Congrats to Everyone in Our First #RSAC Crowdsource Program, We Learned a Lot

The wait is over. We now have a slate of crowdsource sessions. Congratulations to everyone who participated in this inaugural program. We experimented with a new way of selecting educational sessions. We took a risk, and it was an exciting roller coaster ride.

With a diverse—and vocal!—Program Committee by my side, we approached this experiment with the following tenets:

  1. Provide a lighter weight submission option closer to Conference
  2. Give everyone a voice, involving both the broader security community as well as attendees who register late, by utilizing an easy and open voting process to encourage participation
  3. Anticipate the process to be “self policing”
  4. Pass all submissions straight through with no editing, providing transparency to the types of submissions RSA Conference receives and hopefully motivating submitters not to sell or market
  5. Stipulate one vote/person, trusting scout’s honor to be followed
  6. Provide a fail-safe to #2-5 above, using the Program Committee to make the final picks, informed by popular vote and bound by the submission criteria, to assure that the content presented met our promise to our attendees of no sales content in educational tracks content

We asked for ideas, and you responded overwhelmingly. We put 169 submissions up for vote and had fantastic engagement with the community. We know that many of you really did read through every single submission and voted for your favorites. And we definitely heard from you that you value educational content and won’t tolerate marketing or sales pitches on any of the tracks. Through this process, you experienced a little bit of what the full Program Committee for RSA Conference goes through each year, sifting through evaluations, research, and recommendations.

In the end, more than 900 unique registered RSA Conference attendees logged in and voted. The #RSAC twittersphere exploded with crowdsource chatter. The voting block extended beyond our registered attendees and the larger security community engaged. The crowdsource word cloud alone reveals some interesting things. It was exciting to watch.

Crowdsourced Track
We also learned—a lot. We learned it is impossible to have an open voting system that won't lead to gaming. We knew it was a risk going in, but we hoped the system would self-correct. Since it didn’t, here are some of our proposed changes for next year. 

  1. Speakers: You will be allowed to submit only one session for crowdsource track consideration.
  2. All of the submissions will first be reviewed by the Program Committee, who will select the finalists for crowdsource vote. The community will vote on the curated list.
  3. The voting system and weighting will be reviewed.

Feedback is welcome as we evaluate Crowdsource 2.0 for next year. We want this program to evolve so that we can meet the individual needs and interests of our attendees. We applaud all of the participants—both submitters and reviewers—in the first year of the crowdsource program. Thank you for trying something new with us and giving us feedback, and don't stop telling us what you would like to see.

For our finalists—congratulations! You still need to pass the bar of our judges as they review your submission before you get to stand at the podium at RSA Conference in just a couple days. These checks and balances let us keep our promise to our attendees to provide quality education.

Posted on April 7, 2015

Britta Glade

by Britta Glade

RSA Security

USA 2015

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