Why haven't you gone to a development conference?

If you haven't gone to a development conference before, why?

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DISCUSSION (26)

I've only gone to a couple. Reasons not to go:

  • All the talks will be up on YouTube in a couple days, if the information isn't already available in another form
  • As an introvert, I probably won't get much out of the networking aspect (usually touted as the the #1 reason to go)
  • If I don't know anyone who's going, I'll just end up sitting by myself or awkwardly trying to break into conversations
  • [edit: I forgot this one until I saw others' comments] They are expensive. How many conferences a year do employers typically pay for? And if I'm going on my employer's dime, I'd feel obligated to attend sessions that would specifically benefit them.

The main reasons I would consider going would be to talk with people I already knew (possibly who I'd only met on the Internet), or if I was speaking.

This may be a defeatist attitude toward networking, but it's where I'm at right now.

Oh man... I totally agree. There is really no point going if you're an introvert. Well, except for the stickers!!

I know strategies exist for getting more out of networking at conferences for introverts. Tracy Osborn has talked about this in some of her talks (which I watched on YouTube, not live, for what it's worth). But it would take some effort to work on that, that I haven't been willing to put in.

I went to my first conference this month, and it was great. Partly because it wasn't in my area of expertise, though I had a lot of general, "domainy" knowledge. I'd do it again.

I haven't been before because they're waaaay expensive and I'd need to take time off work. Get work to pay for it, you say? Well companies tend to only pay for me to go to a conference in my area of expertise, and since most of these will consist of people giving entry-level talks or completely off-topic stuff like "how to feel good in your office" I've always seen them as a bit of a waste of everybody's time.

There's no point in going if I'm taking up the space of someone who really wants to be there and might learn something that helps them out in their career.

I also have a deep-seated distaste for "swag" culture. Charging people extra to let them in so you can give them "free" goodies is nonsense.

Socialising with people? Probably not for me.

That sort of thing.

I had a few bad experiences, most of the talks were more like tutorials and how-tos.
Now I have switched to youtube, most talks are available without having devote a specific time, and I am easily able to focus on the talks that seem useful and weed out the tutorials.

Money. I would have to pay for it all out of pocket. That would come out to about $2500, probably more.

Secondly, I don't think that most of them provide a good ROI. They are mostly cleverly disguised sales pitches for products and services the sponsors and speakers are selling.

If someone has yet to go to a serious dev conference based in Europe, I'd suggest WeAreDevelopers. I've attended both this (as a speaker) and last year, and both were amazing!

I can't see the advantage for my projects or my person to attend a group of people talking about themselves and why their way is the only valid way to do things.

Conferences I go to have talks by industry experts. I wouldn't just dismiss their expertise. Listen and so what you can apply to your work. There's always room for learning and improvement. Sure, some talks won't be new, but even then they may be confirming you're on the 'right' path.

Regarding "industry experts", let me tell you that Microsoft, for example, has its own conferences with its own experts speaking - and you'll only become a Microsoft expert if you earn a Microsoft certificate which can only be done by answering a number of questions in a multiple choice test designed by Microsoft. You can only pass the test if your view on development is the same as Microsoft's.

You won't become an expert by having an opinion.

I can't promise that this is applicable to other companies though.

So to be clear - you are talking about a company hosting a conference for their developers. As example of that would be MS Build or Adobe MAX. There is nothing nefarious or surprising about this. You can clearly see the schedule before attending. This is completely different from community run conferences that would have people from many different companies talking about many different things.

I don't think there is anything wrong with events like MAX or Build and if you are a heavy Adobe or MS user, it is a great place to find out more about their products and what is coming soon. But again - it isn't like the focus is hidden from. You don't spend $$ on your admission and travel and suddenly find yourself shocked at the content.

As an aside, those 'industry experts' at MS are typically really great people who participate in numerous non-MS events and open source communities.

I've been to several development conferences at this point, but what made me not go before was cost. Or rather, cost plus paid time off.

For a fair chunk of my development career, I was a contractor. I did not have sick days, paid time off other than a few holidays, and my staffing agency didn't want to pay for much. I had to practically beg for them to cover the 20 dollar costs (seriously?) for a web design workshop downtown. I got them to pay part of the cost of an $800 dollar conference ticket that was specific to the work I was doing, but that took a lot of back and forth.

Most conferences since then, I've either been selected as a speaker (travel, hotel, costs covered by the conference). Or, I've had my now employer pay for it (which is still an uphill battle).

I have paid out of pocket to go to smaller, local conferences (Wordcamps, ELAconf, etc) but I realize I have the luxury of some disposable income and paid time off work. Both of those conferences posts the videos online sometime after, but I know me and realistically I'm not going to sit through a weekend's worth of conference videos. I'll pay into a conference if I know I'll get more out of it by attending in person (and that's paid off so far).

I didn't go to any until I started speaking and could get in for free :)

For larger conferences (BUILD, WordCamp US, ng-conf), I don't think the cost of the ticket and traveling to the conference is worth the value provided. Especially true if the conference provided recorded videos, which most major conferences to.

I tend to get more out of smaller local conferences (local WordCamp, DevOpsDays, etc.), as it is less costly to attend, doesn't require traveling/lodging costs, and smaller crowds for talks allow more interactivity.

Hey hey David! A conference for developers or based around a specific development topic. Such as a conference for JavaScript, DevOps, etc...

Got it. I thought you meant software related but wanted to make sure.

Should I have used a different term? Maybe development to describe a dev/software conference is confusing? I just figured the equivalence to a design conference for designers but for developers would be development conference.

Seems reasonable and in this context makes sense. I'm used to hearing developer or software developer conference more than development conference.

As people have said they are expensive. Also taking time off work to go to a conference when stuff will be on YouTube or live streamed anyway just doesn't seem the right thing to do.

However if some people from my company would go and I had the chance to go with them I would certainly attend.

I think it's mostly the money and travel time, as well as me not being very good at networking events or just chit-chatting with people. I would love to be able to do that but it's just not something I'm good at yet.

I go lot of conferences. What you say!

Haven't been able to yet, just got finished with Homeschool :P

Because it's very rare where I live. Unfortunately.

There are very few development conference in Hong Kong.

Because I am a goddamn imposter and scared of people.

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Michael Lee 🍕
Husband, dad and currently serving Pathos Ethos, a full-service agency as their CTO in NC. I enjoy making things for humans. Things that delight, make people smile and bring value to folks.

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