[Owasp-leaders] Speakers at Appsec conferences

Adrian Winckles adrian.winckles at owasp.org
Mon Sep 15 21:48:07 UTC 2014

Dear All

I'd like to back up some of Steven's comments regarding OWASP paying speakers expenses and expand it to cover volunteers in some circumstances 

For AppSec Europe in Cambridge  this year where's we'd approached keynotes speakers they were automatically offered hotel and travel expenses (not all claimed as they were either covered by employers or were local anyway.

I'd not be in favour of a blanket no-one can have their costs refunded especially where a volunteer may be providing critical support which would cost the foundation substantially more than if they weren't giving up their time for free.  A prime example of this was at this years conference we had budgeted £30,000 to cover AV hire, streaming, equipment and wages.  The AV team from AppSec Europe 2013 volunteered their services again but obviously being based in a country hosing the conference is substantially different to a 1000 mile round trip so asked if we could help Support their costs. This is a no brainer, 5 team members costing about £600 each for the 4 days rather than the £5000 per day for the industry rate....

Also I think several of conference services we put on also benefited from the foundation supporting several key individuals who would not have been able to contribute otherwise.  I think the key here is to measure the benefit gained by funding some aspects of volunteers or speakers  expenses.

What I'd like to see is some form of mechanism by which the conference organising committee in conjunction with OWASP conference staff can build in either a contingency fighting fund in case of inability to pay or as a bursary approach to covers some of a speakers costs.  The key here is to build it in to the conference planning regime in some form I believe. 

My two pennies worth 



OWASP UK Cambridge Chapter Leader

On 11 Sep 2014, at 21:11, 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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