Moving events online

I received the following email from Repair Café International Foundation this evening:

Dear Repair Café organizer,

The International Repair Café Foundation advises all Repair Café organizers worldwide not to organize a repair event in the coming weeks (until April 6). This way we want to help limit the spread of the corona virus (COVID-19).

More background information on this measure is provided on our website.

Best regards,
Team Repair Café International

Even aside from that, I am inclined to cancel our upcoming event (Marlow, UK) - also because not that many people might turn up.

Does anyone have any experience with running a virtual event? What tools did you or would you use? (I was thinking of Jitsi Meet, because of the low barrier to entry.)

Jitsi meetings sound interesting to explore, especially if people are social distancing, or isolated, so keeping in touch, exchanging ideas must be good .
Perhaps on line repair tutorials can be created to encourage and inspire learning to repair to specific repair techniques, a non advert driven version of YouTube??

we’ll need to be inventive to avoid becoming stir crazy…

Sensible suggestions welcome please…

Hi Frank,

We love Jisti Meet but it has played up a bit for us with larger groups. Here are some “1-click to video” options
• Google Hangouts
• Zoom (free up to 100, 40 min limit though)
• Whereby (£) (£)

We’ve bought a subscription and we could potentially create a room for use by other groups, what do you think @james? Daily is cool because if you have the skills, the API allows you do loads, embed elegantly on your own website. You can also record locally.

Hi @Frank and @steve.cousens, great that you are considering virtual events for your communities. That is something I am currently looking into for the London community (and beyond). So if you’d like to have a chat and exchange some ideas, please get in touch. This is a great opportunity for us to learn from each other :slight_smile:

I’d second Janet’s message about Jitsi Meet. It is a great (free and open source!) tool, but for us it has struggled when there are lots of people connected.

In addition to Janet’s list, CMX has a pretty comprehensive page about running online events, although their audience is more interested in large, conference-style events.

I’m sure we could share a room for others to use. As long as there’s some kind of schedule in place to avoid double-bookings, that could be a quick, easy and cheap way to give others access to a high-quality video calling tool. If you’re interested in trying it out @Frank and @steve.cousens (and anyone else reading), let me know :slight_smile:

As to the kinds of events that could work online, we’re working on a few ideas that we’re planning to share over the next couple of days. Watch this space!

Just a quick note to say that I’ve moved this conversation into a new topic to allow us to focus without cluttering up the main announcement

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Having provided remote repair help for relatives over many occasions, I can imagine this being quite a frustrating experience! Certainly it would require patience and an acceptance that many fixable problems go unresolved due to the limitations of doing this remotely (e.g. lack of tools, difficulty analysing the problem or explaining the actions required).

However, if this were positioned to be more like an initial triage service with referral onward to online resources, professional repairers, future-dated Restart parties etc. then I think this could work. It does also have the advantage that the participant has to be actively involved in the repair.

Logistically, it could run as a publicised Jitsi session for the ‘arrivals’, then each participant would be allocated to a fixer on a seprate dedicated Jitsi session. Would need a side comms channel e.g. Slack for coordination. Although Jitsi and the like arereasonably easy to use, it’s probably still too complex and unfamiliar for some participants unfortunately. But it would still allow us to have something resembling an event.


Well in Reading we decided to try a online repair Cafe, More as a repair advice session. Not sure how it will go, or how to organise something like this. We are going to use zoom, as I have an account for this. Will share how it goes and hopefully we can learn together how to do this.


I talked with @panda about doing this but per category of device. For example, a “Laptops” Restart Party and the “rooms” are by fault type. We could have an RSVP form that might cover some key preparations, like getting the right tools in. We could start such an event with an introduction to laptops and laptop faults, so that participants learn no matter what happens.

We’re using Daily.Co which could be really suited to this, as it allows us to open up rooms. We could share the breakout room-links after the intro session finishes, via chat.

It would be cool to have a way of recording repairs in real-time on the Fixometer too :wink:

Has anyone considered Skype for conferencing calls

Best Regards Steve

All I get when I open Skype is phishing messages from zombie accounts :zombie: Plus the UI has gotten super confusing.

Am I the only one?

I think Microsoft has killed it off. Furthest thing from “1-click” video I can imagine!

We are looking at the same thing to encourage people to repair things at home but give some support in terms of a Q&A/share session online. I have a zoom room but wonder what are the pros of zoom over a google hangout?

Thank you all for your thoughts, also regarding Jitsi (I have never used it with many participants).

I agree that it would be more of a Q&A session and triage. One concern I had about separating into non-transparent breakout rooms was around safeguarding (the joy of a litigious society!).

