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Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

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  • Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

    Hi all,
    I had a great time at Defcon 18. I do have an idea however. I noticed some talks were put in big rooms, but did not have much of a draw or had plenty of room. Some really popular talks ended up being in small rooms (I'm thinking Dave Kennedy's and Josh's talk). I know it's hard to predict what's going to be a crowded talk, so would it be possible to do some sort of polls ahead of time to project talk attendance? Might help to figure out where to put each talk.

  • #2
    Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

    Originally posted by Irongeek View Post
    Hi all,
    I had a great time at Defcon 18. I do have an idea however. I noticed some talks were put in big rooms, but did not have much of a draw or had plenty of room. Some really popular talks ended up being in small rooms (I'm thinking Dave Kennedy's and Josh's talk). I know it's hard to predict what's going to be a crowded talk, so would it be possible to do some sort of polls ahead of time to project talk attendance? Might help to figure out where to put each talk.
    We have discussed this in the past. The summary goes something like this:


    Code:
    * Why not have polls for each presentation so people can vote to select presentations [that should be accepted|that will be popular]?
     * Then some[one|people] would abuse it and provide Organizers with false data. It is a hacker conference and shenanigans are part of that for humor or DoS or other reasons.
      * Then we could require users be authenticated before they vote.
       * What is to stop people from making multiple accounts?
        * Then you could sell badges ahead of time with unique codes that people use to register and vote and then have claim tickets like Shmoo to picking up their badges.
         * Gack. No. No pre-payment of badges. It complicates the sale and almost all pre-sale systems take a percent of the charge/fee and that is less money to spend on Defcon. Cash-at-the-door really does work and has worked really well for a long time.
          * *shrug*
     * Then we'd see more drama when less popular presentations got fewer votes, or no votes.
      * That is not guaranteed
       * No, but it is likely based on the history of Defcon and how some speakers like attention even if it is from outrageous claims.
    Let's see if anyone has something new to counter the above points used in discussions from the past.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

      I have often thought of polls as well. Other issues:

      In terms of the forums, the crowd here is only a small portion of the overall crowd.

      People often change their minds at the last minute, or don't make up their mind at all until the last minute.
      "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

        Originally posted by TheCotMan View Post
        [snip]
        * Why not have polls for each presentation so people can vote to select presentations [that should be accepted|that will be popular]?
        * Then some[one|people] would abuse it and provide Organizers with false data. It is a hacker conference and shenanigans are part of that for humor or DoS or other reasons.
        * Then we could require users be authenticated before they vote.
        * What is to stop people from making multiple accounts?
        * Then you could sell badges ahead of time with unique codes that people use to register and vote and then have claim tickets like Shmoo to picking up their badges.
        * Gack. No. No pre-payment of badges. It complicates the sale and almost all pre-sale systems take a percent of the charge/fee and that is less money to spend on Defcon. Cash-at-the-door really does work and has worked really well for a long time.
        * *shrug*
        [snip]
        One option might be to give a code with the badges at DC19, and allow folks to vote beginning with DC20. That solves the transaction cost issue and limits abuse. It doesn't help with DC19, but it could certainly be used going forwards.

        Likewise, I think a large percentage of folks would be willing to pay a premium to pre-register, especially if a real badge were guaranteed. I could see a benefit to this in conjunction with folks that book rooms in the Def Con room block, and other conventions have had very positive experiences with this. The main idea here would be to allow someone to pre-register only once they have booked a room, and then to have the hotel provide the badge packet(s) when the person checks into the room. I don't know if our current badge delivery timeframes make this feasible, though there is significant incentive -- if DT can identify overflow hotels, and have people book under his blocks in those hotels, then he can take a decent chunk of cash away from that -- possibly enough to pay for the entire badge production run. It also takes all of those people out of registration lines entirely, which improves the con-goer experience. Coming full-circle, this would also provide an authenticated group of users that can participate in polls in time for DC19 while providing a host of other benefits to attendees and Def Con organizers alike.

        To be fair, I don't think polling is all that huge of a deal -- I mainly like the last idea for all of the other benefits that come with it.

