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When Stack Exchange announced the cancellation of DevDays, many asked for an alternative event to take place in its stead. Some community members, most prominently VonC who was also set to be a speaker, started drumming up support for it, looking for a venue etcetera. The Meta question was frequently updated throughout the process.

Eventually, Jon Dickinson offered to take care of organization, and CodeKen 2011 was born. And it was a blast! Perfectly organized in the London Docklands, with Wi-Fi and great catering, it featured top-notch speakers (almost 100% the original lineup), and the relatively small number of people made for a cozy and informal athmosphere. There is talk of one happening next year too.

However, not present at all was - Stack Overflow!

The facts as far as I managed to find out (please correct me if I have something wrong):

  • Stack Exchange, Inc. did not sponsor, nor offer to sponsor the alternative event in any way. It was sponsored solely by Equal Experts.

  • Jeff Atwood managed to be at Øredev in Malmö, Sweden (via London) to speak there November 11th, but was apparently unable to come to the alternative event November 14th - at exactly the planned date of the original DevDays - in London.

  • Stack Exchange did not send anybody to the alternative event at all.

  • The alternative event was not mentioned once in the Stack Overflow podcast. In podcast #26 on November 9th - five days before the conference - Joel, when asked whether there is any news on DevDays, even said that there was "no news", even though he must have known of Codeken. The podcast did however manage to mention and promote Øredev, which Jeff was speaking at.

  • The only thing Stack Exchange did for Codeken - after several SO users stepped up and created pressure - was E-Mail all the people who had originally booked a London DevDays ticket to inform them about the new conference. (Update: According to Alison's answer below, this was much more extensive than it sounds, and there was a lot of behind-the-scenes cooperation to ensure a smooth handover.)

Now, of course there was no obligation for SO to sponsor Codeken or be there or to do anything at all. Also, some things may have fallen under the table because Jon is not a SO veteran.

Still: taking all these facts together, it looks like a bit of a disappointing display on SE's part. I mean, there's an event that was clearly going to be attended solely by very dedicated Stack Overflow users and SE doesn't acknowledge it publicly at all?

What the hell happened here?

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I have no idea what actually happened, but... where was all this organized? Here on meta? Did anyone tell SE about it/asked for sponsorship? I'm pretty sure I haven't seen anything beyond the initial "well, we have non-refundable tickets to London, let's do something with that" shortly after DevDays were officially cancelled. –  Anna Lear Nov 17 '11 at 22:04
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@Anna several SO users were in contact with SE (namely Allison, who AFAIK was in charge of organizing DevDays) for weeks - including the time when CodeKen finally formed and started selling tickets. SE definitely knew about it. I do not know whether SE was contacted for sponsorship, though - I have not heard anything to that effect. –  Pëkka Nov 17 '11 at 22:09
    
Cool, thanks for clarifying that. –  Anna Lear Nov 17 '11 at 22:11
    
@Anna you're welcome. Re Meta, the initial question was half-way frequently updated to reflect the latest stage of things - see here –  Pëkka Nov 17 '11 at 22:12
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@AnnaLear - As someone who was there, I can attest that unless one knew that Code Ken was the resurrected London Dev Days 2011, you wouldn't know SE had anything to do with the event. –  Oded Jan 28 '12 at 11:32
    
Next time, let's organize our conference at GitHub: twitter.com/#!/TALlama/status/164079626346434561, talks.githubapp.com/talk/…. We might cross Jeff's path that way. –  VonC Jan 30 '12 at 22:18
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3 Answers 3

First, I'm glad to hear that you had a terrific time at the event. It sounds like everything went off well and hopefully we can work with CodeKen on the next iteration.

I'm saddened to hear that you felt like we didn't do anything to support the event when in fact it was the opposite. I worked directly with Jon to ensure that the event handover went smoothly. Including, but not limited to, providing contacts to the original speakers as well as their content. To say that recruiting and organizing the DevDays agenda was extremely hard work would be an understatement. Once the CodeKen website and agenda were finalized, we sent an email to DevDays registrants encouraging them to attend. So while our support may not have been as public as some of the other sponsors,we enthusiastically supported CodeKen in any way they asked.

Ultimately we had a great working relationship with Jon and look forward to working with him on (what we hope is) the next of many CodeKens.

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Thanks for your response, Alison. I wasn't aware that the behind-the-scenes cooperation was this extensive. I still can't help but feel a bit let down by Jeff and Joel on the other bullet points, but it's good to know that the event had SE's support in the background - I'm sure it was vital for it to work out. –  Pëkka Nov 17 '11 at 23:52
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Just to second and clarify what @Pekka says, we definitely didn't have any perception of you personally not being helpful. Quite the contrary, it felt like you personally helped, but that SE/SO (in any case Jeff & Joel) gave the whole thing the cold shoulder. –  Benjol Nov 18 '11 at 6:40
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We had a fantastic time at the conference. It was one of those rare occasions where you have great speakers and an extremely knowledgeable and engaged audience. I had a number of speakers praise the level of follow up questions they got from the audience throughout the conference.

I can confirm that Alison was extremely helpful, introducing me to a number of speakers so I could follow up to confirm they would still present. I also believe that the email Alison sent out to people who had already signed up for the London event was instrumental to getting the numbers we needed to make the event happen. I made a point of thanking SO in my opening talk, which you should be able to see the videos of soon!

We will start planning the next CodeKen event in the new year and we would be thrilled to have SO involved with future events.

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Just for the record, this is what you missed:

enter image description here

(On the left: Tony the Pony. On the right: EvilCode HenchKitty)

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And in the middle, ehrm, can't remember. Nice guy though. :D –  Benjol Nov 18 '11 at 21:08
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