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SQLRally Pre-Con Selection Process – Draft for Comment

SQLRally Winner

Hopefully you’ve heard by now that PASS is launching a new event format called SQLRally in May 2011 in Orlando. It will be a two day conference, preceded by one day of seminars. Because it’s a new format, we can – if we choose – build a new process for how we pick these seminars. I wrote the draft below after reading some notes about the Summit process and some conversations with Jack Corbett and Kendal Van Dyke, trying to make it more open, more democratic, but still recognizing the fiscal realities of picking seminars. We will be paying these speakers, and in turn attendees will be paying to attend these seminars. That means we may have to exclude some topics that lack broad enough appeal, and that is ultimately a value judgment.

My hope is that we can do this and announce the five seminar speakers at the Summit at the same time we open registration. The reason for that is to generate some buzz around the event, to give potential attendees something to show the boss while we work on the really hard part, selecting the speakers for the conference. That means we’ve got a short timeline if we want to make that goal.

As I write this I’m struck that it’s hard to figure out where to start. Who gets to write this draft? Who approves it? As we’ve modeled SQLRally it’s a partnership between PASS HQ, the Board of Directors, and the local chapter, so I think ultimately it’s fair to have them make the final decision. But we don’t want to make that decision without a discussion with the community, so that brings us to this post today.

I hope you’ll comment on this process, and try to see it not just from one view point. Eventually we’ll settle on something, we’ll try it, and then we’ll revisit it afterwards to make changes for the next time. I don’t expect we’ll get it all right the first time, but it won’t be for lack of trying!

And now, the draft….




Pre-Conference Seminar Proposal

Note: This is a draft. We encourage those interested in submitting a proposal to begin work based on this draft, understanding that there may be changes as we go through the discussion process.


PASS is accepting applications to for three full day (7 hours each) seminars and two half day (3.5 hours each) to be delivered on May 10, 2011 at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. Applications will be reviewed by the selection committee and winners notified not later than October 29, 2010, with the official announcement of accepted seminars being made at the 2010 PASS Summit.


Our biggest goal is to select a set of seminars that will be interesting to a broad set of main conference attendees and that will be perceived as worthy of the additional expense. The second goal is to grow the next generation of seminar speakers for the Summit (Note: being selected for a SQLRally seminar does not imply or guarantee acceptance as a seminar speaker at the Summit).


Presenters must meet the following requirements to be considered:

  • Have not been selected to present a pre/post seminar at the 2010 PASS Summit
  • Be available to present the seminar on May 11, 2011
  • Be available to attend the entire conference on May 12-13, 2011 and deliver a one hour presentation (subject to session acceptance)
  • Meet at least one of the following:
    • Be a current SQL Server MVP
    • Have been selected as a primary or alternate speaker at the 2009 or 2010 PASS Summit or similar sized event
    • Have taught a full day course on SQL Server previously
    • Submit a complete application prior to the deadline by midnight on Sep 30, 2010 (Pacific time)
    • Agree to the confidentiality provisions of this document (not complete)


Presenters will be paid $2000 for presenting a full day seminar, or $1000 for a half day seminar, and will be granted complimentary admission (non-transferrable) to the main conference. Presenters are responsible for their own expenses.

Abstract Review Process

The selection committee will be comprised of one representative from PASS HQ, one representative from the PASS Board of Directors, one representative from the SQLRally partner Chapter, plus three community members. Each abstract will be review to make sure it meets the qualifications listed above, those that do not will be declined and the submitter notified. Eligible abstracts will be scored using the criteria in Appendix A. The top three abstracts in each category will be selected to proceed to the community voting round.

Note: We have not decided on how to choose the three community members. One method would be to randomly select a chapter leader, a previous pre-con speaker, and a community member from a pool of applicants. Too bulky?

Selection Process

PASS HQ will announce the candidate abstracts/presenters by October 7th and open community voting for a period of 2 weeks. The abstract with the most votes in each category will be selected as the winner. Ties will be decided by the Selection Committee.

