DISCLAIMER

If you are reading this, you probably already know most of these.  Cool.  Most people I know taught me this stuff since my first convention many moons ago.  I'm not saying conventions are full of negative experiences, actually they're quite fun.  This list ought to be used as a source of amusement more than anything else.  In case there are some of the socially misaligned out there reading this, perhaps this page ought to help you to understand us more.


And you're welcome
MaryAnn Johanson to the information here as linked in the How to be a conventional geek article.  Thanks for the link, glad you and the many others linked here like it, same goes for the nod in Leslie Hawes' journal as well as wikipedia's listings.

Have you ever been to a convention before?

No.  But I hear they're really fun/interesting.
or...
Yes.  I really like them, but there are a few things that cause concern.

If either of the prior statements apply to you, then please feel free to read my no-holds-barred ...
"Sid's Rules & Guidelines For Conventions".

Please don't be offended by what you read here, it's just that this comes from over a decade of experience in various levels of roles and duties at conventions.  I'm just putting to print what many people already know, but never made it accessible to the general public, until now.

Fair warning, the list continues to grow ....

Addendum:

This list of guidelines is not absolute, nor is it a critique of the average con-goer.  In fact, the vast majority of people I've met at Toronto area conventions (no comment on the crappy expo though) contributed many items of note to the authour.

I remember reading a list inside the program guide of [a convention] a few years back, and the advice was blunt and sage-like at the same time. Here are some notes and ideas I would re-iterate or just offer to improve the experience for yourself, and more importantly those around you.

This is going to be blunt, yet logical ... no offense intended.

1.
Shower. Do it, I am not kidding.

Sometimes I am tempted to rope some people up by the ankles and drag them into the pool.

It is just disgusting to be amongst hundreds if not thousands of people and too many of them obviously haven't washed since the excitement got to them the first day of the con.

2.
If you are violently unstable, please don't volunteer for security.

I hate to say it, but there are people that shouldn't be allowed to represent a convention by way of working for it. I am sure they mean well and I know I am going to get burned for this, but we all have our place. I won't ever claim to have the ability to be a grief counselor, but on the flip side there are certain people I wouldn't want to see in a customer service role.

Those of us who run conventions really value, respect and appreciate the effort of people who give their time to the event as volunteers.  However there are people that have in the past been asked to leave for unruly, unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour at the convention, please don't join that list.

3.
Shower, I am not f###ing kidding here.

That
Foamy the Squirrel "Rules For The Masses" flash cartoon put it best in how it relates the disgust of it all. Yeah fine, some people sweat more than others, but the believability of that claim is diminished when you're seen wearing the same shirt all weekend.

... Here's a hint, no hotel room? ... ask a concom'er to see if there is a place one could grab a quick shower.  I've done it.

Trust me, I've been low on cash and not had a hotel room during the weekend of the con... but here are a few ways to get around that problem.

- Ask for access to the convention crash space/sleeping room to grab a shower - you will not be denied.
- Ask someone on concom to use their key to access the pool/sauna room and shower there.
- Ask a friend who is attending and has a room.  Even if there isn't space there to sleep, maybe you could arrange a time to borrow the shower for 15 minutes.

Note: I have actually used at least 2 of the above suggestions in my time attending conventions.

4.
Unless you really know them, don't join with people hugging each other.

Yeah, cons are pretty cool and it's almost like a family reunion at these things - but that does NOT give you sanction to grab/grope/barge into a group of friends who haven't seen each other in 6 months, a year, or even longer.

If you want to be a part of the comradery that exists amongst the people that attend these conventions, you must realize that these are people who often rarely, rarely get the chance to see each other in person, until that event.  However, many of the people that fondly know each other are either very shy, very outgoing (or somewhere in between), personalities that met each other through the course of volunteering, participating in the Masquerade, panels or other such facets of the convention. 

Get to know the people you associate with, and volunteer.  It's amazing the network of contacts and friends you can make by doing so.

I look back to my first convention in 1994, not knowing anyone... by the Saturday, I managed to meet some great people by way of volunteering for security and made many new friends there after.

