Community Conferences are the Bestest

Welcome to PyDX. We're a community conference, put on by Python enthusiasts, for Python enthusiasts.

As someone who’s attended (and organized) a lot of tech events and conferences — from OSCON to national media conventions, Open Source Bridge, a software quality conference, and language-specific summits — the ones I’ve gotten the most out of were community-led events.

Community-run conferences don't have a big staff. Often, it’s all volunteers and no one gets paid. These events don't get a lot of funding because they’re so new and don’t have a team working around the clock to get backing. During the event itself, you can count on the organizers definitely not getting enough sleep.

But, in spite all these things going against them, new community events are popping up all the time. Because there’s a huge need. Being able to create a niche event — geared to a specific group instead of a general corporate one — will always attract other enthusiasts.

Here are some of the major ways community-run events stand out above the rest.

  • Dedication. Community conferences are run by fellow community members, who care enough about making an event happen that they take time out of their work schedule, free time, and personal time to help organize. Community organizers often don’t get to see speakers during an event because of the behind-the-scenes logistics work that needs to be taken care of. They care about the details so that everyone has an enjoyable time.

  • Collaboration. Organizers of community events reach out to their community. They work with user groups in the region to recruit speaker proposals, find keynotes, and partner with companies that use the same tech. Community conferences come about when the community sees a void and wants to fill it, creating a conference that shares with others what makes their community so great.

  • Engagement. You get to actually interact with speakers and not just listen to them! There are hands-on workshops, code sprints, hallway tracks, and more to encourage interacting and getting talking and working with others. And even get you talking with the organizers to let them know what you’ve liked about the event. With grassroots conferences, organizers actually listen to you and want feedback on how to make it even more inclusive and welcoming.

  • Responsiveness. If you have a concern, voice it. A good community looks out for the most marginalized members of their community and does everything possible to make them feel welcome and safe. Having a Code of Conduct is super important, but even more crucial is having a response plan to handle incidents if/when they occur.

  • Transparency. You see where the money is being spent. If you've been to a conference, it's often because your work sent you for training. And, if you've been sent, it's usually a specialized event suited to your position, in a very structured and serious setting. With community events, it’s a more laid-back environment where the topics covered interest your growth as a technologist foremost — because you want to learn more — not out of obligation to a boss.

  • DIY. The do-it-yourself mentality really does get reflected in the entire event when you are motivated to take what you’ve seen and learned and go out and work on something new, instigating change.

    There really is a huge difference between a small, passionate group of people starting from scratch who think about every possible detail and want to create a welcoming environment for newcomers. This versus an established corporate-run event where it's hard to enact real change unless something big happens to wake organizers up to the fact that their attendee demographics have changed.

    It’s a completely different feel at a community-driven event.

    Sure, organizers are new to running an event — and mistakes will be made — but the overall quality and scope has a feeling of a grassroots community that truly cares about the content and the attendees. Because we love what we do, especially when we build the conferences we desperately want to attend.