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Please boost: People who are at high-risk for COVID-19 complications:

1. What could conferences better do to support you?

2. What policies or resources would help you decide whether to attend an in-person conference?

ยท ยท Tusky ยท 24 ยท 103 ยท 32

@sagesharp for 1: be online!

also upgrade their air filtration / flow system to be safer and reduce all illnesses

but mostly, be online.

for 2: be local to me, be multi-day with not everyone going to every single day, be as outdoor as possible, free test site, handing out k95 masks for free (Vogmask as a sponsor would be awesome), upgrade their air filter whatever system, have transparent ways of communication exposures. liability insurance that covers ppl getting sick, hospitalization, death

@sagesharp For me the most fundamental answer is: make talks available online.

The hallway track is harder. I haven't heard of any remote solutions that really replace that networking opportunity, and for the time being I'm just choosing to forgo it. But I haven't been a frequent conference goer anyway, so this is an easier thing for me to give up than for others.

@eldang I've seen some really good proprietary software for networking, but nothing open source.

The proprietary software allowed you to move an icon closer or farther away from other icons. The audio from each person was made louder or quieter based on how far away your icon was. And you could get attendee info by clicking on the other people's icons.

It was pretty slick! I'll have to look up what it was called.

@sagesharp @eldang Also check out what CCC did for #rc3 in their "virtual world" this winter. (I am forgetting the name at the moment.)

@downey
That was rc3.world, an instance of #WorkAdventure, a 2D RPG "game" that connects people approaching each other using Jitsi rooms or BigBlueButton.
github.com/thecodingmachine/wo

See also howto.rc3.world/2021/maps.en.h

@sagesharp @eldang

@erAck

Thank you -- I remember now. It looks like no progress has been made regarding the proprietization of the software via Commons Clause but I guess the FSF fork is around (but not particularly maintained).

github.com/thecodingmachine/wo

@sagesharp @eldang

@goz there's also gather.town/ and spatial.chat/

The last few PyCon USes have used Hubilo which offers a much more limited virtual video meetup hallway track

@downey @sagesharp @eldang

@brainwane @downey @sagesharp @eldang

Thanks for the suggestions! My day job is in education, so Iโ€™m always on the lookout for ways to help teachers teach virtually.

@sagesharp Interesting! I'm curious about that as an experience. For me, much of the "hallway track" appeal is about seeing someone I recognise, being able to head out with a small group for lunch or a drink, etc. So this wouldn't be a perfect substitute, but I could also see it being better for some attendees because it would feel safer.

@sagesharp @eldang roguelike celebration used a browser mud where you could move between rooms and talk with people who were in the same places as you, a lot had special purposes and some had video or audio calls you would see as you entered that you could join if you felt comfortable enough

it also had a lot of little hidden things that were fun to discover, and things you could visibly eqip

it was pretty fun! and maybe something like that could make the online aspect a little more social..?

@sagesharp @eldang it was laid out so there was a main theatre where the main talks would happen, so you could see people all just gradually pile in before those began

there were breakout rooms for several topics after talks where you could go and do something extra with others relating to talks you especially liked

there was also a few general hangout areas, one with a stage, and special rooms you could do other fun things in

of course, every connecting hallway between was also social space

@thingywott @eldang Ooh, I like the idea of virtual rooms to talk about conference talks after they're done

@sagesharp @eldang fyi the combo of Minetest and Mumble gives you dynamic positional audio, was good enough for 20-30 people to have ad-hoc verbal conversations just by moving around a digital room.

Totally open source, I had a server running this a decade ago and it still works just great, if not better, for recent improvements.

@eldang @sagesharp

Second Life really dropped the ball in 2020. A once in a lifetime opportunity squandered.

@eldang @sagesharp I've used WorkAdventure at a couple EU conferences

It can setup impromptu jitsi and BBB sessions

A Fedizen is working on a Pepper&Carrot modules

LFNW used a proprietary tool that does similarly, but works more smoothly and was fancy graphics rather than 8 bit

the WA instances also had things like a library with workstations showing talks from previous years, a campfire area and a cafe

it would be nice if there were slides from one floor to another with animation :)

@sagesharp masks, filtration and ventilation. Possibly having them outside? Being able to attend remotely. Encouraging sick people to stay home with refunds.

@sagesharp 1. provide online access as a complete and equivalent route of participation (not as a secondary afterthought)
2. personally i would not attend an in-person conference until the pandemic is over (for a given value of "over")

@sagesharp as other stated: online participation.
other than that: multiple entrances and/or wide entrances. also please have some space for waiting around or even resting that is away from the main event/hall/conference.

