Degrowth 2020: Manchester conference platform

In preparation of the conference beginning of September in Manchester we the @communication group, namely @gandhiano and me, promised that Ecobytes can provide customisations to the conference platform known as

The platform is known to be a suitable environment for preparing a Degrowth conference by offering a call for papers, a peer review process, as well as assignment of rooms to generate conference schedules.

Thanks to the preparations of @vliegey and the general recommendation by @mladen, we are commencing the process of structured conversation around user and technology questions related.

Please feel free to say hi by responding to this message.

The voluntarily chosen work at hands primarily focusses on requirements by the users, and also by technical demands that we encounter along the way. Happily enough the original developer of the peer review system @ponder resurfaced in Ecobytes and will be available for requests.

Development concerns

The application is hosted at

Its source code lives in

We are working in a cocreating mode, where all participants in the process are asked for contributions from time to time. These contributions will help guiding the development process and feeding development spikes with actual user demands. Details will be made available when such a need arises.

Usage concerns

From the two development waves in 2016 and 2018 we inherit organisational remarks which will aid easing communication during development.

Technical concerns

The technical work is documented openly, and currently focussing on the following tickets:

This is the often invisible part of the development, and will only need to concern you when we ask you to.

I am documenting this activity here to disclose it to the public, and to invite for discussion about the process. After commencing a conversation about :page_facing_up: requirements gathering, here our combined efforts aspire to:

configure the new conference site for Manchester 2020

The following tasks were already derieved for the MAN LOC and will help clarifying last details, plus onboard the conference organisers to their information system.

:fountain_pen: have the people of the LOC sign up through

review and choose the :bulb: Manchester 2020 themes from the outcomes of the call for sub-themes.
add the :bulb: Manchester 2020 themes to the interface at

For comparison:

Bonus: Use the pad :memo: as an intermediary.

:fountain_pen: onboard LOC and have members present in the roles from

  • Admin
  • Crew
  • Orgas
  • Coordinators

Note: the roles Speakers, Reviewers, Submitters and Contributors only become useful later in the process.

:page_facing_up: explain and document what each role does

Bonus鹿 to help the developers:
:mag_right: Review and confirm the event types

They will be written into the code, why it is easier to double check them now, than to apply changes throughout the system later.

Bonus虏 for you:
use :memo:

update the technical documentation at :page_facing_up:
implement technical changes according to the requirements of the Manchester conference, consolidated in :checkered_flag: Manchester 2020 路 Milestones 路 degrowth / scriptorium

Bonus: provide a user manual and a how to for scriptum at :page_facing_up:

Subsequent questions around the development can happily be posted here with a reply, or to #groups:communication on this platform. You can send an email to, or write directly on

Support requests to are also possible, if that鈥檚 easier to remember, and end up in #support. These messages do not appear on the entrance page, but remain searchable throughout the platform.

Bonne chance! :sparkles:

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Thanks for your work on this Jon. I鈥檓 not a big fan of using additional platforms as it鈥檚 yet another thing to have to log into and emails can easily be threaded.

Further to your email, - 鈥淪ubcategories have been removed for Malm枚 and would need to be reimplemented.鈥 - they appear to already be there on the Manchester version.

Thanks a lot @yala.
Subthemes have added on the platform.
@mark.burton, will add th final list here:

For the rest, I open issues on

Can鈥檛 do that as that is a different platform requiring registration, but here is the list of themes:
Theme list.doc (11 KB)

Hi @mark.burton and @vliegey thanks for responding to this. As I didn鈥檛 want to involve end users in using the technical development platform this time, I had created this conversation and freely accessible pads to ease the exchange in development. I have opened the file and added its contents to the pad that I proposed earlier in the process.

Thanks for providing this new list.

Subcategories are not enabled anymore, and their appearance in the settings menu is an error. @ponder Should we split the issue, and make sure to remove subcategories completely?

Else, @vliegey when you talk about Subthemes, I am not perfectly sure what you mean. Are you talking about subcategories, or the themes (tracks) at

Hi Mark, thanks for pointing that out. You can always respond to the notification messages by email, and your contributions will show up here. Using a standardised and structured mean of communication aids the development process and reduces friction in transferring the functional requirements of the users into technical requirements for the developers.

