It’s a key principle of Python and Django community conferences that “everybody pays” - here’s what it means and why we do it.
The everybody pays policy
At nearly all community events in the Python/Django world, the organisers adopt an everybody pays policy.
Everybody really does mean everybody - attendees, speakers, volunteers, organisers - with one exception: those who can’t afford to pay.
So, not only does nobody receive remuneration for their contribution, every attendee pays to be there. Free tickets - never mind a speaking fee - are not granted to superstar speakers, for example, while organisers and volunteers all have to buy a ticket, just like the other attendees do.
This is sometimes surprises people who are used to different arrangements, but everybody pays is a policy adopted by conferences including PyCon US, PyCon UK, DjangoCon Europe and DjangoCon US. These conferences don’t take a profit, and are run entirely by unpaid volunteers.
The aim of the policy is to make the conference fairer, and to make the organisation more transparent.
It’s fairer because it helps lower the price of tickets for everyone, which particularly benefits those with less disposable income.
It’s fairer because it puts everybody in the same boat, including the organisers, including the chair of the organising committee; we’re all equal and all in this together. (In other words, we’re not asking attendees to pay anything that we’re not paying ourselves.)
It’s more transparent because it avoids potential conflicts of interest - it means the organisers are not in the position of allocating free tickets to themselves.
Who does get free tickets?
The only people who don’t pay are the ones who can’t afford to. In their case, there’s a financial aid programme run by the DSF, while the conference organisers are able to allocate free or heavily discounted tickets to people who need them.
The everybody pays policy makes it possible for us to give more free tickets to attendees who are on lower budgets. Of course this also helps make for a more diverse attendance.
Obviously this isn’t the only way to run a conference, and it won’t work for events that have to make a profit to be viable, or which represent someone’s income. There’s nothing wrong with other ways of doing it, but for our community events, this is what we do and why we do it.
We’re proud of the policy, which each year makes a positive contribution to the unity and diversity of the Python/Django communities, and has helped successive community events more affordable for the people who need that the most.