major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Default)
Loncon 3 seemed to do quite well with its Code of Conduct; it was available on the website and reprinted in the front of the convention pocket guide. As far as I'm aware, there were only a handful of incidents reported to the convention staff that required it to be applied.

However, I've seen discussion about the convention that suggests that some attendees still did not understand what the CoC was meant to set out in terms of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour. I've been giving some thought to how we might ensure that everyone at a convention is clearly and unambiguously aware of the CoC, and more importantly, can be proven to be aware of it.

At Loncon 3, registration involved being handed your badge. How about if instead we handed over a sealed envelope containing the badge, printed up as below. (The box with my name in is an indication that there would be a sticker identifying whose badge was inside).

 photo CoC_Envelope_zps95591e95.jpg

For this to work, you have to plan this from the outset, and ensure that:

- for online memberships, anyone joining has to click on a 'I agree with the Code of Conduct' tick-box in order to join;

- for direct sales, there is a 'sign to agree our Code of Conduct' box on the membership form.

This makes it absolutely clear both when you join the convention and when you pick up your badge that the Code of Conduct applies to you.

I've put in the refund option because I think this strengthens the convention's position: it allows someone a final chance to say 'no, I don't want to be bound by this'. Of course, as it excludes what we lawyers call consequential expenses (e.g. travel and hotel) I doubt that many people will exercise it, but the fact that it's there helps avoid arguments about the validity of the 'open the envelope and you're agreeing' notice.

(For those interested in the legality: this isn't a shrink-wrap licence situation, as the notice on the envelope is just confirming what members have expressly signed up to when they joined. Rather, it's actually adding an exit clause to the membership contract.)
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It sounds as if Jack O'Con (last weekend in Albuquerque) is going to be a star addition to the list of Great Conrunning Disasters:

Jack O’Con – The Comic Convention That Suddenly Wasn’t (Bleeding Cool News)

One Artist Attending Jack O’Con Tells Their Story (Bleeding Cool News)

An attending dealer tells his story

I suspect that there's a lot more to come out of this, but it sounds like a one-man con-committee way out of his depth (and that may be the charitable explanation). A lot of people are criticising the hotel, but if advance payments hadn't been made then the management were probably erring on the side of helpfulness by allowing function space payment on the day rather than just cancelling the even a week out. Hotels usually require a hefty function space payment in advance, which, by the way, is why it is so damaging if a payment provider such as PayPal decides to sit on your income for 'fraud prevention' reasons until the organisers can show paid invoices, as that totally wrecks your cash flow.

I am also a bit wary of the report that the hotel management tried to claim that the contract included unauthorised amendments by a departed manager that they weren't going to honour. Firstly, that sounds suspiciously like an organiser's excuse to me, unless verified. And secondly, unless New Mexico contract law is way out of line with that in most common-law jurisdictions, an event manager would in my view be deemed to be acting for the hotel and there would need to be some pretty convincing evidence to show otherwise ("but he signed this napkin to approve our having the dealer room free over the weekend!" would, for example, probably not hold water). There's a reason why I often find myself typing "...or employees, servants or agents" in legal pleadings.

This sort of thing, by the way, is why Nine Worlds got a slightly leery reaction when it popped up early this year promising a 1500-person event with novel crowdsourced funding run by a handful of people few in any established fandom had heard of. Now it turned out really well of course but wariness towards new cons that promise a lot can, as this debacle shows, have some justification.

 
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"You are offering a room full of vintage first-edition hardbacks to a group of people who read books on their phones."

Madeline Ashby: 'Memento mori. (Or, how Worldcon’s youth problem will resolve.)'

If I had more time this would be a long post ranging over:

  • how the people I see at conventions in my mid-40s are in large part those I went to cons with in my mid-20s
  • the demographics and atmosphere at Nine Worlds as compared with Eastercon/Worldcon
  • the lack of progress towards panel parity or meaningful anti-harassment policies at Worldcon

...and sundry related topics. But most of these are issues that are already being discussed, and I'll content myself for now with pointing to Ashby's very insightful post on how, unless these points are addressed, LitFandom's problems are going to end up being of purely historical interest.
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Moon Clanger)
...and I'm not even on the committee.

I have an extremely small role within the events team, and I'm invoking the Get Out Of Worldcon-Running Free card that I earned from being on this year's Eastercon committee to keep it that way. So why am I having dreams where I'm attending weekend-long Loncon committee meetings starring all the usual suspects?

Mind you, said dream did feature the detail that we were so organised that we got our membership badges nearly 18 months in advance, complete with pretty coloured ribbons for all our roles and responsibilities all pre-attached.
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Moon Clanger)
I'll be doing a detailed post on EightSquaredCon's blog soon regarding panel parity, but the gender breakdown of our 73 panels looks like this:

PanelParityGraphic

This was achieved in the main part by having 190 people on programme - thats one quarter of our pre-registered membership - of whom 46% were women.
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I was initially a bit sceptical when I heard about Nine Worlds (very ambitious plans from a group seemingly without major con-running experience) but saw that the organisers were getting a lot of writers and fans I knew on board and was impressed by some of the ideas they seem to have. So I've joined, as has S, and we look forward to seeing how a fresh attempt at conrunning works.

But... I've had a look at the @worldsnine twitter feed. It does rather look as if they are openly inviting everyone remotely well-known in the geek/sf world who has a twitter account to come along as a guest, including quite a few actors. I take it the organisers do appreciate that when you invite a guest to a convention that person will expect to be accommodated and have their travel paid for - and, if he or she is a pro actor, to get an appearance fee?

