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[openstack-dev] [all][tc] Proposal: Separate design summits from OpenStack conferences

0 votes

Hello all,

tl;dr
=====

I have long thought that the OpenStack Summits have become too
commercial and provide little value to the software engineers
contributing to OpenStack.

I propose the following:

1) Separate the design summits from the conferences
2) Hold only a single OpenStack conference per year
3) Return the design summit to being a low-key, low-cost working event

details
=======

The design summits originally started out as working events. Developers
got together in smallish rooms, arranged chairs in a fishbowl, and got
to work planning and designing.

With the OpenStack Summit growing more and more marketing- and
sales-focused, the contributors attending the design summit are often
unfocused. The precious little time that developers have to actually
work on the next release planning is often interrupted or cut short by
the large numbers of "suits" and salespeople at the conference event,
many of which are peddling a product or pushing a corporate agenda.

Many contributors submit talks to speak at the conference part of an
OpenStack Summit because their company says it's the only way they will
pay for them to attend the design summit. This is, IMHO, a terrible
thing. The design summit is a working event. Companies that contribute
to OpenStack projects should send their engineers to working events
because that is where work is done, not so that their engineer can go
give a talk about some vendor's agenda-item or newfangled product.

Part of the reason that companies only send engineers who are giving a
talk at the conference side is that the cost of attending the OpenStack
Summit has become ludicrously expensive. Why have the events become so
expensive? I can think of a few reasons:

a) They are held every six months. I know of no other community or open
source project that holds conference-type events every six months.

b) They are held in extremely expensive hotels and conference centers
because the number of attendees is so big.

c) Because the conferences have become sales and marketing-focused
events, companies shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for schwag,
for rented event people, for food and beverage sponsorships, for keynote
slots, for lavish and often ridiculous parties, and more. This cost
means less money to send engineers to the design summit to do actual work.

I would love to see the OpenStack contributor community take back the
design summit to its original format and purpose and decouple it from
the OpenStack Summit's conference portion.

I believe the design summits should be organized by the OpenStack
contributor community, not the OpenStack Foundation and its marketing
and event planning staff. This will allow lower-cost venues to be chosen
that meet the needs only of the small group of active contributors, not
of huge masses of conference attendees. This will allow contributor
companies to send more engineers to more design summits, which is
something that really needs to happen if we are to grow our active
contributor pool.

Once this decoupling occurs, I think that the OpenStack Summit should be
renamed to the OpenStack Conference and Expo to better fit its purpose
and focus. This Conference and Expo event really should be held once a
year, in my opinion, and continue to be run by the OpenStack Foundation.

I, for one, would welcome events that have no conference check-in area,
no evening parties with 2000 people, no keynote and
powerpoint-as-a-service sessions, and no getting pulled into sales meetings.

OK, there, I said it.

Thoughts? Criticism? Support? Suggestions welcome.

-jay


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asked Feb 7, 2016 in openstack-dev by Jay_Pipes (59,760 points)   3 11 14

54 Responses

0 votes

On 02/08/2016 11:56 AM, James Bottomley wrote:
On Mon, 2016-02-08 at 09:43 -0500, Jay Pipes wrote:

On 02/08/2016 09:03 AM, Fausto Marzi wrote:

The OpenStack Summit is a great thing as it is now. It creates big
momentum, it's a strong motivator for the engineers (as enjoy our
time
there)

I disagree with you on this. The design summits are intended to be
working events, not conference parties.

Having chaired and helped organise the Linux Plumbers conference for
the last 8 years, I don't agree with this. Agreeable social events are
actually part of the conference process. Someone who didn't dare
contradict the expert in a high pressure lecture room environment may
feel more confident to have a quiet discussion of their ideas over a
beer/wine at a social event.

James, I very much respect you, your opinion, and your experience in the
Linux community. However, you are mixing things up here, possibly
because you never attended the early design summits.

The OpenStack design summits started out life as small, social, working
events. There were no "high pressure lecture room" environments. There
was no presentations or PowerPoint lectures at all. The seating was
arranged in fishbowl setups and not everyone-facing-front.

