The idea for the RuhrJS was born on a PottJS. When I took over the topic at 9elements, I quickly realized that the places for the PottJS are almost always gone on the first day. The space is usually limited to ~ 50 people. I went to Sebastian Deutsch and told him about the idea that we could also organize a conference in the Ruhr area. After repeated assurances that I was sure that I would be able to get this thing done, I was able to start planning the first RuhrJS.
As a conference participant you usually only see the “finished end product”, ie the conference. Has your view of other conferences changed because you now know what it looks like “behind the scenes”? Or were there other things that you as a participant at a conference did not like so much and that you then paid particular attention to when organizing the RuhrJS?
I think that since I organize the RuhrJS myself, I have become more patient with processes at other conferences. Many things no longer seem as bad as before (if a schedule may not be adhered to or the like). Every delay has its reasons.
At some conferences, I get used to the code of conduct. I was at two conferences that had a CoC, but in my opinion it was only lip service. From ableism to bad jokes to non-programming wives, everything was there. When talking to the organizers it was said: “Oh, he was just joking”. Something like that makes me angry personally. Usually I am not very sensitive to this and I open my mouth. However, not everyone is like me. Many do not come back after such actions, which is why I have paid particular attention to the Code of Conduct and that this is also enforced by a team.
As in the previous year, rrbone was again able to provide conference attendees and speakers with fast and efficient WiFi. Why is a reliable WLAN infrastructure so important from an organizational perspective at a conference?
What is most complained about on Twitter and other social media when it comes to conferences? Right: Bad WiFi. You get angry when a website takes longer than a second to load. Now imagine 250 people with min. two devices want to go online and the WLAN structure does not allow it or the line is so lame that nothing works. For me personally, it was a super meltdown. So I’m all the happier with the rrbone team and the great performance. The only grumble I read on Twitter this year was that we weren’t using enough bandwidth.
The RuhrJS has a detailed and binding Code of Conduct. In addition, you stand out from other conferences in that you manage to attract a particularly large number of female speakers to your conference. How can other organizers manage to make their conferences and especially panels more diverse?
I spent a lot of time on Youtube and watched talks from different people (about 14 hours or even more). I looked for ways to contact the people and described in detail why I would like them to submit a call for paper. No more and no less.
The RuhrJS took place for the second time this year. What does your summary look like? And can you hope for a third RuhrJS?
The Trello board for 2018 has already been created. I am very happy with 2017. I listen to the critical voices and try to improve a few things next year, but overall, most of the voices were very positive and that makes me very happy.
No, I think conferences are perfect for people who just want to start with JS. Maybe you don’t understand anything or not much in the talks, but there are a lot of experienced and helpful people on site who can give you the right tools to start coding.
We thank Madeleine Neumann for the interview and are already looking forward to the RuhrJS 2018!