One things is for certain, the Drupal community has great session ideas and it made session selection difficult. We had over 600 sessions submitted, a new DrupalCon record, but enough space for just 93. Lacking the ability to bend the space-time continuum, we had some tough choices to make.
When you break this down, we’ve got room for about 11-13 sessions per track. Considering the breadth of topics to cover, this doesn’t leave much wiggle room in decision making! Here’s a look at how that played out for Portland:
Submissions by Track / Submitted / Selected
Business and Strategy / 135 / 12
Coding and Development / 140 / 13
Community / 40 / 10
DevOps / 51 / 11
Frontend / 50 / 11
Government, Nonprofit, and Education / 68 / 12
Site Building / 83 / 13
User Experience (UX) / 44 / 11
Beginner Sessions / 280 / 36
Intermediate Sessions / 281 / 54
Advanced Sessions / 48 / 4
Unique Submitted Speakers - 565
Unique Submitted Sessions - 611
This table illustrates that there is good news, and there is bad news. The good news is that we got to choose from the best of the best to build an amazing program for Portland. The bad news is that we couldn’t choose everything. You might be asking yourself...
How are DrupalCon Sessions Selected?
DrupalCon sessions are selected by the Content Team, or more specifically, the track chairs. Each DrupalCon track has three owners, one “local”, who is the main point person for the track, and two “global” representatives from past EU and North America DrupalCons.
Each track team lays out their desired topics and track focus in the Track Description (see the Portland tracks) to help guide session submissions i.e., “we’re looking for these three topics for the Community Track”. We encourage those submitting sessions to review these topic points, to make sure there is a fit for their proposed session.
Once session submissions close, the track chairs huddle to review the proposed sessions.
Meanwhile, we encourage the community to do the same, and leave helpful comments like, “I’ve seen this and it was awesome” or “I’d totally attend this - looks like a great session”. These types of comments help give the track chairs an idea of what the community is interested in, but also helps vet speakers/sessions the chair may not be familiar with.
While the purpose of community commenting may have been a little unclear for Portland, we’ve actually been using this form of community feedback since Munich, with pretty great results.
Using these criteria points and feedback from the community, the track chairs begin ranking the submitted sessions. From start to finish, session selection takes the team two full weeks.
At the end, we have a hand crafted must-see program highlighting the best of all content submitted.
And it’s not easy!
We receive so many quality submissions and great presenters (new and old!) to back them, that our track chairs struggle up until the final hour of selection, hotly debating to get their “must have” sessions pushed through to the final program.
Why Wasn't My Session Selected?
The simple, and most likely answer, is there just wasn’t room.
Now that that’s out of the way, here are some more helpful answers.
- Right focus - did your session cover a hot topic outlined in the track description? Was that clearly explained and outlined in your submission?
- Right fit - track chairs look for sessions that fit together to create a cohesive program. Sometimes we get awesome sessions, but there’s just no place to put it.
- Right mix - the Drupal community is filled with talented speakers and topic leaders. We try to get a mix of new and old voices on stage, representative of our growing community.
Did your session hit each of these criteria points? If you say yes, and many will, then likely it just comes down to, there just wasn’t room.
So Now What?
Just because your session wasn't accepted, doesn't mean it has no value. So what should you do if your session wasn't selected?
- Host a BoF at DrupalCon and discuss your ideas with peers
- Present your session at your area user group meetup or DrupalCamp
- Record yourself presenting this information and post your slides for others to see
There are lots of opportunities to speak and share your information, so don’t despair if your session wasn’t accepted. Get your knowledge out there!
We know the selection process isn’t perfect, but we are diligently working to make it work for our conference by being as inclusive and transparent as possible.
Get more details on the session selection process or tell us what you think in the comments!