@sagesharp

1. Be online, too, if not entirely.

2. Right now things are so poorly handled everywhere that nothing would inspire me to attend in person.

There's always a gap in the prep, like the staff working events, poor ventilation, unmasking for eating in groups, etc., that make the risk untenable.

And the latest Omicron variants are escaping vaccine coverage, so even that vector of prevention is flawed.

Simply put: we're not there yet.

@haven4books Yep, this sums up where I come from, too. Don't plan to attend anything in person for who knows how long. My choice, and I get that others want to be able to choose differently. Not much I can do about that.

@sagesharp Seriously. Just be online.
Same thing that conferences need to do to promote inclusivity in the first place.
Unless your conference is deliberately self-selecting only those who can afford/are able to travel, stay in hotels, etc - be online.
At the very least, post the actual sessions online a few hours later.

But really, just be online. In person conferences are a hellscape.

@Longplay_Games @sagesharp

With the mask mandate lifted on flights, there is no way I'm flying anywhere.

skittish.com/ looks like an interesting take on online conferences. Something which allows participants to easily react with each other.

Another platform is rally.video/

Available software is what is holding back online conferences.

@Longplay_Games @sagesharp I have never been to a professional conference that couldnโ€™t have been online and usually better for it.

@stephen @sagesharp I've been to 30 years of both, from SIGGRAPH to GDC, GTC, to SAP Tech Ed and the first really useful conferences I've been to have been during Covid.

When they were virtual.

I think the people arguing against them use conferences as "old boys clubs" and "networking" as opposed to learning, and those people are a bane on us all.

@stephen @sagesharp Like I told my hung over colleagues during an SAP conference several years ago "if you're not here to learn, why aren't you the one on call?"

@sagesharp

1. Require up-to-date (e.g. boosted) vaccines, or documented medical exemption, for all attendees and staff (including vendors). Facilitate and advertise ways for people to get access to vaccination.

2. If rate of new recorded cases is over 50/100k population for the locality, require 100% masking (N95 or equivalent) for all attendees and staff/vendors.

3. On-site required antigen test upon arrival at entry each day (not earlier) for all attendees and staff/vendors.

1/2

@sagesharp

4. Big rooms with tall tall ceilings. (Think OCC expo halls.)

5. Maximize outdoor stuff, invest in canopies/tents.

6. All content available online, preferably in a FOSDEM-style delivery form (live+archive).

Sadly for now, all these can end up being rather expensive and cost-prohibitive especially for smaller events.

2/2

@downey I've been really curious how conferences might be able to do in-person rapid testing. If you've seen other conferences doing it, or have ideas on how to do it, let me know!

@sagesharp The closest large-scale thing I've seen was Salesforce who did a very large (5k) in-person internal conference in March.

They bought the CueHealth molecular test units for each attendee to test at home the same morning, and the results generated a backend process to create and send a barcode to scan for entry on-site (presuming one had their vaccination records reviewed and associated with their records).

A review video (a bit sales-y) at:

invidious.snopyta.org/watch?v=

@sagesharp

1. Offer content that is remote. Offer content that isnโ€™t just zoom zoom zoom. Ahead of time so I can manage spoons

2. A 100% proven reliable vaccine to covid

@slimepsychic Yes to zoom alternatives! Open source video conferences offer a lot of the same functionality, even things like break out rooms. It's frustrating to watch people always fall back to the proprietary options. (And yes, I'm guilty myself, since I run workshops via Zoom.)

@sagesharp Agreed. Not just alternate video platforms though but different ways to engage with a conference. Roguelike Conference has a roguelike platform built for interaction during downtime. Or perhaps interesting free stuff is included and sent via mail beforehand to enhance the conf.

@sagesharp (1)Conferences will be a useful platform to better educate the masses on the Pandemic.
(2) When such Conferences are planned and adequately funded to enable the local Organisers get all the human resources they need,it would be awesome to attend in-person.

@sagesharp I'm not sure for 1 besides the obvious "option to be online"
But for 2, mandatory and provided (K)N95s is a policy the local university has that makes me feel safer there

@sagesharp mandatory masks for everybody would put me at ease enough that I would consider joining. I don't think any measure would make me feel truly safe if the event is indoors, but I could still attend if I'm passionate about the subject.

