Feedback

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Thank you for coming to EMF 2014. Please do the following:

Please let us know what went well and what didn't go well at EMF this year. We really do care about your feedback and we'll try and improve this for next time.

Add your feedback below:

Good Stuff

  • Location [+1]
  • Badges
  • Variety of talks [+1]
  • Showers [+∞]
  • Hand washing facilities
    • putting the showers (with hot water in handbasins) next to toilets v.good
  • Parking
  • Shuttle trailer to car park
    • ... and shuttle to BLY railway station. Made coming by public transport a doddle.
  • Power & data infrastructure - pretty much rock solid throughout! [+2]
  • Speedy response of volunteers/organisers to problem resolution
  • Paying in the bar with Bitcoin. jhaand
  • Service at the bar was good (while the drinks lasted), and it was very nice to have multiple indoor social spaces, esp for people who wanted a quieter lounge as well as louder bar.
    • Being able to check beer availability on the till website was awesome!
    • The lounge was great - the decorations, beanbags, no-shoes rule and power were a great combination
  • Floor panel roads [+5]
  • String lights (cut through to showers was awesome!) [+2]
  • Ability to hire tables/chairs/marquees/hay bales etc. - were all good quality, too. [+2]
  • Kids workshops [+2]
  • Arcade! [+1]
  • Friendliness of other attendees [+1]
  • First aid [+1]
  • Shop - selling books of speakers was a really nice idea, and it was good to talk to speakers & do signing there afterwards.
  • That spinning music installation.
  • Lighting - I didn't have to turn my torch on at all, but it was still dark enough in my tent to sleep.
  • Club Mate.
  • Ring making workshop
  • Lake was pretty
  • Supportive atmosphere for speakers and very nice feedback afterwards
  • Water: plentiful flow, tasty water, cool dispensers [+1]
    • Hand soap by taps (udders?)
  • Keeping toilet paper supplies topped up in all the toilets
  • Nice choice of real ales and proper cider
  • Lasershow + Chiptunes in Tent A
  • Tschunk
  • Everything that Dimitri brought along [+1]
  • EMF CTF: Like getting lock pickers to cook your food, playing IRL replay,relay and pre-play attacks and memory corruption, sadly no real-life cross-site scripting :)
  • Tea and food provided during set up really helped me keep going.
  • How to crimp ethernet cable sheets were brilliant. They made sure everyone was using the same standard and anyone new to crimping could carry them to remember the order.
  • There were lots of crimping tools and wire strippers to borrow during set up.
  • Vehicles: there were enough to get stuff around the site but not too many that I was worried about getting run over.
  • EMF hi vis jackets were awesome.
  • Simon Singh [+1]
  • Till system in the bar - I found it very quick and easy to use after about 10 mins practice.
  • Cashback in the bar.
  • Dutch food.
  • Laser cut items for sale.
  • Badge creations competition is a nice way to encourage people to tinker with the badges and share the results.
  • Wristbands
    • Fabric was much more comfortable than paper/Tyvek/plastic, and they were pretty too!
  • T-shirts
    • Good choice of colours, sizes and fits, awesome design
  • Team Comfort - very helpful and responsive

Stuff that could be improved

  • Buy more beer! Russ (talk) [+1]
    • No firkins next time, kils only! --Sde (talk)
  • Toilets... 'nuff said! AndyB (talk) [+2]
    • +1, I also suggest adding plastic bags/bins into the toilets, for (female) sanitary waste (Will-Do)
    • Agreed - I've seen portakabins (like the shower blocks) that containing proper flushing loos. They're much less stinky and likely to block up than the portaloos we had, which didn't always seem willing to drop their loads into their collection tanks, leading to nastiness and health hazards (even without the pumping contractor being rubbish) [+1]
      • This was actually what we wanted, but they're tremendously expensive. Suggestions for vendors welcome! --Jonty
    • Additionally, LIGHTS in the toilets. Having to use my phone / badge as a torch to see what was going on while i cleaned off the toilet before sitting down was particularly difficult. Thinkl33t (talk) 20:05, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
    • thunderboxes2go.co.uk are good and know how to handle local authority problems, they have done shambala for 10+ years - high enough capacity to not need emptying during the event Sthen (talk)
    • Maybe ask Cambridge & District CAMRA who provided the toilets for Cambridge 41st beer festival - they had some fairly nice flushing toilets which came on a trailer, a bit like the posh wash showers. I think Jonty mentioned that a lot of providers were put off by the fact that we're a festival. Well, if these guys are ok with providing for a beer festival, they must be pretty brave! -User:Alecjw
    • Definite vote for the trailer-style flushing toilets, with multiple cubicles (+sinks, lights and mirrors) on one tow-along trailer, just like the showers. I've seen these at MANY festivals - though, granted, usually only in 'posh' camping/press/VIP areas. Should be possible if you manage to convince the providers that we're not a rowdy bunch of drunken teenagers!
