2018 CFP Stats and Our CFP Process

This year was a very exciting year for many reasons.

I’m not sure if we have ever given insight into our CFP process, but I feel like this year we should. I’d also like to provide an explanation for the errors from last night.

The Process

Our CFP review is a blind review where the review committee has access to the title, abstract summary, and detailed outline. Reviewers issue a score between 1-5 for each submission, which is then fed into the master list and averaged out to determine which talk is accepted or not. We attempt to remove bias introduced by individual reviewers with some additional math. We add fractional points (via a multiplier) if the presenter has never spoken at BSidesSF before, and deduct fractional points if anyone on the review team feels the talk directly promotes a vendor’s product.

The Good

This year we are at a new and much larger location and are adding a third track, which means we can have more presenters! We accepted 47 talks this year, asked a few to be on standby in case a presenter doesn’t make the conference, and unfortunately had to pass on nearly 100 other submissions.

The Bad

It’s always difficult letting individuals know that their talk was not accepted, especially when we see the names. Sometimes that even means telling some close friends and colleagues that they won’t be presenting this year at your conference. This year was especially hard in that we had many really good talks that were just on the edge of being accepted.

The Ugly

Last night when we were sending out the acceptance, standby, and rejection notices, I made a mistake when executing the notification script and forgot to replace the email template used to the not-accepted template. This led to sending acceptance emails to the list of submissions that we were unable to accept this year due to volume and quality of submissions. The error was found within minutes and a correction email sent out. It was messy, and there is no excuse. I feel terrible for the confusion and possible pain I caused to those that received an initial acceptance email to then be told minutes later that they will not be presenting this year. We’re going to be making changes to our process for future years to prevent such incidents.

We appreciate the community support and understanding through this mistake and are looking forward to the best BSidesSF yet! The BSidesSF conference is 100% volunteer run by people that love the local security community. For those we accepted in error, we deeply regret our mistake, and you will be hearing from us again shortly. We hope to see everyone in April!

~ will CFP Chair BSidesSF 2018