FOSDEM 2020 - aftermath

Thank you everybody who participated in FSFE’s FOSDEM booth team! Because of the excellent preparation done by Ulrike and Francesca and the great help of so many volunteers, everything went really smooth this year.

What worked especially well in my opinion was:

  • Transportation of merchandise from Berlin to Brussels and back worked well. The help of EDRi was very precious for us.

  • There always were enough people at the booth, and the team was so large that anybody could visit any talk as preferred.

  • The booth was always clean and nicely arranged.

  • The “no hacking at the booth” rule was always followed, which made our booth very inviting.

  • We used the available space very effectively, the strategy to build a shelf out of the boxes and to sort the merchandise by size worked out well.

  • We were extremely fast at closing the booth on Sunday evening.

Of course, this does not stop us from trying to become even better in the future :slight_smile:. These are the notes I made on my way home about possible improvements for future years:

  • Prepare the booth as completely as possible on Friday already. This year, we thought we can finish some “minor things” on Saturday morning, like attaching price tags or decorating the booth with balloons, but it ended up becoming somewhat stressy because even though we were really early there on Saturday, the first people immediately came and wanted to buy stuff.

  • We should ask for a second table for the back of the booth immediately when the tables are distributed, it’s easier than asking afterwards.

  • We should place the banner above the “shelf” in the back of the booth instead of attaching it to the table clothes, because if the banner is knee high, nobody sees it if a few people are standing in front of the booth.

  • If we stack boxes on a table that are wider than the table itself, we have to put something hard under the box that reaches outside the table.

  • We should only use half of the table for promotion material, we need the other half for the presentation of merchandise, because with the shelf filling the whole back of our booth, we have no other way to present merchandise.

  • We again had way too much information material. Half of the stickers and probably 1/4 of the flyers would have been more than enough.

  • We had flyers in all possible languages. This does not make any sense IMHO, because we didn’t even unpack them. I suggest that for FOSDEM we only pack flyers in the languages most spoken at FOSDEM: en/fr/nl/de, maybe it/es as well.

  • We had too little flyer holders for the number of different flyers. Either we need more flyer holders, or (probably even better) stable and nice-looking “index cards” to allow more languages to be put in one holder.

  • We must think about how to present posters when there’s little space and no possibility to hang them anywhere. Any idea is welcome.

  • As we used the available space very effectively, for example by putting all stuff not needed during booth times behind the shelf, we had room below the table for at least a few backpacks and coats. Still it was good that most people put their luggage and coats into the cloakroom.

  • For a booth with only one table, one donation box is enough.

  • When I prepared the change, I brought by far too many coins, on the other hand we ran out of 10 Euro bills.

  • When packing at the end of FOSDEM, it’s better to first fill all the boxes and only at the very end of the process of packing start to close them. This makes it easier to distributed everything into the boxes reasonably.

I will work on making sure these items end up on our checklists so we don’t forget them in the future.

Please everybody share your thoughts about what you liked especially and your suggestions for improvement as well!

Thanks,
Reinhard

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Thank you! I’ve uploaded some photos at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:FOSDEM_2020 . I pixelated the faces, let me know if there’s some photo you don’t like to be there.

As for the flyers, we could be more aggressive at distributing them: at a minimum, we should distribute them in the designated (?) tables in K1 and H where “everybody” leaves them. It could also have been appropriate to distribute them at specific talks like the keynote on the 4 freedoms. I would also be happy to distribute flyers in Italian next year, it’s very easy at the entrance of K. I understand that not everyone is comfortable doing this, but I have some experience with electoral campaigns in universities to for me it’s easier. :wink:

As for posters, the easiest solution would probably to stick a few on the billboards and add a note “if you like this poster, come to our booth at $place to get one”. The university billboards were covered with brown paper, I don’t know whether that means that using them is expected or not expected.

Ideally we’d ask the FOSDEM organisers whether it’s fine and whether they have ideas on how to do it better (designated distribution points and whatnot).

Hi to everybody!

Thank you all for let this happen again every year. For me it was the 2nd Fosdem experience and I found it so tiring but at the same time so energizing. I left my voice and all my strengths in Brussels, but I am really happy about that everything went smooth and “easy” :slight_smile:

I would like to answer to a couple of points:

1- “We again had way too much information material. Half of the stickers and probably 1/4 of the flyers would have been more than enough.” Yes, I agree. Next year I’ll pack less promo material.

2- “We had flyers in all possible languages. This does not make any sense IMHO, because we didn’t even unpack them. I suggest that for FOSDEM we only pack flyers in the languages most spoken at FOSDEM: en/fr/nl/de, maybe it/es as well.” I agree about this point too, and I also agree with Nemo about ask some volunteers (whoever feels comfortable with that) and distributing the flyers around the K building (but also other building - maybe we can leave them on some of the tables around).

I would like again to thank anyone who spent with me and FSFE his spare time and let this happen in the best way again. I am so glad to have worked with all of you, I’m looking forward to see you all next year.

Thank you everybody who participated in FSFE’s FOSDEM booth team! Because of the excellent preparation done by Ulrike and Francesca and the great help of so many volunteers, everything went really smooth this year.

You did well too! :slight_smile:

We should place the banner above the “shelf” in the back of the booth instead of attaching it to the table clothes, because if the banner is knee high, nobody sees it if a few people are standing in front of the booth.

I agree. Quite a lot of questions were asked about our identity.

For the name tags, maybe we can add flags stating what languages do each of us speaks? Do you think that would be helpful?

Great summary and great list of improvements. I like the “no-hacking- rule to”.

Regarding the flyer languages: I did return some flyers from the Netherlands in uncommon languages including Italian. Maybe that gave you the impression other languages were present?

To show of translations, it would be nice to have different languages presented for the flyers by stacking them behind each other and having the title stick out. I think the multi-langual approach of the FSFE is something to be proud of, and we need to show it off. I hope my description for the concept is clear :crossed_fingers:

In hindsight I thought we could have used the bags as an upsell “for 3 more euros I’ll put it in a bag for you”.

And most importantly: I had a great time helping at the booth! Great conversations and a well organized team. Thanks for that!

Maybe I’m allowed so suggest that where FSFE is present with a talk somebody else than the talker is available on the end of the talk to hand out the general FSFE (screwdriver) flyers?

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I think that is a great idea to get a strong follow-up on a talk!

@vincent we had the languages on the name tags before and we could try again, but my experience is rather that visitors don’t look at the name tags to decide which of the people behind the booth to ask. In any case, please don’t use flags to indicate languages, because flags are not symbols for languages, they are symbols for countries.

@ao I very much like the idea to distribute flyers at the end of an FSFE talk. I even think that we could make this a general approach (not limited to FOSDEM). Would you like to propose it to team@ and/or coordinators@, for example?

I want to thank everybody that made this whole weekend so enjoyable and a huge success for Free Software and FSFE.

Unfortunally after coming back to my home I instantly caught the Flu from my smallest one which kept me from writing earlier.

I am looking forward to see you again, latest at the next FOSDEM.

Right, if there’s only one flag on each name tag it can be confusing. But if there are multiple flags on the name tags and one of them is always English it would help to understand the flags’ purpose (just trying to think of a graphical way to show the languages we speak)

An addition and possibly interesting fact regarding our new booth position in the upper floor: our merchandise sales were down 21% compared to last year. While of course sales isn’t the main reason why we go to FOSDEM, the number is probably a useful indicator of the attention our booth received.

Maybe we can point people next year to the back entrance of the first floor of the building, which makes our booth faster and easier (no stairs) reachable from the main square?

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