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< TPAC‎ | 2017

This FAQ is part of the TPAC 2017 Plenary Day wiki.

What is TPAC?

TPAC is the acronym for our annual "All Working Group meetings, Technical Plenary, and Advisory Committee Meeting week". TPAC has three components:

  1. Meetings of as many W3C Working Groups who choose to meet during this week;
  2. A "plenary day";
  3. A meeting of the W3C Advisory Committee.

What is the confidentiality of the plenary day?

The plenary day content is public. Plenary day participation is open to eligible W3C participants and invited guests.

Why are we using this format for the Plenary day?

We have used this format for several years and most participants appreciate it. The format can generate more interactive discussion, and make it easier for all to participate. Also, since the W3C community has such wide-ranging interests, the format enables each attendee to spend more time on his/her topics of interest.

How does the agenda get built?

Right after the Plenary session there is an agenda building session. During that hour, facilitators will help as meeting attendees write down breakout session topics on pieces of sticky notes and post those notes on a grid of approximately 40 sessions. There is often negotiation among all the participants, for instance because two people want to propose similar sessions and so combine them, or they don't want two sessions to take place at the same time. At the end of an hour there is a solid agenda and people begin their breakout sessions.

Avoiding the Mad Scramble effect

As a repeated instance where 50%+ of the participants are returning people, TPAC breakouts are unusual for an annual BarCamp. As people have become experienced with the process, they lose any hesitation, the onslaught to the board with post-it notes is massive, and thus the Mad Scramble results, unfortunately greatly disadvantaging anyone new to W3C, or new to BarCamp methods.

Facilitators propose the following rules to improve the agenda building experience:

  1. Priority to those sessions socialised in wiki in advance;
  2. First-time participants have a 15-20 minute head start at the board to propose their session(s);
  3. (co-)organizers of a session in either of the *past two years* propose their sessions(s) 15-20 minutes AFTER the "Mad Scramble" starts.

Recognizing breakout sessions facilitators

Facilitators will wear a black cap embroidered with the W3C logo in white against blue on top of "TPAC - 2017" embroidered in white against red:


Can I be guaranteed a room for my breakout session?

We prefer to allow those at the meeting to work out the schedule. In the past we have always had enough rooms.

Instead of a breakout session, can we discuss my topic in plenary (that is: in a big room with everyone)?

TPAC participants have indicated a clear preference for the unconference/breakout format.

What if there are more breakout session proposals than there are rooms?

If there are more ideas than rooms, we encourage groups to be creative about where they meet. Could you sit outside? Is your group small enough to cluster in a corner of the lobby?

What if I think of a great idea for a session in the middle of the day?

Propose your breakout idea anyway! The grid can evolve during the day, for example as breakout conversations spawn new ideas.

What are the breakout room sizes?

Breakout rooms (capacity):

  • Grand Peninsula F&G - 85 (60 u-shape + 25 chairs at the periphery of the room) 3 mics
  • Grand Peninsula B&C - 75 (45 u-shape + 30 chairs at the periphery of the room) 3 mics
  • Grand Peninsula E - 55 (35 u-shape + 20 chairs at the periphery of the room) 1 mic
  • Grand Peninsula A - 55 (35 u-shape + 20 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Sandpebble B - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Sandpebble C - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Sandpebble D - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Sandpebble E - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Harbour Room A - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)
  • Harbour Room B - 35 (u-shape 20 + 15 chairs at the periphery of the room)

Seating arrangement: U-shape style with some power outlets, chairs at the periphery of the rooms.

Standard room audio visual: LCD Projector and Screen.

Can a session span more than one time slot?

In theory, yes. We will determine room allocation in the agenda-building session.

What if no one comes to my session?

First, you can take steps to avoid this situation by putting your idea in the session idea wiki early, and beginning to socialize it with participants well in advance of the meeting.

But if it does happen that people do not come to your session, simply attend another one that interests you. People will appreciate that you contributed to the agenda. The more ideas people contribute, the more possibilities we have to consider.

What is good practice for organizing a session?

At the beginning

    • Give context
      • What is the nature of your session (presentation or discussion or other)?
      • What are your goals?
      • What minimal background must people know in order to follow the discussion?
    • Create a wiki page
    • Find a scribe (not required to be W3C staff)
      • You can take notes directly into a new wiki page for your session. Or you can choose a public IRC channel, "/invite RRSAgent", take notes on IRC; see RRSAgent instructions for more.
      • Consider recording names of participants (e.g., by having them "sign in" on IRC)

At the end

    • End on time.
      • Allow for travel time to the next session.
    • Create public minutes or summary
      • Discuss a summary before the discussion ends
      • Please link from grid to your summary or notes.
      • What to cover:
        • Main points of discussion, consensus, or disagreement?
        • What are the next steps (possibly none)?
        • Who is responsible for carrying them out? (Could be a person from the session, or a group where work is ongoing, a new community group, the staff, etc.)

Encouraging international participation / managing language barriers

    • State clearly the goal of the breakout
    • Summarize from time to time, check for understanding, clarify when necessary.
    • Scribe on IRC
    • Speak slowly and clearly, avoid idioms and jargon
    • Invite people to participate

How do we share our breakout discussion with others?

For all sessions, we would like an electronic summary or minutes that we will link from the wiki. The W3C Communications Team plans to review all the session summaries and possibly to build a comprehensive summary.

There is a scheduled opportunity Wednesday to share your discussion with other meeting attendees. We will divide up that session according to the number of people who wish to present. We expect summaries to last no more than a few minutes.

If time permits, there may be an opportunity to share during the Thursday Advisory Committee meeting, where the topic is particularly relevant to the AC's agenda.

People may also wish to disseminate their summaries via email, or in a new Community Group, or through other means. Find W3C Comm team members if you need assistance.

Can press attend TPAC?

TPAC is open to group participants, and thus is not open to the general public including press.

In general, if you have questions about press at W3C events, please contact the W3C Communications team (

How long is a session?

Usually, up to an hour. A session may span more than one time slot. We will determine room allocation in the agenda-building session.

What else ...??

... would you like to know? Put your question here and we'll answer.