    • A clue to the problem with the chemical toilets is in the name: no chemical sanitiser/deodoriser was used in any toilet I tried. Adding Elsan or similar to the toilets would probably have made them much more acceptable. PhilSwinbank (talk) 22:18, 3 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Make sure that drinking water is clearly labelled as such
  • More food and drink options
    • Eg. non-caffeine / low or no sugar options
    • Chips!
    • Jacket potato vendor
    • Healthy 'green' food
    • also possibly going on later, a lot of the places shut up shop quite early.
    • queues at Pizza place were huge, wait time was >1hour at lunch time
    • A late night vendor would be fantastic - doesn't have to be fancy food, but just something hot to eat after 9pm [+4]
    • Soft drinks! [+2]
      • I helped organise a ball at university. Coca Cola sponsored us and provided very cheap (maybe free) drinks to the event. Before next time, someone remind me to look into them doing this for EMF MatS (talk) 14:02, 4 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Survey positions of lanes/tents/DKs as early as possible before items arrive and mark out.--Sully (talk) 12:06, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
    • This was planned but we were let down by the rather poor state of mobile GIS software.
  • Similar to this, measure for fence panels and drop stillage appropriately, to avoid the need to carry loads of them right up the camping field by hand
  • Make it longer! There was loads of cool stuff I didn't have change to check out :( After all that work everyone does, it was a shame I couldn't experience it all! (Chewie) ((I still say make it a week long ;) (Fligg))
  • Visibility of presentations in tents (brighter projectors/darker tents??) (User:StuartL) [+3]
  • Use more plasma screens in stages instead of projectors (User:Markp). Or (better, as then the speaker can point to things) black fabric shades for the screen or marquee roof
    • Next time dark tents. This was a total nightmare, sorry. --Jonty
      • Marquees with a blackout end are not unusual: the hire company perhaps should have advised on this? -Dermot
      • Also I have experience producing seminar-type recordings for DVDs and am willing to help out with this next time. With controlled lighting and at least one extra camera on each stage you can ramp up the production values. If there is the will to do it and enough volunteers. And I'm absolutely not criticising what was done this year! -Dermot
  • washing points over drains/soakaway so the ground doesn't get muddy (Chewie) [+4]
  • Mark out/allocate spaces for villages who had pinpointed locations on maps (User:Markp) [+2]
    • Space needed by villages was very hard to judge before they were set up, especially once non-village campers started on site (Fligg)
  • Improved arrangements for washing and washing up (and handling the waste water from that) [+1]
  • Provide sanitizer gel dispensers at water points and near loos [+2]
  • Have the schedule linked off the EMF main page
    • It was, but not on the First day...we forgot! See "Programme" at the top of the main website. --Jonty
  • Distribute and display paper schedules (even if their might be some last-minute changes) [+3]
    • They were supposed to be available at the info tent, not sure what happened there. --Jonty
    • Or have small screens at the entrances to tents showing what's currently on & what's next.
      • We wanted to do this but simply ran out of time. --Jonty
  • Much more workshop activity (more hands-on electronics and physical making) [+6]
  • Workshops on martial arts. get some nerds moving. (archery, karate, fencing, judo, etc.) -- jhaand
    • Next time: Many more workshop tents. We totally underestimated availability and demand. [+1] --Jonty
  • Do have component vendors (maybe at their cost for marquee/power/space)
    • This is very difficult without a clear list of what will sell, as CPC was arranged to appear but wanted advisement (User:Stanto)
      • Would the (longer and with more repeats next time) workshop list work as advisement? Could workshop leaders be asked to provide suggestions for components that would be good to have available on site after their workshop?
