Edit: This post was originally written just after the CFP closed in 2017. If you’re here from a CFP-related link, don’t assume this year’s CFP is closed. If you’re not sure, check the CFP system for the latest info.
Each year 44CON attracts between 100-200 submissions. Some of these are excellent talks, some are average and some are, well, let’s just say that some are below average. In this blog post I’ll try to go through what happens when the CFP closes and to help you answer the immortal question, “Has my talk been accepted/rejected?”
Along the way I’ll announce our first accepts, and most importantly explain the why of our CFP process.
How our CFP works
Our CFP uses the HotCRP system. There are 14 people on this year’s programme committee. In 2017 we had 146 complete submissions. Once the CFP closes we are unable to take further submissions. We’d love to, we really would. In our experience, this has led to people being upset in the past. This is one of the many reasons we can’t have nice things.
At the time of writing voting is still ongoing. After closing there’s a two week voting window. In the third week we start processing accepts and hard rejects.
We want each talk to get at least 5 votes. CFP programme committee members can still vote on talks with fewer than 5 votes in the third week.
Talks are scored from 1 to 5. We use the mean average score to determine the final figure. Anything with fewer than 5 votes is treated slightly differently. I’ll come to that later.
The lowest scoring talks are rejected more or less instantly from the third week on, unless they have fewer than 5 votes. Accepts go out for the 20 highest scoring submissions first. We work down the list as slots are filled.
On average talks have to score over 4/5 to make the main tracks. That’s a very high standard and a lot of really good talks don’t make it. It’s frustrating to reject awesome talks but unfortunately we only have so many available slots.
We have 18-20 main track talk slots in any given year, 4-8 workshop slots and an unconference track shared with workshop slots.
Accept and reject emails start to go out two weeks after the CFP closes. In 2017 this is from the 15th of June. We start with the lowest and highest scoring talks and work our way towards the middle.
Accepts go out to the top 20 submissions first. We then work down the list until all slots are filled. Speakers have until the end of June to confirm and get the necessary information back for us to book their travel.
If you haven’t received an email by mid-June don’t worry. Sometimes it means you’re close to being accepted, but others need to drop out or confirm first. If you’re on hold it doesn’t mean your submission isn’t appreciated. On the contrary, we appreciate it a lot and are trying to get you a slot. We aim to email you by June 19th if this is the case.
Talks scoring lower than 3 are usually rejected immediately (with the exception of talks with fewer than 5 votes).
Talks with few votes
Once we’ve filled all slots we’ll close the CFP for the year. If a talk hasn’t had enough votes we’ll poke CFP committee members to vote. Talks with fewer than 5 votes won’t be rejected until they’ve either passed the 5 vote threshold or all slots have been filled.
We have a small amount of slots for backup speakers. We’ll try to find you a place and time to speak if you want to, but can’t guarantee it. We advise against challenging other speakers to combat for their slots as duelling has been illegal in the United Kingdom for some time.
All speakers have the right to feedback. Just mail speaker ops when you get your rejection/accept email and we’ll take care of this. Steve handles feedback personally. As such it sometimes takes a while to obtain and collate feedback for everyone.
Hopefully this should give you an insight into our process. If you have any questions or you haven’t heard from us (and have checked your spam folder), drop us an email and we’ll do our best.