Due to the COVID crisis the SMWCon 2020 had to be held as a virtual event. It was common to have live-streaming to YouTube in past conferences, but to go 100% virtual was first tried out at the EMWCon 2020 in the US, where Zoom was used very successfully. As organizers of the 2020 SMWCon, we decided to try out a different platform and selected Hopin for this purpose.

The virtual conference not only had the advantage that speakers could participate from around the world, without traveling involved. This not only saved CO2 emissions and travel costs, but also made attendance even possible for many speakers. This is also reflected in the attendance list: A total of 234 persons registered, 207 of them actually showed up at one of the three conference days, with 91 as the maximum person count in a session. 1445 chat messages were exchanged, which shows that also communication among the participants was facilitated.

The community provided a great program, with main sessions per day, a tutorial session and further sessions (Viennese coffee house and Bavarian beer pub) to informally meet people and a Speaker’s corner where presenters could practice sharing their screen, connecting audio and video. All in all, everything went very well, only in two cases speakers had technical problems with their presentations.

We also made use of the polling functionality:

While traditionally, SMWCons are based in Europe, this time it was a truly global event with 29 participants from the US, 8 from India, 5 from Canada, 4 from Brazil, and 1 from Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan, and Thailand. From Europe we had 57 from Germany, 35 from Austria, 31 from the Netherlands, 18 from Great Britain, 9 from France, 5 from Italy and Spain, 4 from Greece and Switzerland, 3 from Belgium, Finland and Poland, and 1 from Bulgaria, Hungary, Ireland, Serbia, and Slovakia.

For future SMWCons it is certainly an idea to have a combination of physical event (that will hopefully be possible again next fall) and an opportunity to participate online.

In the meantime, don’t forget to read our blog posts about different presentations here at the MediaWiki Experts blog and make sure to: