FOSDEM 2017 was the 16th time the event took place under that name, it was the 16th FOSDEM where FSFE had a booth, and it was the 16th FOSDEM I visited. Hoever, after I had more and more reduced my participation in the actual FSFE booth team during the past years, this year I had the honor of being the main booth coordinator. And with the great team I had at my side, this wasn’t only a honor, it also was a great pleasure.

Packing stuff to be sent to Brussels

In the preparation phase, the question how to best transport 24 boxes of merchandise and information material from Berlin to Brussels became an interesting challenge, and two days before the actual event, a communication problem with the shipping company provided quite some thrill to us, but in the end, everything worked out just fine.

Preparing information material and merchandise

The event itself was record breaking for FSFE in many respects:

First of all, I think there never were so many FSFE people at FOSDEM, either at the booth, having talks, or just being busy in meetings the whole day. In total, I counted 19 people involved in FSFE’s presence at FOSDEM in one way or another, from duty at the booth to 2 days full of meetings, from having FSFE as one of several affiliations to just being 100% FSFE representative, from being an employee of FSFE or an intern to pure volunteer engagement, from seeing FOSDEM for the first time to being a regular visitor for years.

The next point where I was really impressed was the information material we distributed. When I saw the huge box that our interns Fernando and Olga had packed for FOSDEM, I immediately thought that this is way too much. I was wrong. Among others, we distributed, for example, about 4000 “There is NO CLOUD” stickers. As expected, most people at FOSDEM already knew about our work and our campaigns, but many took stickers, flyers, and postcards with them to distribute at their university, local hackerspace, or other place. We noticed many people are surprised that all this information material is for free, and some just couldn’t believe that we’ll send that stuff across Europe or even the world at no cost.

The FOSDEM booth team at work

This leads to our merchandise. At this FOSDEM, we sold more merchandise than ever before at any event in the history of FSFE. Among others, we sold the insane number of 405 T-shirts, 89 bags, 63 hoodies, and 45 baby rompers. At the same time, we managed to sell off some of the older items, and even though we didn’t get rid of anything we’d have wanted to, we did a big step in our stock cleanup efforts. Still, some selloff items are still left and can be ordered at our merchandise order page, so especially if you wear size “S”, have a look at that page if you want to make a bargain!

On Saturday evening, we had a meetup in a bar where everybody interested had the chance to meet the FSFE executive team and have a beer and a chat together. The meeting was very well visited, but we’ve received some feedback that the environment in the bar was too loud, so we probably will look for a better suited place next year.

After successful sales: a lot of empty boxes...

My personal résumé? I haven’t had so much fun at FOSDEM for many years. I want to explicitly thank everybody who participated in the booth work. And quite a few times I thought back to the good old days, 10 years and more ago, when I manned FSFE’s booth at FOSDEM together with Volker, who was a very active volunteer in the earliest FSFE years, before his priorities shifted to job and family. Volker, I miss you!