12 Social events

The social events at useR! include:

  • my first useR! (usually the day before tutorials)
  • meeting between recipients of the scholarships (also usually the day before tutorials; it is a good time to welcome them and to introduce their contact person in the organization committee) (in in-person settings)
  • R foundation board meeting (also usually the day before tutorials) (in in-person settings)
  • Opening and closing ceremonies
  • Partner community events + R-Ladies + MiR + LatinR + AfricaR + RUGS
  • Satellite events: other potential organizations that would do satellite events, as the RIOT workshop or a tidyverse group meeting (organized the day before the meeting by RStudio in 2019). (in in-person settings)
  • Gala dinner (in in-person settings)
  • Networking sessions, meant to creating possibilities for people to know each other + Poster session accompanied with a buffet (in-person mode) + Employers/employees meetup (in-person mode)
  • Recreation activities, to make a pause during the week
    • Yoga sessions
    • Creation Lab event
    • a movie day
    • aRt Gallery event
    • tRivia
    • visit of a local interesting place (in-person mode)

12.1 Code of Conduct

All event organizers were asked to read and agree following the Code of Conduct before they were hired. This protects them too from unwanted behavior from the attendees or organizers.

Following the CoC is also extremely important in in-person social events. The informality and alcohol consumption makes in-person social events a space of the conference vulnerable to Code of Conduct violations. Prevent excessive offer/consumption of alcohol for this and other motives.

12.2 Opening and closing ceremonies

Opening and closing ceremonies are usually the occasion to thank the sponsors and others who supported the organization of the conference. During the opening ceremony, you will also want to remind some important aspects of the organization (like the code of conduct, conference buddies, or practical information on the venue for in-person events). It is usually advised to prepare slides (especially to display the sponsors’ logos). The opening ceremony can also include a special moment with a local cultural activity (music or alike). Opening ceremony can last a bit longer than the closing ceremony (30 and 15 minutes each seem to be a good timing).

12.3 Satellite events

Satellite events are usually organized under the request of a group. For in-person events, contact in advance the R foundation to know if they wish to have a meeting before and/or during the event. They could also put you in touch with lisaons from communities such as R-Ladies, MiR, satRdays, etc. if you don’t have direct contact with them already. It is expected that you ensure the financial cost of such an event (meals and/or coffee breaks if needed). Other organizations might ask to have a place to organize their own event and they can usually support part or of the financial cost of these events.

12.4 Gala dinner

The Gala dinner is usually organized on one of the evenings of the conference (the first or the second day) outside the conference venue. You can choose to have a seated, or a standing gala dinner but make sure, in both cases, ensure that you have enough chairs for people who can not stand for long. A standing gala dinner are usually more friendly because people can navigate between groups to discuss. In both cases, it’s appriciated when some entertainment is organized for the event be it a musical performance, games, etc. Food recommendations are provided in Section Logistics.

12.5 Networking sessions

Usually, poster sessions are more successful if accompanied by a social event encouraging people to stay at the poster session. These can include the organization of poster prizes and/or of a buffet.

Employers/employees meetups have also been successful in the past. They have to be organized well in advance, by contacting sponsors and companies that have registered to the event to ask them if they want to participate. A moderator is then needed for the event itself, as well as a room of moderate size, including a computer, and a beamer (for slides) and some chairs scattered around the room to allow for more private discussions following the presentations.

12.6 How to: Organise R Community Events at useR!

useR! is a great opportunity to organise community events that allow people to network, share knowledge, mentor, and socialise. The Forwards community events tend to focus on communities we want to support, amplify, and promote. Previously we have organised social events for:

  • Diversity scholars
  • First-time useR! attendees, aka Newbies
  • Forwards
  • RainbowR
  • RUGs
  • satRdays
  • Joint community organisers events for R-Ladies, RUGs, satRdays, and other local conferences and meetups organisers

In addition, R-Ladies usually organise an R-Ladies lunch, in which Forwards members take part.

12.6.1 Formats

  • Casual Some of the social events are very free-form. We would ask a community member to lead them, or have a Forwards member do it if none are available. They will introduce themselves, organise an ice-breaker, and then either let people form small groups freely or facilitate a group discussion around emerging topics. It’s a great way to get new people to interact with long standing community members, or for peers to connect. In the Forwards event we often answer a lot of curious questions about our work, and get new ideas for what we could do next, and who we can collaborate with. This has been the case for the diversity scholars, Forwards, and RainbowR in useR! 2019 for example.

