Arisia Panelist FAQ

Welcome to Arisia Programming! Now that you’ve been selected as a panelist or other sort of program participant for this convention, the following FAQ will help provide some useful information on what happens next.

I am now officially a panelist! What’s next?

You will receive a link to sign into Zambia, the web-based software we use to manage much of the programming and scheduling process. The How to Use Zambia guide provides detailed information on using Zambia. Once you’ve added all the necessary information into Zambia, you can begin selecting your panels!

Now that I’m a panelist, what’s going to happen with my registration?

You’ll be provided a complimentary membership for the day(s)of your panel(s), with an option to upgrade to a full weekend membership at a discounted rate. If you’re on three or more panels you will receive a complimentary membership for all four days of the convention. 

What does it mean to be on a panel?

A panel is a moderated discussion on a given topic and usually includes four or five people.

These individuals are selected because they have the following qualifications:

  • They are a professional in a field that relates to the topic of the panel
  • They have been actively involved with the subject in some way for a number of years. This can include participating in the fandom, organizing events related to the subject, studying the subject on a long term basis, etc.


Do I have to be a professional to sign up for a panel?

Being a professional is not a requirement for being a panelist at Arisia, but we do welcome those who are professionals in their field. What we look for in a panelist is knowledgeability on the subject, the ability to speak well in public, and respect for the audience and fellow panelists.


How do I select a panel? Is it possible to select too many?

Panels are chosen through Zambia, please see the How to Use Zambia guide on how this works. Participants can choose as many panels as they like in any and all tracks that they like. You’ll find a comments section on each panel listing where participants are required to enter information on why they would be an awesome addition on a given panel. We strongly encourage people to look through all the tracks for anything they may have any kind of expertise on. Additionally, keep in mind that it’s unlikely that you’ll end up on all the panels you select, and we encourage panelists to select more sessions than they want to be on, so that we have flexibility and choice in creating your schedule.


After selecting panels, how will I know which ones I made it onto?

Panel selection is done during a specific time period that usually happens in the Fall, 3-4 months prior to the convention. The dates for opening and closing panel selection are announced via email to invited participants. After programming staff are done compiling the information, schedules are created and sent out to the panelists via email. This process is long and complex and takes several months.


What do I do if I have too many panels?

Every year, Arisia staff strives to makes sure that no one is scheduled for more panels than they might be able or want to handle, and that a person’s schedule allows for breaks and meals. If you feel that you have been given too many panels, you can email @email and request that we reduce your schedule. The best way to prevent any kind of scheduling mishaps is to fill out the “Availability” section of Zambia as accurately as you can. You can also add information in the “Interests” section that can help ensure that you get a schedule that works best for you.


Oh no, I have two panels scheduled at the same time! What should I do?

While Arisia staff works very hard to make sure that no such thing happens, it’s not unheard of for this kind of conflict to occur. If you haven’t been contacted by the staff to help you correct this, please let us know about this oversight by e-mailing @email! This may mean that you will be asked to make a decision regarding which panel you want to be on the most.


Why wasn’t I selected for the panel I wanted?

A lot of different factors are taken into account when selecting panelists. Each year Arisia has very popular panels that will have over 30 people apply for panels with only room for 4 to 5 participants. With so many people vying for a finite amount of slots, we can’t accommodate everyone and the decisions that go into panelist selections for each panel are complex. If you have specific concerns about a specific panel, please feel free to contact us and we’ll look into it. And of course, there’s always next year!


I am the moderator for a panel.  What does this mean?  What are moderators expected to do?

In brief, moderators are panelists that have been designated to provide structure for and lead panel discussions. Good moderators have a plan, communicate it, are able to gently guide the other participants back on course if they stray, and are not afraid to intervene more forcefully if necessary. More information about moderating can be found at our Moderator’s Guide.


It’s Convention Time! What should I do when I get to Arisia?

First things first, head to Registration, (located on the concourse, one level down from the lobby), and pick up your badge. Once you have your badge, head to the Program Nexus (located one level up from the lobby in the Executive Boardroom) to pick up your Programming Participant Packet. This is a standard sized manila envelope that includes the following:

  • Your name card that you will display while on panels
  • A ribbon to affix to your badge indicating your panelist status
  • Your printed schedule, if there’s an “M” by your name this means that you’re moderating that particular session. The schedule is printed as a sticker that you can put on the back of your name card.
  • A welcome letter with some additional information in it.

Please remember to take this packet with you to each panel and don’t forget your name card! If you do forget your name card, the Programming Nexus can help you out. Panelists are advised to show up between five to ten minutes early for their session.


Does Arisia have an official dress code?

Like many other conventions, Arisia is chock full of people dressed in a wide array of costumes and fashions that one might not encounter in day-to-day life. As long as people are dressed in manner that is considered "street legal" per the laws of the City of Boston, all styles are welcome.


What should I do if I can’t make it to a panel?

If you fall ill or otherwise become unable to attend a panel, please let Programming know ASAP. Send an email to @email explaining your situation. In addition to contacting programming, you should also attempt to notify the moderator of the panel. Whatever you do, please make sure that Programming gets the word that you won’t be able to attend your panel so a replacement can be found if needed.


What do I do if I have some other programming related question or problem?

If this is at the convention, stop by the Program Nexus in the Executive Boardroom, or, if Nexus is closed, head to convention operations in the Stone Room.  Prior to or after the convention, you can send us an e-mail at @email.