@sagesharp
1. As much of the conference as possible should be available remotely โ€” not just so that high risk people like myself can opt out but also so that anyone who believes they have been exposed and make the right choice & self-isolate without being punished by missing the conference
2. Currently there are no at-con policies that would make air travel safe for me so that already precludes anything but local conventions. For those I would want:
- a clear plan on how the concom is assessing current covid risks and what their fallback is if the situation changes. Also a refund option if thereโ€™s a discrepancy between our risk thresholds
- a pretty seriously restricted capacity limit both on total attendees and on audience size for individual events
- a transparent & unbiased assessment of the convention centers ventilation to confirm its adequate
- mandatory vaccinations and masking in all indoor areas of the convention center
- testing before arrival & rapid tests available to attendees on site
- a robust digital option with heavy encouragement for anyone who has been exposed to self-isolate

@sagesharp Basically there is nothing you could do to convince me to attend an in-person conference right now. The bare minimum would be vax and mask requirements for all attendees, but even with that, right now, I'd pass.

@jordan Same. I asked in general because I see conferences deciding to forego even the minimum protections (masking) and I want to recommend ways other conferences could do better.

@sagesharp Enforcement of mask requirements with high quality masks (KN95 or equivalent), limited crowd sizes, well ventilated venues.

But to be perfectly honest, too many variables are beyond the control of even the best-intended host. How do you know the lodging is safe? Dining options? Travel? In the US, in most cities, all caution has gone out the window.

I'm not sure when I'll personally be returning to any large in-person events. It's all too risky by my assessment.

@sagesharp fwiw - I'm living with a heart condition, and have an unvaccinated infant at home. I desperately want to rejoin the world, but the policies in the US make me extremely uncomfortable doing so.

@shoeberto Same. I take immunocompromising medication to manage auto-immune issues. Conferences are not for me yet and won't be for a while. But I want conferences to implement good policies now for others who might be willing to try.

@sagesharp I appreciate that you're asking the questions, too - moreso I'm frustrated with the wider mindset of society that this is over, or at least that the status quo is fine. I've spoken with other chronically ill people and we all seem to be in the same place about it; specifically that we have to aggressively assert precautionary measures, because so much of the world is indifferent to the idea that they could permanently disable or kill us.

@sagesharp thank you for at least trying, and also for something directly actionable, I'll just echo the suggestion of first-class remote options being critical for the foreseeable future

@sagesharp 1. Be online.

2. None, they should be online. Exclusively. Supporting high risk people isnโ€™t just making specific events safer for them, itโ€™s also making the world safer by not doing large in person events and minimizing the overall spread of covid.

@sagesharp Thanks for asking. Lots of good ideas already so I'll just double down on a few.

โ€ข Support virtual attendees & presenters at substantial discount to on-site. (Lookin' at you, EDUCAUSE.)

โ€ข Confirm vaccination + boosters prior to entry. Offer testing and masks throughout the event.

โ€ข Use physical venues with outdoor space options and large indoor space options. Do not schedule smaller rooms.

โ€ข Offer easy full refunds in case of COVID spike in the weeks prior to the event.

@sagesharp possibly not helpful, but right now I'm not sure there's anything a *conference* can do to make me feel safe attending an in-person thing: my big blocking issues are with the constantly changing travel/hotel/venue/local conditions.

@terri @sagesharp I didn't go to a local conference where I would have worn a P100 mask. ๐Ÿ’”

People with #chronicillness have absolutely no idea what Covid will do to them and my desire or kidlet's desire to be vector are at ZERO percent.

Meanwhile since masks were optional virtually no-one wore masks at conference while Mayor urging for them to be worn.

No answers.

Only frustration and sadness people are being put at risk for a bit of convenience.

@sagesharp Sadly, being online is the only thing. I just walked away from teaching because the university would not let me teach remote. They bragged new filtration systems, "social distancing", etc, etc. The problem is - once a high-risk person gets Covid, they may recover *from Covid*, but their condition which puts them at high risk in the first place worsens. I'm vaxed but with CKD. For me, Covid means feeling a "flu", but then potential dialysis until transplant or death.

@sagesharp

1. Make the conference available online

2. There is simply nothing you can do that would undo what happens outside the conference (flight, hotel, restaurants, ...), and make it safe enough that I would feel comfortable with attending a conference in person

cw stuff if you want it to be boosted by your target audience for this question 

@sagesharp maybe start by CW pandemic shit so we actually want to boost this after 2.3479 years of yelling and nobody listening?

Foremost the barrier is getting there and experiencing without increasing our personal risk of infection, because no matter what you do the planes, trains, and autos cost time, or money, or health...there's nothing you can do to make this attractive until transmission is at zero.

Home is safe. Virtual is safe. Interacting in physical space with people who may not understand virology & transmissibility is very much not.

Nothing will make your conference more attractive than the risk of long covid.

pandemics and conferences 

@jakimfett Thank you for the reminder to add a content warning, and I'm sorry for putting triggering things in your timeline.

re: pandemics and conferences 

@sagesharp appreciate your willingness to listen despite the bluntness of my phrasing.

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