  • Working group or knowledge sharing For social events aimed at organisers, we have typically asked a few organisers to help form an agenda for topics they would like to try to tackle at scale to avoid re-inventing the wheel. We have also seen that people who are curious about volunteering and organising to support existing events, or start new chapter often join. This is a great opportunity to welcome them to your community, get to know them, and onboard them to your knowledge base and communication channels. This has been the case for the satRdays, and the joint community organiser events in useR! 2019 for example.

  • Lunch As mentioned above, R-Ladies usually organise a lunch based event where R-Ladies and allies network, and the famous R-Ladies picture is take. It has also informally become an event for exchanging local version of R-Ladies hex stickers, and other swag, and many people wear purple tokens or shirts to show support.

12.6.2 Rooms

If you are organising a lunch you simply need to ask the organisers which lunch / open space area you could use, so you can easily guide attendees. This could be done a bit more spontaneously by posting signs to direct people and tweeting the location once you are at the conference.

If you are organising a casual or working group event, we suggest to plan for a lunch or coffee break as well. You can ask the organisers which room you can use, as there is usually an empty breakout room where people can more easily find each other and feel at ease interacting with others away from the crowd.

Either way we strongly encourage you to coordinate timing and location with the organising committee to that these events are spread throughout the conference, and don’t clash. They may also mention them on the schedule, or on a page directing people to side events. Here is an example for the side events page from useR!2019

12.6.3 Marketing and communication

  • We recommend asking the relevant communities to share the events via their slack and twitter channels, alongside the Forwards and main conference twitter channels.
  • Ideally your events will also appear on the schedule, or on the side events page of the official conference website.
  • Lastly, you can create a markdown file on the Forwards GitHub repository to add more information about each event.
  • If the other communication channels point to it, you can easily keep it up to date with location updates, or changes to points of contact and agendas for each meeting.
  • Here’s and example for the markdown file for the Forwards supported side events and activities during useR! 2019

12.7 How to organise the useR! Forwards Newbie Session

This pre-conference session is aimed at newcomers to useR! as an introduction to the conference and the wider R community. The session will feature short talks, open discussion and informal networking.

12.7.1 Coordinate with the conference organisation team

  • Request a room for 2 hours to run the Forwards Newbies session a day before the main event. Preferably after the tutorials, R Foundation business meeting, and developer days, so participants of those events can join the newbie session. If there is a cocktail hour for one of preceding events, our social time should overlap so newbies can interact with the participants.
  • Have the organizers advertise the session on the main conference page, in the program or under “side events”. For example:

Forwards is organizing a session for newcomers to useR! as an introduction to the conference and the wider R community on DATE AND TIME at LOCATION. There will be a social time TIME(first hour), followed by an hour of short talks:

Talk 1 (SPEAKER)

Talk 4 (SPEAKER) * Get information about the tech requirements so you can ask speakers to send you slides in advance. Make the slides available online through the conference website if possible, or otherwise through the Forwards GitHub or wbsite. Plan to be at the room earlier and ask the speakers to do the same so you can test the setup.

12.7.2 Invite speakers

  • Try to find people that can talk for 10 minutes about the conference, how to participate in R communities, how to contribute to R through open source, taking into account technical skills and navigating the ecosystem. It’s a great opportunity for prominent people in the R community to interact with newbies and a lot of them are happy to take part and make useR! more inclusive. Previously we have had 4/5 talks on topics such as
    • Forwards
    • The R ecosystem
    • R User Groups (by organizer of the local group)
    • R ladies (by member of global leadership team)
    • Making the most of useR!
    • useR! abstract review: what the program committee look for
    • Contributing to the ecosystem
    • rOpenSci onboarding system and community
    • Collaborative coding
    • Making a career from coding You can repeat topics from previous years.
  • Example invitation:

Hope you are doing well. I was wondering if you would be willing to give a small talk for the newbies session. We’re looking for speakers that can help introduce the conference and the community for first time attendees. Some topics from previous years were: The R ecosystem, Making the most of useR!, rOpenSci onboarding system and community, and Making a career from coding.

I think you are quite active with PROJECT so you could speak about TOPIC or about TOPIC? What do you think? Perhaps you have another idea? If in addition, you can think of other people or topics that could be relevant, for a small talk (it is 10 minutes max on DAY evening), please let me know.

12.7.3 Marketing

Tweet about it from the Forwards account with a link to the main conference schedule / side events. You can also link to the Forwards GitHub page, simply make a markdown file with all the details for useR! Forwards events. For example: Forwards - Conferences - user!2019 plans

12.7.4 Information on previous events