Wednesday 24 June 2009

FOSS4G abstract voting explained

A number of people from the OSGeo community have questioned whether the FOSS4G abstract selection could be unfairly biased or rigged through the community voting process. In particular, there were concerns with our last "tongue in cheek" communication suggesting authors encourage their friends to vote for their presentations. In retrospect, the message should have focused on inviting people to review all presentations and promoting FOSS4G.

However, to ally concerns about bias, we feel it is important to be transparent about the abstract selection process, which for the general track will be as follows:

  1. Call for abstracts, including promotion in a number of areas.
  2. Abstract submission deadline.
  3. Chase abstracts from a few presenters who had indicated they wanted to present but forgot to submit an abstract.
  4. Ask the community to rank abstracts.
  5. Abstract selection committee to review community rankings. Some minor adjustments may be made to:
    1. Ensure there is a suitable selection of presentations for each of the specific FOSS4G user groups: Techies, Government & Private CIOs, Academic, Regional delegates. It is expected that most voters will fall into the techie user group, while half the delegates will likely fit into the Regional and/or CIO group.
    2. Any obvious rigging should be avoided.
    3. Endeavor to avoid having duplicates of the same presentation, and possibly encourage presenters with similar topics to combine their presentations or change the slant of their presentation. We want to encourage a depth of presentations.
    4. Focus on the conference theme of "User Driven".

Information on how the academic papers will be assessed and selected can be found here:

The Open Source community has a reputation for honesty, trust and good will, which we expect will be prevalent throughout the FOSS4G conference. While we will be vigilant, we don't expect to see much blatant rigging of the voting system from the community.


Marty said...

What happens if I dont vote on all of the papers? Do the papers at the top of the list get an unfair advantage? I spent ages voting, but i'm sure i didnt get half way through.

Maybe the abstracts need to get divided up into subject, and people can choose to vote on a subject at a time.

Cameron Shorter said...


Abstracts are presented to reviewers in a random order, which means every abstract should receive a fair selection of reviewers, even if people don't review all abstracts.

Also note that the voting system remembers your votes, and allows you to come back at a later stage and continue reviewing from where you left off. (If you want to continue your review to the end).