  • Pick a flatter site (for ease of disabled access)
  • Ensure that chair layout in marquees allows a wide enough path for wheelchair users/people with mobility difficulties to navigate (especially in the smaller marquees)
  • Ask speakers for bio's to include with their abstracts. Given them an abstract length up-front instead of editing it in an ad hoc way. Confirm acceptance to speakers and workshop organisers earlier.
    • Do this after talks have been accepted. I didn't write my talk so didn't know details until I got the OK.
    • The CFP was a bit of a nightmare this year, we'll certainly be doing this in 2016. --Jonty
  • Make and enforce a clear music curfew (say from midnight or 1am or 2am to 8 or 9am or 10am), to defend those sleeping from (eg) the technoevangelists and the drunk [+4]
    • Perhaps try to select a site next time where we can make part of the site to be a quiet area, eg a part surrounded by trees for natural sound insulation. Then enforce a noise curfew there. I'm not keen on the idea of having a noise curfew covering the entire camp though. User:Alecjw [+1]
    • Seconding enforced quiet/family camping area, but no overall noise curfew. It didn't take long to get away from the worst noise, and the end of the field by the kids' area was incredibly quiet (though strangely empty!!)
    • Well, not quite - I need sleep to function, so camped in the quiet area - a nearby group thought 6:30am was the right time to turn on their music system. Not so good.
  • Loos not so near food vendors (pong + visible urinals offputting) [+5]
  • stronger enforcement/signage of quiet camping area [+5]
  • an explicit invitation (with clear instructions) to report Code of Conduct violations in open ceremony, brochure, Twitter, etc. We had no direct reports to Team Comfort, but several anecdotal tweets after the event -- when it's much too late. Martind (talk) 20:58, 1 September 2014 (UTC) [+1]
  • quieter, less-enclosed and more spacious bar (I suffer from social anxiety when I'm closed in with crowds, so I had a very sober emf!). Jane C
    • perhaps an outdoor seating area if a larger marquee is too costly.
      • There was an outdoor seating area set back to the right of the bar under a marquee, however the marquee vendor put it in the wrong place a day late, so wasn't as obvious, and didn't get hay bales until Saturday evening. --Jonty
  • use our collective knowledge of technology to sort accessibility issues
    • ring-fence money for things like closed-loop in the stages early on.
    • ask people about their access requirements much earlier on - e.g. when they buy a ticket - so that there is more time to meet these requirements (or reach a workable compromise)
    • Build some kind of working system for preventing able-bodied people from using the disabled loos and showers (radar keys that only work when the loo is empty?) Jane C
      • Disagree with this as it reduces overall toilet/shower bandwidth, but would wholly agree with a solution whereby those who could only use limited facilities (disabled, families, etc) could queue-jump into those facilities the moment they because available. StuartL
      • I found it a bit odd that no-one was using the disabled shower. Sure, disabled people should have priority (queue jump), i thought, but if there's noone with a disability waiting, why not use it? Although I suppose if we operate it that way, the expected waiting time for a disabled person is in some cases higher than that of an able bodied person... (my intuition says that this happens when (number of people in queue)<(number of showers) but I haven't verified this) User:Alecjw
  • Info desk didn't seem to have the details wrt. volunteers, so when I volunteered I was sent out and found I wasn't needed. Suggest splitting the job - having a volunteer team leader (or several, in shifts) whose job it is to know who is where and also to make sure nobody gets stuck on a gate for 12 hours (eg. rotating people to more interesting places every couple of hours). (TonyHoyle)
    • There was a separate volunteer manager in the same tent, this should not have happened. Sorry about that. --Jonty
  • Also similar to this, a register of 'on call' people - excess volunteers who can deal with sudden demands for people (esp. in the case of fire I can imagine this would be extremely useful - you'd potentially need to cordon off a largish area very quickly, and that takes people. More mundane reasons would be a talk/workshop accumulating a large queue that needs managing). (TonyHoyle)
    • There were shifts for people to be "on call" but they weren't obvious. We'll make sure this is easier. --Jonty
    • with earlier (/working) workshop sign-up, I would have put myself on call - instead I was waiting to hear what workshops would be available when.