So yes, you can be a part of that too - but randomly joining in a group of people hugging each other may not be the way to introduce yourself.  Odds are good they're really cool and would like to meet you, however, first impressions last a long time in fandom, make sure yours is a good one

5.
No means no. PERIOD.

If someone makes it clear they're not interested in anything you have to offer, back off before Sid slaps you upside the head with a clue-by-four.

Watch out if he skips the clue-by-four and grabs the hint-by-eight.

Yes, some people may be more flirty than usual since the atmosphere at a convention tends to offer a relaxed respite from the mundane world, but there are still limits. Take the hints you would normally do outside of the convention world and know when to back off.

Ladies (or gentlemen, if it's happening to you as well), if you feel uncomfortable with how someone is treating/following you or does not seem to understand that you want to be left alone from them - CALL SECURITY.  If there are no security members around, get the attention of someone working for the convention and they'll get one for you.  Even if this is a case of mistaken intentions, security is trained to tactfully and responsibly deal with matters such as these.  It's what they do and a reason they are there for you.

But if things go a positive turn:

Be responsible, bring condoms. Seriously, I bring them because I am likely NOT going to need them, but I've had them handy for a friend or two that did need them. I'd rather be responsible and pessimistic than careless and optimistic when it comes to 'relations' at a convention.

6.
...reminds me of 6-2-1 each day ... Minimum

*6 hours of sleep
*2 meals a day (use the buffet if you're on the run)
*1 ... you guessed it
SHOWER (Some people grab 2 during the long and eventful Saturday of the con, I do it before changing into my Masquerade costume).

7.
Drink responsibly.

Most people know their limits and behave quite well, but forget the long days, added fatigue and stimuli. These things can be a factor in regards to dehydration and illness that could spoil your fun. The Con Suite will offer just as many non-alcoholic (if not more) items as the boozy stuff.

The person behind the bar, or in charge of the room in which alcohol is served has the right to refuse service at any time for any reason.  Responsible actions and behaviour do not end when you walk through the doors of the convention.

I have been involved with corrective actions with people who had too much to drink, unfortunately some of them have been banned for repeated offenses.  I trust you can avoid such issues.

Remember, the people serving alcoholic BEvERages are not only responsible for safe service, but are honestly looking out for you  and don't want to see one of their own take a spill, get hurt, etc when it could have been avoided.

8.
If you want respect, you better give it first.

Treat people the way you want to be treated. There are a few people that have fallen in ill favour/become persona non-grata for less than appropriate behaviour at cons and online communities where their comments caught up to them. This is the paradox of online communities and conventions, this is where people actually meet up and see each other in the real world and the electronic - those who go around saying garbage about others without the facts to back them up get their negativity thrown right back at them. I offer the example that took place after an expo 2004, when someone didn't like how a private, in-person conversation about his persuit of young/underage female attendees unfolded so he took it to Livejournal. Not only did the well known and respected person within fandom mentioned there clearly show he was in the right, the person who made the derogatory posts triggered a simmering backlash from those disgusted with his continued inappropriate behaviour. Big time back lash.

The point here, try to behave like ladies and gentlemen before, during and AFTER the con. I hate seeing (and receiving) some of the needless verbal scatology from those that I would expect better from. Then again, a paid 'professional' tried to start a physical confrontation with me at his table a while back when I told him I was not interested in his marketing tactics. We're better than this, we're members of a community oriented/not-for-profit/charity raising group that has a common passion for Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Costuming, good company and beyond ... Let's act like it.

As a personal note, I've made it abundantly clear to a few people that it is in their best health to not go near me at events, and to date so far so good in keeping the atmosphere positive ;)

Update, since there are a few bad apples out there who have misinterpreted my good faith here, allow me to sum up.  No one should have to say 'stop' more than once, on line or in person.  Yout rights end where mine begin.

9.
Follow the rules within the guidelines inside the program guide, especially those pertaining to WEAPONS and SAFETY.

For example, I use weapons or replicas of them to enhance a costume, but if they are allowed to be displayed, handle responsibly and tie them down to prevent them from being drawn out. The term Peace-Bonding refers to keeping such weapons like swords and stuff within their scabbards/sheaths to make things safer (not completely safe, but safer) and it is usually done not because of any worry of stupidity of a costumer, but rather the potential stupidity of a passer-by trying to grab it. Trust me, I've seen it happen and well...let's conclude that public safety is paramount over potential injuries.

