|Paul Makepeace > Esperanto > Yapc Auction
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In July 2003 the YAPC::Europe 2003 "Yet Another Perl Conference" happened in Paris attended by folks from all over the world. The organizers, Paris Perl Mongue(r|se)s, are of course French and did a wonderful job of putting on a memorable event with a strongly international flavor.
At the end of the conference an auction took place to raise money for YAS to support ongoing Perl development. The final item in the auction was to translate the homepages of both London.pm and Paris.pm Perl groups to the same language. The expected course was either the English or the French would win to simultaneous delight and humiliation depending on which side of the Atlantic allegiance lay.
This final lot in the auction started uneventfully; low bids with the only real initial enthusiasm from a breakaway Japanese faction (led by an Irishman). As a big Perl supporter I was keen to see a substantial chunk of cash raised. And yet the bidding, at that point €150, wasn't in the kind of league I and probably most others were hoping for. Then a thought struck me as to how I could donate to perl, raise awareness, and have fun all at once. Recklessly, I upped the ante to €200, and announced "Esperanto" as the language. This caused a certain amount of amusement, clapping, and surprise. I don't think anyone thought it was serious. However, the moment anyone bid up €10 I raised another €100, working my way amidst increasing surprise & confusion, and apparent ongoing reluctance to bid against it, to €700. At last I was making a decent (financial) contribution to Perl and having a laugh at the same time. What happened next was particularly interesting.
At this point the English bid was comprised of a whole group of people, presumably most London.pm folk, spread out over the lecture hall where the auction was happening. All versus me. While I was determined not to lose I have to admit €700 is quite a bit of cash for someone working on low- and non-profit work.
Out of the blue another bidder stepped up for Esperanto! That broke a dam of contributions from all over the floor of this international gathering as Esperanto's bid against English now climbed ever higher. Bids were even retracted from the English side to Esperanto, and it seemed unstoppable. English was to be beaten. Make of that what you will.
After some impromptu bid tracking software was written, a brief flirtation with "Swedish Chef" as a language it was clear Esperanto was going to win. The English team honorably accepted defeat and a final posted bid of €1371 was raised for YAS.