Register for SeaGL 2018
November 9th and 10th, 2018

Talk Proposal Selection Criteria
August 02, 2018

We like to be free and open around here at SeaGL, and that includes transparency around a lot of our processes. This post is the instructions we provided to our review committee on how they should rate the 160+ talk proposals we received. We hope that these instructions will not only help people craft better proposals in the future, but also help other events who may be looking for guidance on how to review their own proposals.

Audience profile

The audience runs the gamut from experienced FOSS technologists to the uninitiated/students, leaning quite heavily to the latter rather than the former.

Therefore talks about how to scale your unicorn are less applicable than more introductory topics.

Which isn’t to say there’s no space for unicorn scaling type talks, just that they will be in the minority for the program.

This is also a much less corporate conference/audience than, say, SCALE/OSCON/ATO/etc. Our event is free to attend, so it attracts those who are interested in or passionate about technology more than those who are getting their company to pay for them to attend for training purposes. This also means that most of the audience will be very local to the Seattle region.


  • Please remember the Code of Practice
  • Our CFP system can’t do blind reviews, but try to do as blind as possible (the abstract/content is more important than the presenter, on first pass at least)
  • Only vote on talks which you feel qualified to judge
    • Leave stars blank else
    • Exception: something which sounds so cool or so crappy that you feel compelled to vote
  • Don’t vote on withdrawn or rejected talks
    • OSEM keeps these in the list, sorry
    • Sorting list by ‘State=new’ can help limit these review misfires
  • Keep the audience needs front and centre
    • “Yeah, I would like to see this” is NOT important
    • “Yeah, the audience would get value out of this.” is VERY important
    • Therefore, if an abstract has no clear audience takeaways, please vote it down
  • No advertisements or sales pitches allowed
    • Please vote down anything that looks like it’ll be a pitch
  • GNU/Linux/Free Software not required
    • Yes, it’s the Seattle GNU/Linux conference
    • No, we’re not bigots against non-Free (as in speech) technologies
    • That said, proposals predominantly about proprietary technologies should be voted down
  • Proposals including questionable language/messaging should be voted down
    • Language/platform/community shaming
    • Colloquialisms based in or statements implying or outright stating racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ-ism
    • Mean-spirited or rude language
    • Etc.
  • Non-software tech is welcome
    • For instance, in 2016 we had a very well received talk about WW1 technologies
  • And, naturally, please don’t vote on your own talks


  • The workflow
    • View the Events on the conference site
      • OSEM calls proposals “Events”
    • View each event
      • You’ll probably either have to open each in a new tab/window or do a lot of click-vote-go_back action
      • Apologies for the cumbersome UI/UX here
    • Vote & optionally comment
    • Repeat until done
  • Meaning we’ll use for the stars:
    • none: Did not vote
    • ⭐️: No way, nuh uh, hell no, nope
    • ⭐️⭐️: Meh, maybe, could work
    • ⭐️⭐️⭐️: Yup, I’d like our audience to see this
  • Whether you vote on a proposal or not, feel free to add a comment
    • Proposers can NOT see these comments (but be nice anyway)
    • Admins CAN see these comments
    • Reviewers can see these comments if they click through

CFP By The Numbers
July 31, 2018

The 2018 SeaGL Call For Proposals (aka CFP) has closed and our team of reviewers is hard at work reading all of the excellent proposals we received. How did the CFP go this year? Here are some numbers for you…


The number of proposals we received. This broke our 2017 record of 153 proposals!


The percentage of proposals that are for the shorter 20 minute time slot. In 2017, 23% of the proposals were for this length of talk, so this holds steady in popularity.


The number of proposals that are from who self-identify as first-time speakers. This is the first year we’ve tracked this statistic, and we’re hoping to increase this number in future years. One of SeaGL’s missions is to help more people get involved with Free Software and open source, so helping new people share their FOSS stories is very important to us.


The number of talks in the track with the most proposals, Systems, sysadmin, ops, DevOps. The breakdown of all of the proposals by track/topic:

  • Systems, sysadmin, ops, DevOps: 32
  • People: 30
  • Programming: 29
  • Something different: 21
  • Security, Information Security: 19
  • Education: 9
  • Hardware, IoT: 8
  • Data, AI, ML: 6
  • Design, UX, UI, Accessibility: 5
  • Documentation: 4
  • Legal, Licensing: 2

The final schedule of the conference is very unlikely to reflect these numbers. Our aim is to provide value to the SeaGL audience. As the audience is diverse, so much be the schedule. We’ll aim to balance things as much as possible so there’s something good in there for everyone.

