Posted by: lalunablanca | October 26, 2008

BarCamp Fee Discussion on Twitter

Before getting into any of this, I’m confident we’re all wishing Jamie and his family a calm evening after his motorcycle accident earlier today. It was definitely a great day for a ride and I applaud those who indulge in its consumption.

It was great to run into this conversation about BarCampMemphis on Twitter. The initial topic was about having a fee for BarCamp. The consensus developed is “no”, but it’s also interesting to see the struggle on the point. Trying not to inject my own thoughts here, I notice these other points that come into play when balancing a fee aspect.

My wife and I attended BarCampNashville (#bcn08) and had a great time. It essentially cost us (a couple hundred dollars) 7 hours of driving, hotel stay, food and parking.  BarCamp people (seasoned and new) are great, topics and discussions are absolutely ace.

In a subsequent post, I’ll get more into what I think this means. For now, here are the tweets.

Many thanks to the people in this discussion below:

tmgstudio: Curious to know how BarCamp Nashville peps feel about the idea of charging a “fee” for attending, as is doing $40 #bcn08

cwage: @tmgstudio that would be the change that would make it so far removed from the original concept of barcamp you’d have to change the name

fishwreck: @tmgstudio @cwage is right — charging a fee to attend BarCamp makes it not a BarCamp. #bcn08

tmgstudio: @cwage I agree! – It really is no longer an un-conference and certainly begins the trek down a slippery slope

aduthie: @tmgstudio @cwage I agree with Chris: keep it free. Worst case, charge $5 or something nominal if necessary, but free is better. #bcn08

katsuzak: @tmgstudio what about having a “real” barcamp AND having something more along the lines of what #bcn08 was (a conference)?

jaxn: @katsuzak @tmgstudio that is what I would like to see (both options)

tmgstudio: @katsuzak @jaxn I think we will see more of the traditional “barcamp” feeling in many of the camps planned in the next year

tmgstudio: @katsuzak @jaxn Fortunately @davedelaney and crew raised the bar which birthed the current #BCN08 – This led to some of the “conf” feel

tmgstudio: We (BarCamp Crew) are always listening and will work in the coming months to capture what is needed to make it the best!

tmgstudio: I think the scale of the event created the need for heavy sponsorship, maybe by breaking up the audience over the year will help?

aduthie: @tmgstudio I could definitely see having both styles of BarCamp. Then again, don’t PodCap et al provide that already, to a degree? #bcn08

jasonRmoore: @tmgstudio the Nashville community’s embrace of barcamp is proving to be both blessing & curse. when small, expenses stay easy to manage

jasonRmoore: @tmgstudio makes it that much more important for more hands on deck to work on sponsorships. Sponsorships are the key to growth for this

tmgstudio: @aduthie I think that the current audience that exists did not allow for #BCN08 to be the smallish unconference

tmgstudio: @aduthie I think we will see the smaller camps fill that role and the Yearly “BarCamp” will be the spotlight for the life of those camps

tmgstudio: @jasonRmoore I think we did things “right” but may have missed the tone with some aspects – overall I am proud to put my name on it 🙂

aduthie: @tmgstudio No argument. A “strict” BarCamp here would basically have to be super-short notice and then close the doors when it hit capacity.

tmgstudio: @aduthie Hehe … yeah .. I have thought about that .. might make for fist fights LOL

darrindickey: @tmgstudio It was surprisingly large. @davidbulloch said he was really surprised Nashville sported such a large tech community.

tmgstudio: @darrindickey hehe .. yeah .. and the funny thing is that the audience was prob a 60/40 split in favor of marketing/social media & less Tech

tmgstudio: @darrindickey Imagine what happens when we get all the hard core tech folks involved – whew!!

darrindickey: @tmgstudio I agree. You guys at #bcn08 did a great job. Location was awesome.

jasonRmoore: @tmgstudio no doubt! I think it would be a bad idea to make it more exclusive. Bringing a bigger voice to this community is important



  1. I’m all for free but I don’t really understand how it’s supposed to work. Maybe the point is that if you have these regularly with no more than a one week lead time then you’ll have a small community of genuinely interested people that will allow it to grow through word of mouth.

    How long has BarCamp Memphis been in the planning stages now, a few months?

  2. Are we really charging, though? I thought it was an option to be charged or not.

  3. Guys – Thanks for your comments!

    Daniel – Yes. BarCamp Memphis has been cooking for months. The concept you’re referring to sounds wonderful, and BarCamps aspire to that. Consider the other forces at play: establishing a City’s validity in the tech (insert accentuating variety here: web, biotech…) and community sphere not only to its own local business community, but also to the national business community. These other considerations probably drive the perceived need for items like swag, equipment, food, nametags, T-shirts, etc… and costs. With LaunchMemphis’ experience in soliciting donors, we knew there’d need be a need to have the actual attendees cover some of the costs if they could. (and rolling in Chris’ question) Optionally if cost was an obstacle, the attendee could volunteer to help, or also to spread the word, or other non-monetary contributions, they could receive a discount all the way to free.

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