We require that whoever is facilitating the Q&A be cognizant of who is requesting to ask questions. We believe the voices represented in the Q&A discussion should reflect the diversity of the participants, and trying to achieve this means active intervention from facilitators and moderators. Facilitators prioritize questions from those who haven’t yet had a chance to speak, and those from underrepresented groups (women, people of color, people from outside higher income countries). We actively discuss and coordinate this approach with moderators in advance.
For this reason, we would strongly recommend that conference organizers use wireless microphones (or another method that allows the moderator to decide who asks the next question) if at all possible, rather than placing microphones at the front of the room. Using a first come-first serve basis for asking question privileges the most confident voices in the room, and important reactions often come from those who might take a few moments to collect their thoughts or find their voice.
For future OpenCon events, we would also like to take into account that not everyone is comfortable asking questions publicly. This doesn’t mean they don’t have insightful questions to ask. We are committed to offering alternative, anonymous mediums for submitting questions to speakers and panelists (e.g. through an anonymous online submission form).
In 2016, over 10,000 people from around the world applied to OpenCon. Unfortunately, due to logistical and financial constraints, the global meeting only has capacity for just over 200 participants. To make the meeting more inclusive, we do our best to encourage people to participate in OpenCon Live, which allows remote, online participation in OpenCon. To make this experience as engaging as possible, we had a member of the OpenCon community act as a “host” and liaise between remote participants and those at the global meeting. In addition to live streaming, remote participation in OpenCon includes:
We make an effort to include virtual participants during Q&A sessions. Questions are taken over Twitter (as well as the OpenCon WhatsApp group), and a member of the Organizing Committee is responsible for monitoring and voicing relevant questions to those in the room.
Twitter is the best place to experience the buzz of OpenCon online, as it is the social media platform most actively used by the OpenCon community. Even if they will only be using it for the conference, we recommend that participants sign up for a Twitter account and follow #OpenCon. Both in-person and remote attendees use the hashtag as a forum for online discussion and to summarize key points of the meeting. Because not everybody has a Twitter account, it is important to make it clear in advance that the #OpenCon hashtag is a way to to keep track and actively engage in the conference, and that participants should create a Twitter account before arriving. In future years, we will include a guide for using Twitter in our pre-conference communications so participants can familiarize themselves before arriving.
Note: We recognize that Twitter is a proprietary platform, and while we’ve chosen Twitter because a large volume of OpenCon community members are on it, other conferences should choose a platform that best fits their community’s needs.
We also offered a WhatsApp group for chatting about Open issues during the meeting. These groups are free to set up.
Most of OpenCon’s sessions and activities are held in English. However, for many international attendees, English is not their first language. It takes a lot of energy to navigate a conference in a second language, and we encourage conference organizers to thank participants who are doing so. Additionally, while it may not be feasible to hold a multilingual conference, as organizers we can still be thoughtful about how to design a conference that is accessible and engaging for English as a second language (ESL) speakers. In past years, unconference sessions at OpenCon have allowed participants to convene with others from their region and host session in their first language (for more on unconferences, see our page on participant-driven programming). Given the global nature of our conference, we are committed to taking additional measures for accommodating ESL speakers in future years, including:
Enforcing a Code of Conduct