Why Frozen Rails will never charge our speakers a penny

If you follow Chris Wanstrath (@defunkt) on Twitter you might have noticed these two tweets yesterday:

DjangoCon Europe charges speakers $$$ to talk. Absolutely disgusting.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

We wanted to sponsor but the DjangoCon Europe organizer blew me off when asking about the speaker $$$ thing. Stay classy.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

…and then controversy.

To clarify, DjangoCon doesn’t charge their speakers to speak, per se, but does charge them the regular admissions fee (400–600€, by the looks of it).

I’d just like to give a few of the reasons why we would never charge our speakers a single penny at Frozen Rails.

1. They make the conference possible

If we didn’t get the great speakers we do there would be no conference. Every time we get a speaker who accepts an invitation to come speak at Frozen Rails, we’re incredibly grateful for it.

2. Some speakers implicitly sponsor us

We’re perfectly OK with paying for some of our speakers’ travel costs and accommodation, but the economics of organising a small conference don’t let us pay for every speaker and certainly make it impossible to pay a respectable speaker’s fee to any of them.

Every time a speaker (or their company) agrees to pay for their own airfares and hotel, it’s incredibly beneficial for us and helps us keep the price of the tickets down. (By the way, if you want to make a pot of money, don’t go into the conference business)

3. Many of our speakers go above and beyond the call of duty

All of the speakers we had at last year’s Frozen Rails were incredible nice people.

For example, Chris and Ryan (@rtomayko) from GitHub actually volunteered to help us with assembling the attendee packs (which involved assembling about ~300 folders) after the speakers’ dinner on the night before the conference.

And then after the conference they had a GitHub meetup with an open tab at the bar for most of the night. Oh, and all of this was after GitHub paid for both Chris and Ryan’s flights and hotels.

4. We care about putting together the best possible conference we can

Not only do we want to have great speakers at Frozen Rails, we also want to make sure we have a great audience. To help with this we do things like offer discounts and free tickets to Rails contributors. That’s right, if you have enough commits to Rails you get a free ticket to Frozen Rails. Even a single commit will get you a 10% discount.

Another reason why we offer these discounts is that we like to encourage people to get involved, which is also why we offer steeply discounted student tickets (at below cost, even).

// Matt