Beware the BarCrampers

I fail to see how this word hasn’t come up in all of the BarCamps that happen. Surely, someone has thought of this word before to describe those who show up to BarCamps with the hell-bent intention of trying to drive it their way to be their BarCamp? If the answer truly is no, then I suppose it is just critical me putting forth this article and the types below to be on the lookout for. And yes, they’re always, always guys for three out of the four types. The fourth type can be either gender.

The Fogey Cramper
They’re always these old guys who have learned about BarCamps and have decided that they should shuffle on down to the camp and make sure that everyone benefits from their decades (century?) of experience. I swear that there must be a Grateful Dead soundtrack constantly running through their minds as they are completely deaf to anyone else including the main speaker. They blurt things out all the time and have either lost the use of their arms or are simply unwilling to ever raise their hands to mention something. Typically harmless, yet very much like a mosquito in that they’re always buzzing away somewhere in the room. One I have gotten to know well is pictured on the left.

The Me Cramper
These guys show up, plunk down, and no matter what the session could be about, they will immediately and forcefully try to pull everything about the session to be all about what they’re doing. The best part is that they usually come halfway in to a session as the previous one has broken up due to them and so, they enter a session of no knowledge of what was previously said and covered. This one guy who I have encountered several times now (pictured in the center) is categorically and violently disruptive to any session he attends. He also has the most wonderful habit of never registering for events or paying the registration fees and then just showing up. This type is really, really problematic and they force everyone to exercise the “rule of two feet” in that they’ll leave a session that this type takes over, leaving him and whomever else feels as if they have to be polite and listen to him. You know the music that plays when the smoke monster on Lost appears? You should be hearing that when this type rears their thick heads.

The Über Cramper
These guys are borderline problematic. They are at every single BarCamp that comes along. They’re junkies for it. Being the case that they’ve been to so many, they take on the role of an experienced air passenger who isn’t bothered by turbulence and knows the crash rules by heart. Sometimes they can give a boost to a flagging Camp where the organizers have no idea what they’re doing. Other times, they try and drag everybody through the rundown like a flight attendant who has been around the world far too many times, yet still has to explain where the emergency exits are. You can spot them as they usually always try to take control of the session signup board and they’ll almost always know where the food is before anyone else (which can be useful if you’re hungry). Oh yeah, they also happen to often be the guy you see below on the right.

The Marketing Cramper
These folks have gone a long way to killing the BarCamp spirit, which is thankfully just starting to take off in other countries. They come to the BarCamp, seem interesting, but then just do sessions that are all about the product they’re there to sell. They’re much like “social media experts” who abuse the hell out of Twitter and Facebook without really understanding the format other than to try and sell something… socially. They’re simply everywhere and unable to be avoided. Again, the law of two feet is well served here and should be used without any hesitation as these people aren’t there to present and discuss, but to sell. It’s one-sided conversation and they’re my most hated group out of all of these.

This is a rough batch of summations. This is in no way a damning of BarCamps as I happen to love the open, unconference format of the BarCamp a great deal. I just hope that it will live on and grow in different ways, although as I know friends here and there who try to organize them, it seems that the concept is getting lost. Just remember that they’re sorta like Seinfeld in that they’re a conference of nothing. Yes, there’s a theme, but that’s about where the organizing part of it should stop and the general group should take over, trading knowledge in a non-Cramper way with others in attendance.
Beware the BarCrampers