        Another idea, and I'm not a big fan of it for obvious reasons -- Black Hat already does something similar, by allowing folks that register to review CFP submissions, if I recall correctly (I don't have extensive knowledge here). That's several thousand authenticated folks that might be able to vote on behalf of the larger Def Con community. This would likewise obviously skew things towards the more commercial Black Hat audience, but that is now a significant number of folks that attend Def Con.

        My final idea would be to allow those that submit CFP's, known goons and organizers, etc... to do the voting. Give everyone 10 points, and let them select the topics that interest them the most. Accept some minor skew due to the one vote they'll give themselves in the case of speakers, but I think that would even out. Likewise, these are mostly folks that have been around for awhile, and are probably a decent judge of what will be popular and what will not. Heck, if the speaker selection committee found it useful, use the same set of folks year after year, and let them provide comments on and vote for the actual successful CFP's themselves, in strictly an advisory capacity.

        Lots of (possibly imperfect) solutions out there that don't seem to rehash the same points presented in years past. That said, 1) is there an actual problem that needs to be solved, that is worth expending effort to solve, and 2) do any of these solutions match with the desires of folks responsible?

        -kive

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

          I suspect the move to the Rio and the associated lack of any space issues will make this topic null and void, at least through DC19. Although it would be interesting to at least poll people to see what the results look like, even if those results are never used.
          "\x74\x68\x65\x70\x72\x65\x7a\x39\x38";

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

            What if we had all attendees explicitly register for the exact talks they would attend at the time they pick up their badges?

            oh.. wait.. you've already got that in your checklist of absurd things that wouldn't possibly work out in practicality. ok.. lets move this conversation in a different direction then.

            What if we had DT stand outside of each talk and personally bless attendees to attend each talk? Then, if declined the attendee would have to choose between one of two obstacle events to challenge his decision. Broadcast on DCTV.
            if it gets me nowhere, I'll go there proud; and I'm gonna go there free.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

              To be honest I kind of like Kive's idea of establishing a form of electoral college for it. But then, one would still run into there simply not being enough space. Like for the closing ceremonies. We filled up two entire tracks to standing room only. Albeit with the advent of the Rio, and access to things such as the Penn & Teller theater then this point will become moot.

              However an alternative to voting may simply be counting the number of people as they attend a certain talk. And keep track of the numbers that attended which subject. I.E. hacking ATMs, Routers, Cell Phones, Cyber Forensics, Cyber Crime/Warfare, Game hacking, etc. One could theoretically use that data to predict the number of people to attend similar discussions the following year. After a while you'll develop trends, and this sort of the numbers can be graphed, and given that over time a steady average will develop this has the potential to be more accurate than just taking a poll. And it's probably easier. Give people a slip of paper to turn in after marking their votes or just click as people walk through the door.

              This would also limit the potential for abuse.
              Note on the screen name: The CH is pronounced as a K, and there's a bit of an amusing story behind it involving two other fellows known as El Conquistador and Hank the Hobo...... And a blue bus.... With people in it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

                Here's a new idea:

                How about instead of buying a "con" badge, you bought a "track" badge. So first organize everything into types of talk, say "Defense" is one. Then you'd buy the "Defense Track" badge which would always get you in. The price could be lowered to, say, $100 per track, so if you wanted to see everything it would only be $500. Quite a deal!

                Or maybe a VIP list that lets you cut to the front of the line! All you do is give your name to the goon at the door, he checks the list, and if you're cool enough you get in no matter what.

                Maybe have reserved seating, so you have to go to a website beforehand and choose your seats?

                Man, I'm full of good ideas today.

                Kallahar
                --- The fuck? Have you ever BEEN to Defcon?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Polls ahead of time to project talk attendance?

                  No VIP lists. Let's not whore out DEFCON. Nothing will make me want to shank someone more than having them strut to the front of the line and smuggly grin at me while they cut in line to get in a talk while I stand 500 people deep in line with my warm 24oz Bud Deisel.

                  In all seriousness -- I hope the concept of missing a talk that you really want to get to is irrelevant with bigger Rio rooms and DCTV.

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