March 20, 2020 – Updated Guidelines for EK Online Meetings

Because of the current health concerns, many local groups are moving to holding meetings, classes, and other gatherings online, which is fantastic. 

We’ve put together some guidelines to ensure that this proceeds in an orderly and equitable fashion, and to make sure that any official business complies with Kingdom and Society rules.

  1. Informal Online Gatherings
    • There are no specific requirements for online populace gatherings, A&S classes, or general meetings that are not conducting official business. Folks may use whatever tools they have access to and conduct them as they see fit. Only official business gatherings and courts must follow the process below.
  2. Online Branch Business Meetings 
    1. Local branches may hold business meetings online.
    2. To ensure that members of the populace are able to participate, meetings should be announced in advance using the branch’s official channels and standard means of communication. If a branch needs help communicating with their populace, contact the Kingdom Seneschal, who may enlist the assistance of the Kingdom Social Media Officer, Webministry, and other resources as necessary.
    3. To provide visibility to those unable to attend, minutes should be recorded and shared with the populace, including at a minimum a summary of any official decisions made. These minutes should be made accessible to anyone who would normally be allowed to attend the meeting. Remember not to publish anyone’s personal information like phone numbers or home addresses without their explicit approval. If you can record the online meeting and post it this may also be useful, if the participants consent to recording & publication.
    4. If branches have bylaws or customs that govern their meetings, such as rules for convening meetings, quorums for voting, or other related policies, those should continue to be followed. If a branch needs a variance from their bylaws for some reason, contact the Kingdom Seneschal.
    5. If a branch does not have such bylaws or customs, at a minimum at least the warranted Seneschal, one other officer, and a witness/populace member must be present on screen or in the online forum for the entire time the meeting is held in order for the meeting to be considered official.
  3. Online Baronial and Kingdom Courts
    1. Online Courts MUST be pre-approved and scheduled with the Kingdom Seneschal prior to them being announced or held. 
    2. Announcements of these Courts must be made at least two weeks prior to the date of occurrence. 
    3. All Royal online Courts are to be announced via the Kingdom Seneschal to all East Kingdom online groups and communication channels, including the East Kingdom Calendar.
    4. For a Court to be official, at least one of the Crown and/or the landed baronage, a herald, a warranted Seneschal, and a witness/populace member must be present on screen or in the online forum for the entire time the Court is held.
    5. Court reports are still required for all awards, appointments, or other substantive business. Send a copy of these to the Kingdom Seneschal in addition to the normal recipients.
  4. Tools for Online Meetings
    1. For online gatherings, the Kingdom suggests using Google Meet (sometimes called “Hangouts Meet”). It allows for voice and video chat, screen sharing, and also provides a telephone conference number so people without computers may dial in to participate. All branch officers have access to this tool via our Google for Nonprofits service, and can set up meetings that are available to the general public. The East Kingdom Webministry is able to provide support for this tool, and has posted documentation for it at webminister.eastkingdom.org/email/video-meetings.
    2. The Kingdom’s normal licensing doesn’t allow these sessions to be recorded, but Google has added this ability through July 1st in order to make things a little easier during the current turmoil. If you intend to post a recording of the gathering you should make this clear to all participants.
    3. Turn on the captioning feature, located at the bottom tool bar of the Google Meet window, for greater accessibility.
    4. The use of Zoom Conferencing, Google Hangouts Classic, or other services with equivalent functionality is also allowed.
    5. Look for services that allow others to connect and participate via audio and video, rather than options like Facebook live stream where most participants can’t actively join other than to type comments and hope they are responded to.

The Kingdom Seneschal thanks the Webministry team, particularly Matthias von Würzburg, Master Joel Messerer, and Mathghamain Ua Ruadháin (apologies if I’ve missed anyone!) for this substantial revision of the previously-announced guidelines.