Also note, if
something is illegal in Canada, it's still illegal at a convention Please so not run a show under false authority while putting others at risk in the process.

A convention is no place to allow the sale of items like brass knuckles, one handed crossbows, stuff specified by the Criminal Code of Canada (or the applicable laws of your country/region) and organizers are encourgaed to care about the safety of its attendees.

However, there are also very respectable dealers at Toronto area events such as
South Tower Armouring Guild , Sword in the Stone Crafts and Art of Warriors that sell quality merchandise to enhance your dwelling or costume* (*make sure that the item is allowed to be worn in the convention and/or follow the policies/direction of security).

All said, there are usually guidelines for you to know in the program guide, some serious, some not, but all are there for your benefit and those around you - please respect that.

Here's a few tips:

- Don't be afraid to be open and honest with security regarding a weapon you want to bring to the convention.  Cover it with something non-transparent, bring it to the security office, and ask them what your options are.  As a costumer and former security representative, I know the team members appreciate the talent and will do what they can to allow you to display your weapon.

- If it doesn't have a sheath, scabbard, or holster, don't bring it.  Not only is there a level of risk to be avoided, you will get tired of lugging around rifles, staffs and other items - and they have gone missing in the past after being set down to take a rest.

- Further to the above point:  If a rifle (or unholstered weapon) is essential to your costume (ex: P-90 for Stargate, Pulse Rifle for Aliens, Blaster for Storm Troopers, etc.), try to make an arrangement by contacting the convention well in advance with your request, but be prepared to leave it in your car/hotel room should its usage be declined upon inspection at the event.

- Check ahead of time for the rules of the masquerade/costume contest if you are entering, often the rules of the convention don't apply to it.  For example, a weapon that must be peace bonded (tied down) within the convention may be allowed to be drawn out on stage as per the rules of the masquerade.

- At a convention (the responsible ones at least):

... a replica gun is just the same as a real gun, handle appropriately and responsibly.
... a sword is a sword no matter if it is steel, wood, bamboo, foam, plastic or other material, handle with respect and within the rules.
... a costume with dangerous parts such as spikes or protruding armour should not be worn within the convention hallways/events (save it for the masquerade if allowed) due to the large volume of people you will make physical contact with (intentional or not).

- There are many scenarios I can type about this, but it would be longer than this page itself.  Please
contact the site if there is any experience or suggestions I could offer for your costume weapons.

I also love to make and present costumes, and have used weapons safely as components of those costumes in hallways and judged events.  Safety is always number one, but I try to offer my wisdom in how to incorporate safe weapons practices without taking the fun out of certain accessories.

The point is this:  A convention is a gathering of hundred and/or thousands of like minded people in an enclosed area, take care of each other and respect each other's right to safety as well as the security team's role to assist with that.

10.
If in doubt, ask.

The people running a not-for-profit/volunteer convention are some of the greatest and most helpful people I've met. They may seem flustered and rushed from time to time, but they are there to help you enjoy YOUR convention. I am certain that if you have a valid question, they can find the answer for you, or even better, direct you to someone who does.

11.
If people are getting together for a group photo, and you don't know them, don't jump in unless you've been directed to.

Fine, the place can be crowded and some shots will be missed, but obvious
'photo-crashing' is annoying and may cause the photo of you in your absolute dorkness to be sent to the monthly (Who the Hell are YOU!?!) column of popular magazines that out those annoying people that ruin good photographs.

12.
Invest in a digital camera, and keep it with you at all times.

I'm not trying to turn people into Jimmy Olsen, but digital cameras are awesome to catch those interesting photos that you may have not wanted to waste film on before, nor let the developer see. Make sure you have plenty of batteries if you need them and try to avoid using the flash in the common areas and definitely DO NOT USE THE FLASH DURING THE MASQUERADE - see #5 and the potential to have Sid apply a clue-by-four upside your head.

... that reminds me

13.
Ask for permission before taking/asking to pose with someone in a photo.

Sure, someone in costume or at the Masquerade would probably love to have a photo taken, but be courteous in the process. Grabbing a photo from within a large room to capture the scope of the attendance may be good enough, but if you want a person specific photo - you best be damned sure they feel comfortabledoing so.  Most people in costume love to have their photo taken, but if they're not ready, or missing people from their ensemble cast, it's best to let them get ready.  In fact most costumers I know will take extra steps to help you get the best photo of them possible.

