As the NL-JUG grows bigger (2.000 members milestone within sight!) and conferences get more and more crowded you cannot escape but professionalize things. One of the things that we did over the past few years was to write out an official call-for-papers for each conference and assemble a session selection committee to judge the proposals.
As a wannabe speaker, rules for entering a session proposal are plain simple. Make sure the proposal contains the following information: title, speaker, short description of the session, indication of level, prerequisite knowledge, and an outline of the presentation. Maybe the most important rule of all…submit *before* the deadline.
When the deadline has passed, the session selection committee are handed the session abstracts and they have to individually rate the sessions using the good old “++ / + / 0 / – / — system”. The committee consists of three members from the NL-JUG steering committee and is complemented by at least two individuals that stand out in the NL-JUG community. Invitation-only. Selection committee members judge the session abstracts for themselves paying attention to the following criteria in no particular order:
- Is it a hot topic?
- Diversity in topics for this particular conference
- Variety in topics between NL-JUG conferences
- Speaker credentials
- Evaluation results for speaker from previous NL-JUG conferences/universities, if any
- Whatever other criteria…
Finally, the committee sits together and adds up the individual ratings. Remarkably, most of the time this produces very uniform results. Still, the final cut is a tough call. If conflicts arise the NL-JUG president makes the final call, but most of the time we'll manage.
NL-JUG Business partners are entitled to 'buy out' certain slots, but no more than 5 total time slots are available. As a non-profit organization the NL-JUG depends on its business partners to finance the huge costs involved in organizing events like J-Spring and J-Fall. That's why every conference features a clearly marked sponsor track. Still the selection committee reviews session proposals for this track as well.
Fortunately, we do receive lots of proposals. Mostly, over 3 times the amount of session slots available. This means we have to disappoint people as well. Sometimes we get angry e-mails or funky phone calls in return. That’s why – as a NL-JUG steering committee member – I thought I’d share this post with you.
Is it an honest system? Yes, we think so. This way we try to eliminate all kinds of conflicts of interests. Quality content first! If you think there’s anything wrong with that, or have suggestions for improvement, we would love to hear from you. Drop me a line at bert <dot> ertman <at> nljug <dot> org.