MySQL Conference 2008 CfP Review: my list of 10

I’m reviewing proposals, that have come in when we made the CfP for the MySQL Conference & Expo 2008, and I’ve noticed some bugs in the CfP process. So let me take a break, gripe, and go back to the grindstone. I wish more people read the instructions for CfP submission (I’m even referring to you experienced presenters, might I add).

Via the CfP page, it says be creative, descriptive, and specific. I delve into this a little more, and add some of my thoughts.

  1. Be creative – sure, a catchy title helps, but I personally review everything, even if you have the world’s most boring title
  2. Be descriptive – please, heed to this. Don’t tell me that you’re going to expand on the abstract if its accepted, and don’t tell me to trust you that the content will be good. All these send my internal reviewer radar off the charts, and make me very worried.
  3. Be specific – that means, no vague proposals. That means, being descriptive (refer above). I don’t care if your English language skills aren’t up to scratch, because believe it or not, I read every word – so I’m not expecting that you have a literary masterpiece in the first paragraph that makes me want to continue reading the next 5 paragraphs.
  4. Buzzwords are famous these days. Acronyms. All this alphabet soup, it does not impress me. If you are using them, be very specific about what it is you’re going to talk about.
  5. If you’re going to talk about something that even isn’t public yet, this worries me. Similarly, while I know its fun to release new software at an event (I’ve watched as software gets released live, at the end of the talk), this must be for already existing software, not something that’s going to make its first release at the conference. I have trust issues, I mentioned this up there at #2.
  6. If you’ve given a talk previously, about a technology you’re familiar with, and claim to have magical updates/extensions by next year, with nothing really in the form of any buzz around it till say early-November 2007 (i.e. when the CfP’s generally close), this worries me.
  7. The magic words “performance tuning” and “benchmarks” by now, you all know is a crowd puller. Abuse of these words make me cringe. Simply, don’t. And if you are, make sure your abstracts are so descriptively tuned and specific.
  8. On an important note, that I’m stealing directly from, I think I should make it clear that I don’t recognise the concept of “status” and rock stars. Maybe you’ll be a rock star after the MySQL Conference.
  9. Stealing from Apple, Think Different. Maybe this is like being creative. People aren’t going to come listen to you reiterate your blog entries, but those entries surely help people come see you talk. So market yourself appropriately (because I use the ever-powerful Yahoo! and sometimes Google search engines if I don’t know you well). Show that you’re a thought leader in your area of expertise.
  10. Lists are so much better when there are 10 tips. So, yeah, submit a proposal, already!

So, if you haven’t submitted a talk yet, the CfP process closes October 30 2007. If you have submitted a proposal, and want to heed my advice of expanding upon it, I’d strongly advice that. Lastly, these words are my own (I don’t have control if your talk gets approved or not, and I’m not speaking for the others on the voting committee, I just vote, and arguably, rant here), and there probably are a dozen other folk that you have to convince (to get a vote in), besides just me. Baron has a good piece on this, read it if you haven’t. Chocolate (or good scotch) works for me, also ;-)

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  1. James Farmer says:

    Heh, you ought to try organising an academic conference one of these days!

    Do I get the feeling that all of your points could be summed up by saying simply: “Be Interesting… Please” :D

  2. Stealing Colin’s audience:)

    As a fellow member of the same committee, I can endorse every item of this list and I may be even nastier than Colin.
    If you are a rock star, be aware that I am very pick on my choice of music.
    If your proposal refers to your last song, be aware that I may not recognize the tune.
    Since I grew up in the countryside, I find alphabet soup difficult to swallow.
    If you have submitted a proposal with just one line of description, now it’s time to edit it and put some substance to your abstract, if you want to rescue it from the bottom of the pit.
    OTOH, if your proposal is well described, the topic is relevant, and it is not a copycat of what you did last year, you can count on my vote.

    Submit! Submit! Submit!

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  6. Colin,

    So what if I say “Trust me, I’ll bring good scotch and chocolate to the MySQL Users Conference”??


    Just kidding.

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