We just had a great Podcamp NYC. It was marred a bit for me, as an organizer, by two groups of people who helped themselves to an unoccupied sponsor table. They weren’t just sitting there, blogging- no- they made signs and set themselves up as defacto sponsors. I spoke with one set of people, and we have settled this matter behind the scenes. The other group, from Justin.TV chose to put some videos advertising their bad behavior and calling me some unpleasant names for asking them to leave and move, since they were not event sponsors. Lee Gibbons, from Podango, always a gentleman and a class act, offered to share his sponsor table with Justin.TV, and so we left the matter at that, rather than getting nasty with the folks who essentially stole a table at the event.
My biggest problem with this was that the behavior was ballsy and inappropriate, and when caught in the act, they acted like I was some witch for telling them what was blatantly true- they were out of line. I don’t go into a Starbucks and start selling my own coffee and donuts, I don’t show up in someone’s home, eating their food, and when asked to leave say “you weren’t using it, so I thought it was ok.” This is clearly not an ok thing to do.
I spent literally hundreds of hours helping to organize Podcamp NYC. This is a community event, and it requires community participation and self-policing to make work. While in a perverse way I am flattered that Podcamp has become so popular, people are essentially trying to sneak into a free conference and scam their way into being a sponsor- it means we must be doing something right. But the behavior itself is still incredibly rude, and I am glad the community has rallied and that we shouldn’t see people trying to take advantage of us in this way in the future. Be assured, however, if this behavior does continue, I won’t be nearly as tolerant next time around.