Common courtesy should not be sacrificed because of better technology, it's all about respect.

14.
Tip the bartender.

Ok, I made that up ... but please be courteous to those waiting to make their BEvERage purchase and move to the side to allow the next person to be served. Yeah, the bartenders can be quite sociable, but they would like to keep an eye on the room and serve the next person with less interruption as possible.

15.
Realize that to make an omelette, ya gotta bust up a few eggs.

The same thing goes for a convention. I am not into some of the things that certain groups use conventions to gather and express their interest...and that's cool. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, they're not coming to you to join and you're not interacting with them, but go to their open room-parties anyway, most of the time they're the best room-parties for all the treats, booze and activities presented there. But I'll tell ya, some of the most interesting and intelligent people I've met are into lifestyles and related passions I may not agree with, but can certainly respect it.

16.
Expect to see people in costumes. Deal with it.

You might not recognize what they're dressed as, but there is certainly an incredible amount of talent displayed in their work... make sure to compliment them on it. Case in point, my appreciation for anime only goes as far as Robotech, but I have gone out of my way to get a closer look at a costume that grabs my attention for its craftsmanship. I bluntly tell them I have no clue what they're dressed as, nor do I have time to absorb an explanation - but think it looks awesome. Being on the flip side, I've had people come to me while I was dressed as Snake-Eyes and the fact that I received notice, and even a compliment was flattering enough.

17.
If you've enjoyed the convention, thank a volunteer - I don't care who. They are the ones who make make YOUR convention possible.

[] | [] | The following have been added as the page progressed | [] | []

18.
Don't pick a fight at or before a convention. (added 7/29/05)

The results could be unfortunate.  Case in point, an employee of a commercial event tried to provoke me into a confrontation when it was obvious their aggressive marketing tactics were unacceptable. 
Read here for more.  In the end, that company looked very foolish for their behaviour and not knowing who it was they were provoking.

Conventions are a place to gather, discuss, and above all to have fun and enjoy yourself.

They are not a place to harass, hurt or offend your fellow attendees, period.  Even if you are an employee of a commercial convention, that does not give you the right to call someone an asshole
(yup, an employee of SFX got caught doing that at Toronto Trek 19).  Grow up or get out, it's that simple - we don't need that crap here ... But if you insist, there are plenty of people willing to stand up to certain aggressors, both physically and verbally.  Don't make the mistake of thinking you can bully people at a convention.

19.
Unless you are an actual media representative, don't pull people aside and video tape them for dubious purposes.
(updated 7/01/06, originally added 7/29/05)

Anyone claiming to be a valid media representative WILL have identification supplied by the convention that says so.

Attendees are encouraged to check the validity of the people with the video cameras to see if they are an actual media group, or just people using the footage for other, more dubious purposes.

A number of years ago, I confronted a group of people with a video camera that claimed to be a major Toronto media outlet, but their lack of appropriate ID proved otherwise and they were turned away.  They were later found harassing another attendee and were rightfully escorted out of the convention, with no refund.  In other situations, other groups that see fit to ridicule conventions and their attendees have gone out of their way to embarrass, harass and provoke people at conventions for the purpose of recording footage to use as comedy - with you as the laughing stock.

Please understand that those within the convention understand what you are up to, but many media representatives or other people just want to get footage/recordings of something to suit their angle/slant and report the tidbits (not all those that are positive in what you say to them) to suit their purposes.

Remember, you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be misquoted, taken out of context and used against you.

If you are being harassed/asked uncomfortable questions, you should walk away and report them directly to security, or the next available convention organizer.

If you are there to harass people for the sake of obtaining footage shame on you - and you will be asked told to leave.  We're usually a pleasant bunch of people, feel free to approach us with respect.

Note, at Anime North 2006, a couple of people with media badges acted disgracefully exploiting the many costumed attendees, they were rightfully banned after their video was published.

20.
Don't argue with Security. (added 8/01/05)

The people that run security for conventions don't make the rules, the concom does.  Security is responsible for doing what they can to protect the safety of the attendees, guests and the conventions' assets.

