Thursday, August 19, 2010

UKOUG TEBS Conference Abstract Judging.

Too Curious. I always optimistically volunteer to help in the judging/grading process for the UKOUG conference.

When reading abstracts, I look for User-experiences that are either Relevant to a larger group, or simply Interesting to myself. Good marks go to presentations that have practical experience behind them, to those relevant for a large group, or to those that I simply find interesting.

Low marks for those seem to have no-purpose, for the ones that sound like "summary of the manual", and especially for the ones that are product-presentations rather then User-experiences.

The process is straightforward:
You get a long list of title-links, ticklist style.
You click on one, out pops a window with the abstract.
You can then rate it from "poor" to "excellent", you need to indicate salespitch yes-no-unsure, and you can enter some comment-text (hah!).

So you click + read + grade your way through the list till all boxes are ticked. It takes me, overhead/coffee/distractions included, just under 1 min per abstract, and I had to do about 200. It is both intense and scary work.

Intense, because you have 200 words, and need to find out what is behind them. Decide how relevant, how useful this could turn out to be.

Halfway, after the first 100 or so you need a break.

It is also Scary. The majority of the content is Good Quality, relevant to a larger (sometimes smaller) audience, and most of it stems from real-world experience.
Impressive and promising. And competitive! I hope at least some merciful souls out there will rate one of my own two abstracts enough to get me into accepted (yes, this is a tout!).

And even if I can present (and thus visit) at the conference, I'll still be faced with the luxury problem of choice: there are way to many that I absolutely want to see. I know from past experience that you miss out on a number of must-see items because they will be scheduled simultaneously.

I like doing this judging job (well, once per year is OK) as it shows what people are busy with or at least what they want to talk about.

And being a hopeful submitter myself, I assume that some have put their very soul into crafting those abstracts. And for some (me included) it is vital to get at least one paper admitted otherwise the boss will not pay for the event and the trip. Hence, I try to treat all of them fairly and with much respect.

But there are some, a minority, where I copy-paste one of my pre-typed comments. Tempted to give some examples, but first: end of break and back to the tick-list.

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