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This page provides general information for participants, speakers, and organizers to help you make your participation to ALife 2020 a smooth and exciting experience. More information coming soon.

Dates - July 13-18, 2020
Location - Virtual
Organizers - Vermont Complex Systems Center, University of Vermont
Hashtag - #ALIFE2020

    Format for online conference: The ALife 2020 Conference will be a fully virtual experience this year. We see this as an opportunity to explore and experiment with virtual environments and really test the boundaries of an online conference. We are excited for the challenge and we hope that you and the rest of the community will join us in this virtual exploration. We are working very hard to make sure we replicate as best as possible the social experience and networking of a face-to-face conference, we are organizing MANY virtual social activities and networking events for you to participate in. We are really trying to be experimental with this portion of the conference so some of the social activities may be a little weird but also super fun! : ) 

    Making all this run smoothly will require us to use several different virtual tools and we thank you all for your support and kindness as we venture into the virtual conference experience. We hope to integrate all of these tools as seamlessly as we can and will be sure there is plenty of instructional information and training on how to use them prior to the conference. We will be asking your feedback via a post program survey on this experience so please let us know what works and what doesn’t, we want to be able to share this information with the scientific community so that future virtual conferences can benefit from our experience. 

    What your typical virtual conference experience will look like: 

    During the Conference:

    Join the livestream via Zoom: (you will not need a zoom account to access this content). Each conference activity (plenary, contributed talks, satellites, keynotes, posters, and unconference sessions etc.) will have a live session where you can watch lectures and engage in discussion with speakers, you can find a schedule of these sessions on the website. These sessions will be at key times throughout the day and will include a live Q&A and discussion. To speak up during a live session, you can either raise your hand in Zoom and then speak directly or write comments into the chat function. Each session will have a session chair who will moderate the discussion. If you cannot make the live session, not to fear, we will be recording the live sessions, and you can submit questions for the speakers via the ALife Slack Workspace. 

    Log into ALife 2020 Slack Workspace: the Slack workspace will be a great way to have discussion across time zones, to submit questions to the live sessions (via a slack plugin called Slido which allows you to submit questions and upvote them), and to start making connections with other ALifers. We hope that this can turn into a robust community that lives on after the conference and is a space where you can share papers, post jobs, and ask questions to the community. We encourage you to make this space fun, share memes, be silly, and make it your own. 

    Partake in Social Activities: We will be hosting many virtual social activities, you can find a full list of these on the conference website and we will be adding more activities as we get closer to the conference. We want to replicate social interaction and networking as much as possible so push yourself to engage in these activities and the Slack workspace as much as possible.  

    Serendipitous Collisions: We will be hosting small networking sessions called Serendipitous Collisions where you will be paired with a random participant and have a short chat. Just like you would while networking at a coffee session. A sign up sheet for time slots will be released shortly. 


    What your typical virtual conference experience will look like: 

    Prior to the Conference: 

    Pre-Conference Survey: We want your feedback on how you would like us to organize this virtual experience, please complete this very short survey here. Thank you this information is really valuable to the organizers! 

    Access the Conference Online Portal: You will experience the virtual conference through our online portal. Each participant will be given a pin to log-in and access the conference content. 

    Sign-up for an ALife 2020 Tech Training Session: we will be hosting training sessions to help you navigate the ALife 2020 conference space and to familiarize you with Zoom, Youtube, and Slack. These are all great tools to learn professionally and we hope that by the end of these sessions you will be using them like a pro! We will be here for you during the whole process and available during the conference for any technical difficulties. 

    Watch Recordings of Lectures: All Conference talks will be recorded and posted online after the original presentation if you cannot make it to the live presentation. Links to these videos will be posted on the conference virtual portal and will be hosted on unlisted playlists on YouTube. If you are in a country that does not support viewing from YouTube please contact us and we will give you access through other means. 


