The Early Phase of Star Formation
The MPIA conference series at Ringberg Castle, Germany
EPoS 2024 Offline or not?
This page summarizes the arguments we have been made aware of in discussions and feedback concerning the choice of the EPoS 2024 conference mode. Correspondingly, they do not form a consistent picture and may even partially contradict each other.
All EPoS meetings have been offline so far.
Ringberg hardware allows for any conference mode from hybrid over streaming to recording.
The EPoS2022 vote
In a voting during EPoS 2022 with the options offline, hybrid, and online, the conference participants voted clearly for offline (>90%), with a few voices supporting either streaming, recording, or interactive online access additional to real life presence.
C1 Contra offline: the main argument
In offline mode the special outcome of the conference - discussing controversies and limitation of current approaches openly - has no direct communication channel to the community.
C2 Contra offline: The long waiting list
Some of the persons voting for offline might have second thoughts when ending on the waiting list next time.
C3 Contra offline: The EPoS disadvantage
The small participant limit of 70 restricts contributions to all discussions to only a fraction of the community (current estimates are 10% to 20%). Breaking offline would weaken this disadvantage.
C4 Contra offline: Inclusivity not reached
The current conference mode creates a tension in the community because scientists may feel excluded and cut-off from important communication.
C5 Contra offline: Ressource management
With limited traveling funds and the intention to use ressources sustainably, online attendance can optimize the list of desired speakers and the completeness in reaching all interested scientists.
P1 Pro Offline: the main argument
From experience, people talk more openly when only participants can listen. The extended discussions then better reveal approximations, limitations, and counter arguments.
P2 Pro offline: EPoS is not the only meeting for this topic
There are other conferences with no participant number limit covering the EPoS topic (e.g. Protostars & Planets, STAR@LYON every two years). They could be encouraged to allow for more discussions.
P3 Pro offline: EPoS meetings publish a good portion of the findings
EPoS meetings report on the contributions long before the meeting by the abstract and figures presented in the registration, as well as by providing some of the talks later in the download section.
P4 Pro offline: Results will come out soon anyway
Results presented at EPoS meetings are either published or likely will be published after a short time.
They may be influenced by the discussion leading to a more careful arguing in the publication.
P5 Pro offline: Hybrid discussions are less efficient
From our experience and from the feedback real life discussions are considered to be more efficient than any hybrid alternative.
P6 Pro offline: Not many provide their slides
While the need to keep the community informed by recording or streaming seems plausible, even those speaking against offline rarely provide their slides after the meeting.
P7 Pro offline: "Recorded for eternity"
A recording is psychologically far-reaching, every mistake you make in the discussion, every revealed gap in your knowledge etc. remains accessible. For a talk, presenting the slides can be practiced (and will be especially by younger speakers), but answering unexpected questions in a discussion while being recorded can be stressful.
The current view of the organizers
We make some effort to establish a workshop atmosphere despite the large number of participants. The isolated place keeps people together for five days building up enough of social binding that they are more open than at normal conferences. This is a measurable effect: the talks and reviews later provided for download differ from the oral version. Recording or streaming will turn EPoS back to be a normal conference with just more discussion and a participant limit.
Hence, we currently agree with the majority of EPoS2022 participants to keep EPoS2024 offline.

We may consider to make it a rule that the moderator's slides are provided for download (which lists the main open questions and controversial points that appeared throughout the discussions after the talks).

If you wish to share your view with us or want us to add another argument here: steinmpiade.

invented and organized by Jürgen Steinacker & Aurore Bacmann