Organizing the Perl QA Hackathon 2011

It's been almost a week since the Perl QA Hackathon 2011 in Amsterdam is over. As usual since 2008, the main topics were the Test and CPAN toolchains. Other people will talk a lot better than me about the work they achieved during these three days.

In this post, I'd like to give some information about the organization.

Some history

The idea of doing a QA Hackathon in Amsterdam actually dates back to the 2009 hackathon in Bimingham. At the time, Abigail and I both talked with Barbie about doing it in Amsterdam, already counting on our employer to sponsor it. Then we went back to work, and time slipped.

Lars (daxim) and the team announced the 2010 QA Hackathon in Vienna at the time we were actually starting to think about doing it in Amsterdam (i.e. it was much too late for us to actually organize anything). At the end of the QA Hackathon in Vienna, I was a little more explicit about doing it in Amsterdam.

In December 2010, after almost abandoning the idea of doing a QA Hackathon in Amsterdam, I finally went to our IT Director to talk about it, and he really liked the idea. instantly became a sponsor and a supporter.

Budget not only sponsored the Hackathon with money, but also with the venue and network, with all the lunches and some employee time (Erica and myself).

The Perl QA Hackathon is also a community event, and no less than four Perl organizations (, the YAPC Europe Foundation, the Enlightened Perl Organization and the French Perl Mongers) have supported us with money.

This hackathon was also special because contrary to the previous two, there was official organization directly organizing it ( in 2009, and in 2010). Which means there was no bank account for the event.

Luckily, the YAPC Europe Foundation was able to support the Hackathon with its bank account: it accepted all the donations on behalf of the organizers, and donated money back from that budget to cover the expenses incured by the event: 11 people received a donation to cover their travel expenses, I arranged payment for the accomodation and what was left to pay for the dinners and will also receive a donation to cover that.

Here is a summary of the Hackathon budget:

EPO500.00 Dinners331.12
YEF500.00 Bank fees96.44
Mongueurs de Perl300.00

Don't forget the very generous sponsorship that are the venue and lunches: a hackathon having to pay for those definitely needs to include them in their previsions...

So, after taking the bank fees into account, this hackathon made a profit of 1061.31 €. This is a final budget. (This post was updated (twice) with the bank fees to make the budget final.)

All the surplus money from this QA Hackathon will integraly be given to the organizing body of the next QA Hackathon, as a kickstart donation.

The dinners

I wasn't really sure if the dinners should have been paid by the Hackathon or not. At first, none would have been paid, because the budget could only cover travel and accommodation. But then Alias' flight was covered by his work, so the budget suddenly had a surplus instead of a loss.

Having a surplus felt great, and given I expect there will be another QA Hackathon next year, it would be very nice to start a tradition of sponsoring the next event with the surplus of the previous one, like YAPC Europe conferences do. This is especially relevant this year, because there was no non-profit organization holding the "organizer" role. We started with an empty bank account, and YEF can't and shouldn't keep the surplus for itself.

Still, some of the attendees were students, and didn't have a lot of money (and remember the attendees are giving their time and work to help improve the toolchain), so it would harsh to ask them to pay for a restaurant that they didn't choose and that didn't match their budget.

In the end, I settled on the following slogan for the dinners:

If you pay for yourself, it will be appreciated,
if you don't, it will be taken care of.

The total dinner bill for Sunday evening was about 1050 €. The organization only had to pay around 280 €. Which means the attendees basically sponsored 770 € to next year's budget simply by paying for their evening meals that night.


I think is might be worth adding a chapter in Perl Jam specifically about the QA Hackathons. If you don’t mind, could I pinch some of your text? :)

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