It may be that email is a suitable communication platform for you, as they can be 鈥渆asily threaded鈥, but this is different for the email programs one uses. I鈥檓 receiving hundreds of messages in about ten inboxes every day, and combining degrowth-related communications into a single platform helps me to find them again. Please bear with us for streamlining the communications that way, it simply helps us doing the voluntary support we provide with less cognitive overhead.

3 posts were split to a new topic: Degrowth 2020 : MAN : Subcategories

I try to make clarification.
Sub-categories seem to still be implemented.
We have themes and sessions (both are coming for the sub-themes call).
Themes have been uploaded.
Session will be uploaded by each submitter as soon we invite them to do.
Hope it helps?
Thanks. :slight_smile:

Several of us have been exploring Scriptum and there is now a better understanding of how it works and what it鈥檚 possibilities are.
Here are some questions that have come up:

  1. How do we add reviewers? (and can people have more than one role?)
  2. Finance. This is for later when we start taking registrations. What will be the best way for the University admin people to confirm that people have paid? Will it require them to be an admin on Scriptum or could we import the data somehow?
  3. Event types. We鈥檇 like to take out Poster sessions and rename Fika as 鈥淩efreshment break鈥. We鈥檇 also like to rename Academic special session as academic. Could we also hide all except academic, activist, artistic, plenary, book - for now. We鈥檇 want to add individual paper but will do that after the call for individual papers goes out. First we want to get what we called subtheme proposers to upload their proposals.
  4. We haven鈥檛 made a decision on subcategories so I suggest leave that for now.
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Just to note - we鈥檝e asked those who submitted subtheme proposals to upload their sessions. I see that some have done so already.This is prior to the open call for submissions.

  1. reviewers: they should be added by Admins or Orgas, and it is best that they use a different email than the one that they are using to submit their presentations. We shoudl trust them that they will not be reviewing their own work as that would be unethical
  2. we did not have autmatic update before, and in Budapest Admin/Orga ppl logged in and clicked sessions/ppl as 鈥楶aid鈥 based on some external list they generated from the bank report- labourious but safe
  3. don鈥檛 know exact answer as did not really work on multiplication of these types, but i guess that if they were multiplied they can also be reduced. For individual papers at least, they will not appear as option to submit if the submission timeline controlled from back end is not activated (start IP submission).
  4. subcategories were used as keywords, see previous reply. we could probably go without them thus pooling all submissions not by content tags but just by session types. it might be a bit difficult asking reviewers to pick sessions to review based on title only, but it is doable. I don鈥檛 know what removal of subcategories does to the overall functioning of the system, @yala has indicated there might be problems with that.

12 posts were split to a new topic: Feedback from using the conference platform for Manchester 2020 prior to its launch

Best Manchester LOC and SG representatives,

in preparing the platform for the next conferences, we have chosen to produce early results and adapt further on. For now we have already received about 50 entries, and this prior to a coordinated launch of the Call for Papers, congratulations to your self-organised efforts! It seems you are very productive administrators of the conference site. :clap:

Call for Participation


Events statistics

type new submission_finished review total
Special 20 3 2 25
Participatory 3 7 0 10
Paper 1 3 0 4
Poster 1 0 0 1
Activist 2 4 0 6
Artistic 0 0 0 0
Plenary 0 1 0 1
Keynote 0 0 0 0
Special Presentation 0 1 0 1
Demonstration 0 0 0 0
Fika 0 0 0 0
Lunch 0 0 0 0
Party 0 0 0 0
All 27 19 2 48

Below I am collecting conversations that we meanwhile scattered around the place, to keep an overview and distinct threads in the same time. We can also use the tags #manchester or #conference to indicate association of topics on this subject. Entries with checkmark are left here for later implementation and review.

To conclude the checkmark about event types above, we have now agreed on the final list of event types, as they will be added to the system.

Additionally to this list, must we account for the event types already used for this year鈥檚 conference, edit or delete them, or manually intervene in the database.

@ponder, would you see different options?

