By the Community, For the Community…?

While reading on Twitter, I saw this post:

#dddsw DDD South West 3 Call For Speakers closes in 2 days time (Tuesday) http://bit.ly/hHW555less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Being active in Cleveland’s technical community and in the Heartland District, I’m always curious to see what other communities are doing. I had seen DDD references before from some of the people I follow, so I figured I’d check out DDD South West. While the Developer Developer Developer! conference sounds cool, their call for speakers makes me wonder.

Here are the requirements for 60 minute sessions:

  • You must be resident in the UK/Ireland or an active member of the UK/Ireland community
  • You must not be a Full Time Employee of Microsoft (DDD South West is “By The Community, For The Community”)
  • Your session must not promote a non-Microsoft commercial product/service if you work for or are directly associated with the company/organisation that sells the product/service (unless there is a free version and your presentation is primarily about the free version)

It seems odd that DDD South West is excluding Full Time Employees of Microsoft (and only Microsoft) from submitting talks. Sure, they go on to say that the session shouldn’t promote a non-Microsoft commercial product or service either. But really… why are they going so far as to explicitly say no Microsoft FTEs? And why do they go on to say “By The Community, For The Community” after saying that Full Time Employees of Microsoft can’t submit talks? Are Microsoft employees not allowed to be a part of the community? This just doesn’t make sense.

It seems fairly assinine to say “You must not be a Full Time Employee of {insert a company name here}” and then say “By The Community, For The Community”. Are people who work for companies not allowed to be a part of the community? Is there something about a particular company’s FTEs that really would need to exclude them from a community?

What kills me even more is that they link to Scott Hanselman as a resource to check out on “how to present in public”. Did they not get the memo that Scott is a FTE of Microsoft? Oh yeah… and Microsoft is a sponsor backing this behavior? What the…? Again, that just doesn’t make sense.

What a confusing message to send to potential website visitors. 🙁

2 thoughts on “By the Community, For the Community…?

  1. Michael Foord says:

    This seems overly harsh. Part of the goal of DDD is to give speaking opportunities to people who wouldn’t otherwise find it easy. Certainly within the .NET community the *perception* is that most presentation of Microsoft technologies are done by Microsoft employees (many of whom are *paid* to promote Microsoft technologies as a primary function of their job).

    A community event that gives opportunities to new speakers, and demonstrates that there *is* a community outside of those paid to promote these technologies, seems like a valuable idea and an effective way to grow the community.

    • sarah says:

      While it seems overly harsh, at the same time, as an event organizer, I wouldn’t be out there telling one of my sponsors that they couldn’t send speakers. Most of their other sponsors also have evangelists and developers who are compensated (monetarily or by providing their tools free of charge or something along those lines) who could very well do the same thing a Microsoft employee that is *paid* to speak on it could do. That perception needs to be shattered, as not all Microsoft employees are marketing shills who talk only about Microsoft technologies.

      While I understand it’d be a great way of giving opportunities to new speakers, I think the DDD crew honestly went about it the wrong way. Again, singling out FTEs of a particular company (and just one company out of all the companies out there) just seems asinine to me. Just come out and say “We would love to see new speakers and will give preference to new speakers if their abstracts are of interest to us.” rather than excluding one company’s FTEs.

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