2012 - evaluation and summary

It's been a bit longer than last time, but the time has come for a blog post that sums up the feedback we received for this years in Prague. Let's start out with the overall impressions:

We've actually managed to improve the over all impression slightly - last year had 51% giving us a rating of 5, and this year we got 57%. Event more important, we've kept the rate of people who are giving a score of 3 or lower at less than 1%. According to the numbers, the programme quality was slightly worse than last year - down to 65% giving it a rating of 5, vs 71% last year. We still have 97% giving 4 or 5 - up from 95% last year (well within the margin of error).

All in all, I think we can safely say "job well done" to all the people who worked on the conference - thanks for all your efforts!

We also had a bit more detailed questions about our audience this year.

(apologies for the badly truncated strings on some of the charts)

It is interesting to see that about half the attendees consider themselves primarily application developers, with "only" 28% seeing themselves as primarily DBAs. While we try to mix our schedule to fit both these groups (and others), this may be an interesting signal for those who are going to submit talks for next years conference.

I also find it interesting to know that as many as 20% of our attendees have the role of decision maker in their organization. It's hardly surprising that 68% are in the role of engineering/technical staff, but this is a clear sign that has grown to be much more than just a meet-up for developers.

Looking at the textual feedback on the general conference and the speakers and talks, a few notable comments stand out:

  • Many of people enjoy the valuable "hallway track", and speakers and fellow attendees who "actually know something about the PostgreSQL"
  • Many people note that they enjoy the "community nature" or "non-profit" nature of the conference - and the focus on the product rather than a company
  • The general quality and information level of the talks are very high

A few negative things noted, that we will have to try to work on for next year:

  • The skill-level rating on some talks were off. This is something that's submitted by the speaker, and maybe we need to find a process for reviewing and adjusting these.
  • Several people complained about the lack of amplifiers in two of the rooms on Wednesday. This was fixed by Thursday morning, and we do apologize for the problems it caused on Wednesday.
  • Likewise for air conditioning in the rooms, until the hotel staff managed to adjust it for better performance.
  • Availability of coffee and water only during the breaks. For next year, we are definitely going to look into an option that allows us to provide this all day and not just during the coffee breaks - but ultimately, it's a matter of cost.
  • A couple of complains about the weather being too foggy. Unfortunately, there is not too much we can do about that...

The level of our speakers came out as our usual high:

Naturally, the speakers are at the very core of the conference content, and we're very happy to be able to attract such a great crew of speakers. Not a single speaker scored less than 4 when it came to speaker knowledge - regardless of the level their talk was given at. A few speakers scored a bit lower when it came to quality, but still the general quality level was pretty high. And hopefully the knowledge of the speaker made up for the lack of speaking experience/skills in the few cases where those scored low.

So a big thanks to all our speakers for helping us keep a high level!

For those of you who've seen this blog post from me after previous years, you know that there are a couple of toplists to come. This is the first year when we had multiple speakers for the same session in several different sessions. It's worth noting that out feedback system has no way to give separate feedback to these speakers, so the score can be considered an average between the two speakers. This is something we should perhaps look into improving for next year.

For now, here are the highest scoring speakers we had based on speaker knowledge (as usual, I've only included speakers who had at least 5 votes):

Speaker Rating Vote count Standard deviation
Peter Geoghegan 4.9 34 0.2
Greg Smith 4.9 34 0.2
Alexander Korotkov 4.9 16 0.3
Magnus Hagander 4.9 30 0.3
Joe Celko 4.9 54 0.5
Bruce Momjian 4.9 54 0.4
Vincent Picavet 4.8 33 0.4
Dimitri Fontaine 4.8 29 0.4
Gianni Ciolli 4.8 29 0.4
Koichi Suzuki 4.8 19 0.4
Harald Armin Massa 4.8 17 0.6
Christophe Pettus 4.8 8 0.7
Pavel Stehule 4.8 12 0.5
Simon Riggs 4.7 52 0.5
Tatsuo Ishii 4.7 14 0.5
Andres Freund 4.7 28 0.5
Ed Boyajian 4.6 16 0.9
Tomas Vondra 4.6 8 0.5
Guillaume Lelarge 4.6 19 0.7

And the top speakers based on speaker quality:

Speaker Rating Vote count Standard deviation
Magnus Hagander 4.8 30 0.4
Gianni Ciolli 4.8 29 0.5
Harald Armin Massa 4.8 17 0.5
Will Leinweber 4.8 13 0.6
Bruce Momjian 4.7 55 0.6
Ed Boyajian 4.6 16 0.7
Simon Riggs 4.6 52 0.8
Dimitri Fontaine 4.6 29 0.7
Jonathan S. Katz 4.5 26 0.7
Joe Celko 4.5 54 0.9
Peter Geoghegan 4.5 34 0.6
Pavel Stehule 4.5 12 0.5
Greg Smith 4.5 34 0.6
Josh Berkus 4.4 7 0.5
Hans-Jürgen Schönig 4.4 16 0.7
Tomas Vondra 4.4 8 0.7
Andres Freund 4.4 28 0.8
Marc Balmer 4.3 15 0.6
Alexey Klyukin 4.3 6 0.5
Vincent Picavet 4.3 33 0.8
Christophe Pettus 4.3 8 1.4

That's all for now! We also had a lot of feedback questions about what to do next year, something I will follow up in a separate blog post soon.

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I speak at and organize conferences around Open Source in general and PostgreSQL in particular.


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