Continuous Call For Papers — A Year On
In November 2016 we introduced our Continuous Call for Papers. The idea came around after a realisation that we always seemed to have a Call for Papers (CFP) open for a particular TestBash due to the sheer number of them these days, this year alone we had/have Brighton, Netherlands, Dublin, Germany, Manchester, Test.bash();, Australia and San Francisco!
The same abstracts would appear in each CFP, meaning the person had to log on each time and submit their abstract, a bit tedious. Sometimes folk would forget for a specific CFP and unfortunately miss out. There had to be a better way. People may select a location for a specific reason, such as being unable to travel, or it’s been a goal of theirs to talk at the original in Brighton. One factor that didn’t matter was cost, as Ministry of Testing covers all the speaker’s expenses. So, I wanted a system that meant folk could still select a specific location but also an option for it doesn’t really matter which TestBash, I just want to talk at TestBash!
The question is though, has it helped anyone? The answer is yes, it really has. I’ve some data for you.
At Brighton, we had three speakers who were previously unsuccessful but made the Brighton stage. At the Netherlands, we had two speakers, both of which the Netherlands was the last TestBash their abstracts were going to be considered for. At TestBash Dublin we had four speakers who’d previously read that horrible unsuccessful email but got a Dublin invite email that I’m sure put a big smile on their faces. Those events have been and gone and every single one of them did a sensational job!
We still have four more TestBashes to go this year, so how did the CCFP help them? Germany was a clean sweep for first-time submissions, but importantly four of the abstracts had only selected Germany as a location, so way to go to those four!
This brings us to TestBash Manchester where we have a staggering six people who had previously been unsuccessful. Now the data from this point forward is interesting, as the majority of people who submitted around this time did indeed select it doesn’t matter where they talk. This was because we had Germany, Manchester, Sydney and San Fransisco all open. However, those six didn’t make the cut for Germany but did for Manchester, so without a CCFP, they may not have submitted.
The new show in town, Test.bash(); our first targetted TestBash, how did this fair? Three of the speakers at Test.bash(); had read that unsuccessful email. With the theme being specifically on Automation and ‘Technical Testing’ we received a lot of new submissions on those themes which made the programme. However, we were also able to benefit from some previously submitted abstracts where they were a bit too niche/specific for a regular TestBash, but perfect for Test.bash();
Time to head down under with TestBash Australia, our first time in the southern hemisphere. There will be three talks in Sydney that were previously unsuccessful. We had a lot of submissions that were solely Australia, which isn’t surprising, it’s a long way for a lot of people to travel from to talk at our other events, so they jumped on the chance to talk at a TestBash closer to them!
Last but not least, TestBash San Francisco! Five speakers at TestBash San Fransisco have previously been unsuccessful, but now they get to see the Golden Gate Bridge!
So, in total 26 talks, from a total of 81 came from having a CCFP, pretty much a third of them! This is brilliant.
Another unrealised benefit of the CCFP was being able to offer speakers a choice of locations. With a busy September-November for TestBash a lot of the programme decisions were being made in parallel, which meant some abstracts made the shortlist for two locations, so instead of a tug of war between the various TestBash parties, we let the speakers choose.
Well if you’re reading this having read an unsuccessful email recently you know that we’ve been working on a new system to manage our CCFP. Well, it’s ready, and live! We’ve also documented how our CCFP works and specifically the selection process so it’s transparent. We’ve also updated our expenses policy and answered the fantastic collection of questions on Emily Webber’s GitHub page about what speakers needed to know when talking at TestBash.
So, if you’re interested in talking at a future TestBash head over to Ministry of Testing and submit your abstracts whenever inspiration hits!