ACL Guidelines on Remote Conference Participation

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ACL conferences have been requiring at least one of the authors to be present at the conference and give a talk in order for their paper to appear in the proceedings. In the unusual circumstances where none of the authors could make it to the conference due to visa issues or illness, an acceptable common practice has been for the authors to arrange a designated speaker who can deliver the talk on behalf of the authors.

However, there have been increasing recent concerns regarding traveling bans (e.g., the US government in 2017 tried to impose a traveling ban on Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), which will likely impact many valuable members of our conferences. Thus, ACL recommends that conference organizers of all ACL endorsed conferences facilitate technical support for participants to present their work and engage with the audience remotely. The exact details on how to arrange technical support will vary depending on the available resources at different conference venues. This article serves as a general guideline.

Remote participation chair: It is recommended that the conference organizers appoint a chair who will be in charge of facilitating remote participation. The responsibilities of the remote participation chair include (1) setting up the web applications, (2) reviewing the applications, (3) collecting recorded talks by a predetermined deadline, and (4) coordinating with the A/V support and the session chairs in advance for sessions that include remote presentations.

Recorded talks and live QA sessions: It is recommended that the authors prepare a recorded talk by a deadline proposed by the local chairs. The recorded video will be used for the main presentation since real time streaming may not be reliable. The QA session should be streamed live to maintain the interactiveness of the conference talks.

Application process: The authors will apply for remote presentation (for each paper separately) via a web application form submitted to the conference organizers by a deadline determined by the conference. To maintain the interactive nature of the conference, conference organizers may consider placing an upper bound on the total number of remote presentations allowed. The upper bound should not be too restrictive, keeping in mind the need to support authors who are struggling with major challenges such as visa restrictions, death in immediate family, major health issues, mobility issues, or other serious issues that impede traveling. At the same time, organizers should carefully examine the applications to allow remote presentations only when there is a compelling reason in order to maintain the interactive nature of the conferences. Another viable alternative to keep in mind, which has been the common practice in most previous conferences, is for the authors to send a speaker who is well aware of the work and can present the talk on behalf of the authors. Especially if the speaker can handle the QA session on behalf of the authors, this may be the preferred option over recorded talks. Yet another alternative that combines the strength of the remote presentation with a substitute speaker is to arrange a speaker who can give the talk on behalf of the authors, followed by an interactive QA session via live stream with the original authors.

Selecting presentation modes (oral vs. poster): The conference organizers will consult with local organizers to determine the viable options with respect to remote oral presentations vs. remote poster presentations. It is recommended that the organizers will consider different preparation requirements for each presentation mode as described below.

Supporting remote oral presentations: The technical crews and the session chair allocated for each session will need to be in charge of initiating the playback of the recorded talk and managing the live QA session.

Supporting remote poster presentations: The conference organizers will need to allocate support personnel with an appropriate computer for each poster who can be in charge of the playback of the recorded talk and the live QA session. Because poster presentations tend to be more interactive by nature, a potential concern with remote poster presentation is that conference audiences may not find this mode of presentation appealing enough --- especially watching a pre-recorded video on a small screen before initiating a live conversation --- to engage with the remote presenters. Therefore, many participants might engage directly with the presenters via live QA without watching the pre-recorded talks. Due to the potential disruption with the internet connection, however, it is recommended that the presenters prepare recorded talks.

Registration cost: The participants giving talks remotely will be required to register for the conference at a reduced cost. The exact amount will be determined by the ACL office and the Treasurer (including chapter Treasurer if applicable), based on data and information provided by the conference organizers. It is estimated that approximately 50% of the charge may be reasonable to share the required charge for reserving the conference venue and technical support. The discounted rate will be applicable only to conference registration. The ACL membership fee will remain identical for all participants.

Guidelines for local chairs: The local chairs will work with the venue to probe the available internet speed and the viability of live streaming during the QA sessions. It is important to keep in mind that even if the venue offers high speed internet connection, the streaming can be unreliable if the internet is unstable else where, for example, at the remote presenter's end.