Thu 10 Nov 2016 9:24AM

How to challenge/deal with inspiring/opportunity creating but economically self-exploiting EU/Event offers?

TD Thomas Dönnebrink Public Seen by 110

Dear OuiSharers,
given the following inquiry/offer (see attachment), I and Albert received by the http://www.digitalfreedomfestival.com/ to give a keynote there and join an illustre podium round (see below) at their 1000 participants event in Riga 27-29.11, I would like to start a generell discussion here (after having talked about it also with Albert and Javier who suggest the same procedure).
On the one hand, opportunities like this are a good opportunity for OuiShare and whoever goes to gain visibility, make connections, learn, improve, have an impact, make a difference etc.
On the other hand, this (often EU settings) invite people but don't pay for the time invested or not even for the transport or accomodation saying if they pay people will not be objective because it is a paid service. This is of course baloney as these (EU commissions) events force freelancers and networks like us to self-exploite ourself in order to contribute, influence or have impact or exclude us and thus they end up one-sided with just politicians, academics and lobbyist getting payed exactly for this.

1. Should we have a general position as OuiShare, e.g.preformulated text to use?
2. Should we leave it to each individual of use receiving this inquiries if they want to do it under the suggested conditions?
3. What are experiences or best practices of others? (It is not the first time I get this kind of inquiries and I guess many of you too)
4. Where or how to post these kinds of inquiries/offers if the addressee can't go (like in the case of Albert going to Colaboamerica) or me thinking if I should. So maybe others can or want to go?
5. If we - as OuiShare - still want to use these opportunities is or should there be a fund to help out? If so, how much? Who decides? Should there be certain rules (e.g. there is the possibility to ask for a certain budget once a year for each connector or active OuiSharer so that everybody getting an offer to go at least once (a year)?
6. I guess there are more questions. Please pose them.

Happy to talk about this specific case (they first said they couldn't pay costs, but got them at least to cover transport and might get them also to cover accomodation), but also in generall and for future handling.

You find more information on this specific case on http://www.digitalfreedomfestival.com/ and the discussion will be with:
Arvils Ašeradens, Minister for Economics and Deputy Prime Minister (confirmed)
Filomena Chirico, Member of Jyrki Katainen Cabinet at European Commission (confirmed)
Pēteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit, Startups and Innovation, Digital Single Market Directorate, DG CONNECT (confirmed)
A representative from OuiShare think-tank community (to be confirmed)
Enn Metsar, General Manager at Baltics Uber (confirmed)
Kristo Käärmann, CEO at TransferWise (to be confirmed)

So welcomed to start a debate. I suggest to use the numbers above in front of comments you make relating to these questions (or others (No. 6) you can think of.


Thomas Dönnebrink Thu 10 Nov 2016 9:28AM

1) Here one of my response to the person who asked me to give a keynote. Maybe parts of it could be used as a draft in case we want to preformulate a text to use for inquiries like this.
"Had also the chance to discuss the case with some other OuiShare Connectors and we will start a debate in OuiShare about it, because it appears to be a generell and repetitive problem.
Events like this DFF / EU event are asking participants, e.g. the value contributors, not to invoice their time invested (in research and participation) or even being expected to pay for their own transportation, accommodation or other costs. This leads either to the self-exploitation or the structural exclusion of freelancers and value contributors like networks like OuiShare and their valuable voices and experiences. We have to discuss if we want or should support structure that unilateral lead to biased outcomes, e.g. limitation to academic/politician and lobbyist participation who get paid for it.
For the right framing of the discussion in our network: "What can OuiShare participants expect concerning costs or reimbursement of costs for participating? (transport, board, lodging, time reimbursement. If direct payments in form of a personal daily rate are not possible or wished, donations to the non-profit entity of OuiShare (Germany, France or other country) could also be an option.). Thanks for feedback."


Antonin Léonard Thu 10 Nov 2016 10:33AM

Good questions. Thanks for starting this thread.


Joachim Lohkamp Thu 10 Nov 2016 1:48PM

great that you bring this discussion to a next level and that you guys want to discuss it here...
I feel the same for a while, in the beginning I thought I should see it as an investment but I agree that this is not sustainable and the exploitive nature not acceptable... especially from the EU side I think they need to provide a budget especially for freelancers but also for small organizations that are not funded in some other ways through the EU - eg universities always have funds for dessimination, so they are indirectly financed to answer call for papers or accept to be a speaker without payment.
For communities like Ouishare, grassroots initiatives or startups and freelancres that have no such funding it is different. So maybe it is a good idea to take a stance and even file an official complaint - in a constructive way of course...


Thomas Dönnebrink Fri 11 Nov 2016 7:54PM

Sounds very good. Maybe we should even look into filling a law suit, if we find some lawyer (and the funding) to go through. Or at least write a collaborate article about it? That would definately make some waves :). What do people think?


Isabel Benitez Thu 10 Nov 2016 8:59PM

Good thread, @thomasdonnebrink Even if I have not been in that position I think it's something important to discuss.

