Drupalcon Voting is a waste of time & resources
Now we have it again in the Drupalsphere and for the next couple of weeks there will be an endless promotion of drupalcon session from the speakers or their companies to enhance their chances for getting a spot as a speaker at DrupalCon.
when we finally get the session selection, there will be an outcry of angry, pisssed of & sad people in our community.
Its been the same song & dance now for the last 4 DrupalCon. I think its about time we change the ways this session selection is done, and propose another way to do this, so the noise ratio can get back to picking colors on that bike shed.
the big disclaimer
This is NOT an attack on the current process in Denver or those that went before or on track chairs etc. If you wanna get drama go another place ok? this is based on the observations i have done during the ton of drupal events i have attended over the years since my first DrupalCon Brussels 2005.
Im a "regular speaker" on DrupalCon both in europe & the US. normally on various Theming aspects (think its the lest 7 con's) Ive been track chair in Paris, London & Copenhagen, was the lead for DrupalCon Copenhagen 2010 & been the lead organizer for 3 of the 4 DrupalCamp Copenhagen + active in getting Frontend Developers (Themers) & Designers "organized" co-organized 2 Design Camps in Europe (Prague & Berlin) + the upcoming in Amsterdam in 2012… phew
I know how 400 people will feel in about a month, when that session is rejected & probably I will be one of them again - which is perfectly okay i might add.
To keep it short: I know how the sausages are made
We must stop making the same mistake we have done over & over again - get a better selection policy with at least some kind of transparency.
Voting doesn't do what we hope it could do.
In the good old days when a drupalcon was around 2-700 people.
The voting was working "kinda ok" with about 25 proposed session in a 10 session track it was manageable to figure out which one you would see & which one looked good.
This was turning into a problem around DrupalCon DC, where the con was suddenly 1400 attendees
Today theres 5-600+ sessions proposed for DrupalCon Denver (about 400+ in London) & the voting process is causing the usual amount of noise & pissed of Drupalistas.
Are we really expecting the potential attendees to read through all 500+ session & vote on them ? with a clear & open mind ?
- its hard even getting through the sessions for each track chair, not to mention that the conference is in 5 months (after xmas, superbowl, new year etc) SO i guess we can define the 3 kind of people thats gonna vote now:
- you are heavy into the community.
- you were told to go vote on a session (twitter is wonderful for that)
- wanna see you friend speak at drupalcon.
- Pro-tip*: if you can mobilise around 100 people then theres a good chance you will have a top voted position.
Hang with the popular kids
Voting will turn into a popularity contest & that is not a vote/rating number we can use for anything -unless we wanna figure out who can rally votes.
Theres been concern that the "big companies" can use their sheer size to vote all their sessions in, and crush the "little guy" & use the DrupalCon as a advertisement platform for their product, let us be honest, the stage at a Drupalcon is a really good spot for you or your product, no matter if youre a small design & theming shop from copenhagen or your are making you own web browser.
what are the votes used for?
It isn't clear what the voting actually means in the selection phase & it never really have - it used to be the only way sessions was selected, now its at best a "guideline", is the 3 most voted getting in? is it 10 etc. Nobody really knows!
Its been up to the track chairs to figure out how to read or use these numbers, some have used them others havent.
This is not ideal, but that is how it is today.
All the drupalcon's I have been involved with had the same focus around the voting: "yeah yeah let 'em vote, now can we focus on getting this con on the road - we have more importent things on the agenda" - the general idea have been that its just a "part of the whole picture" of how the sessions is selected. But its just a guideline.
reality check for submitted sessions
Do I really wanna take the chance that the track chairs is not gonna do a quick "lets start by removing alle the sessions with less than X votes" hell NO I wont - im gonna promote the it hard. Remember im just me & my assistent here in copenhagen
I dont have 50 coworkers, that all can herd votes, so if i wanna make sure i get a fair chance, then im forced to promote.
I dont submit unless I really wants to talk about a subject & knowing that I can deliver a 45-60 minutes speak thats gonna blow the attendees away "wow that xxx was interesting stuff" if not at least 5 people have told me afterwards, dude that was the best presentation I have seen at DrupalCon - then im disappointed. I expect the rest of the 498 sessions to be as dedicated!
Off course everyone is gonna vote their own session up as much as possible, thats just the rules of the game.
