Introduction to the Main Conference Infrastructure

4 minute read

Program Chairs (Joyce Chai, Natalie Schluter, and Joel Tetreault) and General Chair (Dan Jurafsky), for the entire Organizing Committee

We’re excited to give you some more details on the virtual infrastructure for ACL 2020!

In this post, we’ll summarize the main conference, which will take place July 6-8; more information on tutorials (July 5) and workshops (July 9-10) later!

In designing the conference, we drew heavily on the infrastructure pioneered by Sasha Rush and the ICLR organization committee at ICLR 2020, together with lots of advice from the organizers of other virtual conferences and the ACM. We will be using SlidesLive for pre-recorded talks, Zoom for live sessions, RocketChat for chat, and a special web portal. Our goal was to enable participation around the world and maximize inclusion, engagement, and learning in a safe environment.

There will be 909 presentations at the main conference (779 from ACL, 7 from Computational Linguistics, 31 from Transaction of ACL, 43 demos, and 49 Student Research Workshop papers). Each will have a pre-recorded talk (long/demo/SRW papers 12 minutes, short papers 7 minutes), two live Q&A video sessions at different times, and a linked RocketChat channel. Authors are already being emailed instructions by SlidesLive about how to record and upload their talks.

In addition to the talks and Q&A sessions, there will be livestreamed keynote presentations, award sessions, and business meetings, as well as mentoring and other sessions and sponsor booths.

Each day we will have 10 video Q&A sessions in different time zones across the world, where two sessions are grouped back-to-back as shown in the following table. We will also have a 2-hour plenary session (7am - 9am PDT) for keynote talks, award sessions, and business meetings.

(The choice of time for the plenary session is based on guidelines from the ACM. While there is no ideal time, this particular time slot allows most of the world to participate before midnight and after 7am.)


  • The above table lists the 10 one-hour live QA sessions as well as the two-hour plenary session. Please use the map below if your time zone is not reflected.
  • UTC+0 times are marked in bold
  • +1 means a day ahead of UTC, -1 means a day behind

Papers and Live Video Q&A Sessions

  • All accepted papers will have a pre-recorded video talk (12 minutes for long papers, demos, and Student Research Workshop papers; 7 minutes for short papers) and slides available for your access. TACL and CL papers presented at the conference are treated the same as a main conference long paper. Videos will be captioned, and videos and slides will be available before the start of the conference and you can watch them at your convenience.
  • Each Video Q&A session will be organized by parallel tracks for specific topic areas (e.g., semantics, machine translation, etc.). Each paper in the track will have a separate Zoom room where you can engage in live discussions with the authors. You can jump between Zoom rooms during the session.
  • You can also use RocketChat to ask written questions of the authors.
  • To provide better access across the globe, each paper will be allocated two Q&A sessions at different times.

Plenary Sessions

  • The two Keynote talks will be livestreamed at their designated time. The talk will be 45 minutes followed by at least a 30 minutes live Q&A session with the speaker. You can post your questions via chat, and a moderator will read out the questions to the speaker during live Q&A.
  • Award sessions include livestreamed talks and live award ceremonies for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Service Award, and Test of the Time Awards.
  • The Best Paper ceremony where we will announce the best paper awards.
  • Business meetings will be a mix of pre-recorded short presentations and live discussions organized by the ACL Executive board. We strongly encourage you to participate and provide your feedback on various issues the ACL executive board is working on! The session chair will moderate the discussion, and you can raise your hand using the Zoom interface to participate.

Student Research Workshop (SRW)

  • There are 49 papers accepted to the SRW at ACL 2020.
  • All accepted papers will have a pre-recorded video talk of 12 minutes.
  • The live Q&A sessions for each paper will take place July 6th-8th, alongside those of the main conference.
  • The SRW will use the same platforms as the main conference (SlideLive, Zoom, RocketChat).


  • There are 43 demonstration papers at the main conference.
  • Each demo paper will have a pre-recorded 12-minute talk presenting the details about the demonstration, two live Q&A video sessions for about 30 minutes at different times, and a linked RocketChat channel.

Registration and Fees

  • You must register in order to attend ACL 2020 and access the ACL 2020 website portal, videos, and live events. (But of course the papers will be available to everyone at the open access ACL Anthology; at some point later this summer the talk videos will join them there at the Anthology as well).
  • The ACL 2020 registration fees are drastically reduced this year, which we hope will greatly increase inclusion! Regular registration is $125 and student registration is $50.
  • The low fees include workshops and tutorials. (You still need to register for workshops/tutorials but there is no additional charge.)
  • As usual, ACL Membership for the year is also required ($100 regular, $50 for students). ACL membership fees are valid for the whole year (meaning EMNLP and AACL!). Furthermore, it’s your membership fees that fund all our really important open access efforts, such as keeping our journals and the Anthology open access to the world with no charge!