  • add GPS or other location aware technology like BTLE/iBeacon to the badges for automatic now/next notifications Jburgess777 (talk).
  • Locking wristbands that don't get any tighter. [+1]
  • Having a tent for Badge Operations would be pretty handy - similar size to the workshop tent, that could be set up as a production line / fixing area if needed. If not (hopefully) it would be a rolling workshop area for people to work of hacking their badges, writing new software, adding hardware etc. ~~
  • Floor panel walkways were very slippery in the morning after rain, not sure if there's someway this can be improved
    • Sprinkling some coarse sand on them might help. Moem (talk)
  • Better info on the bus between EMF <-> Bletchley so we know when they're running (alt: can we put GPS tracking on the buses?)
  • The buses were quite cramped so it was hard for people to get large bags through seats
  • More space between caterers and generator - the plant was right in the middle of prime catering space. --Nick
  • Appoint a (i.e. volunteer someone as) project manager to draw up a plan (Gantt chart!?) of when everything's arriving and leaving (to the extent known) and what resources (telehandler, buggy, number of people) are needed. We'll never stick to the plan and things will arrive early/late run off schedule but the same person can adjust the plan to control the chaos during build-up, take-down and the event. Chuck them out of the way in a tent managing things rather than doing; site manager if you will. This role is distinct from Jonty and Russ as they have their own things to do.
  • Maybe find a way to ensure volunteers get some time off? I saw a lot of people who seemed to be always working. I guess that partly shows a need for far more casual volunteers, but perhaps also that some of the more technical jobs might need training-in for earlier? Also, there could be a need for more willingness to delegate occasionally? -Dermot

Suggestions

  • Ask for an optional email address for each ticket to go on your announce only mailing list. Only the person that bought the tickets got your emails and they were slow to forward them on meaning most messages were received too late.
  • Ask for age of children when booking, to give better planning stats for workshops etc. Sthen (talk)
  • A talk (a bit like lightning talks) where people are given 5-10 minutes to share what they did with the previous event's badge. (If someone sends me the competition winners/runners up, I'll co-ordinate it) MatS (talk) 07:54, 1 September 2014 (UTC)
  • Pre-paid accounts for spending money on food/beer/whatever to negate need for cash (User:Markp)
  • Have a fleet of communal wheel-barrows to help people transport their stuff from car to campsite [+2]
    • Stepney City Farm have a fleet of broken wheelbarrows – fix ’em, use ’em, everybody wins! (User:Andylolz)
    • Or purchase some sack trolleys
  • contactless payment gear for food, beer, workshops
    • We had contactless payment for beer! (And we also offered cashback.) We should have messaged that better. Contactless payment for other things is complex, as we don't really control them. Russ (talk)
  • forewarn food vendors to expect all-day demand, not just mealtimes, so they can stock and staff appropriately [+1]
    • food vendors were pretty much *events* caterers, used to feeding people snacks/lunch, we need *festival* caterers who are used to feeding people who are staying for a number of days. thethalicafe.co.uk? bedouin tent (shambala)? +late night options Sthen (talk)
      • It's really difficult to get caterers. Now we're a bit better known it's getting easier. Russ (talk)
  • pinboard (offline) notice board everyone can contribute to (lost property, mini event notices eg rocket launches, would like to meet.., etc) [+1]
    • This was supposed to be next to the info tent, but got lost in the last-minute panic. --Jonty
  • Ask people who want to give workshops if they'd be happy to give more than one session - the blacksmiths' output was extreme, but even giving two or three sessions would greatly increase the % of attendees who could sign up.
    • Many workshop submissions specified that already, the issue was actually with finding space for them as we only had one workshop tent. We'll have many next time! --Jonty
  • Sign-ups some kind of "express preference" systems, so most people (including those who don't check email regularly) can get at least one of their top choices, rather than first-come-first-served.
    • Online workshop sign-up is a priority for next year. --Jonty
  • Board games tent in the evenings [+4]
    • was the lounge not appropriate? Stages B & C were mostly empty on an evening; would tables have sufficed?
  • Poker tent
  • Be less ambitious with badge functionality [+3]
    • And provide full documentation of features/functionality [+1]
    • And sample code for each function
    • Perhaps a back-to-basics through-hole design that comes with soldering iron, solder and instructions?
