More Information – the Call for Papers committee process, droidcon 2018

 

droidcon 2018

The droidcon Italy agenda is assembled by an independent committee who give their time to ensure the agenda covers the most relevant and interesting topics with the best speakers. That’s why we can say droidcon is “by developers, for developers”. Here the committee share some more information about what they’re doing:

At droidcon Turin 2018, we value transparency. That’s why we’re writing this post: we want everyone to understand how the lineup for the event will be selected, and the process the Call for Paper (CfP) committee is following.

As we move to an exciting new location, the conference schedule will continue to follow the same general outline as last year, with the exception of having no workshops on the first day. This means we have 3 keynote slots, 4 two-hour workshop slots, 6 twenty-minute barcamp slots, and 52 regular talk slots.

The main role of the CfP committee is to collect, vote on, and compose the lineup of sessions that will fill these slots, define the tracks the content is distributed across, and schedule each selected session in the best possible slot, taking into considerations logistical needs, minimising tracks overlap, besides speakers’ needs, and other factors.

Now that the call for papers is closed, let’s give some numbers: we’ve had more than 210 submissions, and we’re extremely excited to have had this super strong response, and from such a diverse crowd. The CfP committee members have their work cut out for themselves!

So what are the next steps? The CfP committee members are going through every single submission and each one of them is assigning a vote from 1 to 10. How are the sessions voted at this stage? Well, it’s a series of factors. Judges’ interests are the first and foremost criteria.
Judges cannot see each other’s votes, but they can see the average for each talk, besides the public’s +1s and -1s:

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The committee is defining the tracks that content will be divided into, based on the submissions we’ve had. In the meantime, all speakers have been contacted with a form to find out if they require assistance with their travel, and some other informations about them for internal statistical purposes.

Why do we collect information on travel assistance needs? The reason is that the conference has a limited budget for travel, and it’s not enough to cover every speaker’s costs. When composing the schedule the committee needs to also be able to work with the rest of the organisers to make sure all the speakers who require assistance can receive it, and put things in motion as quickly as possible once a draft lineup is selected, without waiting for the final schedule to be published.

In the meantime, the committee will be picking a few “hot” topics and speakers that they feel are required to be in the conference. Who the speaker is for a certain submission has a relative weight; obviously the most important thing is the topic and how it’s presented. That said, if an expert speaker wants to talk about something they likely know better than anyone else, and it makes sense in the context of the lineup, that’s a factor to consider. The diversity of points of view is also something we treasure and will make our best to pick what we feel is the best compromise between talks, speakers diversity, and perceived quality of submissions. We are not aiming at specific quotas, but we do want to know we’ve done the best we could to offer everyone a fair chance to go on stage.

There are a few constraints to composing the lineup that are not dictated by the CfP committee; first and foremost, sponsored talks. While the aim is to have the fewest sponsored talks possible, we have to recognise the reality that we need sponsors to be able to run a conference. We don’t make a profit off of Droidcon Italy, but we struggle not to take a loss either, so we can prolong it by another year.

We work closely with our great sponsors to make sure that they don’t bring about talks which would not be received well by our audience. We strongly believe we have great content sponsors at this year’s Droidcon Italy too, and that the talks they have proposed to us so far are relevant and interesting for our audience. This way we can turn sponsorships into a situation in which everyone wins: attendees get quality content, we get to pay the bills, and sponsors get interested audience members.
Another “out-of-band” source of content is the list of speakers that are invited to speak at the conference. We’ve announced some already: Rebecca Franks, Taylor Ling, Florina Muntenescu and Nick Butcher. More will come, and we’re sure you’ll love the 2018 lineup!

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Once the tentative lineup is selected with all those constraints in mind, the committee starts trying to place the selected talks in a big spreadsheet. The tricky part is keeping consistency amongst tracks (trying to have all their talks in the same room), and making sure there’s enough content for all of them, without having overlaps of related talks in the same slot. And it will also be hard deciding what not to include — we only have 42 available slots for over 200 submissions, plus sponsored talks and invited speakers.

The committee is working as quickly as possible to get the schedule finalised soon, so stay tuned for the lineup announcements.

 

 


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