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July 13, 2014 9:40 PM   Subscribe

DashCon and Las Pegasus Unicon imploded in front of a live international audience. Tentmoot never even happened. Running a con is difficult business.
posted by divabat (305 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have been getting such morbid satisfaction reading about DashCon that I have had a smile on my face all afternoon. What an amazing disaster.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:42 PM on July 13 [9 favorites]


PUT ALL YOUR MONEY IN THIS SACK

TRUST ME THIS IS TOTALLY A NORMAL THING .
posted by The Whelk at 9:47 PM on July 13 [56 favorites]


Wow I was just talking about that MLP fiasco to someone. Good to have such nicely-assembled sources!
posted by zscore at 9:48 PM on July 13


It can't help that ComicCon is expanding nationally and providing some serious competition for grassroots cons.
posted by miyabo at 9:49 PM on July 13


I've developed a weird fascination with the trainwreck that is DashCon. Here's a lengthy writeup from someone who was involved in the initial stages (and dropped out once she realized how incompetent the organizers were). The salient point is that most of the people involved were or are teenagers who should not be handling large sums of money or trying to book major talent acts.
posted by desjardins at 9:52 PM on July 13 [18 favorites]


It's like we have relearn that every ten years.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


"An hour in the ball pit" is the new "wishing you to the cornfield". Or, I hope that's what it will become, anyway.

I've been boggling at the DashCon wank this weekend but it's been more of a "who would have thought any of this was going to work out" than a surprise thing. Running a con is extremely hard, and if you don't have people who are veterans of the scene and industry at the very least working with you in a consulting capacity, you're screwed from the getgo. From what I can tell, nobody who was actually enthusiastic about DashCon could possibly have been a seasoned con runner.

In a lot of ways cons are tied to locations. We've had big fan conventions spring up in college towns and metropolises where you have the infrastructure in place for gatherings but also the core group of locals from clubs and institutions to keep the running of the thing going year-round, interface with the professionals like hotel people and agents and the unions.

So the big problem is that now that fandom is hugely, strongly online, where the few core people needed to get something going might be on completely different ends of the earth, you can't actually make the con work as more than an idea. Without, of course, incredible amounts of money thrown at pros to do all the stuff the locals normally would do, and contracts with sponsors to suck all the weirdness out.

It's growing pains. The kids'll figure it out, and it won't look anything like we think it might. And these will remain cautionary tales.
posted by Mizu at 9:54 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


It can't help that ComicCon is expanding nationally and providing some serious competition for grassroots cons.

Wizard World Comic Con has behavior bordering on the predatory. In my area, they went after some of the big local comic book conventions, scheduling themselves against one of the cons on free comic book day. They run a consistent operation, but it's only one model for how conventions work. If seeing big stars in large rooms is your thing, they have what you want.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:57 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Anyway I was trainwreck-discussing thins with other friends who like, run small cons and the discussion came to "well if you wanted to run something for smaller fanfoms how would you do it?" and logistics and bookings and focus on fanworks and shift your expectant and numbers way way down and stuff and yeah don't out a group of teenagers and or scam artists in charge of your first year con.

I mean, ...hotel mints? When I was part of a very small gathering in a hotel for the company I was a part of, I at least made sure I grabbed a few boxes of doughnuts out of pocket cause people came to hear us blab about marketing and stage design.
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Even the established cons are running into problems. I was just at VidCon, where a major influx in attendees that were mostly made up of hordes of unattended screaming teenage fangirls with no sense of personal space ended up causing MAJOR problems with line management and safety (including an 8-month-pregnant woman being hospitalised after being trampled on).
posted by divabat at 9:59 PM on July 13


The Whelk: would your friend be willing to do a series/how-to guide?
posted by divabat at 10:00 PM on July 13


VidCon's established?? It's only a few years old and based on a really volatile industry - and a website whose business model for many years was "????"
posted by Mizu at 10:00 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


As for DashCon, it's hard to tell what's going on. There's a lot of people with axes to grind, both legitimately and not. Some claim that everything is blown out of proportion.

Also, here's a useful tumblr tag for those looking for more info/ammo.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:01 PM on July 13


Honestly if you wanted to a truly online con you could follow the method of CozyCon for web-comics and sponsor a series of online chats, group podcasts/panel discussions , videos, art contests , etc Which seems to foot the whole idea better really.
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: would your friend be willing to do a series/how-to guide?

