The cancelation of the PHPCE 2019

This is my perspective on the conference cancelation of PHPCE as a (co-)organizer.


I am the chairman of the PHP USERGROUP DRESDEN e.V. (PHPUGDD, a non-profit, volunteer-driven community organization) and one of the co-organizers of the PHPCE 2019. This post was intentionally not posted on our organization's website because it reflects my view on the whole topic. I am not speaking in the name of the organization because every single friend of mine at PHPUGDD certainly would approach this from a different angle.

I didn't follow up on all - but certainly on most of - the statements, opinions, comments and conclusions regarding this year's planned edition of the PHP Central Europe (PHPCE) conference in Dresden, Germany - and its cancelation.

With this post I want to try to make you aware of context that was missing in all the threads and news. Context that is

I am not an English native speaker, so please forgive me, if I miss or misuse some language nuances. I tried my best.

A bit of history

PHP Developer Day 2017 - Dresden, Germany

In 2017 the PHPUGDD hosted the PHP Developer Day in September, a single day and single track conference. This was the first event that we organized without a main company in the background. It was our first stand-alone community conference. We arranged an invite-only lineup and welcomed roughly 200 attendees, including women, people from other countries, handycaped people and people of color. Even though the lineup was all white-men and consisted of speakers we approached at other conferences or who generously supported us at the two previous editions (which were backed by a local company) and kick-started this whole conference thing for us.

It was also the first time that we set up a diversity scholarship using Travis Foundation's Diversity Tickets. We accepted two out of five applications, but unfortunately none of them showed up at the event. In retrospect the form of application one has to go through at Diversity Tickets was too specific on certain minorities and needed the answering of questions that could make you feel very uncomfortable and rather a misfit than a warmly welcomed person. I don't know if they changed that in the meantime.

We got very positive feedback on the content arrangement, the location, the organization and the atmosphere of this small conference from both, speakers and attendees. And we also managed to get some attention as a "real" PHP event on social media (mainly twitter and facebook) before, during and after the event.

Among all these positive messages we also noted critics regarding the invite-only lineup. We kept that in mind for furture editions.

PHPCE 2017 - Rawa Mazowiecka, Poland

A couple of weeks after our PHP Developer Day I was accepted to speak at the PHPCE 2017 in Poland. This was the first edition of this conference and it was massive in numbers. Roughly 1.200 attendees, 3 diffrently leveled main tracks, a line-up with loads of well-known and local speakers from the PHP community and all this at a very huge hotel resort in the middle of nowhere. I was impressed.

As you can see on the website the lineup was all white-men from a variety of european countries. And as far as I remember the majority of attendees were Polish and Czech people, mainly gathered from two big local communities: PHPers and Brno PHP.

On the second day I met Dariusz Grzesista - the organizer of PHPCE - and we had a loose chat about the pain and gain of organizing PHP conferences. That day the blurry idea was born to bring PHPCE to Dresden for on of the upcoming editions. Prague (Czech Republic) was already settled for 2018.

PHP Developer Days 2018 - Dresden, Germany