How to Use Zambia; a Guide for Panelists

Zambia is the system used by Arisia to organize and schedule our content.  Logging into Zambia as a participant allows panelists to indicate which panels they’d like to be on, set their availability during the convention and create a profile/biography.

Some people find that it’s best to fill out this section last, after completing all other parts of the panel sign-up process.  You should feel free to come back to it at the end.

1: When you log in for the first time, you will need to update your profile and change your password away from the default by clicking profile on the menu bar

From this page you can do the following:

  • Let us know if you are interested and able to participate in programming for the upcoming convention
    • If you want to be on panels or otherwise be a program participant, set it to "Yes"
    • If you are unable to attend this year, but want to be invited for future years, please still log in and set it to "No"
  • Let us know if we can share your e-mail address with other participants.  Please consider saying yes so that moderators of panels you have been selected for can contact you prior to the convention to let you know format, and so you can discuss and prep for the panel.  Saying no will not affect our decisions when making panelist selections for panels.
  • Let us know if we can photograph you while you’re participating on panels, and if we can use those images in the promotion of the convention.  Saying no will not affect our decisions when making panelist selections for panels.
  • Let us know how you want your name to appear on our electronic and print publications.  
  • Provide us with your biography for our electronic and print publications.  Bios are limited to 1000 characters (including spaces).
  • Review the contact information we have for you. Corrections can be made by logging into our registration system (which has a separate login process and password than Zambia

2: Next, please let us know about your availability, by selecting that option from the menu in the page header.

This allows us to get an idea of what kind of schedule you’d like to have during the convention. In addition to listing time ranges, make sure to enter information on any constraints or conflicts that might occur on your schedule at the bottom of the page. Be as thorough as you can and fill out all fields on this page -- the more information we have, the better! Please keep in mind that a narrow availability listing makes it difficult for Arisia staff to schedule you, so please be both honest and realistic about your con participation time!

3: The next section you will want fill out is General Interests.

This page is where you can provide information pertaining to your interests, workshops or presentations you’d like to pitch to us, who you’d like to be on panels with (or who you want to avoid).  This is also the place to give us other information we should consider when creating this year’s programming schedule.

4: Next up is Search Sessions.

This is how you find out what sort of panels and other program items are available to participate on. Because of the volume of selections that are available at Arisia, we organize panels by tracks. There are no restrictions on how many tracks a person can participate on; we love panelists that have knowledge in several content areas and can participate on a diverse range of items!

From the Sessions main page you can do the following:

  • Click the drop menu on the Track option. This will show you a list of all our tracks.
  • Select the track you’re interested in then click search. This will give you a list of panel options for that track.
  • Each entry has a box next to the title that you click on to add it as a panel you are interested in being on.
  • Once you’ve made your selections, click save. You will be taken to a page where you can enter a rating and give reasons as to why you would be a good choice for a given panel (see section 5 below).
  • Go back to the Search Sessions page to add more panels to your list, either from the same track, or other tracks.

5: Tell us why you should be on that panel

Once you have selected a bunch of panels you’re interested in being on, it’s time to provide us with information for why we should place YOU on that panel.  This is a really important step!.  We have so many great panelists that sign up each year, so we rarely assign people to panels that have not ranked the panel and written something about why they would be a fabulous addition to this item.  

Click on the "Session Interests" option from the menu to view all the panels you selected earlier.  

  • First, go through and rank all your panel selections. We use the following rating system:
    • 1 -- Oooh! Oh! Pick Me!   
    • 2-3 -- I'd like to if I can   
    • 4-5 -- I am qualified but this is not one of my primary interests
    • You’re limited to 4 sessions each of preferences 1-4 and there’s no limit to the number of sessions for which you can express preference 5
  • Next, write a bit in the text boxes for each panel to let us know why you would be fabulous on that session.
    • Completing this step thoughtfully is especially important for the items you rank highest.
    • Address anything asked of panelists in the beige box associated with that panel.  
    • This doesn’t need to be long -- a short paragraph is typical.
    • Some panelists draft these out in a separate document and then cut-and-paste their entries into Zambia as a final step.
    • If you do not fill this section out, you will not get placed on the panel, even if you rate it a 1 and feel that you’re an obvious choice.
  • If you are interested in moderating a particular panel, please select that option while providing your rankings.  The panelists most enthusiastic about a topic don’t always make the best moderators, as moderators are facilitators in addition to contributors on a panel, so keep this in mind when ranking and indicating your interest in moderating.
  • Remember to save your progress approximately every ten minutes so that you aren’t logged out due to inactivity and lose your selections or what you wrote!
  • Ranking a panel as "1" and writing a thesis on why you’re perfect for the panel does not guarantee your placement on it. Most of our panels have more qualified people sign up for them than we have spaces on the panel (typically 4-5), and there are more sessions to sign up for than we have spots in the schedule.

If you have any questions, or run into difficulties, don't hesitate to contact us at programming (at) arisia (dot) org.