Convention Follow-up

Dawn’s in trouble.  Jim blew up some internet yesterday. Must be Tuesday.

Some follow-up thoughts to my post about conventions and membership comp policies.

I screwed up. I wrote that post in part to sort out my own feelings about what was and wasn’t fair before contacting Penguicon about scheduling and money issues. However, I ignored the fact that this is the internet, and of course my post would get back to the Penguicon staff, who would likely feel a bit blind-sided and attacked. It’s not like this is my first time online, and I should have contacted them privately before blogging about that aspect. Mea culpa, and I apologize to the folks at Penguicon.

Two links that came out of yesterday’s discussion:

My thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation. That’s one of the things I love about blogging — I hear different sides of an argument, and get a better understanding of various perspectives, whether I agree with them all or not. A number of factors seem to come into play with reimbursement policies, including the size of the con, the age of the con (startup cons may not have the budget to cover memberships), the location (U.S. and non-U.S. cons seem to have different attitudes … perhaps related to size), and the type of con (relaxacon vs. Big Media Con vs. professional-oriented vs. fan-oriented, and so on.)

The one thing I keep coming back to is the importance of communication. In many of the stories of program participants getting angry over convention policies, one of the biggest problems was people didn’t know they were expected to pay for membership until much later, sometimes when they showed up at the convention. A con has the right to make whatever policies they choose, but I think it’s very important to make sure everyone’s aware of those policies up front so that the participants can decide whether or not it’s worth their time to attend.

Ideally, it seems like it would be helpful for the initial communication between con and participants to include the following:

  • Is this an invitation to be a participant, or just a poll who might want to do programming? (There was discussion and disagreement on what constituted an official invitation to participate at a con.)
  • What is the reimbursement policy for participants?
  • In the case of something like Penguicon, with different tiers of participants, what exactly would the arrangement be for this guest? (Turns out I’m a “nifty” guest, meaning I wouldn’t have to pay the $25 … but I didn’t find that out until yesterday.)

Finally, it occurs to me that it’s easy for me to sit back and tell the con staff what they should do. However, while I feel that these are all valid points and worth discussing, it’s also important to remember that the con staff are volunteers, and they work their asses off. As someone who enjoys the con experience, I want to thank everyone who chips in to make them happen.