Powwow Etiquette
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Sep 5

I'll be the first to admit I'm new to powwows, and that they have a long and venerable history, but I think this is worth saying.

Last night I organised my first event in Barcelona. 11 lovely people came and it proved very enjoyable, for relaxing, networking and general socialising.

I really enjoyed it and would willingly do it again.

So far so good.

However, there were originally 28 "interested members".

7 of them subsequently c
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I'll be the first to admit I'm new to powwows, and that they have a long and venerable history, but I think this is worth saying.

Last night I organised my first event in Barcelona. 11 lovely people came and it proved very enjoyable, for relaxing, networking and general socialising.

I really enjoyed it and would willingly do it again.

So far so good.

However, there were originally 28 "interested members".

7 of them subsequently changed their "maybe" or "nothing" to a "no", in good time, leaving 21. No problem with that.

A few people saw fit not to answer repeated calls for confirmation, so that I could keep the restaurant informed (restaurateurs have rights too...)

But that still left 16 confirmed, 5 of whom either forgot or decided simply not to come, hence the 11 attendees (plus me)

Who knows, maybe someone tripped and fell, or had a family emergency, or their great-uncle Alphonse turned up unexpectedly after 7 years in the Amazon.

But even so, a little note would have helped.

This being Spain, the restaurant owner was chilled about it all, but I could easily have found myself paying the agreed 25 euros for the extra 5 people.

So would a plea for basic communication and politeness be too much, in what is after all a professional event? Life has a habit of throwing curveballs at us, and we all have the right to change our minds, but please let the organiser know next time...
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Mariella Bonelli
Christine Andersen
Teresa Borges
Elizabeth Tamblin
Mariana Quinones-Pinedo
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:35
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 6

I'll say straight off I've never been to a Proz Powwow either.

I do have experience in organising meetups with strangers though, through an NGO I volunteer for. I have noticed that the first ones to say they are coming are often least likely to turn up. They confirm straight away, but then life gets in the way and they can't make it after all. The worst is on Facebook, people say they'll come but then they don't. I've been guilty of this myself in fact. Social media doesn't seem to
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I'll say straight off I've never been to a Proz Powwow either.

I do have experience in organising meetups with strangers though, through an NGO I volunteer for. I have noticed that the first ones to say they are coming are often least likely to turn up. They confirm straight away, but then life gets in the way and they can't make it after all. The worst is on Facebook, people say they'll come but then they don't. I've been guilty of this myself in fact. Social media doesn't seem to be the place for etiquette! Each individual will think, it's only me, it doesn't matter. Just like we think "it's just one plastic straw" (yet geologically, we are now officially living in the age of plastic waste).

When I organise meetups, I also limit the number of places, so this sometimes means I have to turn other people down. Given that they come for support, this is rather a pity. Those who ask to register last may be the ones who need my help the most. So now I send out an email just a couple of days before the event asking everyone to confirm, because there is a waiting list. Then I only give the address to those who do confirm. Those who don't confirm don't even know where the meeting will be held, so they can't just turn up anyway. And then people at the top of the waiting list can come instead.

If I were to organise a meetup at a restaurant, and run the risk of having to pay for those who don't turn up, I'd ask them to pay in advance, quite simply.
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Andrew Morris
Teresa Borges
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Excellent advice Sep 6

Taking notes! I like the mystery location idea a lot. Plus the limited places.

I'm wondering whether advance payment to a personal account is tricky. But why not?

Still all in all it's been an enlightening experience, and! the main thing is, the people who did turn up were great


Elizabeth Tamblin
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:35
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 6

Andrew Morris wrote:

I'm wondering whether advance payment to a personal account is tricky. But why not?



Ah, I use the NGO's account. In the case you mentioned, if you'd had to pay out of your own pocket, I don't see why you can't have everyone paying into your own account.
Otherwise you can set up a leetchi account pr similar and call it Proz Powwow Barcelona rather than have people putting it into Andrew Morris's personal account. Then if people pay but don't turn up and the restaurateur is still cool you can treat yourselves to an extra bottle of wine


Andrew Morris
Teresa Borges
 

Mihai Badea (X)
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:35
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Romanian
+ ...
What about some statistics? Sep 7

Every organiser has a duty to enter the attendants into the Proz.com system. What about comparing the alleged participants list to the actual participants lists? Maybe per year, per country and other various criteria. That might be an interesting exercise, I think.

