Helping R Community Events Go Virtual

By May 5, 2020Blog

The R Consortium helps provide all sorts of resources to projects, companies, and events to help build R infrastructure and expand the R community. We have given out grants over $1 million dollars to developers (and it’s a good time to prep for the next Fall Grant Cycle), we give funding to events and meetups through out R User Group (RUGs) program, we help fund the popular R-Ladies, which promotes diversity in the R community through meetups, mentorship and global collaboration and has 170+ groups worldwide, and much more.

At the Linux Foundation, we have been studying robust, scalable virtual events platforms that we can not only use for our own R Consortium events, but that we could extend as a resource to the R community. 

Here is the current state of our evaluation. We’ve covered 86 virtual event platforms, and come up with a list of 4 finalists. Since specific circumstances and goals for events will always vary, we expect that there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution.

The four finalists are: 

inXpo Intrado

Best for large events with high budgets requiring a virtual conference experience with few compromises

vFAIRS

Best for medium to large events with smaller budgets that want to offer a 3D environment/booth experience

MeetingPlay

Best for any size event where attendee networking tools are a priority and sponsor ‘booths’ aren’t required

QiQo Chat

QiQo is best for smaller technical gatherings that don’t need all the bells and whistles of an industry event focus, a great option for developer meetings and hackathons

From our blog on the selection process (“Virtual event suggestions for open source communities”).

The good news is that for those events that can no longer safely take place in person, virtual events still offer the opportunity to connect within our communities to share valuable information and collaborate. While not as powerful as a face-to-face gathering, a variety of virtual event platforms available today offer a plethora of features that can get us as close as possible to those invaluable in-person experiences. Thanks to our community members, we’ve received suggestions for platforms and services that the events team has spent the past several weeks evaluating. 

After researching a large number of possibilities over the last few weeks, the Linux Foundation has identified four virtual event platforms (and a small-scale developer meeting tool) that could serve the variety of needs within our diverse project communities. Our goal was to determine the best options that capture as much of the real-world experience as we can in a virtual environment for virtual gatherings ranging from large to small. 

If you are considering a virtual alternative for your R community meetup or event, please contact us. We may be able to help!