I Want to Run a JSConf, Now What?

JSConf is a unique conference organization, because we aren't really a conference organization at all. We are a very loose federation of developers who share the same general idea about how a technical conference should be held. We don't believe that one model or process fits all communities, in fact we are big advocates of locally run events driven by passionate individuals dedicated to the community. To really understand what this all means, perhaps a little background is in order.

When I, Chris Williams, and my wife, Laura Williams, started JSConf it almost didn't happen and most likely wouldn't have happened without the support of Jan Lehnardt encouraging us to stay with it. I made a deal with him one night that if we pulled this crazy experiment off, he would have to hold one in Europe. During JSConf US 2009, Jan met Holger Blank and Malte Ubl and the three had such a good time that they decided to take up the charge and run one in Europe. Thus JSConf EU was born as was our model for establishing new JSConf instances.

We have two rules for starting an event using the name "JSConf". They are rather simple, but critical to how we operate:

  1. You must have attended an existing JSConf event. We do this to ensure that you know what a "JSConf event" means, for better or for worse. We run these events as not-for-profit, volunteer driven experiments where we try to isolate the things that work well and reduce, if not remove, the items that degrade the experience. We take risks where others might be cautious, we focus on shared social experiences, and we do our best to make a difference in the community. Reading about it second-hand just doesn't convey the full scope of this and that is why we require that people looking to start a new JSConf have attended an existing JSConf.
  2. You must have an existing JSConf organizer as oversight. We essentially treat the JSConf event as a franchise model where the event is run entirely by the local individual or team. They handle all financial dealings, they arrange the schedule, they plan out the venue, the parties, and everything else. This gives the event a very local feeling to it which makes it very special, if you were to attend JSConf US and JSConf EU without knowing they were "JSConf" you would most likely think they are completely disjoint -- and that is intentional. We have this oversight clause just to ensure that 1.) the conference isn't taken in a direction that is befitting the other JSConf events and 2.) provide a single responsible person to help with questions regarding venue, speakers, budgeting, and how to manage everything. The most important job of the overseeing organizer is, much like Jan did, provide a view that isn't deep in the planning and be there to say "It will work out, don't worry".

There are many people that think it would be great to run a JSConf and I definitely understand how it might seem from the outside, but it is not all roses on the organization side. If you are going to run a JSConf, it (for better or worse) already means something to the JS community, most times it is better to run a "JSConf like" event with a different name. If you reach out to us, we will help as much as we can and you want -- we want more events to happen all over the world.

We are trying to bring a JSConf event near you, we promise. Unfortunately, since we are this loose federation of volunteers that also have day jobs (and families), we are limited in the amount of time we can spend and risk we can undertake with venue commitments, travel costs, etc.. If you want an event like JSConf, NodeConf, TXJS, or CapitolJS near you, send us an email and/or meet us at one of the events.