Fosdem 2016: from behind the stand table

Feb 05 2016

This year was a special year at Fosdem because, although I've been going to Fosdem for about 7 years or so, it was the first year that XWiki managed to be in the stands row, sharing tables in K building with other wiki and CMS projects: DokuWiki and Tiki.org.

So this year I've seen the Fosdem crowd from a different angle than usual, from behind the stands table, showing the XWiki software to people, explaining what it does and how it can help them.

XWikiers also had talks this year: Caty Moraru discussed about Designer's compromises in Open Source in the open source design devroom, while Caleb DeLisle showed how to do Peer to Peer Realtime with Blockchains in the real time devroom.

What I liked the most about this stand experience was to meet people that are using XWiki already, have used it in the past, or have tested it before. Nothing compares to the thanks we get when we fix one issue of current users of XWiki, directly on their wiki instance, it reinforces the feeling that indeed what we do is making someone's life/work easier, which is exactly why we do what we do. Users saying that XWiki ranked high in their evaluations of wiki software are nice to hear from as well and we had a share of that too. Friends also passed by, ex colleagues from XWiki, acquaintances.

But this was the easy part. There was also "work", meeting a lot of people that didn't hear about XWiki before (although most of them had heard about wikis in general), explaining and demo-ing. It was interesting to hear what problems and needs people have when using wikis, discussing them and trying to learn more. There was a bit of everything: people already using other wikis or people having never used a wiki before, with or without knowledge management and collaboration experience, asking for functional or technical aspects. 

Challenges were also present: some explained to us why they would never want to use a wiki for knowledge management, and discussing with them allowed us to understand the general problem better.

It's always nice to meet people whose day to day work you impact without even knowing it (and getting positive feedback!), while the discussions with non-users (yet) helped me have a clearer view of the general problem that we try to fix. Oh, and I also have a mental list of improvements that I absolutely need to make happen as soon as I get the chance!

Ken Fallon from the Hacker public radio passed by interviewing projects from the stands and I also had a little chat with him, on record, which you can enjoy here.

I spent the evenings and lunches enjoying the good Bruxelles food (and drinks!) and re-filling myself with the city atmosphere, rich in experiences and unpretentious.

Since I know the demand for stand presence at Fosdem is very high, I am really grateful that this year Wikis and CMS had this opportunity and that, at XWiki, we had a chance to meet the community this way (hope this could repeat in the future).

Anca Luca
Architect Leader @XWiki

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