Scheduling notes

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Here are some notes from 2008 programming

  • Don't schedule anything before 4pm on Friday. No one will come.
  • Don't schedule things after closing ceremonies. Very few people will come.
  • Some people say there shouldn't be anything before opening ceremonies. I (Rachel) disagree; almost everyone wants to go to opening ceremonies, and you want almost everyone to go to opening ceremonies, for many reasons, but people arrive well before opening ceremonies and want things to do.
  • For whatever reason, it seems to be extremely common among midwest cons for opening ceremonies to be at 7pm. Not that another time would automatically be a disaster, but straying far from this might throw people off.
  • Don't schedule any panels for before 10am unless they are specifically about being early (Saturday morning cartoons, Early Risers' Club, etc.).
  • Don't schedule more than one panel after 10pm. Other kinds of programming may be okay, though.
  • Figuring out what will be well-attended and what will be small is more an art than a science. It's very hard to know what other people's interests will be. This is one of many reasons it's important to have people with diverse interests working on programming, so you can get a better sense of how well-attended panels will be.
  • I recommend using 60-minute blocks of time with 30 minute breaks in between for scheduling. 50-minute panels with 10-minute breaks are too rushed. Specifically, they don't give panelists time to get water, go to the bathroom or whatever between panels. 50 minutes is also not enough time to discuss things. I've tried 75-minute panels with 15-minute breaks, but for some panels, that's actually too long. People seem to mentally prepare themselves for 60 minutes, so with 75, they run out of things to say. With one-hour panels and half-hour breaks, panelists can easily decide to continue into the break for a bit if they want to. Some people complain that having panels start on the half-hour is confusing, but I haven't really seen any problems arise from this.
  • Meal breaks or not? Here's the debate. Some people say that it's important to include dinner breaks and lunch breaks in the schedule, by leaving blocks of time around noon and evening when nothing is scheduled. Other people say that it's unnecessary to schedule meal breaks; people can just avoid going to programming at certain times and work it out for themselves. Still other people say it's best to leave the lunch and dinner times lightly scheduled, so that people who want to go to programming can, but those who don't won't feel like they missed too much. This is an eternal debate, one with no single resolution. Choose what feels right.