Online user group talks & discussions

Hi all,

I’d like to follow up on an idea that came up on Discord recently. This is particularly motivated by academics but really applies anywhere.

It could be really interesting to set up a meeting format in which we could have a ‘main speaker’ who presents informally what they are currently working on or researching and how Obsidian helps them in the process. People could coordinate in advance and maybe we could even vote on topics.

Personally, I really like the idea of people from completely different fields presenting their WIP in an informal manner. And I think we could get many valuable ideas from each other.

As a first step, I’d like to set up a written discussion to specify what we would like these meetings to look like.

I’ll start:

  • The core piece would be someone presenting what they’re currently working on (maybe 7-10 minutes)…
  • … and how Obsidian (or other tools) helped them in the process

Afterwards, we could discuss

  • on the contents of the talk
  • on Obsidian use cases

What do you think?



Hi Ben! Thank you so much for taking the initiative! I really like this idea and I’m glad there is some inertia to make this happen! I like your suggestions, I have a couple of ideas too, up for consideration


  • There are so many interesting hobby vaults around the server, I hope people are also interested in showing us how they organize their gardening, music, D&D, etc
  • I can imagine there could be also some “tutorial” type talks, e.g. I could see a spot for “How to set up Zotero?”
  • pure Q&A sessions with members


  • I agree with the overall structure you proposed. Depending on the content, maybe an “interviewer” could help with the “How do you use Obsidian” part? (It could be another volunteer, we could have someone collect questions from the audience or maybe even @apgold or @nickmilo would (occasionally) help?)
  • Recording? I know many would like to see the recording if they can’t make it to the meeting (and time zones will be fun), but we should leave this up to the presenters


  • Maybe the voice channel on the server is enough? Depends on the number of people joining

I think this is a great idea! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: I like @argentum’s suggestion to have hobby and tutorial talks, too.

I would be happy to help out where I can with setting up and organising :slightly_smiling_face:


Love this idea! Very happy to see there is interest as well.

I was just thinking the other day that if real conferences were happening when version 1.0 gets released, it would have been interesting to attend presentations like this and meet and discuss usage in person. Perhaps a virtual version could be better in many ways considering most people would not be able to or even want to attend something like this in person for a while. Still a nice thought though.

Thanks very much!

Great ideas, thanks for suggesting. But can’t we use Zoom or some such instead of voice channel?

Awesome, I am feeling really good about this. I am happy there are people who are also interested in the idea.

I suggest I’ll just iteratively summarise your input and add my thoughts, feel free to debate anything about this!


  • Have an interviewer/host who leads through the main structure of the meet. This could be:
    1. We have a “keynote speaker” who will give a small talk (5-15 mins?) about a topic. See below.
    2. Discussion specific about what was talked about in (1)
    3. General, open-ended discussion?


  • Tell the audience about your current work / research / hobby. This would not immediately be about Obsidian but rather as a form of exchange to see what other people spend their time doing. But of course, one can also speak about how Obsidian is useful here. Examples:
    • Talk about current research project
    • Insights into DMing in a Pen & Paper
  • Talk about a specific cool Obsidian Use Case / Plugin / Stylesheet
  • Showcase community highlights
  • Tutorials or Introduce the audience to new software / tools (great idea, @argentum)


  • The discord voice channel would probably be a good place to start if it allows screen sharing; it would probably be the lowest barrier of entry.
  • @edward.peters Zoom might be complicated because you’d need a license and stuff? What are your arguments against Discord voicechat?
    • Maybe bigbluebutton might be an alternative? My uni hosts an instance which would allow unlimited meetings without registrations.
  • Recording is a great idea, I think one person could record locally?


  • Any ideas for a fancy name/label for this? :wink: I work at a company that produces tools for Data Science and they called their latest event “Data Talks”, I think that’s really catchy. Maybe we can come up with something similar? “Graph Talks”? Then again “User Group Meeting” is not bad for a start.

@SkepticMystic right now it would be most useful to just participate in this thread and spec out an outline how this would look :slight_smile: I think it would be good to have an idea of what at least the core “enthusiasts” behind it want it to be.


I like the points you’ve made here!

Regarding ## Format:

  • I’m sure there will be many people willing to share their interests and uses. Perhaps we could have a separate space for people to volunteer to speak. They could suggest a date and time, list their topic and give a brief outline of the talk.
    This could be done on a collaborative spreadsheet, or even a form (Google Forms, Survey Monkey, etc.).

  • The community could also request talks, whether it be from specific people, or on a specific topic.

