In a comment on "Monthly Topic Challenges aren't getting much attention. How can we change them?", heather made the following suggestion:

It might be interesting to have the topic challenge, but also an, e.g., bimonthly chat session discussing it - easier to jump in and participate.

In the chat room, Gareth Rees wrote that one of the goals of the topic challenges seems to be

Promote shared experience, i.e. situation in which everyone is reading a text at the same time, like a book club.

Since book clubs in "physical" space (as opposed to cyberspace) typically organise face-to-face sessions to discuss the work or author they are reading, it seems like a good idea to try to recreate this in our community.

Since we are spread out across different time zones, the main difficulty is finding an appropriate time slot. Perhaps we should first look when activity in the chat room is highest. Based on the grey bar charts on our chat room's statistics page, the best days appear to be Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The best time is a bit harder to establish; possibly somewhere in the afternoon (assuming the bar charts are based on UTC). However, it is not entirely clear whether these bar charts are based on chat room activity during the last week, month, quarter or year (or even a longer period).

For this reason, I will post a few time slots below, giving people to vote on them and to add new ones.

  • 1
    It should be noted that activity is infrequent enough in the chat that having an event will probably draw in people who don't attend...meaning that chat activity does not necessarily correlate to the best day to hold these meetings. Aug 20 '19 at 1:27

Saturday 7 p.m. UTC

(For the corresponding time in your own time zone, see e.g. TimeAndDate.com.)


Tuesday 6 p.m. UTC

(For the corresponding time in your own time zone, see e.g. TimeAndDate.com.)


Monday 6 p.m. UTC

(For the corresponding time in your own time zone, see e.g. TimeAndDate.com.)


Wednesday 6 p.m. UTC

(For the corresponding time in your own time zone, see e.g. TimeAndDate.com.)


No matter which day of the week is chosen, a 6pm or 7pm UTC start time makes it quite unlikely that anyone in New Zealand (6pm UTC = 6am), eastern Australia (4am), Japan or Korea (3am), Perth, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong or P.R. China (2am), Dhaka (midnight) or even India (11:30pm) would be joining the chatroom.

If we're interested in maximising participation, I propose two times on the chosen day: one that is timed for when both Europe and the Americas are awake, and one that is timed for Asia/Oceania and the Americas (since my guess is there are more active LitSE members there than in UK/Europe).

[NB I haven't allowed for daylight savings in the following, since this not only is dependent on time of year and hemisphere, but also is not universal even in the same world time zone (e.g. Australian Eastern Standard Time UTC+10: Sydney & Melbourne have DST, but Brisbane & Hobart don't).]

  1. 6pm UTC
    This suits those accessing the site during daytime work hours in the Americas: from Chile & Argentina (3pm) and eastern Canada & the US east coast (2pm), to the US west coast (= 11am), and parts in between. For evening participants, it will suit those in the UK (= 7pm), most of Europe plus Sth Africa (= 8pm), Eastern Europe & the Middle East (= 9pm) and even at a pinch as far east as India (= 11:30pm).

  2. 1am UTC
    This would allow daytime participation in New Zealand (1pm), eastern Australia (11am), Japan/Korea (10am) and Perth/Singapore/Manila/Taiwan/Hong Kong/P.R. China (9am), and evening participation in USA/Canadian west coast (6pm) through to east coast (9pm) and Chile/Argentina/Sao Paulo (10pm). If the chat session went for 2+ hours, early risers in India could also participate (3am UTC = 8:30am in India, 9am in Dhaka).

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