Sunday, 1 February 2015

Poll: Conference or Seminars?

This has been a topic of debate in BIFHSGO. The society runs an annual conference each September, the next is September 18 - 20, 2015. Last year was by most measures the most successful ever. With multiple presentations in the same time slot attendees can usually find something of interest. Folks often find more than one presentation appealing meaning making a choice. It's not like a box of chocolates where you can go back and select your second, and third choice another time until you're staring at an empty box. In the unlikely event you can't find something of interest there's the marketplace where you can browse and buy or a research room where you can access commercial databases and advice for free.

Instead of an annual conference some organizations, such as the Toronto Branch of OGS, hold several one day events. That's in addition to half day events and short courses. The next day-long one is Finding Your Upper Canada Ancestors on Saturday 11 April followed by Genetic Genealogy on 6 June. For me the Upper Canada one is of zero interest; genetic genealogy may well bring me to Toronto. With these events you don't get the substantive marketplace or research room you enjoy with a conference.

There's also the middle ground. The Quebec Family History Society have held "Roots" conferences roughly every three years, the next is 19-21 June. QFHS has an active program of theme workshops throughout the year.

The effort in organizing a conference with more than 200 people is substantially greater than that required for a one day event. Most organizations run a program of monthly meetings, which in BIFHSGO's case can attract almost as many attendees as the conference, with a lot less detailed planning than is applied for the conference and this likely applies for a seminar series.

What's your preference? Please add your voice by answering this poll, or leave a more detailed response as a comment.


Paul Jones said...

As a consumer, I want access to every different format of course/seminar/conference. They all have their merits and are appropriate in different situations.

If a particular program is not to my taste, that's a good thing. No one is forcing me to attend, and it shows that the market is sufficiently varied that the chances are fairly good that another time there will be something equally specialized that will appeal to me and perhaps not others. The price I happily pay to have my information needs met is seeing other people having theirs met.

As an event organizer from time to time, the question I must ask is what is the largest unmet need that we have the inclination, resources and capability to fill at this time.

Linda said...

I think the traditional big marketplaces at conferences are shrinking as so many publications are now sold online and other information is provided only in online digital format.

Mike More said...

I agree with Paul. All formats fill a need for some genealogists. Some take more work and will presumably cost more to attend. The key factor is the program being offered and am sufficiently interested in that program to pay the cost.

Ken Hanson said...

Prefer one day as it is easier to absorb material, to go more in depth -- Toronto does a good job in all their offerings as does LDS in their one day August conference in August each year..

Ken Hanson

Ellen Thorne Morris said...

Not able to travel as easy as earlier in life, so most interested in online seminars, and yes, subjects are a box of chocolates, so if I pay I would like to "attend" online. I also understand that many speakers do not want to be recorded as it affects their future speaking engagements. But singers make records and still perform.

Anonymous said...

My preference depends on how the seminars are organized. The conference allows me to hear imported genealogy professionals, who require work to bring in. It also makes a visit from non-residents more feasible. Well-organized 1-day seminars with similar speakers could be almost as much work as a conference, just repeated through the year. Simpler ones are not as useful.