the second rate citizens of drupalcon

14 May 2012 mortendk

Today the Drupal association presented a new initiative for getting more students & grow the talent pool for the Drupal Project. This is done by setting x number the tickets for Drupalcon munich to half price of the 400€ - well that is if you're a student. This raises big problems about the future the event I see as the Heart & Soul of the Drupal Community.

This is not the first time this have been discussed - we had it up as an agenda point in Drupalcon Copenhagen in 2010 (which i was heavy involved in) At that point it was declined, The Drupalcon is already giving away Scholarships, & the event is already a cheap professional conference.
Everyone pays the same for thee ticket - what afaik have been the policy for the last 12. Drupalcon’s, its as much a signal to all participents as its a practial. Besides that 50% of the DrupalCommunity can claime to be a "Student" - so opening up that door could have dire consequences for ticket sales.

No matter who you are - if you're Dries, N00b or the local axe swinging Dane. We all pays the same, Its a part of the Drupal Culture: We are all Equal, were all here in the same boat - no matter who you are - we pay the same - well not anymore more...

But there is free Tickets

Last year it was decided that speakers got their ticket as a thank you for the preparation time - This is off course a nice gesture, I Usually put in about 60-90 hours for my session, so i can at least justify the first 5-6 hours of work ;)
It a nice gesture from the Drupal Association & not to mention without quality sessions: no conference (but without module developers, writers, designers,themers etc. there would be no Drupal...)
I would be Fine to pay for my own ticket - thats not the 400€ that makes my budget hurt, thats the Flight, food, hotel, beers & not to forget the week you take of work + the week after to play catchup with clients & pissed-of Family.
I'm a "Selected Speaker" this time in Munich so I'm coming in for Free, unless somebody pulls me off schedule now ;) I will be in munich anyway’s Cause thats where my geek posse are.

the 2. rate citizens

Now the Drupal Association have decided to have "2.Rate tickets" for Students. This will have some consequences for the Drupal Community as a whole, and is a dangerous path to go down.

I say 2. rate citizen ticket well lets look at the note's for the student tickets, which is well ... a little bit worrying:

"Note: DrupalCon Munich student tickets are € 200 each, do not include lunch, and are limited to full-time student applicants."

Will this mean that Students cant to go where the rest of us go, food, beverages etc ?!
Drupalcon is a highly a social event. Aren't we then making the Students to 2 rate citizens of the DrupalCommunity now?
If you wanna lower the ticket prices, this makes sense (i mean something have to be cut) to be honest I would personally love to skip 50% of the ticket price to drop the, always questionable Lunch (now coffee on the other hand...)

Now by limiting the student attendees from this part aren't we really sending a wrong signal - your not a part of cool crew

This attempt to try to get more new students to attend a Drupalcon will cost about XX.000€ - can't that money be used a little bit more fair throughout the Drupalsphere - besides of that i highly doubt this effect a Drupalcon is already an expensive event, is 200€ & the signal of 2.rate citizens worth that - and not to mention is the price gonna get new ones to show up?

If we try to support new & upcoming developers, or participants in the community, why on earth do you have to be a student?
How many school Dropouts, self educated, newly started, hackers, pirates and whatever else that comes into Drupal & could make good use of this economical help. Not to mention those that are not from the "rich part" of the world - in Europe theres an extreme difference in the taxes & salary's just if you go from Copenhagen to Prague.

This is in my eyes sending a signal that its all good if you a student - But if you're not - then you have pay for that student.

What about …

If we play this kinda discount thinking into our little world lets for fun take one step more that direction.
We wanna get more students into Druaplcon, but we also wanna attract more women.
There was about 17% female attendees last time in Denver, lets get that number up to 20%: To do that & to follow the logic from the student discount.
Its a known fact that females are underpaid So wouldn't it be fair that they got lets say 10% off the ticket?
we can off course take it further steps and find other groups, but this is just to illustrate the path that the DA now have taken (I wonder what have made them change their minds after what 12 Drupalcons have refused to do, besides of students complaining)

What I thought was a key point in the DrupalCon and in our Culture was that we were all equal - no matter who you are we pay the same for the basic entrence.
If the Drupalcon is making enough money that its not a problem to use 40.000€ - why isn't this discount given to all attendees, the last 4 conferences price raise have caused a good amount of noise.

Drupal Association can do whatever they want with the money & the ticket prices, I know this is probably fighting windmills
Now the door is open for differentiating in prices & that isn't a door we can close easely again.

This is not about beeing against Student discounts - this is about lowering the tickets for some selected & not for us all.

Just to make sure that is perfectly clear

Im a total un-educated school Dropout (9 years in public school) that by accident came into the web development in 1996 & figured out I aparently had badass skills. I have never looked back since & a still trying to figure out how to spell and be more articulate.

the times are a changing

Maybe its just me that must accept that the Heartbeat & Soul of the Drupalcommunity isn't anymore the Drupalcon.

That we now have open up the door to different level of tickets, that in its core divides us.
That Drupalcons are now Driven with another "professional" and more americanized agenda, where discounts & cupon codes (my bet is in portland we will see those) are a way the marketing machine to push Drupal forward.

We are are simply making a huge mistake here, that goes against the core value of our community.
We are all in the same boat, so Drupal Association Please Stop dividing us - thats not what you were put you into this world for. - I can see the intentions but youre doing it wrong, sorry but somebody have to say it now its clear that you didnt think this through.

Lowering the prices (for an allready cheap event) for everyone is the way you wanna go.

This will probably cause some comments so pretty please
Before you begin to scream that “its really hard to be a student & you only having x amount of money each month” then read my post again.

I was a little quick on the numbers & thought i read 200 tickets - the number is unknown thogh, so i have exchanged it with x'es instead.

Some background

We actually did a similar ticket split in at least Denver, so this is not a new thing. IIRC it was 50% off for students, 50% off for non-profits, and 100% off for people running sprints on the sprint day (not sure what the exact structure is for Munich).

To me, this isn't really an issue of outreach as much as it is an issue of accessibility (though it's both). That's great that 400€ is not a big deal for you to pay, and that's great that you're able to make money off of your Drupal talents. Others, however, are not so privileged. Students are one subset of a larger group of people for whom DrupalCon represents a significant financial burden, and DrupalCon is for /all/ of our community, not just the community insiders who are making a decent living wage with Drupal. Their situation just happens to be easier to verify than "Hobbyist" or "Totally new to Drupal" because there's paperwork that backs up their claim (same with non-profits).