Plus also the other used ones from the table above:

  • Participatory
  • Poster
  • Special Presentation

What should we do with them?

Further on, I am repeating here for seperation of concerns:

This is what I can say so far:

  1. We announce the current support mailbox of at the Call for Participation entrance page.
  2. Together with Scriptum Manchester: co-authors required for academic session and Scriptum Manchester: Each account can only submit one session/individual paper? this appears to be a request similarily related to intentional limits of the conference design. Should we simply change them as we go? And if, which further development resources can the SG provide to ease the production process? For now all customisations for the Malm枚 conference are provided voluntarily and as is. Last time there was a dedicated budget, also from the LOC, that was released together with the customisation requests. Using the ticketing platform and aggreeing on a fair share (5 - 10%) could also be an option. I鈥檇 be keen on knowing your perspectives on this, @mark.burton, @vliegey and/or @mladen.
  3. I had found your forwarded messages and related conversation below here, and extracted them into a separate string of messages. This is now known as Early testing of the Manchester 2020 conference platform and can be tried to be resolved there.

From this new thread, I am also returning a side information, which seems to extend well the overview picture we take from this one.

We had an email conversation about the naming of the conference before. The name directly involves the display on all conference platform websites.

  1. The URL acronym is configured separatedly and was set to MAN2020 for development purposes. It is suggested not to change it too often over time, nor after publishing the URL. Theoretically we can create redirects, but they are another technical debt we would introduce to the already well-aged system.
  2. The character limit has an effect on the display of the website. As @mladen or @vliegey pointed out the other day, we will like to keep it short, in so the toolbar does not get visually distorted. Also a chain of characters like Dg 2020: Manchester 7th & 16th Intl joint conf is very hard to read and percieve, as it starts with an abbreviation that is not widely used, only contains one word from natural language and continues with inconsistent case. I鈥檇 suggest we come up with an accessible and meaningful condensate that allows to meet all our requirements for the title of the conference. Could Degrowth 2020: Manchester, 7th & 16th Intl Joint Conf be a suitable compromise?

Are there any further open questions from your sides? Please let me know below, or with new posts to the #groups:communication category.

Maybe we want to have a call next week to wrap up the experiences until now, and to seek determined steps for taking this onwards?

Best, Jon

Thank you @yala. Some quick responses.

  1. I think a call would be helpful next week. I鈥檝e probably more availability than most so would you, @vliegey, @mladen like to suggest times?
  2. Subcategories: as noted in response to @mladen elsewhere, the suggestion of reverting to Budapest (i.e. having them) but re-naming them 鈥渒eywords鈥 is a good one and I propose we go with that.
  3. Event types: a. I don鈥檛 think there is any harm in including 鈥淧articipatory鈥. We hadn鈥檛 thought of that but a number of people have used it and it does give a distinct signal as to the nature of the event. b. We are not having posters due to space limitations. We鈥檒l have to write to the one person who鈥檚 used that category: they shouldn鈥檛 have. c) Those that have proposed Special Presentations could be re-assigned to Plenary.
  4. the Call for Participation entrance page is still showing the Malmo address for support see screenshot
  5. Title of conference showing on Scriptum: fair points and I accept your suggestion of title. I鈥檝e changed it now.
    Thanks again.

For now I have:

These changes are now live on and ready for you to be tested for inexpected behaviour. Especially the readded subcategories/keywords need testing.

Thanks for your patience until here, and for appropriating the system and process where progress deemed necessary.

Please also see

for the next possible changes.

On another note, did you and the LOC have time to consider the offer to use for ticket sales, with a fair share of the turnover provided for the development that I was proposing? Would you like an account, to test drive it?

@mark.burton Did you see this request to your LOC a week ago, and could you pass it on to be discussed within your group?

I鈥檓 interested in knowing if the Manchester LOC is able to provide resources for the developments that have been triggered, and are still to be conducted.

Hi @yala I haven鈥檛 had a chance to discuss it with the local team but I鈥檓 pretty cerrtain that all the ticketing is handled by the University conference office. I鈥檒l check though. Mark

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Early testing of the Manchester 2020 conference platform