WordPress Foundation Harming Rather Than Helping WordCamps

WordCamp San Francisco 2012 has released their sponsorship package prices and once again, the prices almost demand that you include your first born with the top spot. In 2009, the top sponsorship spot for the event was $15,000. In 2010 the top sponsorship spot would have cost you the same amount, $15,000. Last year, the top spot would have set you back $40,000. While the sponsorship prices are astronomical compared to any other WordCamp in the U.S., the real issue lies within the fact that there appears to be a double standard when it comes to setting caps for sponsorship money.

An article on Perezbox that talks about the issue has so far, generated a number of comments from WordCamp organizers. It was disheartening to read so many organizers with roughly the same complaint. Here are a few excerpts from their comments to give you a better idea of the crux of the matter.

Couldn’t agree more. I remember being told by the WP Foundation that the highest level sponsorship package for WordCamp Philly was too high. The price was $2,500, so we were forced to bring it down to $2,000. So our HIGHEST level was identical to their LOWEST level.- Brad Williams organizer of WordCamp Philadelphia

I organized Chicago in ’09 and ’10. The 2010 camp hosted 580 attendees and in Chicago, that is no small task. Each city has its own things to deal with … in Chicago its unions. 2010 cost us roughly $42,000.00 (and, in my opinion, it was a bare bones camp) – – and we raised that much through sponsorships, so we broke even. That was a couple of months before the Foundation took over. I was told that $30K for a local WordCamp was a ridiculous amount and way too much for a local camp…which is why the Foundation would be taking over to help local camps deal with these financial issues. – Lisa Sabin-Wilson organizer of WordCamp Chicago

As last years organizer of WordCamp Las Vegas I can totally understand and feel the frustration with the sponsorship package limits being set in place by the foundation, especially once you see that the price points for WCSF are so far above and beyond what is allowed. Overall I think the limits that are put in place for all of us common folk to follow is pretty low and should be revisited as the cost of WordCamp’s can vary on geographical location. – Shelby DeNike organizer of WordCamp Las Vegas

I am one of the organizers of the Seattle WordCamp. We have almost 900 people in our local Meetup community and I know we easily could have packed in a 600 person crowd between us and the rest of the community with no problem, and we wanted to! We ran into a brick wall with the Foundation limitations that wound up restricting us to a 300 person venue due to lack of flexibility primarily in sponsorship abilities. – Ben Lobaugh organizer for WordCamp Seattle

If the WordPress Foundation is going to tell WordCamp organizers what the limit is on their sponsorship packages and quite possibly make it too low which can make or break an event, WordCamp San Francisco should be held to the same procedures. If WordCamp San Francisco can not put on a successful event because of the regulations of the WordPress Foundation, they should change its name so they can hold an event without anyone telling them what to do. But, I don’t think they’ll be doing that anytime soon.

This site reaches thousands of people. I’m especially interested in hearing from WordCamp organizers. I want to know if the experiences described by others were also experienced by you.

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