We used to try and off-set financial burden with "early bird tickets," however data has shown that pretty much across the board those tickets only go to benefit people who are already inside the community (many of whom work for Drupal shops[!]) because they're the only ones who know that far in advance that they'll be coming. And most of these folks would come to DrupalCon regardless of how much it costs.

Scholarships also don't work for this, because allocation of scholarships is given on the basis of the overall impact on Drupal/DrupalCon itself, so tends to favour key contributors who are hobbyists and volunteers (as well they should).

So not claiming the current system is perfect. But it's addressing a genuine need that's not addressed by tickets being 375€ for everyone instead of 400€.

webchick 14 May, 2012 - 23:14

thanx for the feedback

thanx for the feedback webchick

I wasnt actually aware that there was student discount in Denver, But great to see that the communication from the Drupalcon & Drupal association is getting better.

Im fully aware that were learning as we go along & nothing is perfect the 1st,2nd or 3rd time. But that still dosn't make this a lesser issue.

The door is now open for different levels of tickets & what a ticket gives you acces to at the Drupalcon Its more than just a practial problem - its a political problem, that imho we cant just let slide.

I know that in the eyes of the DA the most importent thing about Drupalcon is to raise awareness & money for the Drupal project -in my optic the Drupalcon most importent feature is to make sure that we all get together and learn eachother across borders and all that hippie shit (so the issuequees dosnt get totally fucked).
So to do the "oooh no lunch for you students" is one of the practical problems that goes directly agains this.


mortendk 14 May, 2012 - 23:57

I know that in the eyes of

I know that in the eyes of the DA the most importent thing about Drupalcon is to raise awareness & money for the Drupal project

I actually don't think that's true. I can't remember a single board meeting where we have left with everyone on the same page about what the most important thing for DrupalCon is (or even on the same three pages). Really, the most important thing for DrupalCon is for it to be everything to everybody. :) Hence increasing accessibility to the conference being a critically important issue.

So to do the "oooh no lunch for you students" is one of the practical problems that goes directly agains this.

I agree this is definitely a practical problem with the approach the Munich team is taking w/ student discounts. However, I would simply solve it with the strength of the community that you point out. :) For example, colour the badges differently (or some other visual indicator) for people who are self-classified as new to the Drupal community, and have us "old-timers" make a concerted effort to include those people in our off-site lunches. Done and done. :)

webchick 15 May, 2012 - 00:04

Holy shit, your blockquote

Holy shit, your blockquote styling just made me poop my pants. :D

webchick 15 May, 2012 - 00:05

yup its a trap ;)

yup its a trap ;)

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 00:07

@webchick -- I didn't have

@webchick -- I didn't have the same reaction as you, but then I don't have the same reputation for honesty that you have.

For the record, I agree. You should really fix this morten. Your reponse is pretty funny though. ;-)

Anonymous 15 May, 2012 - 09:41

ok well im just stating what

ok well im just stating what ive heard a ton of times from various DA members & my own work around Drupalcon & other various projects.

Im actually now planning on giving my lunch away to a student ticket holder & will find others that wanna do the same - cause that isnt right.
and it isnt a practical problem its a political problem that needs to get fixed (even that i totally disagrees with the student tickets is there from the first point)

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 00:13

I support student price

I support student price tickets for DrupalCon for the reasons that webchick cited, but I agree with mortendk that not providing them with lunch could lead to a perception that students are "second-class" attendees, especially when we're inviting them to attend the full conference.

We incentivize various groups to attend DrupalCon at reduced rates (sponsors, speakers, etc.), and I think that's a good thing, but all full conference attendees should get the same benefits.

George DeMet 15 May, 2012 - 02:05

Good points, Morten. I agree,

Good points, Morten. I agree, the ticket price is but a small part of lost work time, lodging, meals, etc. And the stigma attached to getting a discount could be divisive.

How about this: more scholarship money to help those in need. Not all students are without the means to buy a ticket, and for some, it could make a big difference. If local users groups were to do some sort of fund raising event once a year, it could pay for many scholarships. We'd have a wider range of attendees, which would be good for the community.

pglatz 14 May, 2012 - 23:20

New conferences to find

I've been reflecting a bit on DrupalCons the last month or so, and I think more and more that the "old" DrupalCon feeling is probably found at events like the DevDays or Front End United or so. At these events there are quite a bunch of Drupal geeks, low prestige and a lot of contact.

True, you can still find a lot of geek-to-geek contact at DrupalCons, but there is also a lot of business talk, marketing and ties going around. (Not that business people are not nice, but in my experience people with ties are less prone to discuss the new render system or geek out with a new module at 2:32 AM.)

I think this is a natural evolution. When Drupal grows, so does DrupalCon. When DrupalCon grows, it must become more expensive. And it attracts another audience as well.

That said, I think it sounds weird to offer conference tickets that rates you lower than the regular visitor.

Johan Falk 15 May, 2012 - 01:22

Do we wanna have that kind of Drupalcon?

Well is that a turn on events that anybody really wanna see ?

The basic price of the conference is imho fair for an event like this & i have defended it before when i was lead for DrupalCon Copenhagen, where we took the beating for the price raise (and unfortunately no one from the DA at that point thought they should comment)
Its what an event this size cost to be falt out fair.

My problem is that we now have 2nd rate citizens & that students are now valued highter by the fact that they are students. imho those cheaper tickets should be offered anyone that seemed worthy based on their income. Beeing a student is not alone a qualification.

If we wanna have differentiated priced based on income then lets do that.

The Frontend United & Drupal Devs is probably gonna take over the european Drupalcon if this keeps going on the way it is. Which imho is a damn shame & will be a destruction to the community we have in Drupal.

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 09:07

Scholarships FTW

Well is that a turn on events that anybody really wanna see ?

I am personally more comfortable the more Drupal-geeky a conference is, so for me I'd don't mind keeping conferences small. But that would also mean keeping the Drupal world small, which I think most people would not like. If we want Drupal to grow, then international conferences will get bigger and less personal (and more expensive).

The basic price of the conference is imho fair […]
Yep. No blame on anyone – it's great that we have DrupalCons, and it's great that we have people organizing them.

