You may have noticed that PyGotham’s call for proposals site looks different this year. That’s Yak-Bak, the new system we’re building to run our call for proposals in its entirety, including accepting proposals, anonymization, public voting and review, and talk selection. We’d love your feedback, and if you organize a conference that shares PyGotham’s CFP goals, we hope this tool will make your proposals process easier all around.
Since starting in 2011, PyGotham has used four different CFP setups: two that were part of two different conference website packages, PaperCall, and now Yak-Bak. We switched to a static website generator in 2017 to simplify the site’s hosting needs and free up time to focus on other parts of running the conference. In 2017 and 2018, we used PaperCall for our CFP. We had a great experience with it and will happily recommend it to smaller conferences. PaperCall significantly eased the process of collecting proposals, but we supplemented it with additional tools both years to help implement our voting, anonymization, and selection process.
PyGotham’s CFP process
The details of this process continue to evolve, but they always center around the following stages:
- Accepting proposals is a minimum requirement. We aim to balance ease of proposing a talk against encouraging high quality proposals and allowing for effective and efficient talk review. We require a title and public description (for the conference program), but also request an outline and note about what the audience will learn from a talk. These fields help crystallize the intent and content of the talk to the speaker, and we find it makes proposals stronger and easier for the program committee to understand.
- Public voting helps inform our program committee of relative popularity for the purposes of talk selection and schedule balancing. This is one of the core features that led to the development of Yak-Bak.
- Anonymous review is crucial to removing bias from the talk selection process. A first class anonymous voting and review feature should hide names by default and support redaction of company or project names, and other potentially identifying content from proposal content.
In 2017 and 2018, we accepted talk proposals via PaperCall and used other off the shelf and customized tools for review and voting. These were all connected by one-off migration scripts between each stage. In order to effectively review 250+ proposals each year, we need everything under one roof. We also used this as an opportunity to address some features high on our wish list, including multiple presenters on a talk and a proposal form more tailored to our needs.
Yak-Bak is an opinionated tool designed to support PyGotham’s CFP and talk selection process fully out of the box. PyGotham 2019 marks its first production use. In the future, we’d like to offer this as a managed service for conference organizers. If you’d like to support that effort, you can:
- Send us feedback at email@example.com. If you’re a user proposing a talk, let us know what you liked and didn’t like about the process.
- Contribute to the project. Open an issue, fix a bug, weigh in on discussions, etc. Everything helps. Yak-Bak, like PyGotham, is built for the community by the community.
- Yak-Bak should adapt to the branding of conferences that use it. If you have experience designing and building multi-tenant systems, we’d like your help and advice making the content management components right.
- If you’re a conference organizer and would like to see more and consider using it for your conference, get in touch to discuss details.
If you have questions that aren’t answered in this post, or if you’d just like to talk more about Yak-Bak in general, feel free to reach out.