PyCon UK has a long-standing policy that everyone pays to attend - speakers, organisers, everyone. That often causes some consterntation with reactions like "I have to pay to speak at PyCon UK?!!" or "If I volunteer to help, I have to pay the same as someone who has done nothing?"
I've been party to many discussions on whether the policy should change and these are my thoughts on the subject... (TLDR: it shouldn't).
Firstly, it's worth mentioning that PyCon UK has a financial assistance programme that is open to anyone. If, for whatever reason, somebody feels they need some funding to attend the conference, they can apply. When we consider those applications, one of the factors we take into account is the amount of voluntary effort the applicant is providing to the event - the more effort, the more likely the application is to succeed.
Secondly, let's consider for a moment what the effect of changing the policy might be. For example, if we offered a free ticket to speakers, how might our organisers feel? Should we then also provide a free ticket to each of those? What about our volunteers? Should somebody who chairs a session or two also qualify?
Given how many of our attendees volunteer at least some of their time and effort, it becomes almost impossible to decide where to draw the line.
Instead, my view is that the Financial Assistance programme is the fairest solution we have. It may not be perfect, but it's better than any of the alternatives.