2011-11-27

PyCon US: Information for International Attendees

Just a quick message today for all attendees - but especially for international attendees.

It has been brought to my attention as conference chair that there are time issues when dealing with the acquisition of visas for attendees outside of the US - as has been previously noted, the Program Committee is running behind schedule due to the sheer volume of talks submitted. We plan on announcing accepted talks as soon as possible.

Registration, and therefore Financial Aide applications will be opening soon, tutorial selection is rapidly coming to a close. While I can not disclose details on talks or tutorial selection or rejection, I can go out of my way to assist international attendees.

Given the timelines involved, I am offering to immediately start assisting international attendees with the required visa recommendation letters as chair. I will draft and sign letters certifying your attendance and value to the conference regardless of speaker status - the assumption being that even without open registration, it is important it get these letters/visas approved in a timely manner.

If you are planning on attending - even not as a speaker or teacher - please send an email to Rami Chowdhury, International Travel Coordinator rami.chowdhury@gmail.com, with the required details and any caveats such as financial aid approval you might have.

As tutorial and talk approvals come in, we can either amend letters as needed, or you can choose to hold off until the decisions are announced.

Thank you - I apologize in the delay and gaps in this area.

Jesse Noller, Chair - PyCon 2012

2011-11-15

What's up with the program committee?

"What's up with my PyCon proposal?"

That's the question I've gotten pretty much since the day the call for proposals closed for PyCon 2012. Since the program committee does most of its work in private, it can try anyone's patience waiting to find out how their proposal fared. Well, starting with this post I'll do my best to keep you informed of where we are.

As Jesse announced last month, we had record-breaking levels of talk submissions this year -- about 380 talk proposals. And it's not just quantity: the quality has been breathtaking. Sadly, we have just over 100 spots on the schedule. Selecting the best proposals is quite a challenge.

Let me tell you a bit about how our review process works:

First, the committee reads through proposals and scores them (using a system based on the Identify the Champion system). The goal here is to identify "champions" -- a committee member who feels strongly that the proposals should be placed on the schedule.

Next, we meet in real time (on IRC) to discuss each proposals. Champions advocate, we debate, and ultimately vote. At this point, we're considering each proposals in isolation, judging it strictly on its merits. Typically we vote to accept about 75% of proposals at this point.

Of course, this leaves us with far too many talks for the schedule. So the final step is to make the hard decisions and cull this list of (excellent) proposals down to the final schedule. We do this by grouping overlapping or similar proposals and looking at the balance of talks at the conference as a whole. We gather for a final round of meetings, debating and voting on which talks are the strongest in each area.

So where are we now?

Well, we've completed the first part -- each talk's been reviewed by a number of reviewers (at least three, at usually five or more) -- and we've started holding our first round of IRC meetings. We've discussed about a third of the talks so far. Extrapolating from our current rate tells me we should have the first round finished shortly after Thanksgiving. Based on our timeline last year, this means we should likely have the final selection of talks done by Christmas.

Ultimately, this means that if you've proposed a talk you should hear back from us right around the new year. I know it's a long time to wait, but I know it means we'll have an incredible program this year.