    What your typical virtual conference experience will look like: 
    Post Conference Activity: 

    Post-Conference Survey:  We will be asking your feedback via a post program survey on this experience so please let us know what works and what doesn’t, we want to be able to share this information with the scientific community so that future virtual conferences can benefit from our experience. 

    Proceedings: all published proceedings will be published by MIT Press and will be available to all ISAL society members. Did you know that by attending ALife 2020 you automatically become an ISAL member for one year, cool right!? 

    Twitter Conference: Once the proceedings are released we will be hosting an informal ALife 2020 Twitter Conference where we will post the video link, link to author’s papers, and @ the author (for those who want to participate) so that the larger scientific community can discuss the work on twitter and ask questions. We hope this will inspire lively discussion and help spread the word about your awesome publications!

    General Norms:
    • Be nice!
    • Seriously though, this is a conference where people are coming from a lot of different backgrounds beit geographically, professionally, culturally, or intellectually we want to foster a friendly and welcoming community of ALifers.
    • A note to students, folks whose native language isn’t english, and first time conference participants: coming soon
    • A note to senior researchers: coming soon
    • All users must meet the criteria and follow the terms of service for the technical platforms that we use for this conference

    Zoom Norms:
    • If you want to create a zoom meeting in the slack all you have to do is type “/zoom join me” (not quotes) to launch a zoom meeting
    • Remember that we will be recording all ALife 2020 ZOOM main conference presentations for those in other timezones to view the videos. If you wish not to be recorded please keep your camera off and submit questions in just the chat box in zoom.
    • Mute your microphone!!!
    • If you are sharing your screen: turn off notifications for things like slack or text messages or put your computer into do not disturb mode (this one is important I have seen super embarrassing moments with this one)
    • You can use the chat function in the Zoom to chat with participants and ask questions to the speakers. You can type private chats but be careful and double check that the message is actually private before sending it!
    • Be mindful of background noise: To help keep background noise to a minimum, make sure you mute your microphone when you are not speaking.
    • When your microphone is not muted, avoid activities that could create additional noise, such as shuffling papers.
    • Position your camera properly so that we can see your face. Try to be in a place that has good lighting, looks professional, and is not too noisy.
    • If you choose to use a web camera, be sure it is in a stable position and focused at eye level, if possible. Doing so helps create a more direct sense of engagement with other participants.
    • You can make it easier to focus on the meeting by turning off notifications, closing or minimizing running apps, and muting your smartphone.
    • You'll retain the discussion better if you refrain from replying to emails or text messages during the meeting and wait to work on that PowerPoint presentation until after the meeting ends.
    • If you will be sharing content during the meeting, make sure you have the files and/or links ready to go before the meeting begins.
    • If you are presenting: make sure to show up about 15-20 minutes early to test your screen share, mic, and video
    • don't forget to be nice!
    • Please be sure your zoom is updated to the latest version

    Slack Norms: Collaborate with Kindness
    • Be kind!
    • If you need help you can @alife2020-crew for assistance
    • The Slack space is meant to be our conference’s asynchronous collaboration space, so just remember that folks are coming from all around the world and may take a bit of time to respond to messages.
    • Use and create fun emojis to show your support of content on the workspace!
    • If you would like to respond to something that someone has posted in the slack make sure to reply to the individual thread and not the entire channel. Consider using a thread when answering questions so that the channel stays clean, and information is easy to find and respond to.
    • Instead of uploading files try sharing a link to the doc instead to save space
    • Use Mentions Mindfully Slack will notify someone every time you mention them by using the @ and then their username. Before you mention someone, make sure that you want that person to act on or notice something, and make it clear what that is.
    • You can use Statuses to let people know when you are not available
    • Make sure constructive feedback is constructive, we would like this to be more of a “yes and’ space than a “no but” space.
    • If the content you are posting is personal or only relevant to a few people you may consider hopping on a direct message instead of posting as a thread.
    Anti Harassment Policy:

    This policy is adapted from the example available from the one written and promoted by the Ada Initiative co-founders.

