It is with much regret and sadness that we must announce the cancellation of Rebooting the Web of Trust X in Buenos Aires, Argentina, originally scheduled for March 16-20. This cancellation is due to governmental and corporate concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

We decided to cancel the workshop this Friday after conversations with our attendees as well as our local hosts in Argentina, who have been able to keep us very well informed about the attitude of the country, in part thanks to their connections with the local government. They were able to inform us that Argentina has issued an advisory against gatherings of ten or more people that involve people from outside of Argentina.

Argentina’s decisions are part of a worldwide response to Covid-19 that has led some corporations to forbid employees from travelling. Conferences much larger than us, such as Facebook F8, Geneva Motor Show, and Mobile World Conference, have already been cancelled. This is part of a clear global effect that is making it increasingly difficult to hold international gatherings at this specific moment in time — particularly since we can’t predict how circumstances might change in the next two weeks as Covid-19 likely takes on pandemic status.

Under these circumstances, we found it would not be reasonable to continue with the design workshop. So, we are cancelling the workshop now, to maximize your own chances for cancelling tickets and accomodations.

With that said, we should talk about the logistics:

Back in Toronto, at RWOT7, we made a commitment to creating a reserve, to give us a cushion in the case of a failed design workshop. We have done so, and that will allow Rebooting the Web of Trust to weather this storm. We have already refunded our sponsors, and we will be refunding your event tickets in the next few days.

You will probably want to cancel your plane tickets and hotel stays (unless you’ll still be visiting Buenos Aires for other reasons). You might have more success getting a refund if you wait and see if any stronger advisories appear for Argentina or for air travel in general in the next few weeks; in addition, you might have more success changing your tickets to RWOT11, rather than cancelling them outright. But, we really don’t know how things might change in the upcoming weeks, and the airline industry has become particularly hard-nosed about giving any sort of refunds over the last few decades, even for truly extenuating circumstances. So, we suggest you trust your gut and the experiences of other attendees. We’ve created a Discourse topic and advise you talk there about any successes or failures you have in this regard:

Though we can’t generally offer financial recompense for your cancellation of non-refundable plane tickets because of the limits of our reserve, if the cancellation creates a particular financial hardship for you, please let us know, and in those cases we do have a small fund to help ease your burden. In particular, if you are an indie studio or an individual, and the tickets were a large expenditure that you really couldn’t afford, let us know. In the case where we were already supporting your travel with a stipend, we will still send your award. If you were able to avoid travel losses, we’d appreciate the opportunity to pass the support to another attendee.

On the flipside, you are also welcome to support us in this trying time, to help rebuild our reserves.

Continuing forward, there may still be a few events related to RWOT10 and Buenos Aires, and we are already planning RWOT11.

Buenos Aires Get Togethers. We know that some people are still planning to go to Buenos Aires, for vacation, because it’s part of a larger travel plan, or because they’re already on the way. We’ve created a Discourse topic to allow you to organize any meetings you’d like to have in Buenos Aires if you’ll still be there:

Virtual RWOT10. We are exploring whether we want to create any sort of RWOT10 virtual event, possibly including a hackathon, a day of talks, or a more full-fledged virtual conference. We’ll make final decisions based on interest and on the time expenditures required. Please note that we have not definitively committed to this: we may ultimately decide it’s better to let the leadership team (and our regular attendees) have a bit of a breather, to recharge our batteries before RWOT11. However, we expect to have a phone call on this possibility next week, and we’ve also created a Discourse topic to discuss it. If you’re interested, please let us know if you’d attend, for how long, and what you’d like to see. The Discourse topic is:

RWOT11 Plans. Finally, we are already planning what we think will be a great RWOT11 this fall. We have not yet finalized our decisions, but the tentative plan is to hold the event September 21-25 in The Hague, Netherlands. We hope you’ll join us for that, and if you’re able to exchange tickets that might otherwise be non-refundable, you may wish to do so for these dates — but we suggest waiting as long as you can before doing so, since our plans are not entirely firm yet. When we can more definitively confirm these dates before, we’ll do so.

We express our regret for the cancellation of RWOT10, especially since we’re well aware that people have already made plans and purchased tickets. Over the last four and a half years and nine prior design workshops, we’ve never shut down a RWOT event after its announcement, and it’s only been done this time because of the most extenuating circumstances, and the decisions of governments and corporations outside of our control. We are looking forward to a strong event this September, probably in the Netherlands, and to continue forward regularly and reliably, as we have in the past.

And to reiterate: we will refund your event tickets; if the cancellation of your plane tickets creates a particular financial hardship, please let us know and we will help; and if you’re able to support RWOT to rebuild our reserves, we invite you to do so.

Thank you for your understanding! We look forward to seeing you at future events, and possibly in some virtual form.