My problem is that we now have 2nd rate citizens […]
Yeah. Lower prices is fine, but cutting down on what you get doesn't sound right to me either. I agree with what seanberto writes (below) – it seems better to focus on scholarships than discounted ticket prices. Of course, not many people new to Drupal know about these scholarships, so efforts would have to be made to make the scholarships available.

Maybe someone should communicate directly with the DA and propose this for the next conference?

Johan Falk 15 May, 2012 - 10:45
Johan Falk 15 May, 2012 - 10:48

The DA is growing by leaps and bounds, but I agree...

I agree with this post. I think that the spirit and intention of this student discount is wonderful - but I'd like to see the DA focus on more scholarships, which means focusing on new ways to raise revenues rather than cut them.

It also means more creative and meaningful sponsorship opportunities - especially at the lower-level sponsorship levels. (As the owner of a small shop, I'd love to see a $1K sponsorship go to one or two scholarships. In the absence of this, we tend to fund more Camps than Cons.)

All this said, I think that the DA is hustling to keep up with the growth of our community, which is a good problem for us to have. It's tough to balance all the competing interests and opportunities. There's room for improvement - but also a lot of growth.


seanberto 15 May, 2012 - 01:34

I am a Drupal freelancer

I am a Drupal freelancer (although by no means a really active one) and a student. I choose to pass on a scholarship and apply for a student ticket so other people got a higher chance to go to DrupalCon for free, while at the same time I wouldn't have had to pay the full price. After all, my reason for going to Drupalcon is to contribute back to the project and not to make more money.

I think the lack of lunch is more inconvenient than awkward, but perhaps that's because I know I'm a part of the community already. It does force me to figure out if there's a supermarket in the area so I can just grab some freshly baked bread and cheese off the shelves before I go to the venue every morning. It's cheaper and with any luck most visitors will be jealous of me (no, dear Drupal Association, I don't hate you, but you're better at organizing awesome activities than getting us a decent lunch).

From an organizational point of view, I would've included the lunches. From a personal one, I probably couldn't care less.

Anonymous 15 May, 2012 - 02:32

not really fair

Who is a student? I digged deep in my pocket for last DrupalCon London because I was learning Drupal and related sysadmin and programming skills, later in life, at my own expense, and not getting much paid work. Denver was out of reach. The 'official' students are learning similar skills, they probably have youth on their side, and they certainly have the resources of a university to draw on. But according to conference organizers, whose thinking is limited by conventional assumptions, the student who enjoys the privileges of a world-class university (admittedly they may be on a tight budget) deserves a discount, whereas the student like me, also on a tight budget and without those privileges, must pay the same as a well-paid consultant. It is just the way the it is, The conventionally-minded decision-makers are being unfair. I don't take this personally, they are well-intentioned, but those good intentions do not make the policy either logical, reasonable or fair. From the receiving end, the policy feels harsh.

John_B 15 May, 2012 - 07:06

It's a practical problem

It sounds like you are the sort of person that the discount was intended for, however you don't have a piece of paper that can be used to easily verify that. You'd need some one to learn about your situation and make a decision on a case-by-case basis, which is much more work.

Anonymous 17 May, 2012 - 10:30

Discounts for those who need them, whoever they are.

Reminds me of the Commonwealth tradition of the discounted price for [fill in the blank] being offered those who self-select it. Where I grew up in New Zealand there were many events that offered a discount without an obligation to justify your need to have it.

This feels like an opportunity to explore in our community.

My gut feeling is that it's a chance to grow attendance and that Drupal folks won't abuse the opportunity, since we understand the benefits of giving and good karma in general.

HornCologne 19 May, 2012 - 13:27

Thanks for the post, i had

Thanks for the post, i had nearly the same toughs when i orderd my studentticket. getting marked with different coloured badges and not allowed to have lunch with the rest... that sucks in many directions!

Anonymous 15 May, 2012 - 07:33

Student discount

He Morten, gettin politic again ;) ?
You absolutely have a point. It will probably not be efficient and only attract extra local students, if any. otoh, at least in my country its verry normal to have student discounts. On all sorts of "learnfull stuff", including software, hardware AND events. Nobody afaik ever complained or asked your "this could become discriminating" questions.

Anonymous 15 May, 2012 - 09:13

Yes i am when political

Yes i am when political decisions are made im taking it to the political level
That a lot of people dont understands the consequences of these actions & the precedent that this set.

We are the Drupal Community, we decide what we wants with the community & when we have 2 rate citizens - i feel it as an obligation to react.

When we only wanna support "the poor students" but anybody else that are dirt poor we dont want to, well i think were doing it wrong.

This is out community & we shape it into what we want. When wrong turns are made, we should stand up & make sure its corrected.

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 10:59

I agree

I agree - I think the ticket price should be the same for everyone and preferably lowered as although it's cheap compared to other conferences it's pushing up all the time. As for a student price - the normal ticket price is comparable to student prices for other conferences, I too would rather more put into scholarships for those who really need it.

I wouldn't be surprised if some nice company decides to sponsor lunches for all those keen, eager, job-seeking students ;)


p.s. yes I am part of DA now but wasn't involved in any of these decisions and this is my own opinion!

Steve Purkiss 15 May, 2012 - 11:33

Hey Steve.Well the whole

Hey Steve.

Well the whole lunch situation is one problem (its not the lunch its the slippery slope of different ticket pricing that now have been green lighted), To me really shows that we have a DA that cant look 3 feet ahead & understand what signal that its sends out.

This is really surprising & i hope thats a thing that will change in the future.
Maybe theres to long from the Portland to Munich to see this, I dont know & i dont know who took this decision, but im pretty sure that no-one will never know - This have been one of the problem with the DA since its birth, unless the natives are burning down the ships & towns there will be complete silence :(

Im stil standing by my offer of skipping lunch.
Wonder how many that would be willing to do that.

I can be completely wrong & people are happy with dividing the Drupal Community like this. Maybe this is what people want and im just a simple idealist that needs to get the hippie ideals beaten out of my body

Still belive en Equality for all & i surely hope that you can shake the foundation of how politics like this are made.