  • I’d be happy to set something up for either of these points :slightly_smiling_face:

On ## Where:

  • I think Discord would work best. You can share your screen, so that’s not an issue
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Nice you took the initiative to convene us like this Ben, we are all resonating! Hab AKA Dextyrio here AKA Obsidianna on Discord.

  • I’m totally with you on Format.

  • About Topics, while what was suggested will no doubt be meaningful and insightful for us all (and I would participate nonethless), I feel like there’s no shortage of places to get inspiration and discover new things. I have a gumption that others like me are rather more in a boat of beginning to hit practical data-scientific/text-analytical roadblocks/challenges with our Obsidianing-for-research-management that are too daunting for us as 1 person to figure out all on our own. I suggest we add some optional hands-on time at the end of every ‘acquaintance-talk/discovery’ session (or a different themed series in between the talks) that’s more like a group Hackathon, where 1 technical “rock” a speaker is stuck on is opened up to the crowd and we can combine our collective skills to tackle it in solidarity… pulling up screenshares, explaining the problem at hand. And everybody learns hands-on from this process, improving our real-world dexterity/versatility with markdowned parsing/processing of ideas. Like the previous session is a “braintrust” of sorts, this is a “brain-to-fingertips”, if you will. I tried posting up a job on Upwork to help me with this stuff and it didn’t fly… I suppose we have each other to rely on as peers.

  • On Where, it makes a lot of sense for things to be in one place and use what we have fully (i.e. the voice channel on Discord for these). Another advantage is it would stimulate serendipitous drop-ins from newcomers into the Discord who see it active and just click and listen in to become engaged. And yes, it can do screenshares. Unfortunately, it will exclude some people from being able to participate (myself included), because it’s a non-business-friendly VOIP, and several countries around the world block its ports or interfere with its packets to make it horribly choppy… but do allow Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams… because multinational companies use those. I validated this now on too. That’s why, sadly, if I look after my own inclusion, I have to ditto @edward.peters on this one… it sucks, but post-pandemic I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have one or more of the big 3 I mentioned. Albeit, I understand that people like me are probably a minority and shouldn’t hold the rest of us back from what wants to happen.

  • All the Name suggestions are roses just as sweet! Another idea is D⌘Talks (short for your catchy data [analytics/science] talks, but also a pun on us winding down because it sounds like Detox :crazy_face: . Replace the ⌘ with any markdown symbol like hash or star. Dropping other candidates like Palletable, Barkdown, or The New Noteworthies… I’m indifferent!

I would make this a separate talk! It has different requirements and getting everyone involved in a hackathon type thing, requires that everyone has the required setup/tools to take part. For this I like what @SkepticMystic is suggesting: members could request a talk for a specific hackaton-type thing, explaining the goals of that session, the required tools, and maybe also get some feedback on potentially interested attendees.

I like this! And it also makes the Discord group a centralized location, no need to think about “where was the link to today’s talk again?”. We can start with Discord first, and later on adapt to another platform if a lot of the attendees have issues or if we hit some Discord limits (I have only used this with a few people, maybe scaling won’t work well).

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I feel like this has taken enough exciting shape to be at a point of antsiness for action :muscle:t2:

Since I’ve already yesterday brought up in the Discord KM chan exactly such a situation I’m facing, how about I volunteer to get us all started on the ‘hackathon’ side? I can go ahead and test out the exact “self-service pull-the-crowd” process @argentum suggested above? Our experiences with this beta/prototype/mock can acid-validate the process/technicalities to improve the model for it in subsequent iterations. Reckon I should just do it in the Discord or Forum better? Maybe mod can create a new dedicated subchannel for these types of events in our server or pin. Either way the ground rules for both types of event-series should eventually be memorialized somewhere, and my starting experiment could inform what guidelines we should set.

I concur with this reasoning for the lecture/discussion/AMA chat series as I think it’s indeed better for the greater whole (selflessly, since I won’t be able to participate technically as I mentioned before). Of course my own particular hackathon-pull I would provide a non-Discord room link for all to join as an exception, we should flexibly allow such for people in countries where it’s blocked.

P.S. What about Name for the hackathons? Hackdown? Markathon? Obsidian Applied? Just ‘Hackathon’? And have it affixed by ‘with (name of intiator)’ or ‘on (2-3 word topic summary)’?

I’ve made a draft form (using Google Forms, which isn’t set in stone). Let me know what ya’ll think :slightly_smiling_face:

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I love the idea of giving people the ability to request talks. I think this is something we can initiate and then see how it works out.

