Why conferences don’t allow kids…

I’m hearing from a bunch of conference planners that most conferences don’t allow kids cause it costs extra to hire more security guards if you allow them (that’s Moscone’s policy, one conference planner just told me, which matches other feedback I’ve heard). Microsoft’s PDC had the same policy. Turns out the conference venues are afraid of being sued so they ban kids unless you take additional measures, which cost money, so most conference planners don’t do it.

Funny aside: one year a 12-year-old showed up at our VBITS (Visual Basic Insiders’ Technical Summit) with his dad. Turned out he had already scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT, had already been accepted to college, and had been programming since he was four years old. I wonder what he’s doing today?

Sorry for picking on LinuxWorld, but they could have made a funnier sign and demonstrated some humor. Expect such things to get on Flickr in the future.

Comments

  1. Most of the future rests in the minds of the young. The endless talent out there amongst the youth of the world is untapped and hardly taken seriously. Why is it that the marketing we see is often pointed at younger people. If they were smart they would open their arms to the up and coming users and creators of tomorrows computer landscape. They have what money can’t buy, enthusiasm and lots of time! I remember showing Word on my Mac to a guv’mint employee back in the early early 90′s. He laughed said it was a toy, Word Perfect is the only REAL word processor. I kept using Word and now he probably is too. Maybe they should set a computer out front, ask potential child entrant to complete a series of tasks, then on success they could let them in?

  2. Most of the future rests in the minds of the young. The endless talent out there amongst the youth of the world is untapped and hardly taken seriously. Why is it that the marketing we see is often pointed at younger people. If they were smart they would open their arms to the up and coming users and creators of tomorrows computer landscape. They have what money can’t buy, enthusiasm and lots of time! I remember showing Word on my Mac to a guv’mint employee back in the early early 90′s. He laughed said it was a toy, Word Perfect is the only REAL word processor. I kept using Word and now he probably is too. Maybe they should set a computer out front, ask potential child entrant to complete a series of tasks, then on success they could let them in?

  3. Wait, so now they’re at fault because the sign wasn’t funny? Dude, it’s not an ad for the improv, it’s an informational sign. It needs to be clear, direct, and unmistakable in its message. Humor is SO not a requirement.

    Are you SURE you communicate for a living? You’re real bad at it on a regular basis.

  4. Wait, so now they’re at fault because the sign wasn’t funny? Dude, it’s not an ad for the improv, it’s an informational sign. It needs to be clear, direct, and unmistakable in its message. Humor is SO not a requirement.

    Are you SURE you communicate for a living? You’re real bad at it on a regular basis.

  5. at maker faire we had rockets, robots and fire – we managed to get insurance. macworld/wwdc also allows under 18 – that’s at moscone…

    surely under 18 with parent/guardian could be a compromise?

  6. John: You’re right. Bad call on my behalf.

    On the other hand, MacWorld was in the exact same place. I never saw such a sign and no one tried to stop Patrick from getting in.

  7. John: You’re right. Bad call on my behalf.

    On the other hand, MacWorld was in the exact same place. I never saw such a sign and no one tried to stop Patrick from getting in.

  8. at maker faire we had rockets, robots and fire – we managed to get insurance. macworld/wwdc also allows under 18 – that’s at moscone…

    surely under 18 with parent/guardian could be a compromise?

  9. We had a parent-managed kids room at Northern Voice 2006, and it worked great. Though, it was targeted at younger kids, I think. Regardless, the feedback from parents was very positive, and it didn’t cost much extra.

    Of course, at NV, Patrick would have been welcome in sessions.

  10. We had a parent-managed kids room at Northern Voice 2006, and it worked great. Though, it was targeted at younger kids, I think. Regardless, the feedback from parents was very positive, and it didn’t cost much extra.

    Of course, at NV, Patrick would have been welcome in sessions.

  11. Why not just ask the parent to sign a disclaimer form that pre-empts any suing and makes it the parent’s responsibility to take care of the kid?

  12. Why not just ask the parent to sign a disclaimer form that pre-empts any suing and makes it the parent’s responsibility to take care of the kid?

