Post-event feedback and lessons!

The event is now over since more than a month.

All the ressources are online: slides and videos.

We really hope you have enjoyed it, locally or even remotely (thanks Ubicast for the livestream!) :-)

To be able to improve the event, the first step was obviously to ask for feedback. So we sent a survey form to the attendees.

We had 98 answers which means that 57% of the attendees answered, thanks for that!

The differents topics of the survey were:

Attendees participation

  • 215 registered attendees (we were sold out)
  • 170 attendees who actually came. Which means we got 21% of “no show”.
  • Most of them assisted to the 3 days.

Explanation: as a free (as in free beer) event, we have no way to push people who registered to come. We asked people to inform us if they were unable to come. Thanks to the 10 persons or so who took the time to inform us!

2019 TODO:

  • No obvious solution has come up for the moment.
  • In the survey, some of you have suggested the following ideas: setting up 3 tickets, one per day, and do some overbooking.
  • We’re still thinking about it :)

Attendees origin

As an English spoken only conference, we were interested to know if we had succeeded in motivating people from outside France to come.

We managed to have 20% of attendees coming from other European countries and even 3% coming from further away.


  • We had warm feedback from non-French speakers and attendees about our intention to provide a comfortable experience for them (speakers or not).
  • Some other people asked us to provide a way to expand the exchanges in order to “break” the French conversations that naturally came up during the pauses due to the 75% of French attendees.

2019 TODO:

  • Kindly remind to the audience that it is basic politeness to adapt the spoken language in the presence of non French speaking attendees during breaks.
  • Promote the conference in the neighbor countries (UK, NL, BE, DE,…)
  • Find some ways to facilitate exchanges during pauses: flags on the badge in order to identify the different languages by people in front of you?

Conference: on the practical side

Let’s look at what people disliked during the event:

  • Even more than on this chart, the comments section of the survey show that numerous attendees complained about the lack of air conditioning in the main room. We fully agree. We had to face a warm month of July in Lille, unfortunately.
  • The Internet access through wifi was far too filtered for that kind of audience
  • Some had reported not being able to find a fast and easy way to eat. We surely haven’t repeated enough where all restaurants and fastfood were (10min walk at max).
  • Program and wifi information were difficult to find and read
  • The rump session was not fluid enough, too much time switching between speakers
  • Some of you would like to have a “stand up only” social event in order to improve exchanges
  • Then, still in the comments section, some asked for better, richer pauses and social event. Well … we will try to improve them. But it is already the largest part of our budget and it will never be the top priorities of our free entrance conference.

About priorities for the budget usage:

The priorities are in this order:

  • Reimbursement of the transport costs for speakers that need it
  • Lanyards, badges, stickers
  • Pauses
  • Speakers dinner
  • Social event

And, finally, a feedback from the org team itself: find a way to be less required at the reception desk all day long and be able to follow more talks ;-)

On the positive part :

On the practical/general side, people liked the free entrance (a half) and the social event (a third).

Photo credit: @xme

From the comments :

  • A great team of volunteers (Antoine Cervoise has to be added to this shot): thank for that!
  • A lot of compliments about the wooden badges by @doegox (How-to during the rump session - slides/video)

2019 TODO:

  • Investigate possibilities to cool down the room
  • Get a less filtered Internet access
  • Improve rump session fluidity, try to get a maximum of slides on the same machine
  • Improve the design of the social event coins in order to better prevent their loss
  • The schedule and information for wifi printed on posters big enough to be read from afar
  • Improve the pauses content
  • Improve networking experience for non-French speaking people
  • Modify the social event setup to improve the mobility of the attendees
  • Before each day mid-day break, explain how to find the restaurants location
  • Set up reception desk opening (and closing!) hours
  • Have a way to prevent badge flipping / allow to add some information on them (personal information like project, twitter handle, company, languages spoken etc)

Conference, on the content side

We had 28 talks given by speakers whose geographical distribution was as follows:

  • speakers coming from France: 68%
  • speakers coming from Europe: 25%
  • speakers coming from the rest of the world: 7%

We were also very happy to host 5 workshops.

As seen above, on the positive side, we heard people liked :

  • a conference dedicated to Security AND to Free Software (>90%)
  • the talk diversity (70%) and content (58%). A lot of people reported in the comment section that they really liked to get several dedicated sessions providing balance between defensive and offensive topics.
  • the talks formats: not too long and having rumps session.

Details about which sessions were appreciated:

Improvements for 2019 suggested through the survey:

  • Add several other talk formats in order to avoid talks tunnel: roundtable, projects/tools demos etc.
  • Have talks more specifically focused on Free Software specific aspects: life of a project, licenses, etc.
  • Less talks in order to be able to propose a less dense schedule and have more time for chitchat.
  • Start later would also ease the access to the venue which is 30min away from the center of Lille
  • Stricter talks evaluation during CFP

Eventually, the screen ratio: we have been told by IT staff that the video projector could only handle the 4:3 ratio and we didn’t challenge this assertion correctly. 16:9 was perfect but we pushed the 4:3 recommendation to the speakers :-(.


Thank you for participating to Pass the SALT and to have answered to the survey. We will try to use this feedback in the best way as described in this document. See you in 2019!