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Some thoughts on etiquette for Working Group telecons. Or: Some tips for having a pleasant conversation with a few dozen people at once.


If you cannot make a meeting, please edit the meeting agenda to add yourself to the list of regrets. The Agenda for 30 January has a good example, if there is no regrets section in the agenda you are editing. If you need to send in regrets before the agenda is available, you should probably send an email to the WG chairs+staff at

Don't Identify Yourself on the Phone When You Join

Instead of breaking into the conversation to say something like "I'M HERE!!", just let the Zakim identification mechanism determine that you are attending.

Identify Yourself to Zakim (on IRC)

The IRC user "Zakim" is a "bot" which provides a command-line interface to the teleconferencing system. It reports people joining and leaving the telecon, keeping track of the name and IRC nickname of the people on each telecon port. We give it this information on IRC, and in some cases, it uses the number you are calling from to recognize you next time.

It helps us take attendance, manage a speaker queue, tell who is making noise, etc. See Using the Zakim Bridge and Using the Zakim IRC Bot.

If you are not identified automatically, identify yourself manually by joining the IRC before phoning and then noticing which unidentified caller shows up just after you join the teleconference. If this doesn't work, then you can type 41# (on your phone) and see who is added to the queue. Remember to remove yourself with 40# (on your phone) in this case. You identify yourself by something like "zakim, ??Pnn is me" (in IRC!).

(Note that "Zakim" is pronounced ZAY-k'm. It's named after a road bridge in Boston.)

Mute Yourself

When you are not talking, please keep your phone muted. It can be quite disruptive to the meeting when someone is breathing too close to the phone or typing too loudly, let alone answering the door.

If your phone does not have a MUTE button, or there is noise or echo on your phone line, use the Zakim mute feature. The best way to mute yourself is via "zakim, mute me" and "zakim, unmute me". You can also use 61# on your phone to mute and 60# to unmute, but this injects (loud) noise into the teleconference so only do this if you can't use IRC.

Identify Yourself When You Speak

In many cases the chair will do this when he recognizes a speaker, but it is best to start with "This is ...".

If you don't know who is speaking, you may ask on IRC or simply interrupt the speaker with something like, "Excuse me, but who is this speaking?"

Consider Sharing Your Thoughts on IRC

In particular, simple thoughts like agreement, disagreement, or confusion, which would probably be visible on your face if we were in a room together, are easy to say on IRC as "+1", "-1", or "??". Additional words can be added after those character to clarify your meaning, as "+1 extend the meeting another 15 minutes" or "?? I couldn't hear you over the noise."

When a specific proposal is being discussed, +1/-1 are sometimes used for voting, as per Apache Foundation Voting, but they are often used less formally.

Help the Scribe

If you are using a non-obvious IRC nickname (like your initials), please be sure to let the scribe know who you are.

If you say something in the meeting, check how the scribe recorded it and correct them if necessary.

If you hear something which seems particularly important to capture, feel free to scribe it yourself. It's better to have several people each scribe it than to have it not scribed, or not scribed clearly.