What I am NOT looking for in a crypto conference.
I've been lucky enough to attend several different crypto meetups and conferences across four different continents in the past 6 months. Overall, these have been amazing opportunities to learn more about the industry, get introduced to great projects and emerging technologies, and meet some true leaders of the blockchain world. However, not all conferences are made the same. Lets look at some red flag to watch out for when choosing a crypto conferences to attend and a recent example of a poor example
Promising a larger number of attendees than the venue can physically handle.
At one conference I attended, I estimate that maybe 10% of the advertised attendees were present. This lead to grand ballrooms that were noticably empty during keynotes, which was rather embarrassing for the speakers.
This is disrespectful to the few that overpaid for their ticket. Not to mention the projects who paid significant amounts of money for a stand, travel and marketing only to turn up and discover that the potential size of their audience was greatly exaggerated.
Extra Curricular Activities.
Marketing after conference events more than the actual conference itself.
Everyone looks forward to the after conference events. However, when the conference revolves around these events, it stops being about the technology and products and becomes a giant party centered around the 'influencers' and 'pointless projects'.
If the event spends more time advertising the parties and not the conference, understand that it is a party. There is nothing wrong with this, but be aware that you are spending thousands of dollars to attend a party. Do not think that you will advance your knowledge and understanding of the cryptocoin/blockchain industry, nor will you network with serious professionals. I've seen teams walk around at these events promoting their 'private' party by highlighting the soft drugs, hard drugs, and even women that'd be supplied.
Style over Substance
It's all about the lambos, girls and energy drinks.
Despite their marketing, these are not crypto conferences. They are a lifestyle conference.
If half the stands at the conference are selling an energy drink or a 'blockchain hemp' drink, it is no longer about the tech or the industry. If a stallholder is cutting the shirts/swimmers off of their models to try and win attention over their neighbours, it is not a crypto conference. If there are more paid models in the stands than project reps who are knowledgable on the project, you should run in the other direction (and possibly right out the conference door).
Low value headliners
The majority of headliners are not positively featuring crypto.
The crypto industry is already fighting the reputation of being scammy. Headline projects should inspire confidence and trust. Headliners that come from questionable backgrounds with legal, financial and abuse claims leveled against them will instead fuel fear and uncertainty. There are plenty of leaders in the industry with a clean background who are fantastic spokespeople for crypto. Why are they not interested in attending?
If we are going mainstream, let's put our best faces on for it. Not the ones who have, or will, bring us all into disrepute.
Conferences that refuse to confirm details or to provide updates prior to starting.
Organising BIG international conferences is hard. If the conference can not confirm details, or provide updates, prior to the conference, it's probably best that you significantly lower your expectations.
Avoid the Crypto Kardashians
Conferences featuring crypto 'influencers' who contribute nothing of significance.
Crypto influencer seems to be the most common role of 2017/2018. Some of these people add nothing but memes to the debate and are simply famous for being famous. Look at the influencers attending the conferences. Are they legitmate? What have they done to grow the crypto industry?
There are too many people who don't understand, or contribute to, the industry other than retweeting a news piece.
While there has been a lot discussed here, not every item mention is bad in isolation. Conferences and projects do need to be bold in their marketing to get attention. Where it fails is when the marketing is overdone and no actual substance is provided.
If you are spending thousands of dollars to attend one of these events, please take to the time to think about what you want out of it first.