I had the opportunity to serve on the Program Committee for the 2010 PASS Summit. My job was rating and selecting abstracts for the Enterprise Database Administration and Deployment track. Steve Jones did a good job explaining how the process works in his post, Rating PASS Abstracts.
Overall I had a very good experience during the process. I have had the opportunity to select and schedule sessions for SQLSaturday before and that was actually a more painful process for me. The reason that was harder was because I WAS the committee and I had to put together the schedule. For this I was part of a team and I didn’t have to do any scheduling.
The hardest part of the process was having to “reject” some very good abstracts. I say “reject” because it wasn’t that the committee looked at the abstracts and said, “Nope not picking that one”, it is more of a process of rating and picking the top rated submissions while also providing a variety of topics and speakers. For instance the ratings were done on a scale of 1 to 10, and I don’t think there was an abstract I rated lower than a 6. The biggest tip I can give those of you planning on submitting an abstract next year is to make sure you provide a clear description of what you will cover and specific takeaways for the attendees.
The best part is getting a preview of what the Summit will be like this year, and I have to say, it’s looking very good.
Honestly, I think if you are looking for a way to become involved with PASS then being on the program committee is, in my opinion, a pretty painless way to do it. I spent about 2 hours a day for about 2 weeks working on rating abstracts and then we had a couple of conference calls to discuss how we wanted to work the ratings, to update on progress, and then to make the final selections. I didn’t really track my time because I enjoyed it so it didn’t seem like it took very long.