Earlier today we saw https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/80898/how-do-you-ask-or-get-asked-to-speak-at-a-software-conference asked and subsequently closed as "not a real question".

It's gathered 2 reopen votes already and I personally believe it deserves to be reopened.

Looking at the highest voted answer in this question here on Meta, I think the question fits most of the criteria:

Is it interesting to programmers in general?

I think so, provided they're the type of programmers who want to speak at a conference.

Would answers be significantly different without "for programmers" added?

Some answers would be more general, but I think there are enough development-specific things that could be pulled in.

While it is true that other professions have conferences, I doubt, for example, that a speaker at an economics conference has to attend a local user group or create an open source project to become more known in their field.

Does the addition of "for programmers" seem like more than just an afterthought?

"Software" was edited into the question by request, but I don't think it's unreasonable to say that a question about conferences on a programming-themed site is about software conferences and not, say, knitting.

Will the question produce useful and/or interesting discussion?

I think so. I think many developers are focused on their own jobs and daily tasks and might think that speaking at a conference is for other people. They might not consider the fact that they, too, have a lot to offer to the community and that presenting doesn't have to be intimidating or only done by the big names in the industry.

Does this question make the internet better?

See above, I think so. As a developer, reading the answers given to that question, I could also extrapolate beyond conferences and see how I could improve the soft side of my career in addition to eventually improving technical skills.

I think the question could be expanded a bit to include something like asking what sort of preparation (at the technical level) is required for presenting at a software conference, but even as it is now, I think it should be reopened.


  • @Anna I doubt, for example, that a speaker at an economics conference... Any speaker, regardless of profession would have to achieve some local recognition, and one way would be to participate some informal local group. A good example of a lug-like group that transcends computer nerds is OpenCoffee. All my other examples are too localized, and would be too Greek for the discussion. As for an "participating to open source projects", I think one direct analogy to other fields would be publishing papers.
    – yannis
    Jun 2, 2011 at 2:35
  • @Yannis There will always be analogies between different fields. That doesn't make a question entirely irrelevant, especially if those analogies aren't entirely direct: participating in an open source project is completely different from publishing a paper. Though I agree with your overall point about needing to gain recognition, I think the ways in which one would do that in a software world would be sufficiently different.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:21
  • @Anna The practicalities of contributing to a floss project are of course quite different than publishing papers, but isn't the mentality and some of the mechanics quite similar? Can't we translate "contribute to a floss project" directly as "contribute working knowledge to whichever open community is applicable to your field?". And publishing papers in research related fields does involve community mechanics (peer reviews etc).
    – yannis
    Jun 2, 2011 at 3:54
  • @Anna Also, imho, participating in a floss project should be expanded to something like participate in a public and outspoken way to be relevant to the question. I think that conference organizers will prefer to invite the project's public figures (well versed advocates, bloggers, BDFLs) rather than let's say the top code commiters. Torvalds is more likely to be invited to speak for git, rather than Junio Hamano. So if the floss advice in itself is actually more about public engagement than software development, isn't it off topic?
    – yannis
    Jun 2, 2011 at 4:12
  • @Yannis I think speaking at a conference would be a potentially significant part of a developer's professional growth. Sure, big name conferences gravitate towards more famous people, but there are smaller events too that could be quite valuable. We can generalize many things to become so vague that they're no longer relevant to programmers, but we do have to draw the line somewhere and avoid doing that. "Participate in a public and outspoken way" is factually correct, but unhelpful, since it covers the what but not the how. And it's the latter that I think makes it on topic.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 2, 2011 at 4:20
  • @Anna I think speaking at a conference would be a potentially significant part of a developer's professional growth. That's undeniable, but it's true for every professional. Anyways, this starts to feel like a debate for just the first of the many points you make, sorry about that. I'm not yet set either way on the real question at hand, and I'm not even 100% convinced by my own arguments, I'm still trying to formulate an opinion and I'm being intentionally vague. To put it simply: I have a feeling I agree with you on reopening the question, but not a solid opinion yet.
    – yannis
    Jun 2, 2011 at 4:30
  • @Yannis Yeah, I agree that it applies to multiple professions, but that's only a part of the criteria. The other part is determining whether the answers could be significantly different and I think they could be. Thanks for speaking up here. I appreciate the discussion. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jun 2, 2011 at 4:55

3 Answers 3


Every profession has its professional conferences. I believe, however, that statements like "the answer is the same as for any conference" may hide the possibilities that there are aspects of conferences that are unique to programming or apply to a small number of professions, including programming.

Discussing such aspects in the answers can definitely help the original poster and is programming specific. Therefore, I believe this is an on-topic question.

Examples of such aspects could be:

Open space. This is yet another low-barrier-of-entry venue where the conference agenda is set dynamically, just-in-time, and anyone can propose a session and lead it. I have been to open-space conferences and have not heard of this concept's being used outside the software development community.

Fast pace of learning. Conference speakers - in all professions - tend to be people who were the first to discover and master something and now they are on stage enlightening the rest of us. They are at the cutting edge. The important question is, how fast does the cutting edge move? In many professions, not very fast, so your potential as a conference speaker depends more on your established status. But, in programming, you can fall really behind in less than a year, so your potential depends mostly on your continued drink-from-a-firehose professional learning.

Unique events such as code- and demo-camps that you can use to promote yourself. (Unique to programming, that is; I have not heard of, say, schoolteachers' demo camps.)

The above highlights are debatable, of course. Responders can also find more examples than I presented here. Such debate and more examples can be just part of normal, keep-in-mind-we're-talking-about-programming-here discussion that is within the site guidelines and can help the original poster. We need to reopen the question to let such discussion continue.


I personally think this could work, but it doesn't help that the question is so short.

For one thing, there's no rationale; invite answerers to explain why the OP thinks it could be beneficial to a programmer to speak at a software conference -- not just how:


All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. How do we define that?

Constructive subjective questions …

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  • tend to have long, not short, answers.
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

I'm not seeing this question do much of the above, primarily because it is so short that it provides zero guidance to potential answerers.

  • The question was closed as not a real question, your answer seems to suggest that is should be closed, but as not constructive. If so, I'm all for that, I consider the reason a valuable training tool towards better questions, not mere semantics.
    – yannis
    Jun 2, 2011 at 5:09
  • 1
    I am not sure how much more content I could provide. I am not asking why it is beneficial. It's clearly beneficial to help and to be recognized among your peers. I am asking what needs to be done to be able to be invited to talk at programming conference. I find the question I asked can be answered in the following way, what things a person did that lead up to a conference speaking invitation, based on experiences.
    – myusuf3
    Jun 2, 2011 at 13:36
  • @dustyprogrammer: why did you vote to close your own question?
    – azheglov
    Jun 2, 2011 at 16:53
  • 1
    @dustyprogrammer: you wrote 4 lines here that make sense. Why can't you turn your one-line question into a five-line question: better, inviting good answers and letting programmers to learn from?
    – azheglov
    Jun 2, 2011 at 16:54

not specific to programmers; the answer is the same as for any conference: bribe someone submit a proposal and apply, be known by the conference audience, do something to get the attention of the audience and organizers, bribe someone talk to people about it, pimp yourself sell them on the benefits of having you speak, write a best-selling book in the appropriate niche...

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