ll be better If we share our learning from past three editions combined, in one document. @ansh and I are working on it and planning to share by 15th Jan.

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Tentative Dates

FOSS Hack - 27-28 July,2024
IndiaFOSS 4.0 - 21-22 September, 2024 (clashed with Pycon India 2024)
31 August - 1 September,2024

We are putting these out for taking in suggestions from the community so as to prevent any clashes with other conferences, festivals etc. Please let us know if you would like to suggest another date for the events.