1) This is always useful and something that can be easily done. We can have 2 templates, one to say 'no'; one to say 'yes' but with some conditions or, at least, saying we don't agree.
2) Leaving it to each individual to decide can be a good option. People starting at OuiShare or that have a very personal interest in a topic may decide to attend the event even if it is not paid, but even when we do so, I think the position of the organisation must be clear. At the end of the day, it's part of our public image and reputation, and if we are promoting other ways of work and criticising self-explotation we cannot undermine ourselves.
4) Maybe just use the usual channels? It all depends on the urgency of the request, but if there is time enough I would share it on Telegram and Slack and see who responds. Or if you know who could be genuinely interested, send a private message to that person straightaway.
5) Again, I think it's a matter of how much time you've got since you're proposed to attend the event and the event itself. I would not allocate a fix amount for a whole year to be honest, because opportunities may arise or may not, but I think co-budget can be a good tool for this purpose. This cannot be discussed without OuiShare defining its position though. Let's go step by step. What I think is that we could definitely have some guidelines or, at least, a classification of organisations and the agreed response we'd give to each type. At the end of the day, it's seems this can only be decided on a case by case basis but I am sure we can define some guidelines.

ping @pakorodriguez


Tiberius Brastaviceanu Fri 11 Nov 2016 12:14AM

I recently got 2 invitations in Europe, one from the European Commission. But since they don't pay anything and I live in Montreal Canada, I can't go.

Perhaps another idea would be to have a list of individuals that could replace some of us (go instead of), to reduce costs. For example, if something happens in Europe, I could turn to trusted and knowledgeable OuiShare affiliates that are close-by and ask them to go there. If you get something similar in North America, you could send me. We could work in collaboration on the presentation and give credit to the person who was supposed to be there in the first place.


Francesca Fri 11 Nov 2016 6:25PM

This is definitely a key topic, thanks for raising it. Overall I completely agree that it is a systemic problem that those who would have important and diverse opinions to bring to events are those that don't have the funds to pay people for this work.

However, to be very brief, I think that it is not feasible that we are able to get paid for such opportunities by our own organization due to the quantity of requests we get - but I do think that representing OuiShare at such an event should not cost the person anything.

To be honest so far, I've never had the case where when I asked for travel cost and accommodation reimbursement it was not covered, so I think it's important to be insistent about this point with the organizers and explain the nature of our organization to them. If they still are not willing to pay, I think that this is a classic case where individuals should raise buckets on Cobudget to fund these costs through OuiShare. Enspiral does this all the time and it works very well, as far as I have observed.

What do you think?


Albert Cañigueral Sat 12 Nov 2016 10:08AM

I've also faced similar situations and as Francesca I've always had costs covered. I tend to be more and more selective on these kind of events because a lot of them have little real impact and you use a lot of time and energy to attend. This a personal and subjective decision to make case by case.

I like the "template" answers suggested by @isabelbenitez (at least as a starting point for discusion). That could even be on a wiki page that explains our general policy / position to take part on events?

Another criteria that I take into account for me to participate is if the event will be recorded / streaming and freely available. In the worst case with a report or something. EU money should be used to create commons / open knowledge! :)

And lastly, at more local level (where rules can be less strict than EU level) I've been asking for a "donation" to OuiShare Spain (usually ~200/250€) for me to participate in certain tables or to give a short talk. This money goes directly to the cobudget funds. It is easier for them to justify internally and it also helps to explain that the organization needs some funding, etc.


Maud Sat 12 Nov 2016 1:19PM

I think it's interesting indeed if we have a general position about this @thomasdonnebrink , explaining why it's important that freelancers and networks like us are given a voice at this kind of events, but explaining that in order to allow that minimum costs at least need to be covered. wiki page sounds good.

I like then the idea to let all individuals choose wether they want to go or not, and mabe raise a bucket.

The "donation" for OuiShare sounds as well as a very good practice you do in spain @albertcanigueral, we could try to generalise that.

And as for the channel for sharing that kind of opportunities, we could have a slack channel called "global intervention" or EU intervention to narrow it a little bit where anyone can share opportunities. We have a french channel for it for the opportunities at France scale, and it seems to be working. I would suggest rather slack than telegram, as telegram was oriented more towards "informal talks" but not so much "work / actions oriented". That's my 2 cents :-)


Alexandre Bigot-Verdier Tue 22 Nov 2016 9:40PM

Hi everyone, i come several days after the battle so I would like to raise a new point.

Some people here are working on the "futur of work" which seems related to a freelanciarisation of the work force and the contribution of individuals rather than corporations.
In the perspective of OuiShare being a laboratory of such practices, gathering individuals in a network, I think that we should try to have a firm policy during several months, just to experiment it.

The first scenario is to refuse unpaid missions, having firm arguments to share and co-writte an article about it to explain the point.
Positiv : we experiment a way to protect unprotected freelance workers
Negativ : lose opportunities for ouishare and individuals

The second scenario could be to generalize and network-based resilience to these situation : we have connectors in a large number of cities so, as @tiberiusbrastavice said, we can find people to represent us everywhere for few costs.
Positiv : visibility for new people
Negativ : the visibility don't go to the person that has worked for it + we do nothing against the self exploiding issue

We generalize network-oriented help through cobudget + IRL help : Our connctions could help us find housing for free in several important cities and OuiShare (through co-budget or fixed costs) could pay for the travel.
I will be keen on having people in my couch if i know that I can couchsurh anywhere in Europe for the same issue in return.
Positiv : visibility for the right people + strenghening of the links between members
Negativ :we do nothing against the self exploiding issue

Short term, I would say 1/ for the experimentation of a new way of organising workers that gain credibity and bargaining power by gathering under the same values.
But sure, the network can not impeach someone to take part for free at such an event..