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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 provide some useful information on what happens next.

Arisia 2021 Panelists! Being a panelist at a virtual convention is a bit different than participating in person. Please review the Arisia Virtual Convention Panelist Guide for information specific to participating in a virtual Arisia.

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, including how to log in, how to set your availability, and how to express interest in a panel.

Once you’ve added all of 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 or days of your panel or panels, 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.

Arisia 2021 Panelists! For the 2021 virtual convention only, participation on a single panel gives you a complimentary membership for all four days of the convention. You should see this option when you register for the convention.

What does it mean to be on a panel?

A panel is a moderated discussion on a given topic. Including the moderator, there are usually between four and six people on the panel.

The Programming team looks at the qualifications shared by panelists in their bios, as well as in information provided when expressing interest in a specific panel. Panelist selected have one or more of 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 includes participating in fandom, organizing events related to the subject, studying the subject on a long-term basis, having first-hand experience and knowledge of the subject, 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. More information on participation for professionals is available on the Information for Professionals page.


hat we look for in panelists is knowledgeability on the subject, the ability to speak well in public, and respect for the audience and co-panelists.

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

Panel selection usually happens in Zambia in early Fall, approximately three to four months prior to the January convention. The opening and closing dates for panel selection are announced via email to invited participants.

During the panel selection period, participants can sign up for as many panels as they like in any tracks they like in Zambia The Programming team then looks at a number of factors -- including knowledgeability and availability -- when selecting panel participants.

Panelists rarely end up on all of the panels they select; we encourage panelists to select more sessions than they want to be on so that we have flexibility and choice in creating panelist schedules. We also recommend panelists provide information that can further guide the Programming team when selecting panelists and scheduling panels, including their biography, at-convention availability, and panel-specific interest and expertise.

The How to Use Zambia guide provides more detailed information on signing up for panels.

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

Once Programming staff is done selecting panelists and scheduling panels, schedules are set out to all panelists via email. This usually happens in the late Fall; the process is complicated and can take significant time.

What do I do if I have too many panels? What if I’m scheduled on two panels at once?

Every year, Arisia staff strives to make sure that no one is scheduled for more panels than they want to maybe be able to handle. We also try to balance panel load to account for breaks and meals. We also check and double-check that panelists are not scheduled for more than one panel at a time.

Mistakes happen. Whether you forgot to set a constraint in the Availability section of Zambia, your schedule has changed, or we missed something when setting and reviewing schedules (it happens), please email us at as soon as possible so that we can take care of the conflicts. This may mean that you will be asked to make decisions around panel priorities; moving panels once schedules are sent out to panelists tends to be extremely challenging and is rarely done.

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

The Programming team takes into account many different factors when selecting panelists, including fit on the panel as well as fit with the other panelists.

Each year, Arisia has some very popular panels that will have more than 30 applications vying for a total of five or six slots. Other panels get dropped because not enough qualified panelists have signed up. Scheduling can also impact panelist selection.

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?

Moderators are panelists that have been designated to provide structure for and lead panel discussions. Good moderators have a plan, communicate it, and are able to gently guide the other participants back on course if they stray, and are not afraid to interfere more forcefully if necessary.

For more information on monderating at Arisia, see our Moderator’s Guide.

It’s Convention Time! What do I do now?

Arisia 2021 looks different than most years. While more detailed information can be found in the Arisia Virtual Convention Panelist Guide, here are some of the key things to know:

  • Shortly before the convention, registered attendees will receive email instructions on how to access the members content and how to set up Zoom and Discord.
  • Prior to the convention, you will also receive information from the Programming team with your schedule and additional information and pointers. (This year, obviously, there is no official Programming Participant Packet).
  • At convention time, you’ll need to log into the new website using the login information you used to register for the convention.
  • Show up (in Zoom) to your panel 30 minutes before the official panel time (that is, during the “Prep” time listed in your schedule.

If you have issues with programming during the convention, you can drop into #program-nexus on the Discord server or email us at

Does Arisia have an official dress code?

Like many other conventions, Arisia is chock full of people dressed in a wide array of costumes, as well as fashions that one might encounter in day-to-day life. As long as people are dressed in a manner that meets the Arisia Code of Conduct, all styles are welcome.

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

If you fall ill or are otherwise unable to attend a panel, please let Programming know ASAP. Send email email to explaining your situation, or drop into #program-nexus on Discord. You should also attempt to notify the moderator for your panel.

Whatever happens, please make sure that Programming is made aware ASAP that you won’t be able to attend the panel so that we can find a replacement, if necessary.

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

During the convention, you can stop into #program-nexus on Discord. At any time -- before, during, or after convention -- you can send us an email at

Last modified
01/11/2021 - 19:12