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 13:48

Equality for all can go two

Equality for all can go two ways here:
1) tickets cost the same for everyone
2) everyone gets the same chance to attend Drupalcon

I think the student discount is an attempt at pursuing 2, because it gives students usually are on a tighter budget than most peopel in their society. However, as John_B mentions, this arrangement only makes sure full-time students get that same change, while unemployed stay-at-home parents or people with low incomes who spend 20 hours/week of their spare time on Drupal cannot profit from this.

I've coordinated the scholarships for a few Drupalcons and I've had an advisory role for some cons as well and the issue of basing support for someone on that person's income is not new. There have been questions about why scholarships were for full-time students in the first place or why scholarships went to people with full-time jobs. In short: this student discount is not the first and probably won't be the last attempt to give people the same chance of attending Drupalcon, and even though the arrangement has its flaws, please bear in mind that the people behind Drupalcon try their best to make the conference available to everyone.

Bart Feenstra 15 May, 2012 - 13:57

let me just take this

let me just take this quick:
"2) everyone gets the same chance to attend Drupalcon"
well how come a student have more rights to the cheap ticket, than the unemploid programmer that wanna get into Drupal.

If theres a discount & the Drupalcon can afford it (i know how insanely these budgets are, until a certain point) why is that not given fairly out to everyone. Students are not a specific kind of breed. equality is not easy to work with - it would be easy just to say ooh student ok heres you 50% of hurray - But this has consequences & im surprised that you dont see these (we did discuss this 2 years ago in copenhagen ;) )

Im pretty suret that Drupalcon Munch haves a hard problem getting attendees from the central / eastern europe, where the ticket price is Very expensive based on the generally income. a generally income based ticket could maybe change that. But then we have a total other beast on our hands (and a logistically nightmare)

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 14:41


I think you are right to be concerned - whilst no doubt good intentioned, these sorts of decisions could be seen as pandering to certain parts of the community which seems to have a growing influence in the decisions made.

IMHO this is a weakness of the model itself and hence why I have been exploring other models which involve the community as a whole, not just a small subsection.

Since being in the DA for the last few months I've actually gained a lot of respect for how much has already been done to get us this far, and I don't think it's fair necessarily to just complain that it's the DA's fault for this sort of stuff, it's just we haven't stepped up together as a community yet to offer a reasonable alternative way of doing things, which is what I've been focusing on and is the subject of the session I submitted for Munich on building the DA version 2.0.

Steve Purkiss 15 May, 2012 - 14:04

DA isnt Evil just unexperienced

im pretty sure that no one in the DA is evil or have an hidden agenda etc. Im not building up a paranoide frenzy, that the DA is controlled by cthulu , and im pretty sure that it "gets better"

Im also pretty sure that they are all doing their best to make Drupal better & that its a ton of hard work & that hey are learning as they walk forward, its just shocking to see initiatives like this and noone can see the signals & where were gonna go if we follow this road :(

I sure hope a new model can change this & make the DA an organization that is closer to its members instead of, what i have heard around it being accused as beeing an "all American Centralized organistaion" thats only there to support big corps interest in the states (this is comments from various people in the world i have met at events the last 6 months)

I dont belive that - but i can see how people could get that idea.

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 14:33

Getting better

Now there's myself, Donna and Vesu on the Board so non-US members are increasing!

I'm not proposing a new model as such, but building on our existing one in order to support the community as a whole and not any particular subset, whether companies or students.

I think we have to remember that we are building something with Drupal that hasn't been done before so it's not going to be plain sailing and it's going to take effort from all of us to maintain the balance between community and business interests but make it a working balance.

Steve Purkiss 15 May, 2012 - 14:48


Vesa, not Vesu sorry :D

Steve Purkiss 15 May, 2012 - 14:48

I had more money when I was a student!

Hi all, I was a student a couple of years back, but not in comp sci. I've since picked up programming and started work for a drupal-shop in France. Subsidising students at the expense of general ticket prices does hurt a bit as my disposable income hasn't really changed since university.

I realise that part of the reasoning behind subsidising students is to promote Drupal for the future / encourage students to pursue a career in Drupal. But I am sure there are plenty of people like me who aren't technically students but are financially and career-wise in a similar position (just starting out).

So to sum up, I probably agree that targeting students is a bit misplaced/too blunt an instrument. Instead, more scholarships are probably a good thing, but most important should be keeping the ticket costs down.

ps. I know that several people say ticket costs are unimportant (it's the opportunity costs of foregone wages that counts, travel, accommodation etc.) BUT I don't think that applies to many people. For example, I come from London so could go to DrupalCon London and stay with my parents for free during the week. BUT the ticket price WAS a bit off-putting factor for me, because my employer wasn't willing to pay.

nicl 15 May, 2012 - 14:21

A few points

...Which have been covered by others but I like to hear the sound of my own thoughts whilst typing :)

In Australia it is pretty common for multi-tier pricing, for example for students or the elderly etc. so I don't think that is so unusual.
However in these cases everyone still recieves the same product, regardless of what they paid. It's not really a discount if you are getting less for paying less. It's a different product, which is fine but I think discounts should provide the same product and different products should be for anyone to buy.

Students, may be rich, and they may be poor. Being a student is not an indicator or wealth, drupal skill, love of drupal, or anything else - except student status.
This goes for any grouping of people you can devise - unless you request to see peoples yearly income and devise a pricing scheme based on that data, which some might find a little invasive :)

As mentioned, the ticket price is irrelevant for a large portion of the world because ticket price aside the cost of travel and accommodation puts most people who don't live nearby out of the running. Even drupal nuts who would love to go. It would likely cost me multiple thousands of dollars to attend, before even considering the price of the ticket or time off work.
And seeing as the major drupalcons are consistently held in the same few regions, this puts a huge number of people out in the cold.
However, it isn't feasible to have a drupalcon near everyone so that just has to be accepted.

rooby 15 May, 2012 - 16:20

I'd totally buy a student a lunch

Actually I'll do exactly that. Unless we turn it into on a bigger cunning plan, like a Lunch Sponsor thing.

elv 15 May, 2012 - 19:07

FU DA Lunch

If the Drupal association wanna continue with this way of seperation the Studens from the Lunch (even that im against a stutent based discount)

We should/could grip the Bull by its horns & use some of the Money we got left over from Frontend United and figure out a spot where we could take em.
& off course turn em all into Frontend geeks ;)

work title : FU DA Lunch - we totally need a big ass banner, dont think anyone would miss read that ;)

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 19:30

Student Tickets


Thanks for taking the time to bring up the conversation. As you've pointed out the folks behind DrupalCon are always working on ways of opening up DrupalCon to more attendees. As a lead behind DrupalCon Copenhagen you're aware of the costs and challenges that face the DrupalCon organizers. As Drupal increases in popularity and the conference grows so do our costs and types of attendees.

