A tiny step in the right direction #SQLPASS
Ah, summertime; time for the annual â€ścommunity crisisâ€ť for the Professional Association for SQL Server. Iâ€™ve tried to stay clear of controversies for the last couple of years, but itâ€™s very hard to be a member of such a passionate group of professionals and not have an opinion of the latest subject dâ€™jour. The short form of the crisis is that thereâ€™s questions about how and why sessions get selected to present at the highly competitive Summit this year (disclaimer: I got selected to present this year). For more details, hereâ€™s a few blog posts on the subject:
The point of my post is not to rehash the issue or sway your opinion, dear reader, but rather to focus on a single tiny step in the right direction that Iâ€™ve decided to make. One of the big issues that struck me about the whole controversy is the lack of a repeatable objective tool for speaker evaluations. As a presenter, I donâ€™t always get feedback, and when I do, the feedback form varies from event to event, meeting to meeting. Selection committees are forced to rely on my abstract-writing skills and/or my reputation as a presenter; you can obfuscate my identity on the abstract, but itâ€™s tough to factor in reputation if do that.
While I agree that there are questions about the process that should be asked and ultimately answered, thereâ€™s very little that I can do to make a difference in the way sessions get selected. However, as a presenter, and a chapter leader for one of the largest chapters in the US, I can do a little something.
- I am personally committing to listing every presentation I make on SpeakerRate.com, and soliciting feedback on every presentation. To quote Bleachers, â€śI wanna get betterâ€ť.
- I will personally encourage every presenter at AtlantaMDF to set up a profile and evaluation at SpeakerRate for all presentations going forward.
- We will find ways to make feedback electronic and immediate at the upcoming Atlanta SQLSaturday so that presenters can use that information going forward.
- I will champion the evaluation process with my chapter members and speakers, and continue to seek out methods to improve and standardize the feedback process.
Do I have all of the right answers? No. For example, SpeakerRate.com seems to be barely holding on to life; no mobile interface, and a lack of commitment from its members seems to indicate that the site is dying a slow death. However, I havenâ€™t found an alternative to provide a standard, uniform measure of presentation performance.
Do I think this will provide a major change to the PASS Summit selection? Nope. But I do think that a sea change has to start somewhere, and if enough local chapters get interested in a building a culture of feedback and evaluation, that could begin to flow up to the national level.