The original design summits were the very definition of "discussion of
... ideas at a social event". They have become quite the opposite.

Part of the function of a conference in a remote community is to let
people meet each other and get to know the person on the other end of
the fairly impersonal web id. It also helps defuse community squabbles
and hostility: it's easier to be nasty to someone you've never met and
who your only interaction with is via a ritual communication mechanism.

What you describe above is not what is happening at the OpenStack
Summits. It's become a show, a marketing event where it's more difficult
to have personal meetups with community members because there's way too
many people and way too much emphasis on parties and schwag.

It is the original design summits that allowed people to actually meet
each other and get to know the person on the other end of the web id. It
is now the mid-cycle events that truly encourage this behaviour, because
the design summits have become too tied to the OpenStack marketing event.

and the Companies are happy too with the business related side. I
see it also as the most successful Team building activity,
Community and
Company wide.

This isn't the intent of design summits. It's not intended to be a
company team building event.

Hey, if that's how you have to sell it to your boss ...

I don't need to sell anything to my boss. I need to make recommendations
to them on what will be the most cost-effective and productive spend of
a limited budget for engineering. And my recommendation leans more and
more towards smaller, focused, working events instead of the OpenStack
summits for all the reasons I have written in this thread.

For Companies, the costs to send engineers to the Summit
or to a dedicated Design event are exactly the same.

This is absolutely not the case. Sending engineers to expensive
conference hotels for a full week or more is more expensive than
sending engineers to small hotels in smaller cities for shorter
amounts of focused time.

How real is this? Vancouver was a really expensive place, but a lot of
people who were deeply concerned about cost managed to find cheaper
hotels even there. You can always (or usually) find the option for the
cost conscious if you look. One of the advantages of large hub cities
is cheaper airfafe, which is usually a slightly more significant
component than accommodation. Once you start looking at "smaller"
cities with only a couple of airlines serving them, you'll find the
travel costs sky rocket.

There's more to costs than just the travel and lodging. If you account
for the productivity of the people attending the event as well as the
amount of time they need to spend at a location in order to accomplish
some amount of work, I think you will find my point holds.

Besides, many Companies send US based employees only to the US
Summit, and EU
based only to the other side. The OpenStack Summit is probably the
most advanced and successful OpenSource event, if you take out of
it the engineering side, it won't be the same.

I don't see the OpenStack Summit as being an advanced event. It has
become a vendor-driven suit-fest, IMHO.

Well, if we disdain its content and pull all the engineers away, that's
certainly a self fulfilling prophecy.

Heh, touché.

Why not make it our mission to
try and give a more technical talk at the OpenStack summit itself?

This is totally fine. Design summits are not intended to be people
giving talks at all. This is perhaps what you are missing since you did
not attend early design summits.

I
have ... I think most of the audience actually enjoyed it even if there
were a few suit types who found themselves in the wrong session.

I agree. I have found your talk about VMs versus container technology
most excellent.

The
design summits are very strictly focussed. It's actually harder to
give more general technical talks there than it is at the summit
because of the severity of focus.

Again, there should not be any talks given at a design summit. It's a
working event, not a set of people lecturing at others.

I think, the issue here is that we need to have a better and more
productive way to work together. Probably the motivation behind a
separate design summit and also this discussion is focused to
improve that, as we see that face to face is effective. Maybe this
is the limitation we need to resolve, rather than changing an
amazing event.

All I want is to be more productive. In my estimation, the Summits
have become vastly less productive than they used to be. Mid-cycles
are generally much more productive and much more cost-effective
because they don't have the distraction of the Summit party
atmosphere.

"... because thou art virtuous, there should be no more cakes and ale?"
... you're implying that we all party and forget work because of a
"party atmosphere". This doesn't accord with my experiences at all. I
may be less usual than most, but Vancouver was a foodie town ... I
spent all the evenings out to dinner with people I don't normally meet
... I skipped every party including the super special VIP ones (which,
admittedly, I'd intended to go to). Tokyo was about the same because I
had a lot of people to say "hello" to and it's fun going out for a
Japanese experience. People who go to the summit to party probably
aren't going to make much of a contribution in a separated design
summit anyway and people who don't can do just as well in either
atmosphere.