DrupalCon London was the first conference where we provided free tickets to speakers and chairs and 1/2 price tickets to volunteers.

At DrupalCon Denver we took this one step further and had free tickets for speakers, chairs, and code sprint leads. We introduced 1/2 price tickets for volunteers, non-profits, and students.

Now we're experimenting again. In Denver we quickly exceed the budgeted number of 1/2 price tickets so in Munich we moved to correct that and provide more tickets at a lower price point. To do this we are taking a note from DrupalCon SF's playbook and removed lunch from the 1/2 price student tickets. The reason is simple - lunch is expensive. By removing lunch for these tickets we doubled the number of 1/2 priced tickets available. (due to the conference center rules we are obligated to purchase a certain number of lunches for attendees)

We are still working on logisitical details but we plan to have the lunch areas open for all. Those receiving discounted tickets are asked to bring their own lunch from the nearby grocery store or restaurants. We want our students to be fully integrated with our conference and give them the lowest cost ticket.

You argument of this potentially creating a second-class citizen at the conference is not off target. The local Munich team and I discussed this at length and we share the same concerns as you. However, if we don't experiment and if we don't try new things we'll never know if they'll work. Let's see how this evolves, listen to our students and see how this plays out at our conference.

-Jacob Redding

Jacob Redding 15 May, 2012 - 19:27

Jacob Thanx for reading this


Thanx for reading this concern & taking you time to answer it, i know that the DA are busy planning events. I am very aware of the cost, and that this is a progress where the DA try's out different ways to make the Conferences better (or is it bigger?)

Experimenting is a thing that is always a part of the DrupalCon.
We had great succes in copenhagen, with the fooBAR, the codelounge & off course Mikkeller's special brewed Awesomesauce -all that turned out great, even that the DA was directly against these initiatives - sometimes you take a chance & its a succes, other times its not.

Now you trying out a model inspired by the SF con (where lunch was a sideorder for every attendee) and apply that to students & make them take care of that them self.

All good suggestion to lower the price, im pretty sure we have a ton of other attendees that are low income (or just hate conference food), they would love to have the same chance to lower their ticket price? So is there a reason for not doing that besides that no-one speaks for that group?
Im fully aware that the lunch is probably a part of the price package around the coffe, water & the whole conference center.

Im very happy that your now discussing the 2nd rate citizens problems with the local Munich team a problem thats been created at this conference.

I sure hope (as always I have great faith in the community) that theres taken actions towards getting this fixed before its gonna be a precedence for Drupalcon's in the future.

As you might have seen here in the comments, we are looking at alternatives to make sure that the students dont get a 2nd rate experience, is this an initiative that Drupalcon or the DA is willing to take over?

It would be good if we listened to those that cant afford the conference and that isn't a student next time.


mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 22:41

Organizing an unofficial

Organizing an unofficial student lunch could also be a good opportunity for like-minded people to get together; they're probably relatively young and none of them are full-time Drupalistas. Aside from 'making a statement' because students don't get a lunch (which is a very delicate issue), a get-together like this could be fun.

Morten, I'd gladly work together to get this off the ground :)

Bart Feenstra 15 May, 2012 - 22:46

well now that the DA or the

well now that the DA or the Drupalcon people dont wanna do it (- see the bait here)

Im not happy at all about different prices schedule (!) but not making sure that our new guest at the Drupal community dosn't get the A+ experience as everybody else. is simply not okay.

But let us give the DA & Munich Team a couple of days to think this through - hopefully they come up with a better plan than the one presented.

mortendk 15 May, 2012 - 23:35

FU DA Lunch

Can't believe I am having to precede this with a disclaimer but guess I should: This is my personal opinion ;)

I can think of no better intro to our community than a FU DA lunch. Perhaps the banners should not just have those letters but I for one would be more than happy for anything left over from my frontend united ticket go to this.

It would introduce students to another part of our community and show how working together we can make these events happen. Would be happy to help fundraise further if needed, from front endy type people.

Steve Purkiss

Steve Purkiss 16 May, 2012 - 00:11

Multiple groups


There are many other groups of individuals that would like a lower cost ticket. This is why we introduced free tickets for speakers, volunteers, code sprint leads, and discounted tickets for non-profits, students, and volunteers. We have discussed discounts for freelancers, module maintainers, doc leads, community leads, DA members, and many others. We're not ignoring any of the attendees of DrupalCon but do have to make tough decisions when it comes to DrupalCon pricing. As you're aware every ticket to DrupalCon is sold below cost with sponsors picking up the other half.

I want to be clear that we have zero intention of separating these individuals from the conference. The 200 Euro discount on the ticket price only excludes food to help us control costs. If we could expand this discount to everyone at the conference we would but it's not logistically possible. This worked at DrupalCon SF because of the unique location of the conference center, we don't have that luxury in Munich.

You're absolutely spot-on and it's good that we have watchdog groups monitoring the quality of the conference and the DA. This is how we get better. I suggest that you let this play out and monitor the outcome. Allowed the team to experiment and try new things.

-Jacob Redding

Jacob Redding 16 May, 2012 - 03:11

jacob my basic point is, and

my basic point is, and it was maybe lost in the many worths & comments in this thread that theres a huge concern for the ticket prices, especially here in europe.

Now the DA is building up a system where we have a lot of different discount at all kinds (and everybody have their hands out - and now i come with the people with 5 times lesser income than the west europeans, just to make it worse)
Well wasnt it an idea just to lower the prices for all and make it cheaper for all ?
1 ticket = 1 person no matter who you are.

I really dont think theres an well thought evil attempt from the DA to make 2nd rate citizens,
I do though think that none of you thought of the signal value this is sending & the precedense that the future cons now can work under (and that is what happens - no harm done, just correct it)
Yes its political but im pretty sure your all aware that the DA is an many ways politics (else ill have to set up a bof in Munich ;)

The Munich and the DA can do whatever they want - offcourse they can (and i do trust you all to make the BEST Drupalcon)

I have no power to change things, others have that (DA & munich)
if you all think this is a good idea to move forward, well go ahead. I have said what i think about it. Hopefully have raised the issue a bit on the radar. Hopefully this can help the DA to move forward, but most importently make the Drupal Community find solutions for these problems that will also come in the future.