I could ask but I think the main takeaway would be "set your sights as small as humanly possible." and "pay for everything upfront and get it in writing."
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


A friend of mine reblogged this roundup of Dashcon links that I have yet to read all of. Also, kicking it old skool: Fandom Wank covers Dashcon.
posted by immlass at 10:03 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Mizu: well, established in the sense that it has been going for more than a year, is not a scam, and it's been run by people who have some idea of what they're doing. (I did contemplate posting about Vidcon 14 fangirl troubles in the FPP but it didn't quite fit the theme.)
posted by divabat at 10:03 PM on July 13


( oh and small cons are labors of love that just kind of break even sometimes, which is why I think moving them online is a better idea. Than it's more a matter of organization and marketing. No transportation or housing worries.)
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on July 13


Oh for fuck's sake these articles saying it is not a scam.

When you ask people to donate $17,000 for reasons that are an obvious lie, that is called a scam.

Sometimes scams don't start out as scams.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:09 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Taking the IRL out of a little niche con would almost eliminate any enjoyment of it for me, though. It's all about that transcendent sensation of being in an actual location where you can look around and go "hey, I actually belong here with these people". If it's just online, it's any other afternoon, with maybe a scheduled chat session.

I can see how this would be awesome for plenty of people, especially people with accessibility issues to contend with, though. And I'd love to see people with a fanbase using intermediaries like con program runners to help them out with online "events" because right now that has a bit of a stigma, which is dumb as hell since it would mitigate a lot of issues that crop up now. But it would definitely not be a con, to me.

It's true that they're labors of love and none of it is profitable, of course. I guess that's kind of the whole deal - when a little con is done well, you feel the love, as it were.
posted by Mizu at 10:12 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


ONE HOUR BALL PIT NO TRIAL
posted by emmtee at 10:20 PM on July 13 [9 favorites]


dashcon, dashscam, scamcon, concon, etc.

The joke is that con is short for both convention and confidence scheme.
posted by mullacc at 10:20 PM on July 13 [5 favorites]


Well that's the trade off, CozyCon was different in that it was also a professional education con, that is ....actual business advice about running a webcomic/small press and less about socializing -- but I wouldn't mind if some of those ideas about "online cons" where added to the toolkit, and for people who want the IRL experience ( I've never been to a convention without being a professional or an organizer so Inassociate them with stress and schmoozing and sales and Not Having Fun ) just getting into the "small scale! Labor of love! " mindset is better.


But seriously if yer running a "fan con" you don't reach for actors, you reach for WRITERS, sheesh. Hell you reach for popular fanfic writers first.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


I wonder what the internal hotel chat for this event looked like. "They rented 10 times the amount of space they needed and put a ball pit there. Yeah, I dunno, either. Oh, and cancel payment on half the rooms."

DashCon: the only way to win is not to attend.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:22 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


The joke is that con is short for both convention and confidence scheme

I have a half finished screenplay about a hieist taking place at a comics convention that I wrote just so I could title it THE CON.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 PM on July 13 [24 favorites]


Did anyone else read this post title to the tune/meter of KMFDM's "dis-o-bedient?" ^_^
posted by trackofalljades at 10:22 PM on July 13


From desjardin's link (I think, it was the tumblr of the former committee head):
A lot of the problems came from admins not communicating with us. Everyone had to find out everything through someone else who may or may not have talked to an admin.

Welcome to the working world! This is how every project out there manages to scrape along on its ass.
posted by bleep at 10:29 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


The salient point is that most of the people involved were or are teenagers who should not be handling large sums of money or trying to book major talent acts.

Sounds as though for all the other teenagers this was great preparation for a career in either the public or private sector, where you're working with adults who should not be handling large sums of money.
posted by XMLicious at 10:31 PM on July 13 [7 favorites]


It was a confusing time to be in both the Night Vale and the Ball Pit fandoms. On that day, NightValeBallPitians discovered the true meaning of ambivalence.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:40 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


There is a reason why companies like Reed Expo and UBM Tech have taken over the biggest cons. The liability is insane.