We will just have to agree to disagree. :) Again, I think you are
misunderstanding what the design summit is supposed to be.

Anyway, I eagerly await Thierry's publication of the foundation's proposal.

Best,
-jay


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responded Feb 8, 2016 by Jay_Pipes (59,760 points)   3 11 14
0 votes

On 10:49 Feb 08, Jay Pipes wrote:
On 02/08/2016 10:29 AM, Sean Dague wrote:

The Foundation has done an amazing job of making everyone think this is
easy (I know how much it is not). Without their efforts organizing these
events, eliminating the distractions of wandering in a strange city to
find lunch, having a network, projectors, access to facilities,
appropriate sized spaces, double checking all those things will really
actually be there, chasing after folks when they are not, handling the
myriad of other unforseen issues that you never have to see.... we would
not be nearly as productive at the design summits.

I understand this. I ran the MySQL Users Conference and Expo for 2 years. I
realize the amount of effort it takes to organize a 2500+ person event. It's
essentially a full-time job.

I suppose I should have used a different wording. What I really think should
happen is that a separate team should handle organizing the
developer-focused working events than the main team that does the marketing
event. I recognize that it's a lot of work and that asking the "community"
to just handle the working event organization will lead to undue burden on
certain cross-project folks.

However, here are a couple things that do not need to be done by a
separate team that handles working event organization:

1) Vendor and sponsorship stuff
2) A call for speakers and reviewing thousands of submissions (this is
self-organized by each project's contributor team for the working events)
3) Determining keynote slots and wrangling C-level speakers -- or any
speaker wrangling at all
4) "Check-in" and registration stands
5) Dealing with schwag, giveaways, parties, and other superfluous stuff

So, yes, while it's a lot of work, it's not the same kind of work as the
marketing event staff.

Besides having the summit be a completely separated event from the conference
this isn't entirely different from today:

  • The "main team that does the marketing event" is not really involved with the
    summit.

  • The community decides on the sessions.

  • Thierry and I (who are at the Foundation not focused on the conference) are
    working with the community requests on the design summit side. This includes
    making sure projectors, preferred seating style for sessions are available
    based on the feedback we received from attendees. There's a lot more that
    goes into handling all of this, but I assure you we have a completely
    different focus in the summit attendees needs.

  • Every summit ends with a feedback session with the community. Thierry and
    I look back on this for improvements when we're planning the next summit.

The team organizing this is the community.

The Foundation staff that helps on the summit side (Thierry and I who do
actually participate in the summit too) are proxies for the community to handle
additional things that require resources from event staff.

--
Mike Perez


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responded Feb 8, 2016 by Mike_Perez (13,120 points)   2 4 5
0 votes

On Mon, 2016-02-08 at 12:50 -0500, Jay Pipes wrote:
On 02/08/2016 11:56 AM, James Bottomley wrote:

On Mon, 2016-02-08 at 09:43 -0500, Jay Pipes wrote:

On 02/08/2016 09:03 AM, Fausto Marzi wrote:

The OpenStack Summit is a great thing as it is now. It creates
big
momentum, it's a strong motivator for the engineers (as enjoy
our
time
there)

I disagree with you on this. The design summits are intended to
be
working events, not conference parties.

Having chaired and helped organise the Linux Plumbers conference
for the last 8 years, I don't agree with this. Agreeable social
events are actually part of the conference process. Someone who
didn't dare contradict the expert in a high pressure lecture room
environment may feel more confident to have a quiet discussion of
their ideas over a beer/wine at a social event.

James, I very much respect you, your opinion, and your experience in
the Linux community. However, you are mixing things up here, possibly
because you never attended the early design summits.

Well, OK, you got me there: my earliest design summit was San Diego, I
think.

The OpenStack design summits started out life as small, social,
working events. There were no "high pressure lecture room"
environments. There was no presentations or PowerPoint lectures at
all. The seating was arranged in fishbowl setups and not everyone
-facing-front.

The original design summits were the very definition of "discussion
of ... ideas at a social event". They have become quite the opposite.

