Last week, ffconf v7 was released, and going by all the tweets, photos and personal interactions I received, it was a huge success. Again. Phew.
However, as dug past the congratulations I found two things that upset me. I wanted to address them in this post.
Nothing that I'm about to outline is a breach of the Code of Conduct which we use for ffconf. What I mean to say is that ffconf is my event, and if I feel something is wrong, I want to fix it.
I want ffconf to be a safe environment for all that attend. I will do this at the expense of blocking individuals from attending if I have good reason to do so.
This is me, using my position of privilege to make ffconf a safer environment for all.
I'm not against companies looking to recruit. Indeed most companies in web tech are trying to recruit talent and that's perfectly fine. It's fine because those companies and individuals representing these companies are there to enjoy the event, learn and socialise afterwards.
However, recruiter networking, aggressively working the room at the after party is unpleasant for many. In fact, I've heard directly from many attendees that said it was unwanted attention.
Like having a recruiter pretending to be a developer (or pretending to have some knowledge of your field), then glazing over when you do start to talk technical and glancing at their boss looking for a way out.
There are two reasons why this is not okay: the first is that it's cold-call, hard sell approach to sales. It's uncomfortable and unpleasant for those being approached.
The second is most importantly the tickets taken up by these recruitment companies should have gone to people that would have genuinely benefited from the event. This is the reason that I will make changes for 2016's event to prevent recruiters from the event.
"It's okay, that's just men"
In particular, at ffconf I asked the amazing Lena Reinhard to give a talk about community, open source and diversity. Lena's talk was awe-inspiring. Extremely heavy content and extremely powerful messages.
As one attendee put it: "some difficult and uncomfortable truths".
There was (at least) one individual that was being loud and obnoxious during and after the talk. When I heard about this from a few of the women that attended our event, although they were offended, they passed it off with that's just men, I've seen worse.
I understand why, but it's not okay with me. I want to create a safe space at ffconf, and I want attendees to know that it is not acceptable.
I know this will take time, and this will take years (since our event is once a year), but I will follow through on this, and I will create a safe and respectful space in ffconf.
If you attended ffconf 2015, and want to give us your experience, negative or positive, please email us directly on [email protected].