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RIPE 85 Programme Committee Meeting

Wednesday, 26 October 2022


PC Chair: Franziska Lichtblau
PC Members: Alexander Azimov, Brian Nisbet, Dmitry Kohmanyuk, Fernando Garcia, Jan Žorž, Massimiliano Stucchi, Wolfgang Tremmel 

RIPE Chair Team: Mirjam Kühne, Niall O’Reilly

RIPE NCC Staff: Alexandra Vos, Hisham Ibrahim, Marita Phelan

Minutes: Kjerstin Burdiek

Franziska welcomed the participants to the meeting.

1) Impressions from RIPE 85 (onsite and remote)

Wolfgang noted that the meeting venue was not ideal as the main room had a long, narrow layout, with speakers far away from most screens in the room. But the speakers had been well-prepared, and there were no technical issues. 

Franziska said she had received mostly positive feedback from attendees. Some negative comments had been that people had a hard time finding the face masks and COVID-19 tests.

Alexandra said that these were at the registration desk.

Franziska suggested displaying them more prominently. Despite some difficulty with scheduling, the talks had gone well. People had especially liked the panels, particularly the one on the Internet revolution in Belgrade.

Alexandra had gotten feedback that newcomers were engaged during the MANRS talk, but regulars found it repeated too much from previous meetings. Next time it would be better to do a tutorial on the topic instead of a plenary.
Massimiliano said he had done a MANRS tutorial before and could do so again.

Fernando echoed Wolfgang’s comments about the problems with the venue’s main room. Additionally, some attendees had experienced difficulty traveling to Serbia due to issues with getting visas and flights. He had also not yet received his invoice for the RIPE dinner.

Alexandra said this was because they were still in the process of generating a Serbian VAT number, and they would send invoices once they had done so. She asked what the PC members’ thoughts were about Meetecho at this meeting.

Franziska said there was not much engagement on the platform. It was also necessary to have a separate person read the online questions and grant microphone permission as this was too much work for the session chair.

Brian noted there had not been any voice questions through the platform so far.

Alexander said it was also difficult because the online questions were often very long.

Alexandra suggested making it part of the chat monitor’s duty to grant microphone permission to people asking questions.

Franziska agreed with this and suggested showing the questions on screen for the speaker to easily read them. 

Alexandra said this would require another screen. 

Brian noted that the questions would still need to be read aloud. 

Alexandra asked what the PC members thought of the QR code on the badges that linked to Meetecho. 

Franziska said it would be better if it linked to the meeting programme.

Wolfgang said the QR code had not worked for him.

Alexandra said this was because it was not possible to be logged into Meetecho on both a computer and a phone.
Marita said the technical team was working on fixing this.

Franziska said it would be great to have the badge booklet again.

Jan suggested printing the meeting programme on the back.
Dmitry said this would be difficult to read.

Marita said there was a great atmosphere amongst attendees, although there were complaints about the main room and the lack of barista. There had been a cyberattack on the meeting website, but the web team had it under control. There were also some issues with recording, but this frequently happened, and they were handling it.

Dmitry asked if there was a livestream.
Marita said there was, and the YouTube stream had captions.

Mirjam said the programme was good, as there was diversity in the topics and speakers. She had received positive feedback on the community management talk and also on the panel about the Internet revolution in Belgrade. These had been placed well among more technical talks. Mattermost had been a good tool for PC coordination during the meeting.

Brian asked whether the PC was tracking the diversity of the speakers.

Franziska said there was no official measurement on this.

Brian said the PC should start measuring this to ensure there was sufficient diversity.

Jan noted that onsite attendees were not using the microphone queue in Meetecho.

Franziska said it was up to sessions chairs to enforce this. 

Jan said this should be consistent. The PC should tell onsite attendees not to join the queue. People used the Q&A function rather than voicing their questions online. 

Brian said this was true and had been the case at RIPE 84 as well.

Dmitry said the Q&A was easier for online attendees logistically.

Franziska suggested reviewing the policy for asking questions on Meetecho. Online attendees should be able to use the Q&A or voice functions, and session chairs could decide how to handle questions from onsite attendees.

Jan praised the technical team for making the meeting network IPv6-mostly. 

Hisham said that while it was worth considering the diversity of speakers, this should not result in a quota deciding the meeting programme.

Brian agreed that there should not be a quota but said diversity should be a major consideration, as attendees often wanted to see speakers that reflected their backgrounds.

Franziska said diversity would be a tiebreaker when selecting between similar talks.

Hisham said it should be measured afterwards so it did not influence selection.

Franziska said it needed to be considered beforehand to correct for internal bias.

Hisham said this was fine. In any case, there was more speaker diversity at this meeting than at RIPE 84. He had heard good feedback on the programme, especially for the BOFs and Belgrade Internet panel.

Dmitry also praised the BoFs, though he felt the sanctions BoF was a little too academic. He suggested accepting lightning talks later on in the meeting week and being clearer about when they could be submitted.

