DrupalWorld: from São Paulo to Sydney

The Drupal Association should offer the "DrupalCon" brand to the best regional events. And maybe we should not accept it ...

Brief History of Australia and NZ

DrupalCon Sydney, up until a couple of months ago, was an event called Drupal Downunder, aka DDU.

The first DDU was in Brisbane in early 2011 with an attendance of about 150, this event brought a couple of rockstars, Josh Koenig for one.

The second DDU was Melbourne earlier this year. This event drew 250 or so and had the momentum and charm to attract Dries to Australia for a keynote.

If you look further back, DDU was inspired in name and professionalism by earlier DrupalSouth events in New Zealand in Christchurch (2008) and Wellington (2010).

(Sidenote, I'm not a Drupal historian, so please feel free to correct me on any points above!)

DrupalCons are Hard(er)

For a long while, DrupalCon Sydney was billed as Drupal Downunder. An awesome regional event that was looking to build on the excitement of the DDU brand. An event that would attract 400 people to the shores of Sydney's Coogee beach. This event, like many other regional Drupal conferences, was going to be a success without the support of the Drupal Association.

So you might ask the question, why turn it into a DrupalCon at all? Many reasons: DrupalCons are cool, Australians are proud, we desire to showcase the Australian Drupal community, we want to lure the Drupal rockstars to our far-flung shores. But whatever the reasons let's be clear, the organisers did not require the support of the Drupal Association.

And anyway, it can be kinda hard to work with the DA. Awkward things happen. The conference accepts USD instead of AUD, website bugs need to be escalated to the DA, escalation points for problems become a little more complex, things get less transparent. These are part of a whole raft of tiny complexities that are introduced when part of the administration and organisation of a conference goes off-shore.

While I'm not speaking for the organisers, in my opinion these are minor niggles. Nothing will prevent this conference rocking hard as the first Asia-Pacific Drupalcon.

But the point is, DDU Sydney did not ever need to be a DrupalCon.

The legacy of São Paulo

Recently, and sadly, we saw that DrupalCon São Paulo was cancelled. As far as I can see, the Drupal Association took the safe option and backed out due to the perceived possibility that this conference would be a failure. The DA did a risk analysis and got cold feet.

Meanwhile, local organisers have stated that with more control over the decision-making process, São Paulo could have been a success.

So with Sydney in mind, did São Paulo ever need to be a DrupalCon at all? 

Rubber Stamping the Con

Maybe the Drupal Association should focus on being an optional rubber stamp for regional conferences. It might go something like this:

1) There is a regional conference of 400+ people,
2) Tickets sell early, the conference is a financial success,
3) DA chooses to offer use of the "DrupalCon" branding,
4) Regional conference accepts or rejects the offer.

(Which, mind you, is basically what happened with DrupalCon Sydney.)

DrupalPicchu in Situ

Now we see rising out of the ashes São Paulo, the Túpac Amaru of Drupal events, DrupalPicchu 2014. This thing is going to rock the bells off the Sagrada Familia. The pubs and clubs on the Plaza de Armas will team with Drupalistas late into the night.

Does DrupalPicchu need to have anything at all to do with the Drupal Association or the DrupalCon brand? No. Could it "level up" to a DrupalCon in the last 6 months? Yes! Does it have to? Definitely no.

So to sum up, what can we learn from this?

I would like to see the DA continue to proactively lead the way on two big Cons, the North American and European DrupalCons. This is further augmented by support for local camps and conferences, but without pushing artificially in these regions.

If the conditions are right, there is nothing stopping another DrupalCon Sydney in any part of the DrupalWorld.

[Note, I am running in the DA elections. Please consider voting at https://association.drupal.org/nominations for me or any of the other worthy candidates.]
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