Ruby Conf India 2011 – The Good, Bad and the Ugly

I delayed my post on RubyConfIndia 2011 roundup for a reason! There are plenty of good blog posts doing a round-up of RubyConfIndia here and most of the presentation here.

No point re-inventing the wheel or saying the same things again – However, I thought I would write differently – things that liked about the conference, things that I did not like and things that could have been better!

In typical Ola style — the good, the bad and the ugly 😉

The Good

+2 The organization! All sessions started on time, all speakers were warned about delays and time was respected. The registration process was smooth and the volunteers were very helpful!

+2 The keynote speakers! They were excellent. Needless to say Yahuda, Matz, Ola, Nick and Chad are very good speakers and kept the audience entertained.

+2 The wifi!It was exceptional. For catering to about 400 people (this time there were a LOT more people connected on twitter and IRC), the infrastructure was excellent.

+1 The audience! There were a lot of professionals and companies participating and that kept the Q&A sessions interactive and interesting.

+1 The food! brilliant management and menu. There were more counters and no lengthy queues.

+1 Matz & Chad. The Pre-recorded video of Matz was nice but I was impressed with Chad Fowler making a live video conference. It was very well done.

0 Topics! I give an ‘Ok’ to the topics this year. Some were REALLY good and some were REALLY bad.

I am not usually vociferous on Twitter and I apologize — but when it hurts it, hurts! I know its not good to bad-mouth any speakers but some topics could definitely have been better prepared. People want to see demos if you have a technical topic. People want examples of how to do things rather than preaching about what to do. Humor was missing (except from Brain Guthrie’s talks. He takes the cake!) Nick’s closing key-note took a humorous twist around kids and ruby — it was totally unintentional but very funny.

Some topics were awesome and I enjoyed them! To mention a few I attended – the Ruby Object Model by Karthik, CoffeeScript by Nicolás Sanguinetti, MacRuby by Mark Madsen, Test Load Balancer by Janmejay and Pavan and High Throughput by Sherin. I did miss a few other good topics but I do plan on checking out the videos.

The bad

-1 Students missing among the audience! I was really surprised that there were only a handful of students in the audience.  Maybe we should have some free passes or subsidized passes for students.

-1 Company Branding! Too much company branding on conference material. We need to promote the conference not the sponsors! If I have to wear the T-shirt, I want to showcase RubyConfIndia and not the sponsors.

-1 Snacks and drinks! Considering the larger response among sponsors and audience, I would think that there should be a steady stream of coffee, soft-drinks and some snacks all day long. Yes! I agree that I dont have much insight into the accounts and expenditure — hmm.. I wonder why that isn’t made public anyway.

-1 Post conference party. Where was it? A party with beer on the house, gives every delegate a chance to meet, chat and relax with speakers and their idols. This is always an excellent way to loosen up and have a good time!

The ugly

-2 Proposal selection process! The undercurrent in RubyConfIndia was that a lot of topics were given to speakers from the sponsors. While I agree that the selection process was exclusively done by Ola and Chad (and no-one ever doubts their judgment), I do believe that the selection process should be made more public.

Ola and Chad cannot possibly gauge what an Indian audience would want and whom they wish to hear.  I believe the selection process should be more open — have a look at Red Dirt RubyConf voting process.

(Update) This was JEG2’s response (the man behind Red Dirt RubyConf):

Publc Voting Process for CFPs

-2 Missing Lightening Talks or BOF (Birds of a feature) sessions. Considering there were 70 proposals and only 16 selected, there is indeed a lot more interest to present. Why not keep 5 minutes talk sessions for 1 hour on each day – That way at least 15 more people get the stage!

-2 Missing workshops. I wonder why there were no pre-conference workshops. People come here to learn or to teach. A pre-conference workshop is usually very popular

To conclude, I enjoyed this year’s RubyConf – I do hope to see it in Pune next year and I am definitely going to try be a part of organizing it! Lets hear from you folks now!

6 thoughts on “Ruby Conf India 2011 – The Good, Bad and the Ugly

  1. Hi Gautam,

    Nice summary! I agree to some, disagree to some (naturally).

    – I do think we should not resort to public voting on talk proposals. It is one sure way of discouraging new speakers. Panel goes a long way to selecting decent talks. But I do agree that the whole process should probably be more public.
    – The idea of Lightening Talks is really good! That should certainly be considered in the next year’s conference.
    – I also agree about the topics. I wanted a more mix of intermediate and advanced talks. But I think we are getting there.


  2. I totally agree with you on “The undercurrent in RubyConfIndia was that a lot of topics were given to speakers from the sponsors.”. This was the case in 2010 too.

    I too hope that it’s Pune for 2012 and Matz makes it as promised to me in Singapore!!

  3. I was more disappointed with the negative undercurrents than with the selection of topics. The selections were mostly good and there would inevitably be some talks in every conference that will not be well received by the audience. There’s not much chance of public voting improving the selection of talks.

    Lightning talks and workshops are a great idea, though. Hopefully those would be there next year, as well as the post conference party; I was surprised there was no opportunity to meet other Rubyists after the conference.

    1. Yes – undercurrents are always bad — but maybe its because there were too many proposals and too less slots, so more disappointments ( 2 of my proposals were also rejected – LoL )

      Lightening talks would definitely help – more people get the stage!

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