I also agree with idea of making hands-on sessions separate events. Of course, there is absolutely no reason people can’t do a spontaneous hands-on session after a talk (however then the schedule needs to be enforced: first talk, then questions, then discussion regarding the talk, then hands-on and secondary questions).

Apart from having the setup, I think that the mindset that makes you attend either a talk or a hands-on session is completely different. (I might be in the mood to just hear some new ideas and not get active myself, or the other way round. I think we all know how hard it can be to make people (inter)act if they are not in the mindset for it.) Of course, if the topic could qualify for both a presentation and a hands-on session we can schedule both. (@Dextyrio, @argentum).

@SkepticMystic Awesome, thank you for this. Google Forms is fine for me.
Some additional ideas:

  • To be honest, I would rather have two seperate forms for offering and for requesting.
  • Both: We could add the option that the person who fills out the form can offer/request either a talk or a hands-on/hacking session.
  • Offer a talk/hands-on:
    • I think it would be nice to add a description field that would contain an outline or a few descriptive sentence about the contents and intention of the event.
    • Maybe make “expected duration” and “want moderator” seperate fields?
    • Intended audience? Probably too specific in the beginning. I would prefer it if we could design it such that everyone can listen to every talk and get at least the basic idea of it.
    • Technical requirements (in particular for hands-on sessions)
  • Offer a talk:
    • Make it clear that the talk can be about a hobby just as well as something “professional”. Anything that is fun or fulfilling!
    • Willing to record the talk and share the recording?
  • Recording is probably only interesting for talks; and then we must not forget to inform the audience that they are potentially being recorded if they share voice / webcam during the talk.

I am envisioning a (live-updating/curated) online list of requested and offered talks with the ability to vote on either. We have a more general need to establish a means for that anyway: At some point we need to publicly share information such as scheduled meetings or additional materials / links. Something like a Meta-Vault (catchy name?).

  • Could be an actual vault shared via Publish, but that would mean only one person can edit it, correct? (Voting would have to be set up externally)
  • A public Notion page could work but we would probably be burned at the stake for the heresy :wink:
  • Would a forum thread suffice? (Could vote via hearts)
  • Would a discord channel suffice? (Could vote via reaction emojis)
  • Or both? Discord channel for announcements and discussions, forum thread for votes and follow-up information?

Re. the channel (@Dextyrio) – Although I agree that Discord would be the lowest barrier of entry, I think the step of clicking on a link that takes you to a Zoom/BBB/Hangouts call is not very big. I think we can expect our audience to be able to manage this. I have very strong feelings about people being excluded because of technical reasons. The meeting could be announced together with the link in the discord some time in advance and shortly before the meeting starts.

We could also leave the choice of the medium/channel to the host but I’d rather not do that. This introduces a lot of inconsistency.

@Dextyrio You sound like you want to host/lead such a “starting experiment”? What would it be about?

I already have ideas for one small presentation (my current research topic) and a hands-on (introducing some data science tool).

Scheduling the event would probably be up to the availability of the host/presenter?

Re. the name:

  • What about “Graph Talks” / “Graph Hacks”? In the end, this is about networking…
  • “Community Talks” / “Community Hands-On”? I think I like this best.
  • I feel like “User group” sounds super boring and dry so we should probably not use that.
  • “Hackathon” would be fine for me for hands-on sessions. Or just “hands-on”?
  • If we end up labelling the events “Obsidian Flobblewobb” we should probably ask one of the devs if it’s fine to include the name of the product, lest we imply some official affiliation.

To sum up, the immediate action items we need in order to get started:

  • make the signup/request form perfect
  • decide on a medium/channel
  • find a place to put public information such as schedule, voting, etc.

I’m leaning towards using the forum for this. Likewise, I think hearts would be a good-enough place to start, and they can be filed/commented in the #share-showcase category. Easier for the community to have access to it, and anyone who wants to organize can comment/contribute without us needing any additional setup. (I strongly suggest we start small and simple).

In favour of using something uniformly. We just need to agree where :sweat_smile:

I don’t think we need different names for the different types of talks. Labelling the effort as “Community talks” sounds good to me, we can always append the talk type to the title if need be, e.g. “Awesome talk about data science (hands-on)/(tutorial)/(brainstorming)”.


Thanks for making it a bit more lean :slight_smile: My thoughts tend to branch off very strongly and become very cautious when its late in the day/week.

Agree on the name thing. Not important.

Anything that speaks against BigBlueButton?

