We are doing this with the 110 people who left their contacts for us when we called for collaboration and a selection of others we find we would like to consider (e.g. mentions from those who submitted), totaling somewhere around 150 discussions. We do most of this paired to make sure we hear from a tester and a developer perspective.
While the hours sound high, we feel this is an investment into a wider scope of things that just the immediate selection. We don't think of it as interview, but we approach it as a discovery session. We discover similar and different interests and viewpoints, to build a balanced program of practical value that is raising the bar of software testing.
150 people means somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 talks. And the conference program for 2018 fits 14.
I've been delighted with each and every discussion, getting to know what people feel so strongly on that they want to share them in a conference. I've learned that two thirds of people I would never select based on the text they submit, but that I can get excited on their talks when I speak with them. Some would become better with a little guidance. Sometimes the guidance we fit into the 15 minutes is enough to make them better.
Most of the calls end up with "I already see stronger proposals in the same category" or "We'll keep you on list to see how that category builds as we continue doing the calls". Today's call was the first one where we ended with "Welcome to European Testing Conference 2018 as a speaker".
The call was how I think of a collaboration call at its best. This time a 1st time speaker had submitted a title (with remark 'working title') and an abstract of two sentences. As they went through the talk proposal, it sounded exactly as many others: how testers can provide value other than programming. At one point of the story, half a sentence was something like "I introduced them (programmers) to heuristics and oracles" with explanation around it making it obvious this lesson was well received and useful. In the end we told what we heard - a story that was relevant and shared by many. And a piece that should be a talk in its own right.
With a bit of collaboration, that piece around heuristics seemed to take form. And knowing what is on the list to consider as the call is closed, this is the thing we want to show - testing as testers think of it. Practical, improving our craft.
It's a talk that would not exist without this 15 minute call.It's still open if that talk will be seen, as anything that emerges that suddenly deserves a thinking time, especially for the presenter. We would never want to get people committing to talks that they don't own themselves. And many of us need introspection through quiet time.
I just wish I had 150 slots available to share the best out of every one of these unique people we get to talk to. So much knowledge, and wonderful stories of how the lessons have been learned.