/the english Bulldog

mortendk 16 May, 2012 - 23:09

some thoughts

I'd like to share some thoughts, not as a complaint, but as a feedback for the DA and for future conference organizers.

I live in Hungary, which is an eastern European country. There are ~6200 Hungarian users registered on at the moment, and guess how many of them will be there in Munich?


If you're a freelancer here, Drupalcons are simply too expensive for you. If you work for a local Drupal shop, Drupalcons in the US are still waaay out of question, but if the company is doing exceptionally well, they might be able to afford to send the lead developer or the company owner to the European Drupalcon. Not the whole team, just 1 person. The others watch the online videos.

I understand that the DA is supporting students because Drupal needs more talents, but while you're in school, Drupal is just one of your options, you might end up doing something totally different. The people I'm talking about here have already chosen Drupal, they use it day by day, and most of them contributes to the community in some ways. There are Hungarian drupalers who maintain modules, or themes, occasionally even work on core issues and still can't afford to go to Drupalcons. And it's not just Hungary, I wonder what the ratio of d.o users and conference attendees is for India, Brazil, Nigeria, etc.

So while many of you like the idea that you will be able to meet students at Munich who might be interested in working for you, and after some months of training might be able to start doing valuable work, I'd like to draw your attention to those who are already capable of doing valuable work, and would gladly relocate, or at least telecommute, but can't be there because of the crappiness of their local economy.

Thanks for your attention.

János 16 May, 2012 - 16:31


hey janos
Thanks so much for coming forward with the real world situation in hungary & how the simple reality is when we are not in the US or in western Europe (szeged was btw one of my favorite cons)

I hope that someone in the DA will actually (now) listen and act (aka do something) to these consern's instead of focusing on a group that have's good collection of alternative options & have a huge voice in the Drupal community, and by that now gets more "favours" (aka stop whining) This was a subject that was discussed around copenhagen, where we had no control over price structures, cause the money is from the da, so they offcourse sets the rules (totally fair imho)

I wonder if the DA will care to share the numbers of attendees for the last 3 years & how many attendees we had here in europe from Central & eastern Europe.

My bet is that theres probably about 5 tickets now sold to the whole central europe.

I dont know if this refects the tendencees towards "americanization" that the DA have shown the last couple of years (or its just mee that are seeing ghost)
But if we keep neglecting the central & eastern europe, because "theres to long from Portland" to actually see it.(this is not a thing done out of badwill thats just what happens, you look to what you can see)
then We have another set of problems on our hands (not to mention loosing a shit ton of geeks)

So im sorry Jacob,DA & Drupalcon people - you all probably hates the crap outta my for starting this shitstorm - But if I am the Watchdog (and i have a English Bulldog, so go read the characther: Loyal, cute (!) have no fear & dont back out of a fight) well then this is where i go "Vuf"

I thinks that the DA should go back to the drawing board and look at this again then ask your self:
"Is a Student discount for X number of persons Really the Fairest way that we can do this or is there another way to use these discounted tickets, that our budgets have open up for."
If the answer is Yes We belive as the DA & Drupalcon that we get the best value for this, well then ok.

I do know this is not easy - I do know this is goddamn complicated issue, and theres no easy solution. But i think that the current solution is well to put it nice: Crap & can be done so much better taken into concideration how europe is with so much difference from copenhagen to Barcelona to Szeged

/the Bull Watch dog

mortendk 16 May, 2012 - 20:03

Morten, I don't believe that


I don't believe that you're creating a shitstorm, rather I think you're addressing a legitimate concern in the Drupal Community. However, I do think you are not giving due credit to the Munich team or DA team that has thought of these issues and shares many, if not all, of your concerns.

We are one of the only tech conferences with a scholarship fund and a ticket price that has consistently stayed at approximately 400 Euro even though we have begun offering free admission to hundreds of attendees. Can we do better? Yes! but let's not ignore the huge groundwork that has been forged.

To your point about data from DrupalCon. Absolutely! In December, 2011 we released a big data dump showing attendee demographic data for the U.S and European conferences (2007-2011). A point that you may find interesting is that DrupalCon Chicago and London were turning points in our conference's history that showed that each conference was largely attendees from the geographic region. Specifically nearly 90% of London attendees were European and vice versa in Chicago. This means we are attracting more people to Drupal through our conferences, which is awesome.

Dig into the raw data for yourself:

-Jacob Redding

Jacob Redding 16 May, 2012 - 23:16

Fair enough if my concerns

Fair enough if my concerns about creating 2nd rate citizens & dividing this community has been raised in the DA & Munich (and that you all share them) Why its still then push through in the current form - which leaves room for a lot of "misunderstandings"- is then a mystery to me. But maybe thats how some progress is made sometimes, not really expecting anything to be changed tbh.

I still think that this student discount is a unintelligent way of using a bunch of cheap'er tickets. That could be used so much wiser & fairer towards all of our potential new Drupalistas.

You havent convinced me that this way of doing cheaper tickets is actually a good idea besides trying "something new" & that we have alot of students that are good to moan about their financial situation.

I am not ignoring the groundwork thats been done, DC are growing & it is getting better - in some aspects, in others not.

I am looking forward to see the actions that are taken to make sure that the student attendees are being welcomed as all others in the lunch areas, coffe lines, waters etc - thats usually a part of food price at a venue - and loads of respect & kudos that you guys have twisted the venues arm to give the drupalcon that :)

I will bitch n moan, whenever i see movements that is pushing the community in a "Wrong way" which offcourse is anything that i isnt agreeing with at any given time ;)

I am hoping that the ticket price & what "could be misunderstood as a total neglection of the central europe" is now on the agenda in the future for the DA meeting(s)

mortendk 17 May, 2012 - 01:46

Same old, same old.

I've been whining about choosing Europe's most expansive cities one after the other for a couple of years now (and was especially loud and annoying about it when Copenhagen was chosen - the venue there cost more per day than the location the Berlin proposal committee needed to pay for the whole week): London (well, Croydon), Paris, Copenhagen, Munich? WTF, people?