Jeff Moss (of DEFCON and Black Hat) told me during an interview I did with him for the DEFCON documentary that there was an event in the late 1990s where there was one of those once-in-fifty-year floods in Las Vegas, and he figured out that if it had hit 3 days earlier, he'd have been personally bankrupt. That encouraged him to sell.

I had a talk with another organizer who knew of families losing $100,000 in a weekend due to a con's lower attendance, due to rain or a scheduling situation. It's brutal.
posted by jscott at 10:42 PM on July 13 [12 favorites]


I have some friends that used to run a con.

They created a fictitious company to rent the venue, forged insurance papers ('see, we are *totally* insured!'), used a ill-gotten master-key from kinkos to produce programs (10$ for hundreds of programs!), and had the hotel begging them to sign a new contract mid-way through the conference.

But there were speakers, the attendees had a great time, and no harm, no foul (well, some fraud, immense damages to the hotel, and a ton of cops showing up at the closing ceremonies).

Why yes, it was a hacker con, what makes you ask?
posted by el io at 10:43 PM on July 13 [20 favorites]


Coming out of proper fandom, the idea of paying for guests (other than perhaps travel costs/hotel room compensation) is weird and not how you do things. Too many of those newer cons, predictably the ones imploding are run by people whose only model of how to run one is to go the "professional" route and have no clue about the costs and organising needed.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:46 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


"An extra hour in the ball pit" is such an expansive and ridiculous phrase. On one hand, it's totally inappropriate as compensation for anything, but on the other hand it's still sorta fun. To make it entirely a negative thing would rob it of some of its richness.
posted by Small Dollar at 10:51 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


As a Dashcon attendee, I just want to say this much:

Even though the con was run in an unprofessional manner, the fellow congoers were great; the panels were great; and I had a good time.

That's all.
posted by LSK at 10:52 PM on July 13 [10 favorites]


Why yes, it was a hacker con, what makes you ask?

And I spoke at that con, and it was Rubi-con, and all hail Rubi-con!
posted by jscott at 10:57 PM on July 13 [8 favorites]


We'll totally just collect the money from people at the door, then use that to pay the people we promised to pay! What's so hard about that?
posted by ctmf at 10:57 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


"We suspect it’s due to the fact that upper management doesn’t like the people at the con."

That's emotional manipulation and those people are arseholes. The con organizers, that it.
posted by Jimbob at 10:59 PM on July 13 [4 favorites]


Oh my goodness, I just heard about DashCon on ONTD. I just read an account from someone on a committee (part 1, 2). Makes it sound like it was a trainwreck from the very beginning.
posted by supermassive at 10:59 PM on July 13


Coming out of proper fandom, the idea of paying for guests (other than perhaps travel costs/hotel room compensation) is weird and not how you do things.

Sorry, gonna punch sideways on this one.

While there are totally conventions run right to the bone in which guests are simply compensated for travel/hotel or even not that, to pay instant-ticket-expanding names more than travel costs is not weird and "not how you do things". The not-paying-them is the weird thing.
posted by jscott at 10:59 PM on July 13 [14 favorites]


DashCon sounds a lot like a bunch of people went, "Hey, let's put on a show out in the old barn! You get some snacks from your aunt, I'll make the costumes!" So 10 out of 10 for enthusiasm.

However, minus several hundred out of 10 for logistics, organization, and behavior, judging from some of the reports. The descriptions of some of the groups that organized the con are like they heard about how stuff was maybe supposed to be done, but had no practical experience. Heck, they could have grabbed logistical tips from The Onion.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:02 PM on July 13 [3 favorites]


I came across a tumblr post from 11 months ago by one of the organizers asserting the con's bona fides that seems tragic in retrospect. An excerpt:
We’re contracting audio visual, printers, security, and a plethora of other services. We’re PAYING MONEY for all of these things. Anyone who thinks we’re making so much bank that we can afford to do all this while maintaining some ‘get rich quick’ scheme is actually delusional. Roxanne and I don’t even take salaries at this time. We’re essentially pouring thousands of hours of our time into this event for free, in hopes that we might be able to afford to take a small cut eventually. But only after we can ensure that we have enough to pay for DashCon 2015 first.
posted by Small Dollar at 11:12 PM on July 13 [1 favorite]


"We'll totally just collect the money from people at the door, then use that to pay the people we promised to pay! What's so hard about that?"

