XP Day 2005

November in London is the time of frosty mornings, rainy evenings, fireside drinks in cosy pubs and XP Day. As ever, the byline is "More than XP. More than one day." There are two days and three tracks of sessions on all sorts of topics, an open space where anybody can hold forth or create a poster and two fascinating keynote speakers, Tim Lister and William Gaver. XP Day sells out early, so if you want to come you'll have to register soon.

This is my second (and last) year as co-programme chair. Last year the submission and review process was a lot of work - presenters submitted session proposals to the chairs by email and the whole programme committee read and reviewed them before the chairs collated the reviews and responded to every submission. This year I was determined to do something to reduce the workload.

Luckily I met up with the organisers of Benelux XP Day at SPA who suggested using a wiki for both submissions and reviews, and using a fully open peer-review process in which everyone who submitted sessions also had to review those submitted by others. This mostly worked very well. The only drawback was that presenters from non-technical backgrounds were put off by having to use wiki markup. I can see their point; I don't like it either. Next year we might try to use a WYSIWYG wiki engine or let submissions be uploaded in Word format.

I think the system worked especially well during the review phase because each review was short, didn't need any markup and the wiki engine had explicit support for discussing articles. We gave every potential presenter 5 votes that they could assign to other sessions as they saw fit. We chose this scheme because we expected that people would only give favourable reviews because every review is signed by the reviewer and can be read by the reviewee. In practice this is what happened, but because people allocated their votes to different submissions we got a good idea about the relative popularity of different submissions and could concentrate on creating a balanced programme from the most popular.

Another advantage of the new submission and review process is that I've had time to prepare a session for this year. I will be running a workshop on what to do Before Iteration Zero with Steve Freeman. I hope to see you there.

Copyright © 2005 Nat Pryce. Posted 2005-11-14. Share it.