Online only

Online meeting etiquette

A Zoom profile

A Zoom profile

IN THESE DAYS of endless remote talk, many of us have new etiquette to learn and invent. What, in particular, is the proper form of address for a person whose thumbnail-sized image appears in front of the obligatory bookcase, but who you can identify only as "Galaxy S7"? "The fire risk in the third row"?

So, before you join the next London Freelance Branch meeting on Zoom, please adjust the settings on your Zoom account so that it shows your real name on the screen, not "radicalunicorn1" or "ravebunny2" or whatever log-in name or user name you last dreamt up while signing up for that social media chat or comments section or rôle-playing game or other anonymous thing on the interwebs.

London Freelance is a branch of a trade union and a serious organisation for mutual aid. Our principles of union democracy are based on transparency and accountability. So we use our real names when asked to speak at Branch meetings, whether virtual or face-to-face. Yes, one regular nom de plume pseudonym by which you are already known and regularly use as a byline is perfectly acceptable. Full names are good, as in a meeting of at least 70 there's a good chance someone will share your first name.

For security reasons, admission to online Branch meetings is through a "waiting room ". The Chairs reserve the right not to let you out of there and into the meeting if you appear with an obviously made-up name. They may let you in and immediately contact you via the "chat box" to ask you to let everyone know what your real name is and which internet handle is appearing in front of your image on-screen.

We are aware that some older devices may not give (easy) access to all of the Zoom program's functions, possibly including changing some account settings. Maybe that's how you end up listed as your phone, rather than as the person, who others want to see, with a name, as a talking head in a meeting. It's worth trying to join the meeting the old-fashioned way: first start the "Zoom client" program, then enter your name when you paste in the meeting ID number that we send.

For more, visit the Customizing Your Profile help page on Zoom, which explains it all. Or sign into your Zoom account, then go to "Settings" by clicking or tapping the cogwheel icon. You will find some variation in the interface, depending on the age and type of device you are using. You can also manage some settings within the app.

You can fix the settings on your Zoom account so it shows your real name. Yes, you'll have to sign in to your Zoom account before the meeting to do this. What's worked for us is this: under "Profile Settings," click "Profile". Next to "Name" (the first field in your profile), click on the blue "Edit" on the right. This allows you to change your name. Type in your real name or established journalistic pseudonym. There's a blue "Save Changes" button at the bottom of your profile. Voilá, done!

To add a photo (if you can be bothered) under the blank photo box at the top left, click on "Change," which is in blue, and it will prompt you to upload a photo from your device's photo library or choose a location on your device from which you can find photos.

Apparently you also have the option to set it up so it shows a static photo of you if you're participating in the meeting in audio only, but one of this is going to have to explain this to the other.

All this will make it possible for our busy team to chair and facilitate the meeting. Currently we have a Chair, a back-up Chair, a Waiting Room/Chat moderator and general tech troubleshooter and another team member working on projecting all the slides. None of these is prepared to bring ridicule on the Branch by having to say, "You had something to add on this, @darkgodsofchaos11?"

If you are a London Freelance Branch member, we look forward to seeing you at the next meeting, or at least to hearing you if you prefer to attend in audio only.