Results are in! Here’s a rundown of what you thought about WordCamp Toronto: Developers 2012. A big thank you to everyone who took some time to fill out the survey – your feedback will help us make our events in 2013 even better.
Your Suggestions + Our Responses
“Basically the only thing I didn’t like—and would make this easier if done—is a centralized Google Calendar (or other similarly sharable format) for the sessions, including details. And the way the Sessions and Schedule was laid out (different names for some, it would have been great to see the details on the schedule page).”
We bailed on the iCal setup this time, thinking it wasn’t being used. Evidently, we were wrong! We’ll do it again for next year. Thanks for letting us know.
As for the Sessions page? The default WordCamp template that we’re forced to use is terribly lousy, we got nothing but complaints about it, and we won’t be using it again.
“It would be helpful to post the session topics at the appropriate rooms in addition to having the schedules.”
Absolutely. For next year, we’ll have more thorough session descriptions posted outside of each room. (Time to re-allocate that printing budget…!)
“[Regarding Mobile] Would have been great if we could have been able to tap on the sessions to see the details rather than having to go to the full site. Spent a lot of time browsing the full site session descriptions each time I wanted to see where I was going next because they weren’t organized by track on the full site.”
We’re going to do better with mobile next year. Dear Brave New Code: We’ll be in touch.
“I heard a rumour that you are going to go back to only one WordCamp next year by combining the two events you had this year. I have to discourage you from doing so!
[...] However, I understand that organizing WordCamp is a really big undertaking. Might I suggest that you put more time in between the two events? Say 4-6 months? [...]“
We’re really, really happy to know that folks enjoyed having two conferences instead of one this year – but it’s just too draining to do again. To put it in perspective, we’ve spent our evenings and weekends since July preparing for WCTO 2012. That’s five months, nearly half a year, plus the meetups! Doing one big WordCamp Toronto 2013 would make our efforts more focused and our logistics much easier to manage.
Update: We don’t know what we’re going to do for 2013 yet. Details TBD.
Speakers & Sessions
“[...] Speakers felt like they only had to time to talk about their topic but not get into it with code and examples. They all generously posted their notes/code online for us to go through at our leisure, but not all together. [...] if the workshops were twice as long, we would be able to get into some code and walk through a few examples. Of course, if some were EXACTLY twice as long, you could still run the same schedule and have the longer workshops fill up two ‘blocks’ of the schedule.”
This is a tough one to get right. Double-length sessions (90 min) would give far more time for applied examples, but it also reduces the variety of talks. One idea we’ve been toying with is to change the track setup to make room for longer workshops and shorter “Introduction to X” sessions.
“It seems the focus was on quantity over quality. I think it could have been narrowed down into 2 tracks with the best speakers and topics.”
The only way for speakers to improve is to get some experience under their belt. Our speakers are volunteers and we’re a community-focused event. We love it when polished presenters and experienced speakers come out, but that’s not our goal.
“More topic with Panels”
“Longer biz panel :) Maybe an 11 am stat on Sunday – although the late start was brilliant”
“I also think that the Panel was an absolute success!! I enjoyed it enormously. I suggest that next time it be 2 sessions long instead of just one. I also think more women should be on the panel if possible. You should definitely do at least one other panel, if not more, next time.”
“[...] the Women’s Unconference was also amazing. It too could have spanned two sessions as we were still having a dynamic discussion when our time ran out. Something like this should definitely happen again in the future.”
“It would be nice to see more panel discussions next time. Perhaps the panel discussions could be scheduled to run a bit longer than the presentations.”
“Panels are awesome.”
“I loved the panel on building a WP development business! I wish it was longer!”
“The Business panel was great, but looked like it could have used another hour – or a workshop format. And should have been more about WordPress and less about freelancing.”
“For the panel on business development – longer time to enjoy the questions. Perhaps have people submit questions live or beforehand via twitter and then select the best. Having open questions at the start was perhaps not the best format – get the three or five questions started and then open it up for questions and comments.”
“The one thing I really liked was the panel. I would love to see that taken further and have more interaction. Like most of the presents repeated. There are tons of tutorials and educational material out there but the interaction is something that for me is valuable, especially as work at home contractor.”
The panel was very well received, and we’re definitely planning on doing more of them for WordCamp Toronto 2013 + next year’s WordPress meetups. Our current thoughts are to make the panel sessions 90 minutes long instead of 45 minutes.
“The speakers really should max out their allotted Time slot on the topic. if there is insufficient content to discuss on the topic, then it expand it. [...]”
“Try to vet the speakers a little more, give them some more guidance (especially those who haven’t presented before). Even though it was a developer’s event, one presentation had way too much code and really served no purpose. I could’ve just looked up the code myself if I had wanted.”
“In some of the sessions the presentations tended to stray away from the topic and could have been more structured.”
One attendee suggested we prepare a guide for new speakers. Making good use of presentation time would be included in such a guide.
“I’d really like to se TO rival Montreal in terms of the depth of material for advanced developers. Even the most advanced topics here weren’t all that advanced. Let’s make this an event that even seasoned PHP/WordPress developers can get something out of. Let’s see some core devs attend Toronto – why should Montreal get all the glory?”
Our sessions are determined by the speakers who volunteer to present, so we don’t have much control over content – we just manage it. As for the core developers, we had really bad timing with November. The True North PHP conference was taking place at the same time, and the WordPress Community Summit took place a weekend prior.
“More on intro to plugins – there was only one plugin session, but many theme sessions”
“something to tie everyone together while we’re there like a business card board or ??”
“Organize ways for people to network better. Time before and after (non-after party time) when people can just talk with each other and learn about each other, as opposed to cramming it into 15 minutes during the breaks.”
“What if there was something like “speed dating” where you broke up interest groups ie “plugin dev”, “theme dev”, “need designer”, “mobile”,”multi-language” then had do 3-5 minute conversations, exchange cards. The interest groups would need to be fairly small to get through everyone in say an hour but I think it would grease the networking side of the conference.”
“It was hard to network at the sit down after party. I would have preferred a more casual setting and didn’t feel very comfortable.”
“Afterparty should be more social. The appetizers and drinks were fabulous, just too many places for people to sit down Get rid of all the tables and force people to mingle more.”
“Liked the lunch at the user WordCamp better, there was more choice.”
“The only thing I’d suggest is figuring out a way to streamline the lunch — the hallway got REALLY crowded with the buffet table down the middle and the people trying to find a seat on the sides.”
“Bigger coffee cups!”
“From talking to a different people it wasn’t at all consistent. My beef was really dry. Some people’s chicken seemed undercooked. I thought the veggies were overdone and limp. I’m super impressed that we weren’t told to fend for ourselves – or even the old standby of pizza – but maybe next year a selection of sandwiches and salads would be better.”
“There were a few times when the audio went down for the speakers or the portable mic wasn’t set up properly. Perhaps giving newbie or all speakers a short demo on how to set everything up so that A. audio always works, B. they feel confident with using it and C. people aren’t turned off by someone sitting up there fooling around with audio.”
Again, a big thank you to everyone who submitted feedback! We’ll take these notes and add them to our planning documents for 2013′s meetups + WordCamp conference.
All the best,
The WordCamp Toronto Organizers Team