They are there to help you when needed and will explain (given that time and opportunity allows for it) the reason to, or not to allow certain things to take place.  However, if you are reasonable and can possibly make prior arrangements, certain policies can be upheld should the people responsible deem it appropriate.

Getting upset and arguing with a member of a team that looks after the safety of thousands of people is disgusting and disrespectful to those who are there to help make sure your entertainment is not ruined by unsafe situations.

examples:
- There IS a reason why you can not bring firearms ...
- There IS a reason squirt/water guns are not allowed in the convention ...
- There IS a reason why swordplay is NOT allowed even in the masquerade ...

Unfortunately new rules/guidelines are added regularly because one fool out of thousands of responsible people does something dangerous that could potentially ruin a convention, or more importantly, hurt someone.

21.
Spandex is a privilege, NOT a right. (added 8/01/05)

No, Sailor Moon is NOT a 300 MAN!

No, G-Force does NOT have a 200+ female member!

These are the reasons those of us who take costuming seriously get laughed at.  Yes, you have the right to express yourself, but please don't embarrass yourself or your colleagues in the process.  When trying to get media coverage for costume themed events, they will almost always ignore the well-made costumes and focus on the most outrageous/disturbing presentations.

Case in point, of all the great acts that participated in Toronto Trek's 2003 costume competition, some foolish kid mooning the audience made it to the pages of a major Toronto/National newspaper - certainly a great way to represent your convention.

Although I believe I present myself well in the costumes I've made, you will NEVER see me in garb that has me topless.  I understand that some parts look better than others when clothed appropriately, and now that I've admitted that here, I hope you understand you should be aware of your choice of attire.

22.
Do not steal. (added 8/03/05)

It sounds like a no-brainer, but people try to do it during and after the con - and I'm not just speaking of stealing money or property  from attendees/convention/hotel. etc.

I'm refering to stealing from fans that sell items cheap enough only to cover the costs of material (not including travel and labour)

For example, some great people who love the masquerade (costume constest event) are unable to watch it as they are busy donating their time to take professional quality pictures for the entrants.

The costs they charge are just enough to cover the cost of materials.  What they provide are excellent photos for us costumers to document our creations.

Then there's always some person that goes around trying to get people to give him free stuff when he could have paid like the rest of us for a photo.

Taking the works of others is wrong, and often illegal.  Unfortunately some people just don't seem to get it.

So, simply put, please realize that some people give up a lot to provide great service for free (or even pay in) at fan run events like the masquerade.  They're not out to make money off you, but they do need some degree of income so that they don't go broke trying to help their fellow attendees.

23.
No Shirt, No Shoes, NO ENTRY ! (added 8/03/05)

Please respect your fellow attendees and wear at least a minimum amount of clothing to cover your body at an acceptable level.

DO NOT walk into a convention area without shoes on... that is so disgusting.

Every year, someone has to go ahead and go barefoot, tracking their smelly feet into an area that serves food ... eeewww.

Please remember that the event grounds of a convention are indeed a proprietary event.  What that means is that the convention organizers have authority in what goes on at the hotel, and thus the right (sometimes responsibility) to make you cover up your body to a minimum level for the comfort of fellow attendees.  No, you are not in public, you are within the grounds of private property, please understand that.

One year, committee members had to ask a guy to put on something with more coverage than the thong he was wearing at 10 am... no comments in regard to his (lack of) adherence to rules 1 or 3.

24.
Judge not lest ye be judged (added 8/04/05)

All fans are the same.  Sports fans range the entire spectrum as the attendees at conventions, some are die hards, some are fanatical.

Same thing goes to people who are fans of SciFi, Comics, Anime, Horror, whatever.

A disturbing trend has become apparent regarding the newer fans, namely Anime and tv shows that draw in a younger audience, making brash, hurtful, ignorant and uninformed comments.   Even at the time of this post, I read some sickening comments from some anime fans and how dismissive they are of the validity and popularity of other genres.

Instead of being ticked off, I remembered:

They're young, they have a pssion for it, but it's not tempered with the wisdom many of us have accumulated.

Have faith that those younger audiences will learn to adapt and change given a suitable example.

Be that example
.  But don't sacrifice your dignity to do so either.  If someone is being stupid, let them if it's not affecting you.  If it is, then tell them to stop or get help.