As long as the number of people you thought were going to show up indeed do show up, you're probably good. And of course a lot of folks want money up front, particularly if it's for an event you are planning ("um yeah, we need 20 cases of beer, but we'll totally pay once our party-goers pay at the door"). And as jscott mentions, hope some act of god (50 year flood, for example) doesn't destroy the otherwise well laid plans.

And for your first year running a con, trying to figure out how many people will show up is pretty much total guesswork.
posted by el io at 11:14 PM on July 13 [2 favorites]


Oh god, Tentmoot... the VB saga makes DashCon look like a stroll in the park.
posted by kmz at 12:59 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I was having the weirdest flashbacks to hearing about Tentmoot for the first time this weekend. And then I had the weirdest late-night conversation ever trying to explain Tentmoot to my girlfriend in bed because... where do you even start? (With a lot of "no really I'm not making this shit up", it turns out.)

But the Tentmoot ripples didn't spread quite as far, I think, because at the time fandom was still running on platforms that operated on a friend-to-friend basis rather than REBLOG ALL THE THINGS. The TentMoot organisers were heavily scrutinized after the fact, but it wouldn't have been possible for it to come under this much instant fire simply because there were no images from the con turning into memes five seconds later, or live updates from hundreds of participants and guests. DashCon on the other hand is a real-time trainwreck being broadcast live on all fandom stations, with slow-mo replays and choose your own camera angles!

Very curious to hear how this will turn out - from where I'm standing it looks like Tentmoot in that it was a well-intentioned disaster/scam that's going to leave people out of pocket... I'm just wondering if anything behind the DashCon scenes could possibly go even half as far down the rabbit hole as everything about Tentmoot did.
posted by harujion at 1:04 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I could ask but I think the main takeaway would be "set your sights as small as humanly possible." and "pay for everything upfront and get it in writing."

I used to be on the convention committee for a medium-sized non-profit con (as a teen, even! albeit at 19) - and that sounds about right.

Of course, that's true for any event/business: start small and build infrastructure first.
posted by jb at 2:11 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I have quite a few MLP cons under my belt now, but did not make to Las Pegasus Unicon, manely because I can’t stand Las Vegas. Still, they had a very tempting lineup and it certainly sounded good when the organisers promoted their con on the various MLP:FiM podcasts, radio stations, and websites.

In the end, while the con was a disaster, it was, I think, a good thing for the fandom at large, as it was relatively early and highlighted that con organisers absolutely need to have their ducks in a row. The money collected by fans to ensure that the talent were eventually reimbursed didn’t hurt either.

Today, Unicon stands like one of those cons that it is remarkable, and slightly cool, to have attended.
posted by bouvin at 2:36 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


"Mockingjay signal again. Overhear, 'is this cultural appropriation if it’s from a book that’s not real' and AM NOT SURE IF SERIOUS OR NOT???"
posted by Jacqueline at 2:52 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


We’re contracting audio visual, printers, security, and a plethora of other services. We’re PAYING MONEY for all of these things. Anyone who thinks we’re making so much bank that we can afford to do all this while maintaining some ‘get rich quick’ scheme is actually delusional. Roxanne and I don’t even take salaries at this time. We’re essentially pouring thousands of hours of our time into this event for free, in hopes that we might be able to afford to take a small cut eventually. But only after we can ensure that we have enough to pay for DashCon 2015 first.

God, you know the urge to make fun of so many aspects of this and just be a typical internet snarker is so strong. This is funnier and more of a slow motion train wreck than most of the things i could have bullshitted up to have happened at a "tumblr convention" that wouldn't just be outright offensive.

But i really feel bad for them here. If you're collecting that much money, and putting in that much work, yes you fucking pay yourself. Anyone who says you shouldn't is an asshole and doesn't know anything. Not paying yourself, and not paying people who know what they're doing to help you while you work this job is a clear path to failure. It's very similar to the people who flip out when someone at a charity gets paid a real living wage.

Back to why i really feel for them though. I've seen stuff fall the fuck apart in creative circles. People self-financing mastering sessions and maybe a CD or vinyl pressing, etc. How this is relevant is it usually goes Create a moderate to locally well known(or internet, or both) large following who want Thing, Collect money(or front money) to make thing, stumbling blocks/demands for more money Right This Second from a middleman> Now you're stuck with X expenses or unsold inventory, but only Y people gave money or bought it or whatever.

