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This page is a combination followup to the volunteer meeting, information for volunteers who couldn't make past volunteer meetings, and (possibly) proposed agenda for future volunteer meetings. The proximate cause of me writing this is to have something to point new volunteers (= those not at a previous meeting) to, as a way to get them started.


[edit] Why ?

Obviously, it's a way to contribute back to Debian and the broader free software community. Furthermore, working with a bunch of like-minded people on a project is fun. Even though not everything we do is technical, you'll learn a lot, and get a great network of people you can continue having fun with, and learning from, well after DebConf.

[edit] What is there to do?

First off, what is there to do? Here is a brief list of things which you might be interested in helping with:

Primarily local things:

  • Meals for several hundred people.
    • Where to cater from? One place? Different each day?
    • Buffet or not?
    • Managing the food on a day-to-day basis
  • Conference dinner at some other place throughout the city. (One night, we have a slightly nice diner at some other venue.)
    • Where?
    • What food?
    • What entertainment?
  • Day trip (there are no talks one day, instead there is an arranged trip to somewhere fun.)
    • Where?
    • Food during it?
    • Activities while on it?
  • Help for attendees arriving, getting to the venue and all (writing up directions)
  • Local area experts
    • Arrange activities in the city for the evenings?
  • Arrange local companies loaning equipment and supplies
  • Local donations
  • Local fundraising
  • Venue set-up (Columbia University connections helpful here)
    • Networking
    • Getting talk rooms set up for video
    • Getting hacklabs decide and equipped
    • Sorting out 24 hour access stuff
  • Venue staff: running meals, talks, and day-to-day opening and logistics
  • Video (also has a major non-local component, and you should coordinate with those who have done video before). See Videoteam for detailed information.
  • Work on advertising the DebianDay to local government/nonprofit/corporate officials. DebianDay is a day of explaining the benefits of Debian and Free Software to non-technical people (or at least, this is one interpretation of it).

Not necessarily local things:

  • Talk selection and scheduling
    • Session chair ideas
    • Printed proceedings
  • Accommodation selection and room assignments
  • (travel sponsorship and stuff)
  • Budgeting/Accounting
  • Fundraising
  • Conference management system (Pentabarf) maintenance and support
  • Web site maintenance and updating
  • Wiki master: add information from mailing lists and IRC to the wiki, and keep the wiki organized
  • Mailing list responder: reply to people who mail the lists asking questions.

If you want to know much, much more, read the final reports!

Every year, after the conference, a report is made describing all the things that went into the conference. In part, it is designed for the sponsors, however it also is a very good resource for new people to learn about DebConf, and to get a feel for what has happened in the past. I'd recommend starting with the most recent reports and moving backwards.

There is also a big jobs list, which is constant across DebConfs (the list above is made with a local perspective in mind).

[edit] How stuff gets done

To help everyone understand how DebConf tends to work, and what you should do to make stuff happen, let's talk about the DebConf organization.

You will often hear of this mythical "global team". It is basically the #debconf-team IRC channel, whichever of the past (and current) organizers are interested in helping. To make a decision, someone proposes an action, it is discussed (it should be discussed before it is propose, too-- always keep people aware of what you are doing), and then people who proposed it make it happen.

In DebConf, there is not much emphasis on "who is in charge", and much more on "keep people informed and constantly seek feedback" and in the end there will be consensus. (This really does work!) The only real gatekeepers are those who handle the money and sign the contracts. This doesn't mean that everything is necessarily stagnant and bureaucratic, since decisions can still be made fast due to delegation.

(This is also a pretty good description of Debian in general.)

[edit] Communication

It's obvious that key to making DebConf happen is being able to communicate online well. It takes time, but can be done. IRC is most often used for real-time communication and meetings, but since not everyone can watch 24/7, mailing lists are also needed so that everyone can follow.

There are two key mailing lists, ``debconf-team`` (anything that has a global component) ``debconf10-localteam`` (local coordination). Both can be reached from .

Internet Relay Chat happens on the server ```` (=the OFTC network), the channels ``#debconf-team`` (non-local things, has lots of past organizers who can give advice). ``#debconf-nyc`` is more locally oriented.

A good strategy is to first get feedback on things on IRC or meetings, then write them up and mail them to a list for wider discussion.

Things will be confusing at the start, I'm sure -- just ask (IRC or otherwise) one of the leaders and they'll help to get things moving.

[edit] What should you do now?

It's up to you.

  • Read some final reports (the later ones are the most relevant),
  • look at the teams or jobs lists,
  • then hop onto IRC, or mail one of the lists saying what you'd like to do.
  • Alternatively, get in touch with your friends or acquaintances whom are already involved, and they'll help you find your niche.

You'll get pointers to who is interested in that already (if anyone), and current status. Then, you can start making your own plans, and letting the world know about it.






[edit] Summary (ignore this section)

  • Decision process description, how teams should verify their work
  • everyone read the final reports!
  • teams list page: not "the master list". Decide what you want to work on and let us know
  • listing of team members
  • communication strategies. Importance of IRC.
  • What you should do now: make plans to make your chosen areas better. Send to mailing lists and people will give feedback there or in IRC meetings. Once people say to go for it, go for it.
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