OK, that very much describes the early Linux events as well. IDC went
off and did LinuxWorld and we had tiny kernel summits. Unfortunately,
the world has moved on for both communities ... they're no longer as
tiny as they once were and however much we try, we can't put the genie
of small, intimate gatherings back in the real world bottle. The
question for each community is how to scale in a way that appeals to
the core while not excluding newcomers.

Part of the function of a conference in a remote community is to
let people meet each other and get to know the person on the other
end of
the fairly impersonal web id. It also helps defuse community
squabbles
and hostility: it's easier to be nasty to someone you've never met
and
who your only interaction with is via a ritual communication
mechanism.

What you describe above is not what is happening at the OpenStack
Summits. It's become a show, a marketing event where it's more
difficult to have personal meetups with community members because
there's way too many people and way too much emphasis on parties and
schwag.

OK, I think we will always disagree on this. As I've said, I find the
co-located design summit space to be a lot less hectic than the
OpenStack Summit space, so I do think the design summit doesn't suffer
too much contamination.

It is the original design summits that allowed people to actually
meet each other and get to know the person on the other end of the
web id. It is now the mid-cycle events that truly encourage this
behaviour, because the design summits have become too tied to the
OpenStack marketing event.

Don't shoot all the marketers. You may not need them now, as they
scramble to jump on the bandwagon, but there may come a time when you
do ...

This isn't the intent of design summits. It's not intended to be a
company team building event.

Hey, if that's how you have to sell it to your boss ...

I don't need to sell anything to my boss. I need to make
recommendations to them on what will be the most cost-effective and
productive spend of a limited budget for engineering. And my
recommendation leans more and more towards smaller, focused, working
events instead of the OpenStack summits for all the reasons I have
written in this thread.

My point wasn't that you have to do this. It was that a lot of
others might have to. Not every company is as community savvy as
Mirantis. I've also been an OpenSource evangelist at various companies
for a while now. The hardest thing is carving out a travel budget for
the engineers to go off and meet each other because various elements in
the management chain regard this as a boondoggle and a potential drain
on working time. I've ended up in the ridiculous situation where my
CTO office owned the entirety of the engineering travel budget simply
because I defended it and the rest of the original travel money got
repurposed.

My point is that to be an open community, we have to be open to people
whose immediate management is clueless about community engagement ...
having an easy justification helps enormously with that.

James


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responded Feb 8, 2016 by James_Bottomley (2,940 points)   2 2
0 votes

Simply replying to the last reply in the thread to add a thought:

As someone who wants to be speaking more in presentations and be involved
in 'User' or 'Operator' conversations, but also wants to participate in
project-specific design sessions, I find that the context switches make it
difficult to be fully attentive in all activities.

Perhaps a way to do this is to stagger it slightly? In other words - the
User/Operator/Cross-Project presentations/sessions are done in the first
few days and the more project-focused design sessions follow after for a
few days. That way all design sessions are done with User/Operator feedback
in mind.

As a member of the deployment tooling development community we have the
additional desire to somehow attend user/operator sessions, service project
sessions and then also do our own sessions. It would seem far more optimal
if we could somehow follow after the service project sessions so that
operators and service developers could also be a part of our deployment
sessions, although perhaps it'd be useful to service project developers to
attend deployment tooling sessions ahead of their own sessions.

Jesse
IRC: odyssey4me


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responded Feb 8, 2016 by Jesse_Pretorius (4,920 points)   1 3 5
0 votes

From: Jesse Pretorius
Reply-To: "OpenStack Development Mailing List (not for usage questions)"
Date: Monday 8 February 2016 at 20:34
To: "OpenStack Development Mailing List (not for usage questions)"
Subject: Re: [openstack-dev] [all][tc] Proposal: Separate design summits from OpenStack conferences

Simply replying to the last reply in the thread to add a thought:

As someone who wants to be speaking more in presentations and be involved in 'User' or 'Operator' conversations, but also wants to participate in project-specific design sessions, I find that the context switches make it difficult to be fully attentive in all activities.

