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Program Participation Process

How can I apply to be a program participant at Arisia?

At this time, we are no longer taking applications for Arisia 2021. For Arisia 2022, please fill out the online form.

  • Give us your name and make sure your email address is one that you check regularly.
  • Provide a description of your background and any experience and expertise you believe is relevant to the type of programming you’re interested in. Be thorough! We take this information into consideration when selecting new program participants for Arisia.

Invitations are usually sent out in the early Fall to applicants we would like to add to our pool of panelists. If you are selected, you will be given access to our scheduling tool -- Zambia, where you can add information about your availability and general interests. For more information Zambia, see our How to Use Zambia guide.

Signing up for -- and being selected for -- panels.

Shortly after new participant selection occurs, all potential program participants -- both new additions and long-standing panelists -- will be invited to express interest in participating in and moderating panels for the upcoming year’s Arisia. In late Fall/early Winter -- closer to the convention, but with enough time to make corrections for publications deadlines -- we’ll let all participants know their assignments and preliminary schedules.

Some important notes around panelist selection:

  • Suggesting a panel idea does not guarantee you a spot on that panel, even if we end up using the idea or variation thereof.
  • Not every panel listened in Zambia will actually be scheduled and run at the convention (see below for some of the reasons this happens).
  • Signing up as being interested in a panel does not guarantee you a spot on the panel. We work hard to get the most qualified candidates on each topic that are available. Most panels, however, have between five and six spots, including the moderator spot.
  • Not everyone who signs up to be on panels will be on enough panels to get a comp membership for the weekend.

But Arisia isn't until January! Why so early?

In this diagram you can see some of the major steps we go through to create our programming schedule. Everything needs to be completely scheduled, checked with panelist availability, and revised by early December for publications such as the program guide.


submit and add input on panel ideas [Anyone can participate]
Programming goes through brainstorm ideas and puts lists into Zambia (our programming web application) where the ideas are weeded through, split up, combined and reworked
Previous participants are invited to sign up for Zambia
[New Panelists] People who have not been participants can request to be signed up for Zambia
Potential programming participants can indicate interest in specific panels in Zambia
Programming goes through qualifications of interested participants, culls panel ideas and produces preliminary schedule
Programming works really hard to put together great panels with great panelists to produce a final schedule

The blue boxes are ones where new people -- those who were not previously program participants -- can get involved.

The process goes something like this:

  1. Brainstorming is now mostly done via online form, however we do try to hold one or two in-person brainstorming sessions in the Summer. Brainstorming for the coming year’s convention usually closes July 15; most ideas added after this date will be considered for the following year. (Winter, Spring, early Summer)
  2. Potential panel ideas are selected for the upcoming Arisia by Track Managers. the people who run the specific tracks of panels, like comics or communities. This phase often includes fleshing out ideas that come from brainstorming, merging ideas from brainstorming, looking at popular panel ideas from prior years, and even generating new ideas. (Fall)
  3. New panelists are selected by the Programming team; usually both senior programming staff and Track Managers are involved in this phase. (all)
  4. All selected new and returning panelists are invited to sign up for Zambia and set their interests, availability, bio, and other key information used for both scheduling and assigning panels. This step may be combined with the panel signup phase. (Fall)
  5. Prospective panelists are invited to select panels they would like to either participate on or moderate. (late Fall)
  6. A preliminary schedule is created after Programming staff reviews the qualifications of interested participants and assigns panelists and moderators. This draft schedule is made available to assigned panelists and moderators, only. Panel culling also happens during this phase; panels may be dropped due to lack of interest, lack of qualified panelists, and scheduling conflicts with other panels and events happening at the convention. (late Fall)
  7. A pretty-close-to-final schedule is shared with the public in the weeks leading up to the convention. Before we release the schedule, we ask panelists to review their schedules and ensure no conflicts have come up (e.g., they are now scheduled to work on Sunday when they didn’t think they would be). We make changes -- mostly to program participants and moderators -- to resolve these conflicts (although some panels may be dropped if not enough panelists are available). Once we’re sure everything is as good as it can be, we release the schedule, often alongside Events and Gaming schedules. (Winter)

Hopefully you can see that quite a lot happens from brainstorm phase to schedule, and it takes many people many, many hours to put together what we believe is a quality schedule.

Last modified
01/11/2021 - 18:50