I'm just a bit concerned that Nine Worlds already has 23 announced guests and are actively soliciting more, and wondering if they actually have a plan for paying for them all given that the website promises that (unlike the sort of commercial conventions that feature lots of actors) the membership price is all-inclusive and we won't be paying additional fees to see guests.
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Huh? Prairie Dog)
[livejournal.com profile] darth_hamster is perusing the draft Eastercon programme:

"Angry Robots Singing? What on earth is that about?"

(I peer more closely)

"That will be Angry Robot Signing dear..."

In all fairness, it was in a fairly small font!

Picocon

Feb. 20th, 2011 11:00 am
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If I'd attended every single Picocon since arriving at Imperial College as a fresher then yesterday would have been my 24th. I haven't - I know I've had to miss some - but I'd guess I've been to about 20 since my first, Picocon 5, back in 19861987 (oops). Some things have changed a lot in that time, such as the main student bar in Beit Quad (now on at least its fifth major redecoration since then). Others, such as the adjacent Union Bar, are almost unchanged. As are some of the weird Picocon traditions such as Destruction of Dodgy Merchandise (HULK MEET LIQUID NITROGEN!) and the Oxford-Cambridge Fish Fight. ("What's the point?" enquired [livejournal.com profile] darth_hamster? "What's the point of the Boat Race?" I asked in return.)

It was great fun and a real pleasure to see everyone (if I tried to list them all, I'd only miss someone.) Looking forward to nest year, and a quarter of a century of Picocons.
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Legal Clanger)
If you read [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte's journal (and is there anyone left who doesn't?) you'll be aware from this post that Irish fan [livejournal.com profile] slovobooks has been banned at short notice from attending Octocon this weekend, seemingly on the basis of unspecified conduct or comments relating to his criticism of the current committee.

Can they do this? More importantly, should they?

The legal position... )

...and the practical con-running one )

Now, all the above is in legal terms based on my professional knowledge of English law. But I believe that in many jurisdictions the legal position is broadly similar, and the moral and practical considerations ought to apply everywhere. In the Octocon case, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that the committee are being very thin-skinned and grossly over-reacting. As other people have pointed out, the best response to complaints that you are running a poor convention is to demonstrate that you can run a good one. And by the accounts of several of my friends who are regular Octocon attendees, it does sound as if there are at least some grounds for criticising the way it's been run over the last few years. Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of what [livejournal.com profile] slovobooks has said or done, the Octocon committee's ill-judged and excessive reaction is only going to damage Octocon's reputation still further. And this is a point that all con-runners should remember: reputation is the currency of fandom, and it takes years to build but only seconds to lose.

EDIT I am very pleased to see that there has been an amicable resolution.
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My programme schedule for Constitution in Cambridge this weekend is as follows:

Friday, 7pm: War in SF and fantasy
War is all too often a backdrop in fiction, a quick and easy way of shaking up your characters and getting the plot going. How do you escape the cliches and address conflict realistically and sensitively? {Steph Swainston, David Damerell, Simon Bradshaw, Hilarity Allen (mod)}

(I'll try not to have too many there-I-was-in-Basra-as-the-third-rocket-salvo-hit stories.)

Saturday, 1pm: I Rolled vs Law, and The Law Won
Your character has been hauled in front of the local magistrate, or is being sued for return of that valuable old book. Or maybe has to prove that she - or it - has rights rather than being available for sale, or even burning. Whatever's happened, it's courtroom time; Simon Bradshaw looks at whether there's more to gaming legal proceedings than rolling against Fast Talk.

(A slightly updated repeat of the talk I gave at Eastercon, but which only a few people saw because it was about the last item before the Dead Dog Party. Don't sit near the front if you're nervous about being called upon to help demonstrate cross-examination!)

Sunday, 2pm: Remakes and Reimaginings

Why are so many films and TV series remakes these days? Can you improve on the original or are remakes just a money-spinning exercise? {Judith Proctor, Owen Dunn, Simon Bradshaw, David Haddock}

(I imagine the words 'Battlestar', 'Galactica', 'frakking' and 'superb' may cross my lips. However, we'll probably end up discussing the new mini-series of The Prisoner, which from the footage so far released looks astonishingly non-crap.)
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Small Clanger)
Getting two of us from Edinburgh to Walsall for Novacon:

By air: circa £120 (air fares and taxis), 3 hrs.

By car: circa £120 (petrol and running costs), 6 hrs.

By rail: circa £200, 6 hrs.

And that is booking ten weeks in advance.

According to the Guardian's carbon-offset website, flying would generate 240 kg of carbon dioxide, which would cost £1.77 to offset. Driving would generate 210 kg, costing £1.58 to offset. No data for trains.

EDIT: Or we could give the GoH a lift and split the costs!
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Default)
I've just been writing some documentation for Eastercon regarding our registration process. Luckily, I spotted what was wrong with the following sentence as soon as I typed it:

We will be preparing the registration packs and will provide materials and procedures for registering walk-ins and issuing badgers.

But for my noticing this typo (the spell-checker was of course quite happy with it) our walk-in members might have had a most interesting and unusual convention experience. [livejournal.com profile] bugshaw notes that the Read Me would have been quite amusing:

- Please wear your badger at all times within the convention, and show it to security staff if asked.

- If you are a day member, your badger will indicate which day it is valid for. If you come back another day, you'll have to buy a new badger.

- If you lose your badger, we'll issue you a temporary one, but will ask for an additional deposit (refundable if your badger turns up again).


If anyone is inspired by this to plan a Harry Hill-style Badger Parade for the Masquerade, now is the time to let us know.

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