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I did not know about bigbluebutton until it was suggested here. A quick Google suggests nothing sketchy, but I guess it all depends on where it’s hosted and how the administrators set it up. Are we sure that this (new) service will solve the technical issues mentioned before? Or are we optimizing for such issues prematurely?

I was thinking about using the instance of my uni but i should probably check before if that requires a login, duh.

I would suggest Zoom but afaik if you don’t have a license you are limited to 40min. Might look into Google Hangouts later.

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Yes, Zoom does have that limitation. Google has the limitation of needing to admit people manually in a way that’s not obvious if they haven’t been pre-invited using a Gmail address. Microsoft has the limitation of needing to install its very heavy and clunky collaboration interface. Discord has a limitation of I think up to 9 participants if a screen is shared. Thanks for your conscientiousness but I think we can forget @xnhp your great initial suggestion of bigbluebutton (BBB) for now; its openness and own-server control really fits our values but I think my later mention of having done a Test on it was misunderstood; I was trying to convey that it — like Discord Voice — also doesn’t work for users in countries like mine. Sorry if any confusion caused.

Here is a list of countries whose Obsidianthropes w©ould be excluded by strictly standardizing on Discord voice (or anything which uses the usual VOIP ports): In which countries is Skype or WhatsApp calling blocked? - Quora.

Lamentably, in the current state of international cyberwarfare, there will always be someone left out, because there’s no cookie-cutter govt tech policy worldwide. I think it’s just my tiny country, with a small population that allowed just Zoom, Meet, Teams post-pandemic for kids to attend online schools and remoters to work virtually. Others only allow homegrown-apps or ones not originated in the U.S. We need to cede that it’s idealistic, if not impossible, for us now to fixate on one that everyone can access. We haven’t even begun talking about Timezone differences.

Maybe we can do what I’ve seen mods do in the e-ink Discord server I’m in… something that’s pragmatic and balanced — for now — set Discord as a default… it’s the easiest and least obtuse/extra steps for those active in our community (it’ll help keep people involved and engaged in our server) BUT allow exceptions under the condition that the organizing host or slated speaker has a known and recognized technical disability preventing them from Discord or scheduling the call at the usual timeslot. And if someone from a VOIP-blocked country REALLY wants to participate in someone else’s Discord speech event as a guest, there are workarounds they can do (e.g. stay up late on a red eye and use a VPN, which may be illegal in their locales, but many choose to do it nonetheless, I don’t). Then when we max out on our Discord voice connections and have a routine of weekly events and have to think about paying, it might make the most sense all-around to crowd-fund a Zoom Pro account, I think people would by then feel a lot of learning-value coming back to them from this community as aspiring context-miners to each contribute a monthly cup of coffee, or there might be 1 Zoom Pro user in our community already among them who wouldn’t mind being a benefactor and hosting our calls.

Anyway, I’ve asked a Q now in the General chan on Discord, @Licat is on the pulse, let’s see what comes out there.

P.S. @xnhp my topic (which should be clearly distinctly classified separate from a Talk — it’s a Hackathon— e.g 10 minutes to explain the big “rock”/sticky-problem and the rest we all together swarm on suggesting solutions and co-tinkering in the remaining hour to crack it) really could be any one of a holy grail I’m after in this post: I was thinking of starting with how to auto-change concept titles to Headers in a note and use Refactoring to split it up then visualize with the Graph3D using the Neo4j plugin. But IDK if I’ll do anything right now until there’s clarity about my technical ability to participate, which I’m okay with if not (I’ll take a bullet for the group!)

Awesome, thanks for your research.

Let’s stick to discord then for a start.

I’ll be afk until tomorrow night. If someone (@SkepticMystic?) wants to set up a offer/request form and announce it in discord/forum, feel free to go ahead. As I said, I already have 2 topics I could talk about.

I have done some more work on the forms, keen to hear what you think!

  • I split the offer/request into 2 forms.
  • Made the description more… descriptive
  • Added various options for technical requirements, moderator, expected duration.
  • EDIT: Also added the option to choose a meeting platform that works best for the presenter (with a description saying Discord is ideal)

The results of the Google Form can easily (and continuously) be sent to a Google spreadsheet, so it’ll be in a more workable format.

The forms are a bit longer now, so a screenshot won’t cut it :yum:

Here is the link to the “Offer to give a talk” form:

And the “Request a talk” form:

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I’m not the best at creative/descriptive writing, so if I were to send the invite on Discord, I would prefer someone to read over it first :sweat_smile: but sure, I can give it a try