For several years now, I've replied to CFPs from OSCON, submitting different open source topics. Unfortunately, year after year I receive the same boiler-plate reply:

The response to our Call for Proposals was overwhelming this year. We received over X proposals, a record number for us and far more than we can possibly accommodate in the program.

We had intense competition for speaking slots, and we unfortunately have to turn away many strong proposals. We take this as an exciting signal of the demand for OSCON, but it also means we had some hard decisions to make in putting together the program.

We're still working out a few loose ends in the program, but unfortunately this proposal was not selected for inclusion.

I have tried finding the criteria for selection, but I'm at a loss:

  • Quality of the proposal: I always posted an original proposal for OSCON. After it was refused, I reused the proposal for other events, such as Tech Startup Days, Java One, Devoxx,... More often than not the same proposal was accepted at that other event.
  • Seasoned speaker: I am a mentor at the Founder Institute (about IP and Legal). I presented talks at Java One, Devoxx, T-DOSE, Startups.be, PDF Days, PDF Technical Conference,... I know how to entertain an audience.
  • Open Source Champion: I am the original developer of iText, a successful open source PDF library. I accrued 29K+ reputation points on StackOverflow.
  • Expert: I wrote two books for Manning publications. I am a member of the ISO committees for PDF. I've won Deloitte's Fast 50 competition in Belgium (ranking 28th place in the EMEA region),...
  • Experience: I wrote my first open source library in 1998. I founded 5 companies, 4 of which still exist. I succeeded in creating a profitable open source business.

Granted: this list doesn't exactly sound modest, but I'd expect that all of these "achievements" are relevant in the context of choosing a speaker. Would I have a better chance at being selected for a talk at OSCON if I submitted a talk anonymously?

Being a speaker at OSCON is one of those items that I just don't succeed in checking off from my bucket list.

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    I knew your name somehow rang a bell. iText is great, thanks for that! I think the question has enough open source connection to be on-topic, but let's see how others think about it. – Mnementh Jun 27 '15 at 10:09
  • If I would ask this question in Belgium, it would be down voted because whenever I tell people who I am they say I'm bragging too much. I am banned for life from the Dutch Wikipedia, because I posted too many business-related topics. – Bruno Lowagie Jun 27 '15 at 10:12
  • @Zizouz212 Only from the Dutch version. I still have my account on the English version. The problem with the Dutch version is that the moderators are Dutch and that they discriminate the Flemish (that is: the Dutch-speaking Belgians). – Bruno Lowagie Jun 27 '15 at 12:45
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    @trichoplax I don't think which users are registered on a site should decide whether a question is closed or not. – svick Jun 27 '15 at 14:43
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    @svick I see your point. I'm still not certain it is on topic but you could raise it on meta to see if the community wishes to reopen it. – trichoplax Jun 27 '15 at 14:53

I understand the situation you must be going through however...

By the announcement they released it sounds like no matter how good you are at the topic it may not make a difference. Where they said

a record number for us and far more than we can possibly accommodate

It made it sound like they had an overflow of applicants and they couldn't have fully read / accepted all of the good ones.


I would continue to submit your application every year, and complete it to the best of your abilities (a good application would approve your chances if they do read it). Other than that just keep trying, eventually they will get your application, read it, and be amazed!

  • "A record number for us" is something they put in their mail every year. My main criticism is that they aren't transparent about the voting process. At Devoxx, the selection committee gives me a reason when a talk isn't selected. That helps with the proposal for the next year (I was a speaker at Devoxx in three different years). – Bruno Lowagie Jun 27 '15 at 15:49

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