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This FAQ is part of the TPAC 2012 Plenary Day wiki.

Why are we using this format for the Plenary day?

It was a big success at TPAC 2011. 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?

Early in the Plenary Day there is an agenda building session. During that hour, meeting attendees write down breakout session topics on pieces of paper. They post those session ideas on a grid of approximately 32 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.

Can I be guaranteed a room for my breakout session?

The TPAC program committee may pre-select up to 25% of the sessions. A pre-selected session is guaranteed a room (but generally not a specific time slot). As part of deciding which breakout sessions should be pre-selected, the Program Committee will look at those TPAC 2012 Session Ideas for which there is strong support.

We plan to announce pre-selected sessions by 19 October. You may request a pre-selected session by email to (which has a public archive).

Why do we pre-select some breakouts? Some participants have indicated that being guaranteed a room allows them better advance preparation.

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

Some of the TPAC 2011 feedback we received indicated a preference for breakout sessions over plenary sessions. Therefore, we have reduced the number of plenary sessions for TPAC 2012.

However, if there is very strong support for a proposed breakout session, The Program Committee may adjust the plenary sessions to accommodate it.

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?

In Lyon we will have:

    • The plenary room (seats a lot)
    • Salon Pasteur: 58 people
    • Rhone 1: 35 people
    • Rhone 2: 35 people
    • Rhone 3: 50 people
    • Rhone 4: 18 people
    • Saint Clair 1: 30 people
    • Saint Clair 2: 30 people
    • Saint Clair 3A: 30 people
    • Saint Clair 3B: 30 people
    • Saint Clair 4: 14 people

See a map of the venue.

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.
      • The schedule allows for travel time to the next session.
    • Create public minutes or summary
      • Discuss a summary before the discussion ends
      • Please link from online 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 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.

Can we organize a breakout session during lunch?

Yes, in the lunch room. To be assured a breakout table, please indicate that you wish to meet during lunch during the morning agenda building session.

The TPAC 2012 meeting planners have recommended against eating lunch in one of the breakout rooms.

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 Ian Jacobs (

What else ...??

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