  13. MacHack, which unfortunately shut down after last year, always encouraged kids. There were always lots of brilliant kids there. I’ve seen 12 year olds who were intimately familiar with Darwin kernel code. Patrick would have had a great time there.

  14. MacHack, which unfortunately shut down after last year, always encouraged kids. There were always lots of brilliant kids there. I’ve seen 12 year olds who were intimately familiar with Darwin kernel code. Patrick would have had a great time there.

  15. I wish in this country we could start over with the legal system. We need to ship everyone that sues at the drop of a hat out into space into a black hole.

    Is requiring the kid stay with their parent all day even through the conference lectures not adequate? Are there are really parents dumb enough to take kids to these things that aren’t ready to be interested in the material being presented?

  16. I wish in this country we could start over with the legal system. We need to ship everyone that sues at the drop of a hat out into space into a black hole.

    Is requiring the kid stay with their parent all day even through the conference lectures not adequate? Are there are really parents dumb enough to take kids to these things that aren’t ready to be interested in the material being presented?

  17. @9/ Are there parents dumb enough? Actually yes there are. We all know that. I mean, how many parents use school as a daycare? Let’s recall that classic line from Parenthood:

    “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

  18. @9/ Are there parents dumb enough? Actually yes there are. We all know that. I mean, how many parents use school as a daycare? Let’s recall that classic line from Parenthood:

    “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.”

  19. I’m glad you brought up that kid at VBITS, Robert — he bought a copy of my book and I signed it for him; I got a big charge out of talking to him.

  20. I’m glad you brought up that kid at VBITS, Robert — he bought a copy of my book and I signed it for him; I got a big charge out of talking to him.

  21. Iagree with the fact that kids are sometimes anuisance to these seminars and that keeping them in check is not an easy job. Some kids depending on how old can be considered like the one you gave as example, the 12-year-old genius. Most kids tend to misbehave at such activities because they do not understand the discussions and you know how kids are when bored.

  22. Iagree with the fact that kids are sometimes anuisance to these seminars and that keeping them in check is not an easy job. Some kids depending on how old can be considered like the one you gave as example, the 12-year-old genius. Most kids tend to misbehave at such activities because they do not understand the discussions and you know how kids are when bored.

  23. I totally agree with earlier statements regarding signing a disclaimer for parents with kids at these events.

    The weird thing to me though is this: Isn’t a legal guardian responsible for any and all damages caused by a kid? It is where I live. When a kid wrecks something it’s his/her parents problem. Not the public area’s owner where the kid was messing around. I do agree that when kids are allowed some precautions should be taken, cause a Mac Pro tipping over on a table top can be pretty painfull.

    The weid thing about people having kids is the fact that somehow having kids is a right above almost every other right. I agree with the freedom to live your live the way you want. But if having kids is no problem at all, why is it that shooting yourself through the head or living in a house which resembles a garbage dump is?

  24. I totally agree with earlier statements regarding signing a disclaimer for parents with kids at these events.

    The weird thing to me though is this: Isn’t a legal guardian responsible for any and all damages caused by a kid? It is where I live. When a kid wrecks something it’s his/her parents problem. Not the public area’s owner where the kid was messing around. I do agree that when kids are allowed some precautions should be taken, cause a Mac Pro tipping over on a table top can be pretty painfull.

    The weid thing about people having kids is the fact that somehow having kids is a right above almost every other right. I agree with the freedom to live your live the way you want. But if having kids is no problem at all, why is it that shooting yourself through the head or living in a house which resembles a garbage dump is?

  25. Ahhh, the good old insurance excuse, if you’re ever asked to explain anything you don’t want to admit the truth to you, just say “it’s for insurance reasons”.

    The more likely reason is “kids without much (or any) money running around making noise are a deterrent / disruption for adults with lots of money to attend and spend” but that opens you up to criticism, people just tend to accept the insurance excuse.

  26. Ahhh, the good old insurance excuse, if you’re ever asked to explain anything you don’t want to admit the truth to you, just say “it’s for insurance reasons”.

    The more likely reason is “kids without much (or any) money running around making noise are a deterrent / disruption for adults with lots of money to attend and spend” but that opens you up to criticism, people just tend to accept the insurance excuse.