Andrew Morris
 

Jennifer White  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:35
French to English
+ ...
Why not try it this way? Sep 8

Andrew, I've been to quite a few powwows in the days I lived in Nottingham, and of course, it was as you say - the numbers attending were never really confirmed. But we met in pubs, had drinks and maybe a snack so nobody was out of pocket and if someone didn't turn up it didn't matter. In future, why not keep it simple? Booking a table for an unknown number must be really tricky, and you can have a good powwow with a glass of wine and a packet of crisps...…...Cheers.

Elizabeth Tamblin
mughwI
Andrew Morris
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Not a bad idea Sep 9

Thanks Jennifer – yes that's not a bad idea. Of course there are no pubs as such in Spain, which slightly changes things, as people often expect to eat at least some tapas of an evening... but it's definitely good to play around and not stick to just one fixed idea.

Another friend came up with a suggestion – if it's a restaurant, you only send the details to those who confirm and pay in advance. That should eliminate some of the dilly-dalliers and timewasters. ...
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Thanks Jennifer – yes that's not a bad idea. Of course there are no pubs as such in Spain, which slightly changes things, as people often expect to eat at least some tapas of an evening... but it's definitely good to play around and not stick to just one fixed idea.

Another friend came up with a suggestion – if it's a restaurant, you only send the details to those who confirm and pay in advance. That should eliminate some of the dilly-dalliers and timewasters.
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Mihai Badea (X)
Luxembourg
Local time: 05:35
Member (Feb 2019)
English to Romanian
+ ...
A little suggestion for ProZ.com Sep 9

People who confirm and don't show up, that's very common. It's likely people don't realise what a nuisance this can be for the organiser. Let's root this out from the ProZ.com system! Two little steps might be all it takes:

[This is specifically addressed to the ProZ.com system ]

1. When someone confirms, send him/her a message immediately and let him/her know it is essential that he/she takes the confirma
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People who confirm and don't show up, that's very common. It's likely people don't realise what a nuisance this can be for the organiser. Let's root this out from the ProZ.com system! Two little steps might be all it takes:

[This is specifically addressed to the ProZ.com system ]

1. When someone confirms, send him/her a message immediately and let him/her know it is essential that he/she takes the confirmation seriously; if he/she doesn't, there will be consequences;

2. Target all those who confirmed and didn't show up and let them know such behaviour will not be tolerated; kiss powwows good-by!

Indeed, restaurants request a partial advance payment, some also want to know who will eat what, because there is some planning to do. For practical reasons, the organiser pays the advance payment from his/her own pocket, and takes a risk. Of course, we can't ask ProZ.com to do that!

The powwows were a terribly wonderful invention and contributed tremendously to in-country cooperation among translators. So, thank you, ProZ.com!
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Andrew Morris
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Friends vs known colleagues vs strangers Sep 9

Andrew Morris wrote:
A few people saw fit not to answer repeated calls for confirmation, so that I could keep the restaurant informed (restaurateurs have rights too...).
This being Spain, the restaurant owner was chilled about it all, but I could easily have found myself paying the agreed 25 euros for the extra 5 people.


I think it is important that the powwoww organiser does so eyes open. He may feel that he knows the people who's coming, that they're like his friends or familiy, or even colleagues, but in reality they are complete strangers, and that affects the amount of risk to take. It's a hard lesson, though fortunately you were not out of pocket in this case (though your reputation with the restaurant owner may have suffered). Anyone who's ever had to organise an event where the availability of the venue depended on a certain number of people being there, may have stories similar to yours. It is normal to be eager to see confirmations convert into actual pitchings, but you have to be firm about it if the event requires a high amounts of money per attendee.

