As we experience in person event restrictions, travel restrictions, and lockdown in some countries, the Wikimedia Foundation Conference Grants program plans to to begin funding and hosting large scale remote events alongside our in-person events. Additionally, we are hoping that many of our in-person conferences during this time and into the future will continue incorporating remote-participation more consistently and comprehensively so people who are unable to travel can still participate.
Here you will find the guidelines, best practices and tools for how to host a safe remote event.
When receiving a conference grant, you are committing to follow the instructions and precautions:
Related to safe spaces / harassment
- You will need to use or adapt a dedicated Friendly Space Policy covering all of your virtual spaces during your event. Make sure your organizing team spends some time thinking about how your approach to safe spaces may need to change with a virtual event or with a virtual component to an event.
- Make sure to assign organizers and facilitators to monitor all virtual spaces of your event including chat channels for harassment and be available to participants throughout all hours of your conference. Assign shifts and let attendees know who is on duty and how to contact the person on duty directly.
- You will need a plan for handling harassment reports virtually and removing people from your event spaces when required. Consider a few use cases and what will happen in those use cases including timeframes and urgency. Spend some time understanding how administrators can remove people from virtual spaces and channels, etc.
Related to participant privacy and data
Below are some suggestions to help make sure your event is taking participant privacy and data sharing considerations into account when organizing your event and when your event is choosing video conferencing software. The points below are not individual requirements but you will need to alert your attendees in advance around which software you will be using and any privacy issues that you have taken into consideration or that are required in your country or region.
- Discuss with your organizing team the pros and cons around using password protected video instances to keep unwanted participants out vrs keeping your conference accessible to everyone. What will you do if someone joins and becomes disruptive?
- User configurations: it may be necessary to adjust the settings manually. If you are planning to use tracking, observation, logging, screen-sharing and recording functions, you should always consider if it is necessary to use these functions.
- You will need to update your privacy notice if you’re going to record any sessions with participant participation. Provide participants with a short message and link to the privacy notice in email before the event as well as a reminder in written in the description of any session that will be recorded.
- If you are going to be collecting email addresses from your attendees and communicating with them before, during and after the event by email you should have a clear way allowing them to opt out of all future email communications.
- Generally follow data minimization practices: collect only information that you need, and retain it for as little time as possible. Be clear about what information you are collecting, why you are collecting the information, and who will have access to it.
- Be aware that, depending on your location and that of your users, you may have additional legal requirements not listed here. If you have questions or concerns, contact local counsel for advice.
Other tips and precautions for your event:
- When relevant, make sure your organizing team thinks about how participants in different parts of the world could participate. How can you ensure people in different timezones are accommodated? Be mindful of when different groups’ holidays and workdays are.
- When relevant, make sure your organizing team thinks through accessibility across different languages. Can you find a way to be more inclusive?
- Sessions should have even more pre-planning that for an offline event, instruct your session leaders to do extra preparation, when possible do session feedback and rehearsals, ensure that each sessions has facilitation help from someone who is not leading the session. This is often even more important in a remote event than in person. Poorly prepared speakers could be even worse on a video than they might in person.
- Plan for inclusion of remote attendees who are not comfortable with, or do not have access to using video to participate in sessions. Can you find a way to include them via the text-chat function of a session video? What about during social events?
- Take into account the expectations and requirements from your own community around providing alternative ways to participate, consider easy to access tools and those that don’t require registering for a new service.
- If possible use open source and/or Wikimedia Foundation/Wikimedia Affiliate hosted tools
- Consider that people in different regions of the world are used to using very different tools. Evaluate your target audience or consider polling your attendees about this in advance.
- Plan for how to include people joining meetings/sessions late, especially in highly interactive working sessions and social sessions.
- Have content available in replay and take into account asynchronous participation.
- Try not to push things or to force attendance in social sessions but rather allow for participants to follow along as they choose.
- Can your conference be attended by somebody using only a mobile device? Can your conference be attended by someone with a slow internet connection?
Potential expenses eligible for funding (specific to virtual events) 
- Virtual event hosting and subscription services (or expanded licenses to host more simultaneous participants)
- Live translation
- Hiring professional facilitators, contractors, production, organization, moderation and technical support to support your event.
- Trainings around how to host virtual events
- Closed Captioning services
- Expenses for temporary wired or wireless data plans needed for organizers to host online event
- Providing equipment rentals and devices for speakers including microphones, cameras, etc.
- Subscription services supporting communications, marketing, and promotion for online event via e-mail, social media, or other domains during the grant period
- Remote events management services
- Anything related to improving the accessibility of your event (reimbursements for participants related to data packages or childcare for example)
- New and innovative ideas are very welcome - if you are thinking about something and have questions just ask!
Notes / Research:
- Working and convening remotely
- WikiProject remote event participation