    • I think we might build on this design for the next event. Russ (talk)
    • Software that doesn't involve an OS (but rather more conventional Arduinoery) might be more easily hackable by others during/after the event? Especially given libraries for people to do amusing things with the peer-to-peer radio...
      • That is actually much harder to build anything decent with. The badges are normal arduinos and all the libraries are available, you don't have to use the EMF OS, it was designed for people to write normal Arduino code for! --Jonty
  • EMF is unlike other festivals - for a large number of people, carrying kit to/from car is impractical and security walking every car through site is time-consuming and volunteer-intensive (not to mention the fact that cars driving off site weren't walked off). Suggest that the parking area is directly next to and easily accessible from the camping area (e.g. just separated by hay bales to stop cars driving on to the camping area).
    • As a village/car user you could generally provide your own security person walking in front of the car. This works 2 fold: 1) security doesn't need to walk for you 2) less waiting time for you since you already provide someone to walk.
    • The plan for this was to allow people to drive onto site on the Thursday evening. It wasn't very well communicated and we had a *very* tight setup schedule so we needed to reduce this as much as possible. This is ultimately an issue with our setup schedule
    • It wouldn't work on this site, but for some locations it might be possible to have a drop-off point close to camping (with a limited number of cars at one time), better idea than having cars (ignition source) close to tents. Some people were taking the mickey on Monday morning, many people driving onto site that could have carried things instead tying up volunteer resources to escort them.
  • Provide job descriptions for traffic control, parking and entrance gatehouse. Instructions were handed from volunteer to volunteer by word of mouth and whilst common sense prevailed, it would have been useful to have instructions as to what to do under certain circumstances and a list of answers to FAQs, e.g.:
    • What if somebody didn't have a parking ticket and wanted to park?
    • What if somebody was just dropping off - where should they do this?
    • What times were shuttle buses running?
    • What times the gates were open/closed?
    • Have a priority queue for people with machine readable tickets (ie paper!)
    • Volunteer training was lost by the wayside for some roles, we'll fix that. --Jonty
  • Add suggested age ranges for all workshops, some of the "adult" workshops were also very suitable for children (e.g. electronic fashion, solar pv) or could have been run once in main workshop once in kid's area Sthen (talk)
    • This was supposed to happen but got missed off by accident. Apologies. --Jonty
  • Bolt the fence from the right side, I know we didn't even want it at all but local authorities can be fussy, I've been at a festival before who did the same and they made them fix it during the event.. Sthen (talk)
  • Want the good coffee on Monday morning, especially for drivers :) Maybe in the car park to help persuade people off site. Sthen (talk)
  • Would be good to have eggs, fresh milk, bacon at the shop (there was a comment like "we don't have eggs, they break too easily" - so charge extra to cover this, though it's probably not as bad as you think..) Sthen (talk)
  • Start ticket sales (a couple of months?) earlier, maybe with a slightly bigger difference between early ticket prices and full price to encourage attendees to get in early (which in turn would improve cashflow) Sthen (talk) [+1]
  • Start ticket sales *now* whilst you have all the publicity or at least have a page up where people can register to be emailed once the next event has tickets for sale. That way you get your current mailing list + everyone else who has only just learned about it as your audience. Alteralias
    • Until we have a date/venue that is not a great plan, as we'd end up with a lot of refunds. --Jonty
      • Please let us still register to be emailed as soon as 2016 is confirmed and then told as soon as ticket sales start?
      • Although a massive mailing list/Twitter/Facebook push might be a good idea so people are ready to hear that tickets are on sale.
  • Cluster the talks into related-topic sessions
    • This is very difficult due to availability of speakers, and we'd rather people with very specific interests had talks to go to all weekend rather than just on one afternoon. --Jonty
      • More Q&A sessions like the security one, getting multiple speakers on a topic together for questions might be a better idea.
  • Volunteering stuff (HughePaul)
    • Whiteboard in info tent for current issues / tasks, handover
    • Have info tent next to security tent so both can be available at the same time and all the time.
      • The info tent and the gatehouse/security tent could be two sides of the same erection.
