On the Northwestern CS Theory Group there is a set of Quarterly Theory Workshops. There is one coming up on Dec 17-18, 2020, called the Junior Theorists Workshop. Take a look and possibly go to it! Because it is virtual you do not need to plan that much ahead- though they do want you to register.
1) I notice broadly two kinds of meetings:
Based on WHO will be there, e.g., JUNIOR theorists
Based on TOPIC: e.g., there was a meeting on ALGORITHMIC FAIRNESS.
2) These types of meetings (NY Theory day is another) are, I believe, intended to be for people that are local (more on that later). But because the meeting will be on zoom, geography is no longer an impediment for either the attendees or the speakers.
3) Before covid there was some talk of `Gee, flying off to STOC, FOCS, other conferences is bad for the environment, what to do about that?'. With that in mind, here is a history which might not be true but makes a point:
In an earlier era FOCS/STOC were attended by mostly Americans and ICALP was attended by mostly Europeans. I do not think there was any policy of discrimination on admissions, but it was more like Americans just did not submit to ICALP as much, nor Europeans to FOCS/STOC. But over time when these conferences got to be considered prestigious people would routinely submit to either one depending on timing. If your paper was done in time for Conf X deadline, that's where you submit. If it does not get in then you edit it some, perhaps add some new results, and submit to Conf Y.
So one solution to the air-travel-global-Warming problem of conferences is go back to a time (which may not have ever existed) where it was just understood that you go to LOCAL conferences. Math does this, but it helps that their regional conferences are not prestigious. But even they don't quite get it right: the joint AMS-MAA meeting alternates coasts. One year when it was in California they invited me to be a guest speaker (on the Muffin Problem). The following year it was in Baltimore. Note that I live in Maryland, so perhaps they should have waited a year.
How to encourage people to submit locally. I DO NOT want to have a rule or a diff standard for those who don't. As such... I have no idea.
4) Are virtual conferences a good idea? This is a hot topic now so I won't dwell on it, just to say that there is still something about being there IN PERSON, meeting people, serendipity that makes live confs better.
However, to have it at the same time be virtual and recorded will be VERY HELPFL to those who can't afford to go for whatever reason.
And of course there is the whole issue of if we should have prestigious conferences, which I won't get into now. Or later. That's more Lance's issue (he thinks no).