    ALIFE 2020 is dedicated to providing a harassment-free workshop experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any workshop venue, including presentations. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the ALIFE 2020 at the discretion of the conference organizers. Harassment includes: offensive verbal comments related to gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, religion; sexual images in public spaces; deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome sexual attention. Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately. We expect participants to follow these rules at all time. If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference. If you are being harassed, or notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a ALIFE 2020 organizer immediately. We value your attendance.
    • Recording: The ALife 2020 Organizing Team will be recording all ALife 2020 Zoom main conference presentations (for those in other timezones to view the videos later on). If you wish not to be recorded please keep your camera off during presentations and submit questions in just the chat box in zoom.
    • ALife organizers will not release any information about participants to anyone under any circumstances. We will also not release or share any video content (e.g. recorded talks/presentations) publicly unless speakers have given express consent for us to do so.
    • If you wish to take your content down or update it at anytime please contact and we will be happy to do so.
    • please make sure your zoom is updated to the latest version
    • All users must meet the criteria and follow the terms of service for the technical platforms that we use for this conference

  • If you have technical issues
    The best way to contact us if you have technical issues is through the Slack workspace channel #conf-help-techissues

    Otherwise you can send us an email at


    Please make sure your zoom is updates to the latest version

    Share your Screen Function: If you would like to share your screen (this means that the audience will be able to see what is exactly on your computer screen, so be careful that all embarrassing browser tabs are closed and notifications are turned off) first hover your mouse near the bottom of the Zoom screen and click on the green button in the center that says “Share Screen.”

    A few options will come up (whiteboard, Desktop, etc), click on Desktop and press the button “Share.” You are now sharing your entire computer screen with everyone on the call.

    If you want to present slides (on PowerPoint, Keynote, or maybe Google slides) simply open up your slide file and put the file into full screen (note: your audience will see exactly what you are seeing so if you have notes you may want to print or write them out rather then using presenter mode).
    When you want to stop sharing your screen click on the little red button on the top of your screen that says “Stop Share.”

    Note: You might want to practice sharing your screen in an empty meeting room beforehand so you feel comfortable with it in advance. your computer also may prompt you to give Zoom access to screen sharing so it’s always good to get that out of the way before you are in front of an audience.

    Chat Function: There is a chat function in Zoom so that participants can chat during the meeting or share links
    To get to the chat, hover your mouse near the bottom of the screen and click on the button that says “Chat” you can then type in a message to the group.
    The default setting in Zoom allows everyone to write messages in the chat. If you want to restrict who can write messages click on the little button in the chat that looks like three dots next to one another (…) and from there you can choose who can use the chat function.

    Common Troubleshooting:

    Muted or video off: If you are on a Zoom meeting and it seems like no one can hear or see you the first thing you should do is see if your microphone is muted your your camera is off. Hover your mouse near the bottom left of the screen and see if there is a red line through the button that looks like a microphone or camera, if there is a red line then click on the microphone/camera button to unmute yourself or turn on your video.

    Still Muted or video off?: on the very top left of your computer screen click on the tab that says “” and click on “Preferences” click on the tab that says “Audio” or "video" and check to make sure your output and input locations are correct. If you are using headphones or a webcam the Output should be set to the headphone port or webcam, if you are not using headphones or a webcam the Output should be set to your computer’s internal speakers or camera. For the Input microphone/camera, if you are using a webcam or headphones with a microphone make sure to select that location under the drop-down menu.
    Bad wifi connection: if you have a bad connection sometimes the best option is to turn off your video feed and go to an audio-only meeting. I would also ask everyone to turn off their video feeds as well.
    Feedback: If you have two nearby devices logged in to the same meeting and playing the same audio it may create feedback, make sure to mute the other device or ask the audience to mute their microphones if they are causing the feedback.

    Zoom’s website also has great troubleshooting materials so if you have other questions you can visit this website

    Zoom also has a lot of great training materials that you can find here