And speaking of diversity…


The percentage of proposals that were submitted by people who self-identify as a member of a group under-represented in technology.

This is the first year we’ve tracked this statistic as well, and as with the first-time speaker stat, we also hope to increase this percentage in future years. We want our speaker line-up to look like the people who love Free Software and open source (read: every colour, gender, ability), but that’s only possible if our proposals come from a rich diversity of individuals. Maybe in 2019 we can reach 40%? Or even higher? That would be excellent.

What’s next?

Like I mentioned earlier, our reviewers are diving into their task right now. They should be done reviewing near the end of the month, then we’ll have a call to discuss the proposals. After that, it’s up to the program committee chair (me) to build the schedule.

We promised to let all proposers know the status of their proposals no later than September 3rd. So far we’re on track to do that. We won’t have information sooner than that, in any case, so please hang tight.

In the meantime, we plan to share the proposal review criteria and instructions that we gave our reviewers. Stay tuned for that blog post in the next week.

The 2018 SeaGL CFP is open for business!
June 04, 2018

Calling all speakers or speakers-to-be! Our 2018 Call for Proposals is open!

We are currently doing weekly proposal review/feedback sessions as well as email proposal review and feedback. Please bring us your talk ideas and proposals and we’ll help you polish them before you submit them to the CFP. See the Help and mentoring for your proposals section for more information.

SeaGL is dedicated to supporting newer speakers. We welcome speakers of all backgrounds and levels of experience – even if you’ve never spoken at a technical conference. If you’re excited about Free/Libre/Open technologies or communities, then we want to hear from you!

Because we’re a community-focused event based in Seattle, we’re particularly interested in hearing from new and experienced speakers from the Seattle and Pacific Northwest region, but we welcome proposals from anyone no matter where you’re based.

Here’s what we cover in this CFP announcement. We know it’s rather a lot, so you can click to jump to the section you need (but we encourage you to read it all through at least once).

CFP dates

  • CFP Opens: June 4th, 2018
  • CFP Closes: July 29th, 2018 - Midnight PDT
  • Speaker Notifications: September 3rd, 2018
  • Schedule Published: September 17th, 2018
  • SeaGL!: November 9-10, 2018

Audience profile

SeaGL is honored to be hosted by Seattle Central College. Because our event occurs partly during their school week, we have not one but two audiences. Both audiences are present both days of the event, but each day has a larger proportion of one type of audience member:

  1. Friday: School is in session on this day, so many of our attendees are community college students. We try to schedule more “Free/open source 101” type talks on this day to help the students get a firm grounding in FOSS and its technologies.
  2. Saturday: Weekend! We have fewer students on this day and more professionals and hobbyists. This audience is more familiar with technology in general and often is looking for more advanced talks or introductory talks on more advanced topics.

Talk formats

Like last year, in 2018 SeaGL is looking for talks in two formats:

  • 20 minutes: Introduce the audience to a new technology, concept, or just recap an older idea which you think is really neat.
  • 50 minutes: Go more in depth! Do a demo! This is your chance to really educate the audience about something you enjoy.

Both of these time slots include the Q&A time. Please time your presentations accordingly. We suggest aiming for a 15 minute presentation for the 20 minute time slot and for 40-45 minutes for the 50 minute time slot, but as the speaker the final presentation time is up to you (as long as you don’t exceed your time slot).

We do not have workshop (60+ minute) slots available at SeaGL and will not be opening any. Please do not propose talks that cannot be presented well within the two time slot options above.

Click here to propose a talk.

Talk categories (aka Tracks)

SeaGL doesn’t do “tracks” like many other conferences do, but we do use tracks to make sure we have a nice balance of subjects covered during the event. Think of them more like categories than tracks in the traditional tech conference sense. This year you can select from one of the following categories when creating your proposal:

  • Data/AI/ML
  • Design/UI/UX/Accessibility
  • Documentation
  • Education
  • Hardware/IoT
  • Legal/Licensing
  • People
  • Programming
  • Security/InfoSec
  • Something different
  • Systems/Ops

Don’t worry if your talk isn’t a snug fit with any of these categories. It’s not a problem and we don’t mind at all. Just pick the one that’s the closest fit, and if nothing else please do use the Something different category.

Click here to propose a talk.

Topic ideas

Not sure what to propose? Here are some ideas!