Next time you organise a powwow, take a look at some of the advice that was written about organising powwows:
https://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/102/1/Organizing-a-ProZ.com-powwow-in-your-city (by our Henry)
https://www.proz.com/forum/powwow_organizers-32.html (only 4 pages, ignore the ones with "in" in the title)

You mentioned on this powwow's powwow page that the set menu is €25.00 per person, but it is not clear from the way you write it that the group as a whole (or the organiser personally) would be responsible for €25 multiplied by the number of people who the organiser told the restaurant will be attending.

Also, I see that you've asked for confirmation on the powwow forum page on two occassions, namely on 5 August (one month before the event) and 8 August, but did you also send messages to the individual people who had shown an interest? Look, I'm sure you did, but we're just trying to figure out how we can do it better next time, right? When did you send the final reminder for people who confirmed, to remind them to attend? Did you remind them one week before the day, as well as two days before day? Not everyone lives by a diary. Some people live by memory alone, and some people don't plan ahead that far.

Mihai Badea wrote:
2. Target all those who confirmed and didn't show up and let them know such behaviour will not be tolerated; kiss powwows good-by!


I'm not in favour of an outright ban of such people (after all, some of us genuinely forget), but having been a no-show should be made part of one's record. Let future powwow organisers receive a warning about the person when they show interest in the upcoming powwow.

Also, Andrew, you should post a reply to the powwow page thanking everyone who were there, and mention them by name. Then, in the final paragraph of that post, mention the names of those who confirmed attendance but "were unfortunately prevented at the last minute" from attending (write it in such a way that you don't alienate them but just so that it's on record). "We really missed you guys and wondered where you were." etc.


[Edited at 2019-09-09 07:44 GMT]


 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
All sound advice Sep 9

Thanks Samuel, all noted. In fact I sent several emails to all the people involved... including a couple of days before the event...

Will post the thank-you note later (it was also the subject of a whole post on Facebook, read by all those who came). And write the standard report too...

I accept your point about "not everyone having diaries" and "those who live by memory alone" though at times I had to smile to myself too. We are in 2019, and I was organising an event f
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Thanks Samuel, all noted. In fact I sent several emails to all the people involved... including a couple of days before the event...

Will post the thank-you note later (it was also the subject of a whole post on Facebook, read by all those who came). And write the standard report too...

I accept your point about "not everyone having diaries" and "those who live by memory alone" though at times I had to smile to myself too. We are in 2019, and I was organising an event for professional translators, who presumably enjoy the benefits of both email and smartphones, and a passing familiarity with the mysteries of Google Calendar, not for the local over-80s bingo club.
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:35
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 9

I'm not sure that people should be punished by never being allowed to attend another Powwow. For the meetings I set up, I make notes of those who book a place then don't turn up, and I only sign them up to attend subsequent meetings when there are still places left just a couple of days beforehand. So they are not barred from meetings, but I don't let them prevent anyone else coming that needs to.

There's one other reason for not coming to an event like a Powwow. I remember once sig
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I'm not sure that people should be punished by never being allowed to attend another Powwow. For the meetings I set up, I make notes of those who book a place then don't turn up, and I only sign them up to attend subsequent meetings when there are still places left just a couple of days beforehand. So they are not barred from meetings, but I don't let them prevent anyone else coming that needs to.

There's one other reason for not coming to an event like a Powwow. I remember once signing up to attend something, I think it was an informal alumni meet-up. It was in a bar, and when I got there, there were lots of people milling about and my introversion got the better of me, no way could I find out who the translators were without -gulp!- speaking to a total stranger who would probably look at me as if I were mad. So I just kept walking, then turned round, had another quick look inside on my way back, still didn't see any kind of sign, and quickly and shamefully went to get my bike to ride home.

In the summer I sometimes hold meetings in a park. I always tell people what I'll be wearing (something fairly distinctive) to make sure that people will know they've found the right group of people.
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Andrew Morris
 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:35
Member (2012)
French to English
. Sep 9

I hope they had good excuses, anyway - "the dog ate my iPhone", etc.

 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Who knows? Sep 9

We will never know, because with one honourable exception, they also "forgot" to write afterwards to let me know why they hadn't come

 


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