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pgCon Unconference Day FAQ

What is an Unconference?

An Unconference is a participant-driven meeting. Typically at an unconference, the agenda is created by the attendees at the beginning of the meeting. Anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space. Unconferences typically feature open discussions rather than having a single speaker at the front of the room giving a talk, although any format is permitted.

See the following references:

Why hold an unconference at pgCon?

pgCon is the primary venue for PostgreSQL contributors around the world to collaborate in person.

This Unconference Day will permit us additional collaboration time, in order to work on many things which didn't make it into the formal pgCon program, including:

  • open or round-table discussions among community teams, such as the Web Team, Advocacy Team, Buildfarm hosts, and others.
  • new or emerging topics which came up after the pgCon Call for Papers was closed.
  • development planning and coordination for contributors who were not invited to the Developer Meeting
  • active working or hacking sessions

What do I need to do to lead a session?

Bring your session idea to the main room for the Unconference Day, and participate in the session selection process.

You are not required to prepare slides or a formal presentation for your session. In fact, it's probably better if you don't. You are encouraged to make some notes about what you'd like to see covered during the session and how you think it should be structured, and it is probably better to prepare these ahead of time.

What can be in a session?

A session can be about anything which involves PostgreSQL, the PostgreSQL Community, or PostgreSQL-based applications.

Sessions can be anything, but are better if they focus on discussion and collaboration between participants. Sessions take any of several formats:

  • Open Discussion: a general free-for-all, with input from all participants, and the goal of collecting ideas or coming to a consensus about some topic.
  • Round-Table: an meeting between a preset group of participants (i.e. the Web Team), with others there as audience.
  • Hacking/Working Session: a hands-on collaboration where the session is spent hacking, writing, or otherwise working directly on participants' laptops.
  • Presentation: participants also may make presentations, with or without slides, at the Unconference. These tend to work better if the formal presentation is kept short (10-20 minutes) with a lot of time for Q&A.
  • Other: other kinds of sessions can work, such as teaching/training, participatory exercises, or even competitions. Don't be shy to try things!

Can I propose a session I don't plan to lead?

Yes. You can put out a call for a session for something you seriously want help with or want to see someone explain. If you can find someone who's willing to lead it based on your request, then a session will happen. Note that you should be planning to attend this session, even if you don't lead it.

How will selection of sessions work?

At the beginning, each person who wants to propose a session or sessions will show up at the large Unconference Day room. They will write down the titles of their session ideas on giant post-its, and then proceed to the microphone to deliver a 60-second elevator pitch for the session. At the end of the pitch, they will call for attendees. If two or more participants in the audience raise their hands, then it's a potential session.

The session leader then takes their giant post-it to the schedule grid and selects a room and timeslot which is available. Later session leaders and/or the unconference day organizers may re-arrange this schedule to reduce conflicts or better allocate rooms. Organizers and participants may also choose to merge sessions which have almost identical content.

By the end of the first big session, we will have a schedule for most of the Unconference Day. At that point, attendees can choose their schedule. During the first session, the schedule will be transcribed to this wiki, so that it will be available online through the rest of the day.

Does that mean I have to be there at the beginning if I want to lead a session?


What are "Spillover Sessions"?

Some sessions will be so involved or popular that they will need to extend beyond their original 1-hour timeslot, or suggest obvious follow-up sessions which are also a large participant draw. The last timeslot of the day is reserved for such "spillover" sessions to resume, or fork.

Spillover sessions will be chosen and filled by the session leaders as their original sessions end earlier in the day.

How Do I Register for the Unconference Day?

There is a check box on your pgCon registration for you to indicate whether or not you are staying for the Unconference Day. No additional fee is required.

Can I attend the Unconference Day if I'm not going to pgCon?

Space permitting, yes. However, it is possible it will be too full for additional people. Please contact to ask about attending.

How will we have a record of the Unconference Day?

Each session leader is strongly encouraged to designate a Session secretary at the beginning of the session to take notes on the wiki of what occurred during the session. These notes will later be linked to the main schedule on the wiki for posterity.

Who is running the Unconference Day?

The unconference day is being run by PostgreSQL Committer and Major Contributor Stephen Frost, and others to be shanghai'd later.

If you are willing and able to help with the Unconference Day, please contact Stephen.