25.
Be wise with your costume and prop choices (added 8/06/05)

Yes, aside from making sure your items are safe, I also recommend avoiding the use of certain props that can offend.

For example, at an Anime event in 2003, someone had filled up a container labelled with the name of a very strong, prescription only anti-depressant... and filled it with candy and was eating them continuously (yes, it was the actual container for the powerful drug).  Aside from the obvious danger of residue from the drugs getting into the person, it was offensive to those attendees that do have legitimate depression and mental health issues.

There is a place for humour, but there is also consideration for others.

26. 
If you run your convention like a dictatorship, expect a revolt

As far as I'm concerned, the people in charge of the convention should be held accountable to be truly thankful and respectful to all  those that give up all their free time, and often resources to the prosperity of a convention.  However it's important to note that if you begin to disrespect or dismiss their efforts and/or undermine their commitment to the convention one shouldn't be surprised to lose not only them, but the additional resources they have provided that are difficult/impossible to replace.   So in short, people only tolerate dictators as long as they choose to be dictated too.  Run a convention, not a dictatorship.  Don't be surprised if more than a few dissidents begin grumbling, be thankful you still have their commitment and resources (for the time being at least).

Be honest, make your policy changes, tell people why you're doing it.  The straighforward approach is far more effective than backroom politicking and far less offensive than what is no better than bullying and betraying those who give so much.

27.
Staring isn't caring (added 3/18/06)

Guess what?  There are many attractive/gorgeous/sexy individuals at conventions.  Go ahead and take a look, give a smile, even acknowledge that they look great.  But please don't leer, stare or otherwise creep them out by gawking at them without even saying hi nor having any dialogue.

28.
If you have'um, please share (added 4/22/06)

If you took photos at a convention, please share them, especicially for those of us who missed the event - or were busy running the event and missed some of the good stuff.

One of my motivations behind my picture taking is to show the organizers how well the event ran and the people enjoying it.

For example, I used to enjoy my time at a certain convention and have numerous photos from there in my photo gallery.  They are available for those in attendance to get pics of themselves in costume when they often don't have the chance to bring their own camera. 

Great tip:  Print out your name and contact info (email/website/journal/etc) on a slip of paper to hand out to people you have taken photos of.  Many of us costumers like to be able to see what we look like in costume and sometimes don't have the chance/ability to carry a camera...so this pleasantry is very much appreciated.  Type up the info on notepad, copy/paste it down the sheet and reprint on the other side, voila and easy and inexpensive to promote yourself/share your photos and experiences with others.

29. 
Cornering the ladies/blocking their escape while forcing conversation does not make you a stud (added November 3, 2006)

Unfortunately there may be one (or more) person out there that think's he's the great maker's gift to women and verges on the point of sexual harassment in cornering them, making them feel uncomfortable, making suggestive remarks and otherwise being a git.

Stop.

It's people like you that scare away people at cons and make some of the younger women trying it out for the first time run away and swear it off never to return because of you. 

It's people like you that make us needlessly more vigilant against your behaviour.  It's people like you that make us have to put our foot down to say, enough is enough... you're gone.

30. 
Keep your fetish to yourself, really... (added November 3, 2006)

Okay, let's put it this way.  We all have our preferences and all, but they should not come at the expense of hygiene (see #23).  It's best just to say that your rights end where ours begin and part of learning who is and isn't into your 'interests' come with learning how to interact with us.

How do you do that?  Easy, the same way as everyone else may interact outside of the convention.  Heh, it's simple really, conventions are fun, you'll definitely meet people into the same stuff as you are, but don't think we're into it, willing to try it, or even want anything to do with it.

What goes on (legally) behind your own hotel room door is none of our concern.  When you're interacting with us please have some consideration for others, thank you.

31. 
No Flash Photography during the Masquerade / costume contest (added November 4, 2006)

It was mentioned previously within another article, however it is very important.

It is a
serious safety issue to use the blinding light of flash photography in the dark theatre when the performers and stage crew could temporarily lose their ability to see and tumble down the stairs back stage.

Turn the flash off.  If you can't, maybe cover it with electrical tape and try that out ahead of time.  Photos won't turn out where you are sitting, too bad, take pictures after the show.  Buy the professional set afterwards, whatever.  Some people still haven't gotten the clue, even some doofus from the Toronto Star got caught doing so during someone's performance in 2003.