  27. @15. Well, your reasoning works for me. The less annoying teenagers the better. (and yes, I raised 3 of them)

  28. @15. Well, your reasoning works for me. The less annoying teenagers the better. (and yes, I raised 3 of them)

  29. [...] Robert Scoble seems like a genuinely nice guy.  I think he’s a little caught up in his nerd-elebrity status right now, but hey, he’s allowed.  I maintain that I found his blog much more interesting about a year ago than I do today (okay, bad example on both counts), but now I feel genuinely bad for picking on him at all.  But, like most good-spirited people, he sure seems like he’s able to take it, and I respect that. [...]

  30. Is 18 really the cut-off? No kidding. That would have cut out 1) the boss of my first “real” programming job. He was 14 when he started his first software company. he was 18 when I started with his company. 2) Several of the best developers in the Visual FoxPro community: Mike Helland, 16 when he first made MVP, IIRC, and Christof Wallendorf, who might have been 14, but definitely under 18. Katheen Dollard, MVP for VB and .NET, has a son who’s been a serious and good coder since he was in middle school. Maybe the insurance thing is real, but I’m always skeptical of the insurance claim. It’s a handy blind. Dig deeper and find what exactly the insurance ramifications are…and for what age and what status.

  31. Is 18 really the cut-off? No kidding. That would have cut out 1) the boss of my first “real” programming job. He was 14 when he started his first software company. he was 18 when I started with his company. 2) Several of the best developers in the Visual FoxPro community: Mike Helland, 16 when he first made MVP, IIRC, and Christof Wallendorf, who might have been 14, but definitely under 18. Katheen Dollard, MVP for VB and .NET, has a son who’s been a serious and good coder since he was in middle school. Maybe the insurance thing is real, but I’m always skeptical of the insurance claim. It’s a handy blind. Dig deeper and find what exactly the insurance ramifications are…and for what age and what status.

  32. I still think excluding kids 1) sucks and 2) is a strategic mistake. I work with public access kiosks and find very few (zero) cases of vandalism after many years of use. Why? Kids respect computing, programming, etc. Excluding the next gen from conferences is shortsighted and so… um …. Web 1.0!

  33. I still think excluding kids 1) sucks and 2) is a strategic mistake. I work with public access kiosks and find very few (zero) cases of vandalism after many years of use. Why? Kids respect computing, programming, etc. Excluding the next gen from conferences is shortsighted and so… um …. Web 1.0!

  34. I am 15 years old, and although I have never had the privilage to go to something cool like th WWDC or any other cool conference, I have done a few small 2600 meetings and local cons.

    I deffinatly agree with the idea that parents should be force to sign some type of disclaimer making them ultimatly responsible for any damage done by their kids, which is how it always has been.

  35. I am 15 years old, and although I have never had the privilage to go to something cool like th WWDC or any other cool conference, I have done a few small 2600 meetings and local cons.

    I deffinatly agree with the idea that parents should be force to sign some type of disclaimer making them ultimatly responsible for any damage done by their kids, which is how it always has been.

  36. Long-time reader first-time commenter – agree with the original post and many of the comments here.

    I would just like to add something I always say to fellow ‘youth professionals’: young people are not the future, they are the active citizens of today… are we (adults) creating those opportunities for young people to participate?
    :-)

  37. Long-time reader first-time commenter – agree with the original post and many of the comments here.

    I would just like to add something I always say to fellow ‘youth professionals’: young people are not the future, they are the active citizens of today… are we (adults) creating those opportunities for young people to participate?
    :-)

  38. The WWDC is a different issue. It is, except for the keynote, entirely under NDA, and each attendee has to be of legal age to “sign” an NDA, (as much as you actually “sign” it). Since a minor attendee can’t sign for themselves, and you can’t sign for someone else, the WWDC is 18 and up.

  39. The WWDC is a different issue. It is, except for the keynote, entirely under NDA, and each attendee has to be of legal age to “sign” an NDA, (as much as you actually “sign” it). Since a minor attendee can’t sign for themselves, and you can’t sign for someone else, the WWDC is 18 and up.