Winners will be notified by email and required to confirm their final acceptance within 7 days. In the event that any winner cannot be contacted, the Selection Committee may void the selection and pick the abstract from that category with the next highest number of votes.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts must be prepared using the provided form and submitted to PASS HQ not later than midnight on Sep 30, 2010 (Pacific time). Candidates may only submit one abstract for consideration. Candidates who submit multiple abstracts will be disqualified. Candidates are encourage to put as much detail in to the application as possible, it both aids the Selection Committee and provides a strong basis for building the advertising material that will be used to market it if accepted.


It is our intention to stick as closely as possible to this document for the selection process, but this document does not cover every eventuality. In the event that the Event Team decides to deviate from the process outlined above, they will explain at the time the winners are announced why the change was necessary.

Appendix A – Seminar Scoring

NOTE: Huge gap here, looking for help!

1. Speaking qualifications

2. Community name recognition

3. Overall quality of application

4. Broad Community Interest in Topic?

5. Community Participation



Appendix B – Seminar Application Form

Part 1 – Presenter Data

1. Full Name

2. Mailing Address

3. Email Address

4. Primary Phone

5. LinkedIn URL

6. Twitter Handle

7. Blog URL

8. Biography (300 words max)

9. Is MVP

10. Is MS Employee

11. Basis for qualification

    1. Current MVP
    2. Past Summit presenter
    3. Teaching experience

12. Details of presenting experience (list event/topic/paid or free)

13. Links to video demonstrating presentation skills (minimum 1 required)

14. Details of community participation not listed in item #12 above

15. References

Part 2 – Abstract

1. Title

2. Length

a. Full Day

b. Half Day

3. Summary (300 words)

4. Suggested pre-requisite knowledge, if any

5. Skill Level

a. Beginner

b. Intermediate

c. Expert

6. Category

a. BI

b. DBA

c. Developer

d. Misc

7. List 5 skills that attendees will take home

8. Seminar outline

a. Broken down into one hour modules

b. List high level discussion points

c. List planned demos


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Grant Fritchey on 1 September 2010

Hey Andy, Interesting stuff. Since I was hoping to apply for one of the seminar's, I'll respond but it's going to be a bit self-serving.

"Have taught a full day course on SQL Server previously" Would that be a public or private full day course. Because the chances that you'll get someone who is 1) an MVP, 2) not presented a seminar at PASS and still meet this requirement from a public course probably just cut your pool down considerably. For example, I'm out.

"Submit a complete application prior to the deadline by midnight on Sep 30, 2010"

Considering we're right in the middle of all the conferences, etc., this is going to put the pressure on people who, up to now, may have only been considering a run at this.

"randomly select..."

And hope that these individuals will actually deliver on the task required. Yikes. From the stories I've heard about the nominating committee it's hard enough getting people to work who self-select, let alone get an email that says "You may already be a winner..."

For the grading:

6. Demonstrated knowledge of the subject in question

Other than these bits & pieces, I like it. The anticipated delivery date seems awfully short unless there's already been a list of possible people contacted who have already been getting their abstracts put together. Other than that (and the fact that I'm eliminated), I like it. Seems like a reasonable approach to getting this done but in a different way.

Posted by Jack Corbett on 1 September 2010


You aren't eliminated.  You only have to meet one of the requirements listed, not all.  You are a current MVP and have been selected to speak at both the 2009 and 2010 Summit.  So you meet the requirements.  Now it's just a matter of putting together the application in 4 weeks time.

Posted by Andy Warren on 1 September 2010

Sorry about the formatting, Jack has it right - as he usually does!

Posted by Andy Warren on 1 September 2010

I'll look at the dates again. Tough call, if we move out further makes community voting hard if we want done for announcement at Summit. We'll think on that.

Posted by Grant Fritchey on 1 September 2010

So if I just sign the agreement I'm good to go?

Sorry, couldn't help but repeat Karen Lopez (@datachick) tweet.

Posted by Klaus Aschenbrenner on 7 September 2010


When it is possible to submit proposals for the pre/post-con workshops of SQLRally?



Posted by Andy Warren on 7 September 2010

Klaus, I'm hoping to release the final application by end of day today (Sep 7). I'll post a note here, plus a new post here and on the PASS blog when we have it ready. Good luck with the application!

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