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Post-RIPE 83 Working Group Chair Meeting Summary

7 December 2021

Ignas Bagdonas, Erik Bais, Sandoche Balakrichenan, Nina Bargisen, Fergal Cunningham, João Damas, Constanze Dietrich, Rob Evans, Ondřej Filip, Will van Gulik, Julf Helsingius, Paul Hoogsteder, James Kennedy, Achilleas Kemos, Shane Kerr, Florence Lavroff, Kurtis Lindqvist, Desiree Miloshevic, Moritz Müller, Dan Mogosanu, Brian Nisbet, Niall O'Reilly, Bijal Sanghani, Marcos Sanz, Job Snijders, Leo Vegoda, Alexanda Vos, Denis Walker, Martin Winter

Chair: Mirjam Kühne

Scribe: Kjerstin Burdiek 

1. Welcome new WG Chairs

Mirjam opened the meeting by welcoming the new WG chairs and new RIPE NCC staff in attendance.

2. Interactions with PC 

The group heard from Brian Nisbet, the WG Chairs representative on the PC, who said there had been less engagement at RIPE 83 than previous meetings, including fewer Plenary submissions and a lack of candidates for the PC election. It was noted that the virtual aspect of the meeting may have been the cause of lower engagement and that holding a physical meeting in the future might resolve this issue.

Regarding the PC election issue, the group agreed that the PC could manage with fewer members but that the chairs could step in to assist if needed. It was also recommended that the PC contact the RIPE Chair in the event of few candidates during a PC election, which Brian acknowledged had been done. Another suggestion was for the PC to reach out to the community prior to an election to clarify what the role would entail and how to sign up.

3. Feedback about RIPE 83

The group heard from Alexandra Vos, RIPE NCC Events Organiser, who shared some statistics about RIPE 83. While participation numbers were lower for this meeting, there had still been a large number of attendees, with 1,127 registered in total. There were many viewers across all three platforms: Meetecho, the livestream and YouTube. The number of SpatialChat users had dropped slightly, with 333 unique participants who spent over 8,000 minutes on the platform in total. Alexandra suggested that the timing of the meeting, so close to Thanksgiving in the US, might have caused the dip in participation. This was particularly the case for the social events, which had the least amount of new engagement.

The group considered that both the timing of the meeting later in November and the virtual setting could be to blame for reduced participation. It was suggested they have an earlier meeting in the future to avoid these issues.

The chairs discussed the impact of the virtual setting and noted that there was a lot of fatigue with online meetings in the community. This could also be why there were fewer presentation submissions and participants. During online meetings, people might be balancing their usual work schedules alongside sessions and would not be giving their full attention as they would at an in-person meeting.

There were a few benefits to virtual meetings. The group considered that coordinating speakers and getting presentations set up was easier virtually. Being online also allowed speakers from many different places to participate. For this reason, it was suggested they continue the practice of having some remote speakers, even at future in-person meetings. Despite less participation, it was noted that the quality of the presentations and discussions remained high. 

One other issue was to reconsider the amount of time dedicated to reporting during WG sessions. It was suggested they spend less time on these given that they cut into the time for discussion and community building, which was especially important at a virtual meeting. The chairs also discussed the effectiveness of having pre-recorded videos for attendees to watch before a session. Some thought it was unlikely that viewers would have time to watch all of these as well as attend sessions during the meeting week. Others thought that these pre-recorded videos cut down on the time taken up by elections and reporting during the sessions. 

Noting that some WG sessions had been tight for time, the chairs discussed possible solutions. Some suggested they have smaller groups within WGs to focus on more specific matters. Others had asked for volunteers to complete action items. It was also suggested to have more interim sessions between meetings.

4. AOB

The group discussed technical aspects relating to the meeting. It was recommended that the chairs not update their software immediately prior to a meeting as this could cause errors. Alexandra said there had been an audio connection issue with some Windows machines. The tech team had fixed this by rebooting the system. Some Meetecho users had issues connecting with Safari and they might add a notification to inform these users that they should try a different browser.

The chairs shared positive feedback on Meetecho as the meeting platform, which they found to be more interactive than alternative platforms. One suggestion was for participants to upload pictures. Alexandra said this was possible, but only via Gravatar. It was suggested to investigate if it would be possible to do this directly on Meetecho. Alexandra said she would look into this for the next meeting.   

Mirjam asked for feedback on the newcomers’ session. She was uncertain whether holding it a week before the meeting was effective, considering there was little engagement afterwards, such as at the meeting’s social event for newcomers. 

The chairs then discussed the value of the WG chair introduction videos that had been filmed before the meeting. Mirjam said these made the chairs and the working groups more approachable but noted that she did not yet have information on how many people had watched them. These numbers were shared with the chairs after the meeting and were fairly high. Some chairs agreed that videos could be a good way to introduce some WGs, though others might prefer to remain with text. It was also noted that chairs did not have a lot of free time to prepare videos as well as get ready for the meeting.