Selecting the EclipseCon Program

Last Friday the acceptance (and unfortunately the decline) letters were sent out to people who wanted to speak at EclipseCon.  As you might expect there were lots of happy people but some people who were disappointed.   We have close to 400 submissions for 120 speaking slots and 16 tutorials, so a lot of people had their talks declined.

     

In the spirit of transparency, I thought it might be useful to explain the framework the program committee (PC) used to select the program.  I was not on the PC but I attended their meetings.  This year, I am also the person at the Foundation who is responsible for the overall conference and helped define the framework.

The most significant aspect that influenced the program selection were the rough targets we set for the number of talks in each track.  The targets we set were as follows:  Eclipse 4/Eclipse SDK (10 talks), EclipseRT (10), OSGi DevCon (10), Modeling/DSL (20), Mobile/Embedded (10),  Tools/Cool Stuff/Community (20) and Agile ALM Connect (40).    By far the most competitive track was the Tools and Cool Stuff track, so if your talk was in that track you had to be very good.    Agile ALM Connect is something new this year at EclipseCon, so I will elaborate below.

The reason we did the rough allocation was to ensure we have enough critical mass in key areas to attract attendees.  We want to make sure conference attendees have enough learning opportunities in some key areas to justify the expenses of attending the conference.   This is why we have focused on these tracks.

Based on the allocations, the PC worked to identify the most compelling talks across all of the submissions and then within each track.  Each PC member voted for sessions across all tracks.  The key criteria was to select the best talks.   There was some balancing needed to make sure: 1) an individual did not have more than two talks, 2) new speakers were being allowed to talk, 3) a single topic/technology was not over represented and 4) there were case studies being presented.

I think the resulting program speaks for itself:  it is an amazing line-up of speakers and topics!  Doug Schaefer and the entire PC did an amazing job!

Each year, at least one person will claim the speaking selection is due to which company is a sponsor of the conference.   This is just not true.  I am not even sure the PC knew who are the sponsors.  Some conferences do select speaking slots based on sponsorship.  We do not do that at EclipseCon and in fact we lose potential sponsors due to this policy.  We do have sponsored talks at EclipseCon but those are identified as such and selected by the sponsor not the PC.

Agile ALM Connect was handled differently from the main EclipseCon PC.  Agile ALM Connect is a new sub-conference that we are organizing at EclipseCon to attract new and a different type of attendee.   Therefore, we had a seperate program committee that included people from outside the Eclipse community.   Since this is a new conference, we also invited a number of individuals to speak since we wanted to make sure we had the right people talking.  This is why we have people from IBMgithub and Atlassian talking about how they deliver software, leaders from the Puppet, Sonar, Selenium projects talking and some industry thinkers in the Agile ALM community.  The PC also selected some great sessions that is focused on Eclipse related content. Tthe results is something a returning EclipseCon attendee will find interesting but will also attract new attendees.  It truly is a unique program in the world of technology conferences.

One final point is the topic of PC feedback on the declined session proposals.  If anyone wants to have feedback on their proposal, please send an e-mail to speakers@eclipsecon.org.   There was just too many proposals to have the PC provide feedback on all of them.

One final rant, I noticed some session proposals being submitted by press relations firms.  In general, if your pr agency submitted the proposal for you, they did a bad job.  If you really want to talk at EclipseCon, my advice is you write the proposal yourself and submit it yourself.  Otherwise it comes across as boilerplate market-speak and not very compelling to the PC or the attendees.

Thank you to everyone that submitted a proposal.  The PC really did have a tough time due to the high quality of so many submissions.  I do hope you agree that result of their work is another great program for EclipseCon!

9 Responses to Selecting the EclipseCon Program

  1. Deepak Azad says:

    Were the targets of talks in different tracks decided before the submission deadline? Or is this break up arrived at after the PC takes an initial look at the submissions and gets to know on what topics people are interested in speaking about this year?

    • Ian Skerrett says:

      In general the targets are set to attract attendees not based on what people want to talk about. They are also similar distributions to what we have used in previous years.

      • Deepak Azad says:

        I see. It may be useful to announce beforehand so that folks especially the submitters know where the focus would be this year, no ? I imagine this year Agile ALM Connect took away a few talks from other tracks?

      • Ian Skerrett says:

        We did announce the tracks as part of the call for papers. I frankly want to encourage people to submit what they think is their area of expertise or what is of interest to them.

        Re: Agile ALM Track, we have actually added an extra room this year to host Agile ALM Connect. There are also a number of talks about git, Hudson,Jubulla, Mylyn, Tycho, etc that would have been strong contenders for the regular EclipseCon program, so I don’t feel anything was taken away.

  2. Ayushman says:

    Hi Ian,

    Thanks for the post and I want to tell you at the outset that EclipseCon always has really good talks, which I refer back to very frequently.
    My concern is that in the past few years, a few people always speak, and very often, each one of them has multiple talks. Not saying that the talks aren’t worth it, but shouldn’t there be some consideration for expanding the eclipse community than just having the same speakers all the time? I’m sure a lot more people will get a chance to speak if one speaker is not given multiple talks.
    I hope you understand. For people like me, getting a talk selected is the only way to attend EclipseCon. There’s no way I can afford $1000+ registration fee myself. Since the last three years I’ve been looking forward to attending the conference but I haven’t been lucky.

    So a humble request, please try to get more diversity in the speakers. That way, more people get to attend the conference. I hope I’m not being a prick. The very fact that I feel so sad at having been rejected goes to show how excited I am (was :(( ) about EclipseCon.

    • Ian Skerrett says:

      I understand your situation. We do try to ensure we have new speakers and some people who have spoken before are not speaking this year. In the past years some people have had up to 7 talks, so this year we made sure it was only 2. All I can suggest is to keep trying to submit proposals for next year.

  3. Thanks for the explanations. I think that the impression that sponsorship somehow influences the PC is caused mostly by the fact that in order to get your proposal accepted you have to be a really active community member. As someone said, you need to submit yourself, not your talk.
    It is easier to submit yourself if you are influential, or you have some scarce knowledge supported by your reputation or recognizability.
    If you work for a corporation supporting Eclipse, you usually can talk to someone who got his proposal accepted last year. Or you may find someone who really knows how to write good proposals.
    Or you may have quite a unique perspective.

    Yep, to some point life is easier when you work for a corporation.

  4. Ayushman says:

    whats happening here –
    http://www.eclipsecon.org/2011/sessions/?page=sessions&id=1980
    http://www.eclipsecon.org/2012/sessions/creating-rich-clients-eclipse-rcp-4x

    Same talks with same abstracts in 2011 and 2012? How convenient🙂

    Ian, just like many other eclipse committers, I’ve totally given up on “The fellowship of the EclipseCon”🙂

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