There is a huge swath of mid-sized cities that could be perfect con venue at significantly lower prices for the event and the visitors. If we keep budgets roughly the same, we'd be able to sponsor more students and others to come ... a virtuous circle!

In any case, I think the Cons are not not where the hot developer action is going on in the community. Amazing people are doing amazing things (code sprints, sessions, training, etc.) at Drupal Camps all around Europe now. Support those, go to those, that's where the real juice in the grassroots community is right now!

HornCologne 16 May, 2012 - 20:58

To be fair if we do event

To be fair if we do event that size we need venues, that can handle it. We need a keynote room that can handle the 1000+ attendees at one time & theres a need for a local team in the city that can get the job done (we all knows what happens if we dont have that) So theres a shit ton of toher things that needs to be taken into consideration beside's venue prices - and placing a drupalcon in a city that never had done so much as a camp, would be problematic imo.

If theres a posibility to find other venues that is in less known areas than the usual spots now that we have a full time staff in portland working for the DA that should defently be a reasonable demand no?

I dont belive in seperating the grassroots from the business - I dead honest belive thats this ying-yang combination is one of the core values of the Drupal Community.
If we end up with a DrupalCon thats a Business event & a bunch of "this is how you build you first Drupal sute" then we have lost a flagship in our community, that is not replaceable.
Where else can you end up with the "top dog developers" over lunch & get to discuss the relevans of classnaming & render speed - and then the next day, hangout with Microsoft's Sales people over a beer, telling dirty jokes and if your really lucky get you head filled with awesome new possibilties that you can go home and work with.
- and my personal favorite Give Merlin of Chaos yet another obscure beer as a thanx that i never have to do a SQL thingie again ;)

Maybe im a Dreamer & maybe its to much hippie BS in my childhood, that makes me belive that we can find a methode here in Europe, where we open up the doors for developers in east that makes 5-8 time less than those in the west? - Or we should move em back & forth each other yeah to make sure that part of EU dont get fucked.

This is not just about x amount of Students, this is basically about how we grow & what culture and precedense we wanna build our community on.

So if the DA wants a really good idea then send the Drupalcon to Prague next year, so we at least give the East European a chance to be a part of this

... sorry for the rant


mortendk 16 May, 2012 - 22:49

I received a Scholarship!!!

I was one of the fortunate ones to get a student's discount. Being a student where I am from is probably not the worst but its pretty hard financially - no Im not going to sob about being a student but sometimes its hard to be empathetic with people - especially those out of our environment where culture , cost of living and so many variables are different.

"My story"
Drupal is what payed my way to Drupalcon, this year I got my biggest project ever while freelancing as a developer (and skipping school - things I do for Drupal), perhaps one that you would never do not even for a non-profit for that price. But for me it was BIG MONEY, enough to cover my US$1300 plane ticket - thats after spending hours convincing my mom Id still have money to pay rent ($300) after I return. Yet that still wasn't low enough when you added all the other expenses. But what sealed the deal was the STUDENT DISCOUNT + that my university was sending their 2 web developers to Drupalcon so I could get to "floor surf" at the CROWNE PLAZA - yes those carpets are pretty comfy. The free lunch at Drupalcon Denver was awesome since Id wait till lunch was done then grab the leftover boxes of vegan food nobody ate, so that covered lunch and dinner.
I met Mortendk, one of my UX/Themeing idols, I follow his opinionated twitter feed, although when I told him, he said that may not be a good thing lol. I met webchick (Im her cheif groupie), and xjm who led me into helping out in core office hours, i met the ppl behind omega, one guy from the team even came to help me fix a javascript bug I was having in the coders lounge, I met the crazy ppl at Lullabot, Jeff Robbins, Adi Berry and I had a long talk with Jeff Eaton, stood in awe as I stood beside Dries and snapped his picture, met with tonnes of other popular drupalists, ended up going to more BOFs than sessions just to meet people.
That experience now made all the hours I spent learning Drupal from the 4.7 days(installation sucked!) , all the flame wars I got into with other students promoting plone, joomla, wordpress etc WORTHWHILE!!!
To convince myself to spend that AWESOME amount of money to go to a Drupalcon was that I would meet awesome people who would want an awesome developer and based on the rates I hear that you make in places like Denmark, I would make that money in no time, afterall - I'm not too bad of a developer. Well, after I returned, and tens of emails later - no positive response (and to think Dries said there was a shortage of good developers). I payed my rent that month, the next month mom chipped in to help. But would I do it again? IN A HEARTBEAT!!!!

frazras 18 May, 2012 - 03:04

Hella yeah!

Dude first of all: Fuck yeah \m/
Good to hear your story & see that there is some fire out there!
Yes I dont believe (all) Students to be whiners thats always asking for Discounts no matter where & what the price is (even that every event i have been organizing theres always the "is there a discount on the 20$ ticket price - cause im a student" mail sigh)

Im pretty convinced that whomever get the scholarships /discounts are very happy about it and wanna kick ass - I am not questioning the enthusiasme & willingness to be even more Fantatic . But that don't change the problem I have addressed here. in my initial post (phew this soon looks like an issuequee with coffe stains on it)

So let me just get it straight: So the student ticket holders in Denver, were allowed the left overs from the attendees lunch, or did i missread that completely? Please say yes, that it wasn't the case. That The student tickets had the same access to the lunch areas & you just did the clever thing by getting some left over dinner boxes for dinner n stuff ?

What I do have a huge problem with is that were moving towards a class system inside the community with 2nd rated attendees, and that apparently after reading the comments from Jacob Redding, the DA is doing this knowing what kind of message that it sends (concluding this by the comments that it was discussed back n forth) - even that the intends are not to be doing that... That leads me down another road, but thats a discussion for another day.

We all (well alot of us) have the enthusiasme to travel the world to go to the Drupalcon(s) and would do it even with a big minus on out bankaccount, the chance of loosing girlfriends/boyfriends etc. Cause its our Heart & Bloodline in this Community (and also its a job)
This is where we all got to meet, that person that did that amazing piece of code, helped out a crucial time & get the chance to say thank you - High as Low, and see what kinda outfit Kieran is wearing this time. This is one of the things that make this software project special. Exactly as you Describe you Experience - Glad im not the only one with that view :)

It could be pretty sweet, and pretty fair (even that i still think that the ticket prices for ALL should be lowered) if other's that have the same fire as you & have as limited resources could get to be part of a drupalcon & not be deselcted by the fact that they are not students? How many non Students do you think that would seal the deal for?