Do NOT sacrifice the safety of the people putting on a show we area ll trying to enjoy just so you can get your shot.

32. 
Don't blame others for your failures, (added June 2, 2007)

(directed to the people in charge of conventions)

Sometimes things don't work out: a breakdown in communications, articles missing, lack of staffing...whatever.  It's life, everything just changed, deal with it.

However when you commit (and emails and chatlogs prove it) to something and refuse to honour your word, don't blame the people (volunteers/staff/etc.) who offered to work for you for free.  For everything else, see rule 33.

33. 
Three basic rules for running a not for profit / fan run convention (added June 2, 2007)

The three basics everyone... EVERYONE needs to know about running the show:

  1) Do NOT insult your volunteers
  2) Do NOT insult your volunteers
  3) Do NOT insult your volunteers

It goes down the chain, applicable to all.  I don't care if you're a conchair, board president, concom, staff.  YOU ARE ALL VOLUNTEERS.  You are all together to make something greater happen regardless of background or duties.

Do not threaten/intimadate/strongarm/insult/berate your colleagues, don't power trip.  Just be there, like everyone else.

You might be trying to hold on to your fiefdom and have been in the business for 20 years, or 2 weeks.  People are working for/with you because for some unknown reason they're giving their free time for a weekend, or even just a charity event for the night.  Do not disrespect that.  Pulling garbage only justifies the loss of voluneers and the con and its charities suffer because of that.

If your volunteers are unhappy and you are seeking more "enthusiastic" people to join in, instead of incurring/sustaining a higher turnover rate in help while contending with the greying of fandom, perhaps taking an honest look into it might be wise.

Remember this at least - the people working are VOLUNTEERS, not paid employees.  They don't need to be there.

34. 
Accounting, it's not just for money ya know (added June 2, 2007)

The people in charge make their call.  Personally the who, where, what, when and why is of little concern to me.  Just gimme my marching orders, yes sir no sir, 3 bags full sir is good enough for me.   How it's done concerns me. 

How are you treating your volunteers?  Not talking about prizes or treats here, just basically about respect.
How did you come to your decisions?   Did you really listen to all sides on an issue?
How do your actions compare to the standard?  Are you treating people the way you want to be treated while working unpaid?

I respect the difficulty of the higher responsibility positions while running a con, but don't let it go to your head, really.

(Gee, after every convention the list just keeps growing)

35. 
Something wrong?  Get help!

Being harassed or treated poorly?  Got a problem that refuses to be resolved with one on one discussion.  Seek out one of the organizers, they can get you the right people or a con chair to help you.  Some
wankers abusing their media credentials?  report it.  Think you or someone is being stalked?  Report it.  Better to take the side of caution than to let it slide and bitch and whine online later about it (when the organizers were never told).

36. 
Behold the power of Orange Juice

Con Plague is a real thing...
+ warm/humid convention areas
+ cool/dry hotel rooms
+ contact with various people/strangers for 1-5 days
+ fatigue
= a recipe for illness.

Stock up on vitamin C in your favourite format, though I strongly suggest orange juice from the Con Suite, hotel restaurant or nearby shop.  Not trying to scare people, but from personal experience I've noticed vast differences in health during and after a convention when my vitamin C levels got a boost. 

37. 
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, regardles if the train derails or not.

If someone raises an obvious objection and even has records/evidence/proof of the errors of the conventions actions...that's not called badmouthing and would be wise to make corrective action on the issues raised.

Example, a large event in Canada was warned about something illegal going on and made more than one dismissive (and then some) reply to concerned people.  Soon after the news of arrests at their event made national headlines.   The police should never have to be called on a convention and the people running it should know what's right and wrong, and act upon it.



if all else fails, go here:
http://www.locksley.com/neofans/

Thanks for reading
Sid

About the authour of this post:

I've been an active member of the Toronto convention communities for over a decade, serving with pride in the fields of security, promotional work, con-slave labour, media relations, entertaimnent and con-suite operations .  I've seen the good, the bad and the ugly, sometimes all at the same time and I wish to impart some of my no-holds-barred wisdom to others to make all our lives a little better.
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