    • have predefined named people in shifts for head of / coordination of volunteering (could also double as an info/security tent staff)
    • maybe stream some talks in info tent so they don't feel like they are missing things
    • more formal defined (and communicated) lost-property form and procedure
    • define volunteer job roles to make handovers easier and so we know what we are meant to be doing
    • Make the number of volunteers signed for each slot available. I would have helped more during times if I knew it was low staffed, and not during others where there were enough
    • Look at ways to guarantee volunteer attendance once they sign up. Perhaps return small monetary amount at end of festival per shift done? Just something to make sure people who sign up turn up
      • Food tokens at the end of the shift are how other events do it and could be good incentive.
      • A beer token for each shift?
  • Have dedicated blog / tweet / website updating person/team - dedicated live media team would be great
  • big screen with latest official event update tweets
    • Very expensive to hire. --Jonty
      • small screen with latest updates? even a 20 inch cycling through the latest tweets in a big font?
  • info about getting DISconnected from DKs and leaving the site in vehicles
    • all vehicles coming into site should have had it explained they needed to come get an escort to leave. this wasn't properly communicated and will be better next year (possibly printed on the camper tickets? --BuildTheRobots
    • This was badly handled, and we only realised when it was too late. --Jonty
  • perhaps worth putting up a summary of the overall budget after the event, so people can see what's costly?
  • website needs to be designed around the info people need at the time
    • days before the event front page should have location, travel, packing, instructions such as workshop booking, village booking, volunteering
    • during it should have info about DKs, current day schedule (possibly whats on and next), links to streams, power and internet usage :), lost property instructions, latest updates/tweets
    • after have thanks, photos, tilda sales, etc
  • Some kind of welcome tent / meet-a-stranger area / badges saying "talk to me" (and not reliant on tech that might not be available/working till later on) / person-bingo-style game - deliberately flagged up as a way for people to meet new people, including if they came on their own / hadn't been to anything like this before. For many the whole event will be like that anyway - it wouldn't hurt to help out those shyer / newer / more awkward. Maybe there could be a welcoming/newbies/friendliness team prior to next time who came up with stuff to try of this nature (all utterly optional, of course)?
    • Gregarious people on site to do welcome/orientation would be great (possibly just after getting your wrist band, as part of handing out welcome packs). Can we encourage people to get talking more in irc/mailing list so they have some people they already know once they arrive?
  • More flying cars (requested by someone leaving site when asked what they thought was lacking)
  • Dual controls quad-copter training. So someone can learn to fly and know the "instructer" can take over if it gets out of hand.
  • A few people with cars were making trips out to the outdoor supplies store in Milton Keynes for camping stuff, might be worth figuring out if we could do a more official shop run to get stuff for people who don't have cars.
  • Ability to gauge interest if you're thinking of giving a talk: It turned out lots of people could have given a talk on something interesting, but didn't think anyone else would be interested in hearing it. Something like a pledge page where people can "I could give a talk on x, y or z" and people then convince them to do it.
  • Cash machines? Possibly expensive next year might be big enough.
    • There was cashback available at the bar, which is much cheaper and easier to set up. Its existence wasn't as well publicised as it could have been. Sde (talk)
  • Push button on the side of DKs so people can alert NOC their attendance is wanted.
    • Also could request vehicle escort off site. -maybe a bunch of waterproof tweeting arduinos with big buttons. yay - more hardware deadlines!
  • Hardwired field-phone to all villages and marquees if only so they can report back and request assistance from control.
  • welcome packs handed out when you arrive. Possibly lanyard + laminated map, maybe even a fully printed booklet with info on talks/speakers/workshops and sponsor advertising, the "your closest" from the wiki and (emergency) contact numbers.
    • You should have been given an information booklet with map on arrival containing most of this, if you were not, please let us know. It is not feasible to put talk/speaker/workshop information in the booklet as we have 150+ events over the weekend, and they change at short notice. --Jonty
  • Public power sockets under the seats in the marquees. Means people can charge laptops and phones when watching talks and apparently this is done at other cons.
  • Power lockers! Like swimming bath lockers but with an electric socket inside so people can lock stuff up to charge for an hour or so.
    • +1 I think Colocker missed a trick here. They could have had secure charging lockers promoting their service :)