2) Meeting Planning 

Franziska said there had been more positive feedback on the meeting programme than ever. However, the PC should consider what to do about the Friday morning plenary as most speakers did not want this slot. Additionally, it would be good if Alexandra could share the flight schedule for RIPE fellows (who are also presenters) with the PC so the PC can take this into account when preparing the programme. At this meeting, many speakers, including RIPE fellows, left mid-day on Friday.

Wolfgang noted that the Friday morning plenary at RIPE 84 had almost been empty. The session could start an hour later.

Brian said if they started a half-day even later, people might leave the meeting early.

Wolfgang said putting a very interesting talk in the morning plenary slot so people would want to come.

Franzsika said the problem with that was speakers themselves did not want the slot.

Alexander suggested moving the tutorials to that slot. 

Mirjam suggested having WG sessions then, as some had had less time due to the earlier RIPE NCC General Meeting.
Brian said he was not in favour of the earlier General Meeting. 

Fernando said WG sessions could work, or the RIPE dinner could end earlier.

Franziska said they should not end the dinner earlier as people liked the late-night socials. They could not put lightning talks in the Friday morning slot, as those speakers often wanted to talk before the relevant WGs. Moving tutorials to the slot would be best.

Massimiliano did not think these would get enough attendance, as even on Monday not many people came to the tutorials.

Alexander said they could replace the Monday morning tutorials with the opening plenary. 

Jan said people might not travel to the meeting in time for a Monday morning plenary. 

Dmitry said a Monday morning plenary would not have more attendance than a Friday morning one. 

Franziska noted the PC was often still finalising the programme on Monday morning.

Marita suggested moving the newcomers’ introduction.

Franziska said this clashed with lunch.

Wolfgang asked how popular the tutorials were. 

Mirjam said the RIPE Atlas tutorial had been well-attended.

Alexander suggested checking meeting feedback about the tutorials.

Hisham noted that the tutorials had been delayed by a queue for badges.
Jan said that opening with a plenary Monday morning would also lead to a badge queue.

Dmitry said an earlier opening plenary had worked at ENOG meetings.

Brian suggested having a sponsored prize draw during the morning plenary.

Franziska noted the end of the week was a hard time for people to make it to a session. 

Mirjam suggested having a BoF in the Friday morning slot, although this would mean a lost plenary slot.

Franziska said this was fine as it was not well-attended. 

Brian suggested looking at the actual numbers of attendees at the session first.

Franziska said the PC could keep a BoF in mind for this slot next time, especially if they received many submissions for BoFs. 

Dmitry said they could speak to WG chairs for ideas on this.

 3) Submission System

Franziska said it had been difficult to keep track of submissions in the system. They might need a system with scheduling capabilities and better email contact with speakers. The pretalx software would work well for this.

Jan pointed out another problem in that it was hard to know whether a submitter had been notified of the PC’s decision.

Franziska agreed and said it was also hard to get email addresses through the system to reach out to speakers. There also needed to be a drop-down menu when submitting to select a plenary or WG category. 

Mirjam also suggested letting people select an option saying either would be fine.

Dmitry said it would be good if multiple WGs could be selected.

Brian said they should remove the option of talks being long or short.

Franziska agreed as this option had not been successful. 

Mirjam suggested using the abstract function to add more information to the programme. They should also make people more aware of the abstracts.

Franziska suggested meeting with Marita to discuss the scheduling software more in depth. Pretalx would be a good solution that would also allow speakers to indicate their preferred time slots and could generate a draft agenda.

Brian noted pretalx could also assign moderators.

Jan thanked Wolfgang for setting up the Trello boards they had used to plan this meeting.

 4) AOB

Wolfgang asked whether they should continue to have speakers pay for their meeting tickets.
Franziska said they should, although other conferences often paid for their speakers’ tickets.

Wolfgang asked Mirjam if speakers had asked for free tickets.

Mirjam said people were told to contact the PC if they could not afford their own.

Franziska noted speakers could get a free day ticket.

Dmitry said they should make it clearer to speakers they would have to pay.

Jan asked if they should cover tickets for lightning talk speakers.

Mirjam said the RIPE Chair Team and the RIPE NCC already had to increase ticket prices to accommodate Fellowships. They would have to charge more if they were going to pay for speakers’ tickets as well.
Franziska agreed and said WG chairs and PC members might then want tickets covered too.

Jan said it was harder to attract speakers since they had to pay for their own tickets.

Dmitry suggested offering a discounted weekly ticket to speakers.
Mirjam said this was a good idea.

Wolfgang suggested offering speakers a choice between a free day ticket or a discounted week ticket.
Mirjam said she would look into how this would fit in the budget.

Franziska said people were wondering why the academic session had been closed to non-academics and barely promoted. A RACI BoF should be on the agenda in addition to the academic reception.
Mirjam agreed they should consider adding this on the agenda now that RACI was back.

Franziska thanked Fernando for his time on the PC.

Alexander noted that though some people had had difficulty traveling to the meeting, other attendees who usually could not make it to meetings found it easier.
Mirjam agreed and said it also brought more local participation.