Demand somehow never lines up with sales, and you're always stuck holding the bag having shoveled a ton of your own time/life/soul into this. And you better hope you enjoyed it, because now you have no money and nothing to really show for it besides a story most of the time.


That said, i'm a bit of a prick. And if i was there, the urge would have been impossible to overcome to not go around collecting cash in a sack(cash! they were taking cash donations from people IN A BAG. A BAG! I CANT BELIEVE THIS WHERE WAS TEAM ROCKET), shove it in something else in a bathroom, and just leave out a side door and go get in a fucking cab.

Because like, seriously? actually? whose to say or prove that everyone collecting money even had anything to do with this?

I just can't believe the entire thing. I mean, i believe the outline of the narrative but if the hotel is threatening to shut down unless you honor terms that don't match up with the original contract then yea, they can shut you down, but you sue them for breach of contract and for the damages of ruining your fucking convention. "Hotel fucks up convention in some way, convention sues" isn't something i've never heard of.

Really though, the more i hear about this the more i wonder if anyone has started a big internet grassroots supported con like this with the sole intent of just taking all the money and walking. Throw someone(or several people) under the bus and just walk. Because if it hasn't happened already, someone is chomping at the bit now for sure. Because really, how indistinguishable from this would that be? it seems like the difference is essentially ephemeral depending on what the true details are here.
posted by emptythought at 3:18 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Also, something in my reading i still haven't seen a good explanation on... how did they find a hotel who was ok with the fact that:

1. it seems like a lot of the people involved on the con side are teenagers, and that there's multiple under-18 people involved on the operations side.

2. that they're running a convention where tons of under-18 people are attending without any real planning for this. my local anime convention makes parents sign waivers and shit, and also for years has had a deal where under-18 people have their badges tied to an over-18 attending chaperone person that their parent signed off on. the first rule has fluctuated, but the chaperone thing has stayed the whole time. This doesn't seem to be super uncommon.

Did they just not really discuss it? having a thing like this where there's a huge amount of people who are not capable of being legally responsible for themselves attending seems like it would be fraught with liability issues, and possibly trigger some ten-foot-poling from the hotel. The management being so young seems like it also might raise an eyebrow.

On the aspect of #2 especially though, the entire thing just seems like it was one internet-viral harassment incident or something from just creating a fucking nightmare situation it would never be able to recover from. Did no one ever ask the question of "What if half the people who show up are 15, something bad happens, and then their parents sue the fuck out of us or try and get the police involved or both?"

Because that seems like a forgot to close the tailgate level of blatant planning failure. Like, a potentially ship sinking one. The part of the story i'm not getting a good explanation of other than the "we think it's because they didn't like the people showing up" with relation to the hotel... which is such an asshole blame shifting "yea, ok dude" line. But think for a second. maybe what they didn't like was that there were tons of teenagers?

So yea, the part of the story i want to hear is why did they try and change the contract? what prompted that? Because my theory there certainly ties into some of the other info, and concerns i've heard of or encountered venues having in the past when i was in some way tertiarily involved with planning an event at a space someone was paying to use.
posted by emptythought at 3:30 AM on July 14


This is what boggles me about Worldcons. Every year it's a new committee, working with a new venue, trying to produce a highly structured event with a high percentage of international guests and attendees. How is that ever going to be a recipe for an outstanding success? Almost literally the only thing that carries over from event to event is the name and the good will.

This is why I prefer organising events on the unconference model. Provide a venue, hot drinks, food and space, charge enough to cover your costs, and let the attendees choose what they want to do with it.
posted by Hogshead at 3:37 AM on July 14


Coming out of proper fandom, the idea of paying for guests (other than perhaps travel costs/hotel room compensation) is weird and not how you do things.

Dashcon didn't even do that much for many (any?) of its invited guests.

...

It's hard to run events, especially when you have no relevant professional experience. I'm sympathetic towards seemingly sincere people who don't know what they're doing. It doesn't justify anything they did which has even a whiff of misappropriation, but still, I'm sympathetic.

The $17,000 thing sounds like a situation where the Dashcon people did Pretty Bad Thing X, but they don't want to admit to that, so instead they're being cagey and forcing people to infer that it's actually Even Worse Thing Y. I find it difficult to believe that they would literally just invent a reason to steal money out of pure avarice. If I had to guess, they probably said something was "fine" when it wasn't, which then snowballed to a point where they had to get a whole bunch of money right quick.

