Inclusivity of exclusively in-person events?

Continuing the discussion from 2nd Local London Meetup

I am forking the conversation from over there, because my reply on this specific topic became long, and I realized it could be a wider discussion of its own weight.

I am framing this new Discussion topic on how to take an inclusive approach to organizing exclusively in-person events. @hankuoffroad shared his concerns in the previous Discussion topic about wanting to include virtual attendees who could not travel for the local meetup in London, and I thought this was a great, real-world example to start a bigger conversation.

Mileage varies, but in my experience for meetups, it is only valuable to go hybrid when there are presentations with Q&A. Otherwise, I agree that hybrid is difficult for social meetups. Often in-person attendees accidentally overlook the virtual attendees and virtual attendees can end up having a frustrating experience as well.

We should encourage a culture around in-person meetings where anyone who is empowered to organize a meetup is able to do so. We can also underline that the goal is not to have backdoor discussions in a smoky room about influential decisions, but instead to connect and meet other Fedora friends in the area. Sometimes that may lead to action and collaboration organically on the basis of in-person proximity. That isn’t a bad thing.

It is important to remember that there is always space for in-person conversations and actions to then make their way back to the global virtual spaces where the community works.

I can give a personal story. Several years ago, Marie Nordin and I lived in the same city for a while. We used to meet up monthly to collaborate on our plans for organizing a Fedora Badges hackfest. We did our work and planning together offline, but we typically mapped out steps at the end of our in-person hacking to share what we worked on with our other team members and stakeholders.

It is possible to inclusively organize an exclusive in-person event. Or this is my perspective anyways!

Leaving it open from here for others to weigh in with their own thoughts and opinions.


My take: it’s fine to set up an in-person only event when the goal is to vibe, hang out, or engage in focused Fedora work. The more the event feels more like something that is consumed, like a talk, Q&A session, the more of a shame it is to not have a virtual component.

With that out of the way, I think we bias mostly toward virtual collaboration, so to have occasional in-person events that are just in person is fine to me. I wouldn’t be worried about it if someone was trying to do a meetup.


FWIW, I think in person only events are a good thing that should be encouraged. The community could end up with more ambassador’s as a result. Let’s take the “London meetup” as example, I am across the big pond and won’t ever meetup there, and have little interest in staying up late enough to have a good social interaction online. Something that has never happened for me online is “having a good social interaction”. By that I am referring to the fulsomeness of conversation is not possible online, even in virtual meetings. Most of our communication happens non-verbally and relies on proximity to those we are communicating with.