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Information on Social Events

One of the most difficult aspects of a conference to recreate online are the opportunities for social interaction. For NELS we are partially trying to address this by having the conference Discord as a persistent space where you can chat with other conference participants, continue questions into coffee breaks, or organize small group video meetups of your own!

But to help kickstart those more spontaneous social connections, we're also holding two more structured social events for all conference participants, the Thursday evening Meet & Greet and the Friday evening Trivia Social. (The third social event, the Student Mixer on Saturday, is only open to student attendees.)

Meet & Greet

This event starts at 6:15 Eastern on Thursday, shortly after the satellite talk has ended. This is the evening before the conference officially begins on Friday—the intention is that it partly recreates the atmosphere of meeting up the evening before a conference, if you arrive in town a day early. (But without the danger that travel logistics prevent you from attending!)

Our secondary goal is to provide a setting where people who are attending NELS for the first time have a chance to meet other attendees, before the talks start the next morning—a challenge of the virtual setting is that you can't strike up spontaneous conversations while standing in line for coffee, nor can socially-minded longtime NELS attendees purposefully draw newcomers into their circles of conversation.

For these reasons, the reception will be a mix of structured and freeform conversation on Zoom. At the beginning everyone will be put into breakout rooms with a semi-random selection of other people, for introductions and some initial conversation. After that initial period, though, everyone will be able to move freely between rooms, for casual conversation in groups of your own making.

Though this event officially ends at 7:15, the Zoom meeting can remain open later if people wish to remain.

Trivia Social

On Friday night at 6:00 Eastern there will be a Trivia Social! This is a team-based "pub-style" trivia competition: participants will be put on teams of 4-5 people, and you'll work together to answer questions over 5 thematic rounds. Some rounds may be language- or linguistics-themed, but there will also be more general themes.

The Trivia Social will make heavy use of the NELS 51 server on Discord, for communication within your teams. The link for joining the Discord will be sent to all registrants by email before the conference, and also posted during individual Zoom sessions.

You do not need to sign up with a team! By default, all participants will be randomly assigned to teams before the event starts.

Credit to Nicole Holliday, who has helped make this event possible by generously sharing advice on organization and technical details, and who is also responsible for one of the rounds of questions.

If you are excited about a linguistics trivia event, but do not want to compete yourself, you are welcome to get involved behind the scenes! In that case please contact Bronwyn Bjorkman directly by email (

Update (Nov. 5th)

Teams for the Trivia Social event will be randomly built from the list of people that selected the "quiz" role in the "rôles-roles" channel on Discord and those who have answered an unambiguous "yes" in the registration form.
If you wish to participate, please make sure to have the "quiz" role in Discord.
Please do so before Friday at noon. After that, contact us by email.

Social Events