But it doesn't give us/ drupalcon anything that can be used, besides of a lot of noise & that afterwards Drupalcon can then wash their hands and do the "we had a vote" - even that we know its BS. To have a Voting without consequences is not usable for anything.
what should we do then?
okay so what now - no "democracy", just let the DA & its henchmen take over the drupalcon & sell it all to sponsors …
[note to self : fill in more conspiracy plans just for the fun of it]
The sessions & presentations should be the very best we can find, that will push our community & the Drupal Project forward simple as that.
The Drupalcon is not the place where we use should use sessions for unexperienced speakers, its not amateur hour! - its the goddamn DrupalCon,the leading gathering in the Drupaluniverse.
If a speaker wanna train skills theres a ton of DrupalCamps that are screaming for sessions & inputs.(To see that 30% of the sessions this year will be for "new" speakers is absurd imho)
a New Rule set.
We need to get the numbers of sessions down, right now anyone and their grandmother submits sessions, theres been more than one session from people that are "very new" in the community (guess thats the political correct term for those dropping in & want a quick piece of the Drop fame)
I am suggesting that we in the future set up some simple gateways, that everyone can relate to
- The speaker have at least spoken at 2 Drupal Events
We wanna have speakers that can present, & are active in the community + have proven their worth - going to a session where theres stage fright because theres 200 in the room, can be fixed easy if the presenter had given a couple of more sessions at local drupalcamps / events.
- The proposal is more than a 2 paragraph outline with warm air about foo / bar.
Look at the session proposals , how many of them are actually placeholders, just to have a session in, if that other session isn't gonna be selected.
- 1 speaker = 1.Session proposal.
We have so many talented people - why not force us all to focus on what the individual are really really good at, today its just a part of the game to submit as many sessions as possible to up you chances for getting a session in.
More pre selected sessions.
The Drupalcon (or track chairs or DA) reach out & get speakers in the community or outside and fill around 50-75% of the program, with a good spread from noob to advanced sessions & topics.
The last 2 DrupalCons have had an absurd amount of noob sessions, we should aim a little higher. im going to be inspired not learn how to add a field to a node.
Yes im expecting the Drupalcon to know whats going on in our community !
The last 25-50% of the sessions are selected by the submitted sessions & still selected by the drupalcon.
If a session is not accepted there will be an explanation why a session wasn't selected, its the last thing we can do for people that have used a couple of hours to do a session proposal (if you dont use a couple of hours well then dont submit).
what can we then vote for ?
We need the vote to figure out what rooms the sessions should be in, so lets have a vote in a month before the drupalcon. Theres nothing worse than speaking to a empty room, because somebody else put @dries, @webchick, @heyrocker & other rockstars in the same time slot as you.
Keeping this phony vote for sessions process year after year is not only a big waste of everybody's time, the amount of noise is even worse - Its hurting the community, those that used tons of time preparing & motivating for their session(s) will get a huge morale hit (take a look at the twitter stream)
Nothing good comes out of it, besides a Drupalcon can at any given time wash their hands "well we voted for the sessions" which is done every year because no one really wanna argue with pissed of presenters that didnt get their sessions in.
oooh But Vote for me!
So after all this ranting should you now go and vote for my sessions - I did state that voting is BS ? Yes you should! the DrupalCon uses the votes for something right & I dont wanna take the chance of getting ruled out because of a technicality or a track chair decides, that all sessions less than X % is out - just because im taking the high stand.
I can off course just start a campaign against the big companies, the "suits", those that dont want to ban swearing and F-boms in session, those that wanna turn DrupalCon into a business conference and not a gigantic nerdfest for the Drupal Developers (& builders, designers, themers, business owners, project mamanger & users)... That would offcouese be complete FUD and have nothing to do with reality... right? ;) (But man it sounds good for a rant) Besides I claimed the best dressed speaker at Drupalcon Chicago!
2 proposed sessions:
- htm4 S while were waiting for the Revolution
a 45 minuts hands on session with solutions for all the BS that drupal7 comes with and what to do about it.
- Beeing a Frontend Developer in a Backend World
A talk about what were doing good & wrong in the community & how to survive without not event beeing able to talk "the language".
I sincerely hope we change the way sessions are selected, the way were doing it today is only causing pissed of people & loads of noise, that are not giving anything to the drupal community.