  • How to get involved in free and open source software
  • DevOps, system administration, infrastructure, CI/CD
  • Career tips and strategies
  • Web development tools and techniques
  • Policy and licensing affecting free and open source software use or development
  • Hardware, embedded Linux, or the Internet of Things
  • The cloud and other distributed services
  • Building free and open source communities
  • Using free software at home, work, or school
  • Security and privacy online
  • Writing testable code, and testing in general
  • Effective documentation patterns and strategies
  • Free and open software on non-GNU/Linux platforms (Windows, macOS)
  • Anything else that you think would be interesting to new or seasoned Free/Libre/Open source fans!

Click here to propose a talk.

PLEASE don’t do this…

Our conference software doesn’t currently support concealed reviews (where the reviewers can’t see who proposed a talk), but we do the best we can to review everything concealed anyway.


Your name is for your bio, not for your abstract. If you include your name in your abstract, you are at risk of having your proposal voted down and not accepted.

We really can’t stress this enough. Don’t do this. Really.

Proposal and public speaking resources

Never presented at a conference or meetup before? Presented but still not feeling confident? It’s OK, even the most experienced conference presenters aren’t necessarily confident at this stuff.

The Public_Speaking repository has collected a lot of resources to help you level up in your conference presenting.

Pay particular attention to the Proposing talks section of this page. Follow these tips and your talk proposals will stand a better chance of being selected.

PLEASE NOTE: Whether your talk is accepted or not often doesn’t have as much to do with how great your proposal is as it does with how many speaking slots the conference has available and the balance of the program the organisers need to craft. It’s nothing personal: we just don’t have enough time to accept all the great talk proposals we receive.

Don’t let that stop you from proposing! You can’t win a race you don’t even run, so click here to propose a talk.

Help and mentoring for your proposals

Want to propose a talk but want feedback on your idea, proposal wording, talk title or just on how to deal with nerves? The speaker committee is running CFP office hours during the CFP. We’ll do everything possible to help you be successful with your proposal and presenatation. Office hour times:

All office hours are held in the #seagl IRC channel on Freenode IRC. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with IRC. Just click here for the webchat, choose a nickname, and you’re good to go!

If you’d like assistance outside of the office hours, please email us at We welcome all questions that arrive between June 4th and July 29th.

Speaker travel support

As SeaGL is a free to attend community-oriented and -organized conference, we regret that we are unable to help with the cost of travel and accommodation for speakers at this time.

Code of Conduct

All speakers and attendees of SeaGL must agree and adhere to the Code of Conduct for the safety and enjoyment of all organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees. We ask that all prospective speakers review and confirm their willingness to abide by the Code of Conduct terms and expectations when interacting within SeaGL community spaces.

Code of Practice

All members of the SeaGL Program Committee have agreed to operate according to our Code of Practice.

No, really, click here to propose a talk. Please. We want to hear from you!

Our 2018 Keynoters
May 28, 2018

Did you miss the announcements of our four keynote speakers for 2018? We’re very excited and honored that these folks accepted our invitation! Click on each one below to learn more about them:

Molly de Blanc Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
Tameika Reed Stephen Walli

We at SeaGL believe in sharing and openness. In that spirit, we’ve posted our keynote selection process. Learn all about how our community helped choose our keynote speakers this year.

Interested in being a part of SeaGL 2018? Our CFP opens a week from today on June 4th. If you’d like to volunteer, please drop us a line at We can’t wait to see you in November!

Older News


The 2018 Seattle GNU/Linux Conference is scheduled for November 9th and 10th at Seattle Central College (Maps). 9am-5:30pm both days.

SeaGL is a grassroots technical conference dedicated to spreading awareness and knowledge about the GNU/Linux community and free/libre/open-source software/hardware. Our goal for SeaGL is to produce an event which is as enjoyable and informative for those who spend their days maintaining hundreds of servers as it is for a student who has only just started exploring technology options. SeaGL's first year was 2013. The SeaGL web site is built with Jekyll and we use OSEM for event management.

The cost of attendance is free.

Attendee Registration will not require the use of non-free software.

You may attend SeaGL without identifying yourself, and you are encouraged to do so to protect your privacy.


We will have a small hall available for exhibitors. Free tables will be available for free/libre/open-source software/hardware and non-profit organizations, and there are several sponsorship levels for everyone else. If your organization would like an exhibit table at SeaGL, please send an email to for our vendor prospectus.

Exhibitor space is limited, please contact us right away if you are interested in a table.


We can't do what we need to do without the support of the community. If you would like to offer financial support but don't need an exhibit table, please send an email to

Donate now

Our fiscal sponsor, Free Software Foundation, set up a donation page to support SeaGL. It accepts credit card or PayPal and provides instructions for donating via check or Bitcoin. Thank you for your support!

Donate to SeaGL


SeaGL is dedicated to a harassment-free conference experience for everyone. Our code of conduct can be found here

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