Based on a quick scan of the tools available, my thoughts are:

  • Jitsi: great for small, flexible meetings and no client installation or account required
  • Whereby (formerly kind of similar but requires higher tier of paid account to allow sufficient number of participants
  • Google Hangouts: requires Google account?
  • Skype: not good experience with, definitely not “for business”!
  • seems to be great for embedding?
  • Zoom: I use this at work and it is brilliant, but requires a client installation and a paid account. Allows to split into breakout rooms
  • Remo (linked in the CMX page, thanks @james) looks almost like a virtual version of the real thing with “tables” (bit what you describe @Janet). It comes with a 14-day trial! Does anyone have experience with this?

@Vanessa_Ternes happy to exchange ideas :smiley:


Thanks for the great overview. We tested Zoom and google hangouts last night with the repair volunteers. Zoom brilliant hands down - and the breakout rooms mean you can match volunteers with participants to discuss a repair together, like a regular repair event. I have an account for work. Haven’t asked about the legality of using it for repair cafe, but have a justification ready. We will run a zoom event online on Sunday. Anyone feel free to join. We speak English, Swedish (and have German and Dutch volunteers too). One thing to note @james - I got an error message and could not make the event without specifying a physical address.


That sounds like a brilliant — and urgent — feature request @Jessika_Richter - can you submit to #help:feature-requests? Thanks!

Great summary @Frank, thanks. Think I’d agree with all that.

And @Jessika_Richter, fantastic to hear you’ve got an online event planned already!
I’ll come along :+1:

I agree with Janet: not having to specify a physical address (or perhaps being able to specify an online address?) would be a useful feature to have at the moment.


I have issues with Zoom because it heavily pushes a download. And it’s far from being “1-click to video” for newbies.

Agree that this is a bit of an issue. I’m wondering if any of the software allows for some kind of pop-up disclaimer and “house rules”!

I looked at this but honestly thought it’s a bit “forced” — some chats with @panda had me thinking we are best off not trying to reproduce the offline event, but instead go in a new direction. Ultimately, it is an online space, not a physical space. What do others think?

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We are thinking less about supporting specific repairs and more of keeping our sense of community alive, giving people some inspiring, constructive ideas for what to do when stuck at home…

Anyone tried a twitter hour ever? Like #repairhour or #mendinghour? We like the idea of a regular point for anyone in our area (or beyond?) to connect and ask questions, get ideas, share what they’ve been mending, fixing or just doing with their time to stay positive. I love the thought of lots of people sitting down to mend together at the same time, even if they are only connected by social media… Feels like moments of connection and some semblance of a routine will help people through this.

We are also toying with how might be able to provide some interesting content now schools are off and parents desperate for meaningful stuff to share with their kids. Maybe small repair projects, or may be “what’s inside” content about how stuff works. We’re canvassing our volunteer fixers and have a few offers for video tutorials. Any ideas gratefully received!


Hi Chris,

Re Moving events online

A very stimulating idea indeed, will discuss with our group and update you.

We wondered how about a drop off service via an agreed agent eg. A shop foyer or secured drop box area.

Where pre-booked in Items needing repair are Delivered , avoiding face to face contacts … then collection , repair & return by the relevant Fixers …

Downsides …

Surface contamination, passing to the Fixers.

cost of cleaning, storage and transportation to / from drop off.

Delivery of unrepairable items, or end of life rubbish. That the owner failed to collect.

Poor access to spares ,

Presumes easy access to internet, & telecommunications that not everyone has,

More to be discussed. ?

Its clear the extended worldwide supply chain is very tenuous having been seriously challenged by Covid19.

So the repair movement could have a positive effect on making manufacturing look closer at making products easier to repair and supported by spares longterm.

That presumes people are ready to be trained in practical repair skills and not just keyboard operators.

Food for deep thought

Keep yourself safe & well.

Best Wishes. Steve
Market Harborough Fixers C.I.C.

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For us this approach would defeat the purpose of a community event. It’s not a free repair service, it’s a learning event.

For urgent repairs, why not refer people to reliable local businesses which are likely to suffer with the epidemic? Many can deliver and pick up.

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Good points Janet. I cannot find a better alternative to zoom at the moment. I was going to start the session with the house rules and disclaimers. Also, since we are running a very short Q&A, we are not expecting to guide repairs like we do at a regular event, but rather discuss, encourage, and point out resources. I was planning to assign two repairers in any breakout room. We got asked if we would record, but we decided against it as we need consent from all participants and even then not sure about how we can share the recording with GDPR. In short, on Sunday we are experimenting :slight_smile:

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