Perhaps a way to do this is to stagger it slightly? In other words - the User/Operator/Cross-Project presentations/sessions are done in the first few days and the more project-focused design sessions follow after for a few days. That way all design sessions are done with User/Operator feedback in mind.

As a member of the deployment tooling development community we have the additional desire to somehow attend user/operator sessions, service project sessions and then also do our own sessions. It would seem far more optimal if we could somehow follow after the service project sessions so that operators and service developers could also be a part of our deployment sessions, although perhaps it'd be useful to service project developers to attend deployment tooling sessions ahead of their own sessions.

The operator/user sessions at the summits have been greatly enhanced by discussions with the PTLs and the development community. Equally, the ability to switch between the Ops meetup and the usage/product summit presentations has been appreciated.

Once Thierry’s proposal is in, this would be an interesting set of interactions to consider as I feel this has been valuable (but could be done in a different form also).

Tim

Jesse
IRC: odyssey4me


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responded Feb 8, 2016 by Tim_Bell (16,440 points)   1 8 10
0 votes

Hello all,

tl;dr
=====

I have long thought that the OpenStack Summits have become too
commercial and provide little value to the software engineers
contributing to OpenStack.

I propose the following:

1) Separate the design summits from the conferences
2) Hold only a single OpenStack conference per year
3) Return the design summit to being a low-key, low-cost working event

details
=======

The design summits originally started out as working events. Developers
got together in smallish rooms, arranged chairs in a fishbowl, and got
to work planning and designing.

With the OpenStack Summit growing more and more marketing- and
sales-focused, the contributors attending the design summit are often
unfocused. The precious little time that developers have to actually
work on the next release planning is often interrupted or cut short by
the large numbers of "suits" and salespeople at the conference event,
many of which are peddling a product or pushing a corporate agenda.

Many contributors submit talks to speak at the conference part of an
OpenStack Summit because their company says it's the only way they will
pay for them to attend the design summit. This is, IMHO, a terrible
thing. The design summit is a working event. Companies that contribute
to OpenStack projects should send their engineers to working events
because that is where work is done, not so that their engineer can go
give a talk about some vendor's agenda-item or newfangled product.

Part of the reason that companies only send engineers who are giving a
talk at the conference side is that the cost of attending the OpenStack
Summit has become ludicrously expensive. Why have the events become so
expensive? I can think of a few reasons:

a) They are held every six months. I know of no other community or open
source project that holds conference-type events every six months.

b) They are held in extremely expensive hotels and conference centers
because the number of attendees is so big.

c) Because the conferences have become sales and marketing-focused
events, companies shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for schwag,
for rented event people, for food and beverage sponsorships, for keynote
slots, for lavish and often ridiculous parties, and more. This cost
means less money to send engineers to the design summit to do actual work.

I would love to see the OpenStack contributor community take back the
design summit to its original format and purpose and decouple it from
the OpenStack Summit's conference portion.

I believe the design summits should be organized by the OpenStack
contributor community, not the OpenStack Foundation and its marketing
and event planning staff. This will allow lower-cost venues to be chosen
that meet the needs only of the small group of active contributors, not
of huge masses of conference attendees. This will allow contributor
companies to send more engineers to more design summits, which is
something that really needs to happen if we are to grow our active
contributor pool.

Once this decoupling occurs, I think that the OpenStack Summit should be
renamed to the OpenStack Conference and Expo to better fit its purpose
and focus. This Conference and Expo event really should be held once a
year, in my opinion, and continue to be run by the OpenStack Foundation.

I, for one, would welcome events that have no conference check-in area,
no evening parties with 2000 people, no keynote and
powerpoint-as-a-service sessions, and no getting pulled into sales meetings.

OK, there, I said it.

Thoughts? Criticism? Support? Suggestions welcome.

Largely agree with the need to re-imagine summit, and perhaps cleaving
off the design summit is the best way forward on that.

But in any case, just a few counter-points to consider:

  • nostalgia for the days of yore will only get us so far, as some of
    the friction in the current design summit is due to its scale (read:
    success/popularity) as opposed to a wandering band of suits ruining
    everything. A decoupled design summit will still be a large event
    and will never recreate the intimate atmosphere of say the Bexar
    summit.