What the DA Could have done instead of pulling the easy "student discount" card (apparently to shut the whining students up ;) ) was to look at the situation as a whole and say- Ok we do have a possibility here, to offer some tickets away to half the price (don know the exact numbers ) How about we spread them out fairly for those that have a low income. Then its Equally shared in the community.

The Answer to that is probably "oooh but thats to hard to figure out, cause then somebody might cheat & get a cheaper ticket even that they can afford it" - Well last time i checked being a Student isn't equal to being rich or poor, that usually just means that you are a student - and could practically drop out the day after you got the discount, or cheat in a ton of other ways ;)

Now as a price for this discount tickets, I am fearing that we are creating a precedence for 2nd rate attendees at drupalcon's, and if we dont stop that nonsens right now - it will become precedence.
What i wonder if theres political willingness inside the DA to do anything about this, or its just ignored as a small thing that dosnt really matter in the big picture, so its moved to the side cause we had 1800 of attendees & look its all AWESOME.
There is still a ton of time to make this right (3 months) so the evil deed isnt done yet...

im very pleased that you came forward, and its a good to get that point to compared to János, comments about the situation in hungary, So we dont get into a mindset of lazy discount loading students, cause thats clearly not the case.
This makes me believe even more that its totally worth shouting at Portland (well at the DA)
If this "Discount crap" is kept, then it should not only be the Students thats in the future that can get an easier pass to Drupalcon But its all that have that financial need to seal the deal & gets that same chance to apply.

Sleeping at floors at hotel rooms is a classic &part of the Drupalcon experience - Doing it every time - but thats usually to much beer & not being able to walk/find my own hotel ;)

I'm very "pleased" mnaah let me bed dead honest here: I am pretty motherfucking PROUD that I have inspired you, again not sure thats a good thing ;)


mortendk 19 May, 2012 - 11:05

Student Tickets


Just clearing up a few things. 1/2 priced tickets for non-profits and students were introduced at DrupalCon Denver. Those tickets were no different than the other tickets, so there was no swiping of leftover lunches or second-class cafeterias. I was just as surprised to read those words as you. In my opinion you are over exagerrating and assuming well too many things in order to make your case. This is obviously something you are very passionate about but please don't overlook the passion and enthusiam the local German community has for getting more people into their conference.

The difference between Denver and Munich is the number of available 1/2 priced tickets, which increased for Munich. The decision was/is:

"If we could offer more tickets at 200 Euros by asking them to bring their own lunch, would they like to do that?"

Honestly that is an easy answer. Yes. I think everyone would want to do that. However, we can only offer this to a limited number of folks due to contractual obligations with the convention center. Otherwise we'd just lower the total ticket price for everyone.

This decision is an attempt to get more people into our conference.

These tickets have full access to everything, coffee, tea, the lunch area, all sessions, etc. There is absolutely nothing different than these tickets except that we are clearly stating: "In order to help us save costs and offer these lower cost tickets we ask that you bring your own lunch". As these tickets are designed for locals the majority of these ticket holders are going to be OK bringing their own lunch from the local grocery store (personally i wish we could all do this.. catering is the single largest expensive of any conference)

I still read the core of your conversation as to who these are offered to: "Students". Perhaps we can revisit the term used and the definition of it. I like @horncologne's suggestion of allowing folks to self-select their discount.

I do not see the same atrocity as you do. I see a local community that is working hard to bring more people to their conference and did so by cutting out the #1 expense of a ticket that can be easily had for a fraction of the cost.

-Jacob Redding

Jacob Redding 19 May, 2012 - 19:52

if reacting gets the point through ...

please stop trying to conclude this as an attack on the Munich Team - You know that its exactly NOT where im pointing my finger at - but nice try though ;)

This is a concern about the signals that we as a community in the end is gonna send to the outside world, and the precedence were gonna work with in the future. - yes its political.

I might be overreacting, well i sure hope so. Apparently the overreacting have popped this subject high enough on the radar, that its now: "Perhaps we can revisit the term used and the definition of it. I like @horncologne's suggestion of allowing folks to self-select their discount."...
Pretty please do - This is exactly (if we do have to have a discount...) what I am advocating for
I take this as the Drupal Association in future will work on & maybe open up for the discount tickets as a support for those "that needs em whomever it is" ? - and for that alone a little "overreacting" is totally worth it.

I am very aware of how it works when its big conferences, and i am very glad that besides of the 200€ lunches that its been possible to get a deal for that home - hey i do give credits when thats deserved & im fully aware that its not a thing that can be offered to anyone (cause its a part of the price from a conference center ... those fuckers make us pay even for breathing in the rooms)

I hope you and other knows me well enough that when i talk about the "evil deed" that there is some level of humour involved (very little though ;))


mortendk 19 May, 2012 - 20:55

I agree with Morten

I think the idea of discounts is great, it's the classism that offends. I especially like the merit-based discounts for volunteers and sprint leaders. And I understand the organizers are trying to do the best they can to make Drupalcon better. But the student discounts reminds me of the bad old days when things were much worse.

When I was learning programming, before the open-source movement and Microsoft's free 'Express Editions', there was a huge class divide in the industry. The rich who could afford college got all kinds of free stuff and student discounts on compilers, books, and other tools. Those of us who couldn't afford college got nothing, we had to learn and earn the hard way. By the time we were rich enough to afford college, we didn't need those discounts. (We could afford college! Of course we could afford a compiler!)

Thankfully open-source movement came along and reduced the class gap, and the barriers that the less wealthy have to face. Now even without being rich enough for college, you can still use great tools and systems (like Drupal, for instance!) But giving freebies to the rich at the expense of the poor is a reversion. Why not go the other way, make the students (and graduates and those of us who've made it) pay full price and give everyone else the discount?

It's all a matter of perspective, I know there really are some students who luck out to get into college despite being poor. But again, they've had luck, why not give the discount to someone less lucky? (Not me, in the long run I did okay in spite of the classism of the previous age.)

Anonymous 29 June, 2012 - 01:36

Student Discounts

What's so bad about student discounts?

Leeman Taylor 31 August, 2014 - 19:11
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