Update: One of the hosts of this year’s WordCamp Toronto has replied in the comments below.
There are a lot of uses for a blog. I like to use mine to post new ideas for projects, or to discuss/propose controversial issues. But today I’m going to use it for the other purpose: venting.
WordCamp Toronto may or may not be coming up soon. I have been a pretty avid attendee here in Toronto. I spoke at the conference in 2009 and got hooked. I attended in 2010, and was hopeful to attend again in 2011. So in February or March the site went up for WordCamp 2011 and the first thing I looked at were the cost of the tickets and the venue to make sure it’s not in the middle of nowhere. The tickets were a little high ($35 for early birds and $55 for not), but more strangely the venue wasn’t printed in big bold letters on the home page like I would expect.
After some digging I found they had not yet chosen a venue and were waiting to see how many attendees there would be. Fine, that’s reasonable if I think through it. Cutting it close, but these people have likely not run a conference before (the WordCamp Toronto conferences I have been to in the last three years have been run by as many different people and organizations). So I dutifully paid my $35 to let them know at least one more person would be in attendance.
And then… they redesigned their site and it was sexy and edgy and fun. And it still didn’t have the venue information on the home page. But, wait! There was a Venue section on the site! Hope! Joy!
It linked here. You could win a ticket by guessing the mystery location! Wait… what? Your only clue is “It’s in the city of Toronto.” Recent population data says that 2.7 million people live here. Needless to say it’s not a small city and there are tens of thousands of possible venues.
I am all for promotion and I get that this is probably being put together by amateurs, but this is crossing the line. Not only is there no venue, there is a page that reads to me like a desperate attempt to crowd source venues that almost never gets updated, and a contest to guess where it might be. Plus there’s no shortage of misinformation on Twitter about what’s happening now and their registration page is down (that I pray to god isn’t true given their no refund policy — good thing PayPal does charge backs!).
This kind of silly game dilutes the value of WordCamp as an event and a brand. I am fortunate enough to live in Toronto this year, but the previous years I’ve had to fly in to attend. People can’t do that this year without information about where they should stay.
WordCamp Toronto has been on a definite decline in recent years but this takes the cake. It looks unprofessional and untrustworthy, especially to those who might want to come in to the city to take part. Better to not have a WordCamp at all than to have a poorly put together event that tarnishes a good brand. This feels more like a con than a conference.