Goals of DebConf
As every event or conference has its aims and objectives, DebConf has its goals. The DebConf goals should be borne in mind when making decisions about any aspect of DebConf organisation. Other documents describe the practical aspects, such as good network connectivity and appropriate venues, which help work towards these goals.
Note that the main annual DebConf is not the only Debian event which can work towards these goals.
These are the primary goals of DebConf:
Enable face-to-face interactions Many Debian contributors find communication much easier face-to-face than online. Some of the informal interactions at DebConf can be more important than the scheduled conference events. Face-to-face interactions smooth over the grudges and differences which might be perceived negatively when interacting only remotely, which can often disappear completely through face-to-face interaction. Intense technical discussions at DebConf can shortcut weeks or months of mailing list threads.
Provide talks and video DebConf talks can help to spread information beyond those already heavily involved in an area of Debian work, and can help to recruit more people to work on areas of Debian. Probably the most 'efficient' part of DebConf in terms of cost/benefit is the video team work to provide streams and recordings of talks: the recordings can be used as long as the talk subjects remain relevant, by Debian contributors and others anywhere in the world.
Provide time to work on Debian Some attendees find it very valuable that DebConf gives them uninterrupted time to work on their Debian contributions. This has been the major purpose of holding a DebCamp outside the main DebConf period: when successful, the work we can get from someone during this time is of far higher value than the amount we spend on their accommodation and food.
Some additional points are subordinate to the primary goals above, but as long as we are arranging DebConf for those reasons we also work towards these secondary goals:
Motivate contributors We intend DebConf sponsorship to encourage future work, not as a payment in return for past work, but it's of course good if people feel lucky to be sponsored to attend DebConf. Coming to DebConf increases the enthusiasm of many attendees, and ultimately makes them better citizens of the Debian community.
Motivate the local community It is positive if DebConf leads to a greater involvement in Debian from locals in the region where it is held. Locals may get involved because DebConf is close to them, then end up becoming Debian Developers, while existing Debian Developers may be motivated by their experience of attending a local DebConf and increase their level of involvement in the wider Debian project.