[Owasp-leaders] Speakers at Appsec conferences

Josh Sokol josh.sokol at owasp.org
Thu Sep 11 21:54:22 UTC 2014

It's OWASP practice not to pay speaker hotel/travel?  I don't think I've
ever seen that written anywhere.  In fact, we offer pots of money like
OWASP on the Move funds to do the opposite.  And I'm pretty sure that
speaker travel is something that is explicitly allowed in the Chapter
Leader Handbook.  In the case of AppSecUSA, nobody ever told us it was
somebody else's decision so we just assumed it was ours to make just like
all of the other decisions.  As long as the budget is set up to accommodate
it, I can't really see the Foundation caring about it.  But if someone
needs an explicit "Yes, conference organizers can pay speaker expenses if
it makes sense to do so", then I'm all for it as long as they figure out
how to account for it financially.


On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:38 PM, Tobias <tobias.gondrom at owasp.org> wrote:

>  Josh,
> in my experience, to some degree this has in the past not been up to the
> team planning the conference.
> We have referred back to general OWASP practice to in general not pay
> speaker hotel/travel (except for keynote speakers). So one outcome of this
> discussion could be to explicitly make this the choice of the conference
> organising chapter team.
> Tobias
> On 11/09/14 22:20, Josh Sokol wrote:
>  Historically, this has been a decision that has been left up to the team
> planning the conference.  I know with AppSecUSA 2012, there were a few
> speakers that we really wanted to get to the conference and they couldn't
> pay their way so we helped them with expenses.  We do the same for LASCON
> if we really want someone and circumstances merit it.  But, like Michael
> alluded to, this is an expense that should become part of the conference
> planning budget and we need to figure out how to offset it.  Personally, I
> would hesitate to compare any of OWASP's relatively small conferences to
> BlackHat (5,000 attendees) or Defcon (15,000 attendees).  Not even in the
> same ballpark.  And when you factor in that a ticket to BlackHat averages
> out somewhere around $2000 per person, well, we're not even in the same
> city where revenue is concerned.  My gut says to leave these decisions up
> to the local planning teams, but not make a habit out of it.
>  ~josh
> On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 4:08 PM, Azeddine Islam Mennouchi <
> azeddine.mennouchi at owasp.org> wrote:
>>   Hello,
>> sure :D you were great in Math Michael :D
>>  I think Stev. has a point almost all the confs. pay a part of the
>> expenses (if not full expenses)
>>  Not all companies have the same policy not all people get sponsored by
>> there companies
>>  Sponsoring some people would be great I think
>>  Regards Islam,
>> On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 10:54 PM, Michael Coates <
>> michael.coates at owasp.org> wrote:
>>> Steven,
>>>  Hope all is well and it will be great to catch up in Denver.
>>>  I always enjoy new ideas and discussion. I have a few questions about
>>> your idea.
>>>  1. Do we have any indication that quality speakers aren't applying
>>> because travel / hotel is not covered?
>>>  2. Do you think the quality of speakers would increase if travel costs
>>> were covered?
>>>  3. How many of the speakers do you think are paying for their travel
>>> out of pocket versus having it covered as a business expense?
>>>  4. Would you support an increase in ticket prices to cover the costs
>>> of speakers? If not, where would you suggest the costs be covered?
>>>  A bit of cost planning:
>>> AppSecUSA has 79 people listed on the speakers tab.  Let's assume travel
>>> as $900 per person ($500 airfare + 2 nights hotel at $200 night). That
>>> comes out to $71,000.
>>>  Cost increase per attendee:
>>> 500 attendees +$142 per ticket
>>> 1000 attendees +$71 per ticket
>>> --
>>> Michael Coates
>>> Chairman, OWASP Board
>>> @_mwc
>>> On Thu, Sep 11, 2014 at 1:11 PM, Steven van der Baan <
>>> steven.van.der.baan at owasp.org> wrote:
>>>> hi Leaders,
>>>> I've got a question for you all and it is regarding speakers at Appsec
>>>> conferences.
>>>> I am of the opinion that we should cover expenses for speakers that are
>>>> presenting at Appsec conferences. At the moment this is not the case and
>>>> I truly believe that this is wrong. I think that if OWASP wants the
>>>> AppSec conferences to grow in size, we should also give the speakers
>>>> more than just an entrance ticket. I would like to see that also some of
>>>> the expenses are covered. This is currently only done for the keynote
>>>> speakers. I agree that the keynote speakers should be handled more
>>>> special, but they are only the 'cherry on the cake'. It's the speakers
>>>> that 'make the cake' and without good speakers you will have a lousy
>>>> cake.
>>>> I know that conferences like HitB and BlackHat/Defcon provide hotel
>>>> expenses next to the entrance fee (with BH and Defcon you can choose
>>>> between more badges or money). And they do get a large number of
>>>> attendees, especially due to the numbers and quality of their speakers.
>>>> This is what I would like to see with the OWASP Appsec conferences as
>>>> well. Being known for outstanding speakers and at the same time
>>>> attracting more attendees. Reflecting back at taking part in organising
>>>> Appsec EU 2014, the attendee numbers where really low for a long time
>>>> (below 100 up to two weeks before the conference). Thought it did pick
>>>> up in the last two weeks, i firmly believe that these numbers could
>>>> easily have been doubled if we take more care of our speakers.
>>>> I know that I have a personal stake in this as I'm one of the speakers
>>>> at Appsec USA. But it should not only be an honour to speak at an OWASP
>>>> conference, we as OWASP should actively support this knowledge sharing
>>>> by stimulating speakers and meet them with their expenses and take care
>>>> of the hotel for them. I am aware that in the current model the Appsec
>>>> conferences are used to generate revenue for the foundation, but I am a
>>>> firm believer that you first have to spend money to make money: to
>>>> invest into the speakers, which in turn will attract more attendees and
>>>> therefore generate more income.
>>>> Below are two tweets that I quickly found searching online about this.
>>>> These tweets are from non OWASP members
>>>> https://twitter.com/MatiasKatz/status/323490014136791041
>>>> https://twitter.com/notsosecure/status/478912487182827520
>>>> I'd love to see this change happen.
>>>> Steven.
>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>  --
>>  Islam Azeddine Mennouchi
>> Consultant at ITS
>> http://www.infotoolssolutions.dz/
>> OWASP ALGERIA Chapter Leader
>> phone n°: +213658227651
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