  • much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
    exclusivity of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
    summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
    party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
    dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
    on that? ;)

  • cost-wise we need to be careful also about quantifying the real cost
    deltas between a typical midcycle location (often hard to get to,
    with a limited choice of hotels) and a major city with direct routes
    and competition between airlines keeping airfares under control.
    Agreed let's scale down the glitz, but let's keep the accessibility
    where possible. Aim for Prague or Portland, as opposed to Bristol or
    Rochester.

  • timing-wise the summit can't be all things to all men^H^H^Hpeople,
    all some projects aim for early and fixed deadlines in the cycle
    (specs & non-prio feature freeze etc.) whereas others are more fluid.
    Also some contributors in the community have a post-release-tag
    productization crunch to contend with. So while earlier is good,
    maybe not the week after the release tag?

  • finally, let's be careful also about projecting the travel budget
    policies (read: perverse incentives) of individual companies onto
    the entire community ... some companies incentivize conference talks,
    others try to optimize for working session involvement, some aim for
    a balance etc.

Cheers,
Eoghan


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responded Feb 12, 2016 by Eoghan_Glynn (7,800 points)   1 3 3
0 votes

Eoghan Glynn wrote:
[...]
* much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
exclusivity of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
on that? ;)

Well, Tokyo was the time to show some leadership on that -- there was no
"TC dinner" there :)

--
Thierry Carrez (ttx)


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responded Feb 12, 2016 by Thierry_Carrez (57,480 points)   3 8 15
0 votes

[...]
* much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
exclusivity of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
on that? ;)

Well, Tokyo was the time to show some leadership on that -- there was no
"TC dinner" there :)

Excellent, that is/was indeed a positive step :)

For the cores party, much as I enjoyed the First Nation cuisine in Vancouver
or the performance art in Tokyo, IMO it's probably time to draw a line under
that excess also, as it too projects a notion of exclusivity that runs counter
to building a community.

Cheers,
Eoghan


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responded Feb 12, 2016 by Eoghan_Glynn (7,800 points)   1 3 3
0 votes

Eoghan Glynn eglynn@redhat.com wrote:

[...]
* much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
exclusivity of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
on that? ;)

Well, Tokyo was the time to show some leadership on that -- there was no
"TC dinner" there :)

Excellent, that is/was indeed a positive step :)

For the cores party, much as I enjoyed the First Nation cuisine in
Vancouver
or the performance art in Tokyo, IMO it's probably time to draw a line
under
that excess also, as it too projects a notion of exclusivity that runs
counter
to building a community.

A lot of people I care about ignore the core reviewer party for those exact
reasons: because it’s too elitist and divisive. I agree with them, and I
ignore the party. I suggest everyone does the same.

Ihar


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responded Feb 12, 2016 by Ihar_Hrachyshka (35,300 points)   3 10 17
0 votes

On Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 8:43 AM, Ihar Hrachyshka ihrachys@redhat.com wrote:
Eoghan Glynn eglynn@redhat.com wrote:

[...]
* much of the problem with the lavish parties is IMO related to the
exclusivity of certain shindigs, as opposed to devs socializing at
summit being inappropriate per se. In that vein, I think the cores
party sends the wrong message and has run its course, while the TC
dinner ... well, maybe Austin is the time to show some leadership
on that? ;)

Well, Tokyo was the time to show some leadership on that -- there was no
"TC dinner" there :)

Excellent, that is/was indeed a positive step :)

For the cores party, much as I enjoyed the First Nation cuisine in
Vancouver
or the performance art in Tokyo, IMO it's probably time to draw a line
under
that excess also, as it too projects a notion of exclusivity that runs
counter
to building a community.

A lot of people I care about ignore the core reviewer party for those exact
reasons: because it’s too elitist and divisive. I agree with them, and I
ignore the party. I suggest everyone does the same.

I 'boycott' (Kind of a strong word since nobody cares in the first
place) the core party for the same reasons.

Ihar


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responded Feb 12, 2016 by Assaf_Muller (5,540 points)   1 4 6
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