Disclaimer: I was lucky enough to get a ticket to go to WWDC this year. I think that I would have the same opinion if I did not get a ticket, but I also realize that I’m probably still biased.
I think the WWDC ticket lottery is a good thing. I have read a lot of tweets and articles complaining about how the system is unfair, but I don’t think it is for a variety of reasons.
1. A lottery prevents a total meritocracy: Because companies could not purchase a ticket and then assign it to whomever they wanted, the iOS developer meritocracy could not persist easily (the hard path being requesting to transfer tickets within companies). I’ve never been a fan of meritocracies, mostly on the premise that not everyone starts at the same place, so you inherently favor certain people over others. But, I digress. I know that I wouldn’t have been the first choice to go to WWDC on my team. I have feelings of guilt that other people would have been better choices to go, but in the end, I’m lucky to have this opportunity. I think that I will be able to grow as a developer as a result of this, and I know that many other junior developers are glad to have the chance to do this over their senior counterparts. I like that the lottery gives everyone an equal chance to grow instead of favoring certain people over others.
2. “But I went last year”: I never understood this as a reason to preclude someone else from going. You don’t want other people to share in this experience that you think is so cool? You think that because you were able to go to something before someone else, that makes you inherently a better choice to go than others? In the end, I think it tends to be a self-serving discriminatory tactic with little substance behind it. I liken it to seniors in high school saying, “no, you can’t sit here at the cafeteria because I was here last year.” There’s no logical way that I as a freshman can argue against that unless I’m able to magically able to go back in time.
3. “But s/he doesn’t do iOS development/isn’t hardcore enough”: I’m definitely guilty of this one. I know that I was shocked when I heard who got a ticket over other people. I thought about this a lot and wondered why I was so negative about this though. If someone can afford to go or get their company to pay for it or whatever, why do I care if they don’t do that much iOS development now? Maybe this will be their turning point to making a killer app. Maybe this will help them be a better developer. Maybe they won’t benefit from it at all (unlikely). Whatever the case is, there is no real reason to hate on someone for winning a lottery over someone else. Sure, you may think that someone else at their company would have had a better chance of winning if that person didn’t participate, but you can’t judge someone’s future against someone else’s future.
I know that it definitely sucks not to get a ticket. I know that it especially must suck if you’ve been to WWDC before and so you know exactly what you’re missing out on because you couldn’t go this time. I really just want people to realize that a lottery helps spread the opportunity to all iOS developers instead of those who can buy the ticket the fastest/get their companies to pick them to go. I’m very curious about what the distribution of attendees is like this year over last year. Can you just imagine the number of new people that get to go that would have never had the chance otherwise? Doesn’t that make you just a little happy for others? I know I’m ridiculously excited to go and experience all that is WWDC.