Service provider experiences

Use this to discuss your experiences with service providers such as Zoom, Webex and so on.

Zoom Observations:
Zoom has many features that other competing solutions do not offer. However, it also has some serious limitations, which made our lives quite difficult at certain times during the event.

  • There can be only one host at a time. There can be multiple co-hosts, but they do not have all the permissions.
  • Unless they belong to the same license domain, others cannot be made a co-host in advance during the scheduling. They can become a co-host only after the session starts and they join the session. So, if the host has an emergency and cannot start the meeting, it is a serious problem. The only viable solution is to share the account details for the Zoom account, which may not be acceptable for some, though.
  • Zoom-bombing is a real threat. Anybody besides the co-hosts and speakers should be disallowed to chat, share screen or unmute themselves.
  • Breakout rooms: The idea is very nice, but there are serious limitations. These rooms cannot be recorded or streamed live to YouTube. Only the host can invite the participants into the breakout rooms (and the interface is not very easy to use). So, the participants cannot roam freely between the main session and breakout rooms. They can be allowed to come back to the main session, though.

Recommendations:

  • If Zoom is used:
  • Mute everyone and disable the chat and screen sharing.
  • To avoid Zoom-bombing, either use Zoom links without the password embedded in the link or make sure the links are never shared with the outside world (We had one occasion where the link was shared on Twitter accidentally). Another alternative is to use Zoom only among the speakers for the session, and let everybody else watch the YouTube live stream. Zoom Webinar mode is another option, however, it costs extra.
  • Speaker test room: A breakout room can be used by the speakers to test their setup. But, putting people in there is a hassle. A separate Zoom test session might be another idea.

Slido Observations:

  • Slido is great for asking questions. No account or app is needed. A simple browser page is sufficient. It allows anonymous questions and despite the shorter sessions, papers received more questions on the average than the conventional Q&As. Upvoting was quite useful to rank the questions (Downvoting is also possible but we did not enable it). The presenter mode has a nice UI for showing the questions during the Q&A.
  • Slido runs polls and surveys very easily. Another useful feature.
  • Slido can collect ideas on a specific topic (though we did not have a chance to use it).
  • The biggest drawback is the lack of notifications. So, the authors do not get notified upon a new question and the participants are not notified upon an answer (or comment).
  • There is also no participant-defined labeling for the questions, which is fine when each session is a separate room in Slido (as we did).

Recommendations:

  • There should be a Slido chair, maybe more than one, who can administer the presenter mode during the Q&A making the job easier for the session chairs. The Slido chair can also track down the authors for unanswered questions.
  • We did not moderate the questions, but this can be enabled if needed.
  • Slido polls (and the ideas) should be prepared in advance and they can be activated just in time.
  • We hope notifications will be improved.
  • Slido discussions are short term. Interested parties can move the discussion to Slack manually, though it would be nice if there were an easier integration (to be investigated).