Then again, who knows. The cash-in-a-sack thing seems no different than televangelists hitting up their followers for money. I'm sure that many televangelists justified their own actions to themselves: they did not perceive themselves as thieves.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:57 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


It's not just cons- we had a fake wedding expo around here in Boston- the scammer never even booked the hall, just collected from the exhibitors.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:05 AM on July 14


Sigh, an in this entire time no one has said "But babies LOVE the ball room!"

The old ways are dying.
posted by The Whelk at 4:35 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


The New Fandom has learned they can create things just by believing hard enough in them. It doesn't matter if there's absolutely no crossover between Dr. Who, Supernatural, and Sherlock. We've decided there is! And the characters are in love! Our headcanon is just as valid as what is on the screen! Look, there are pictures of Sherlock and Dean holding hands out there! Our belief has become reality!

But just believing in something happening real, real hard doesn't generate an actual successful convention. It's not a tulpa, it's an actual event that requires actual planning, coordination, and legwork above and beyond wishing. I think that's where some of the disconnect with the celebrity guests came in in those planning posts linked above - people just believe that Benny Crumbles or Misha Collins will show up and it will be awesome and fun and oh, maybe their eyes will meet across the crowded con floor and only I will notice them passing a note to each other - that they skip the whole logistical end of actually trying to get them there and actually raising funds to pay for an appearance.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:42 AM on July 14 [14 favorites]


It seems farfetched that this was all put together to scam a relatively small amount of money.
posted by josher71 at 4:46 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Crack dealers work for about minimum wage, and just plain dumbass criminals will happily earn themselves years in prison for less. Some people are just plain fucked in the head and for them it's more about getting off, with the small money just the proof they succeeded.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:08 AM on July 14


This is what boggles me about Worldcons.

WHOA WHOA WHOA. WorldCon ConComs are drawn from highly experienced local convention organizers from the host city/region as well as several of the top convention organizers in literally the whole world. Don't compare the average WorldCon ConCom to DashCon's ConCom.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:16 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


The thing that's amused/alarmed me about this mess is that--probably unsurprising in retrospect--there's already so much spinning on social media about how Things Weren't That Bad. Sure, there was the thing with the 17K bleg, which (according to some people) was due to the organizers trusting an oral promise from somebody on the hotel staff over the contract that they actually signed, and the Night Vale people didn't get paid and left, and at least one professional artist didn't even get comped for her hotel room and left, and at least one of the organizers isn't old enough to vote... but hey, we had some great panels! As if getting a bunch of tumblrers together in a room to talk about [random social justice topic] is a remarkable accomplishment. In the meantime, let's postmortem our trainwreck of a con for Tumblr users by trash-talking how awful people on Tumblr are.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:24 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Hmm. You know I'm not sure why, but after reading about the massive clusterfuck that was DashCon and all the people with crushed hopes and dreams...I kinda feel like organizing an MRA con.
posted by GoingToShopping at 5:25 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Obviously, food allergies are not in themselves amusing, but "Tara Strong was fed eggplant" is one of the strangest post-event debrief bullets.

"Obviously, the scheduling didn't go as well as we hoped. We underestimated the level of security we needed to manage the signing queues. Oh, and someone slipped Lollipop Chainsaw a melongene. Guys, we have to be better."
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:27 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


(Like, eggplant is not a hugely common food ingredient. If you find it being served to someone who is a) your guest of honor and b) allergic to eggplant, that might be a sign that things are not going well. At all.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:29 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


the VB saga makes DashCon look like a stroll in the park

You know VB/Thanfiction has crawled up out of their orc pit to start preying on kids in Teen Wolf fandom recently, right?
posted by elizardbits at 5:33 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Hmm. You know I'm not sure why, but after reading about the massive clusterfuck that was DashCon and all the people with crushed hopes and dreams...I kinda feel like organizing an MRA con.

There's just been one, and it was just as sad as you'd think it would be. Go to We Hunted the Mammoth for recaps.
posted by sukeban at 5:40 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


You know I'm not sure why, but after reading about the massive clusterfuck that was DashCon and all the people with crushed hopes and dreams...I kinda feel like organizing an MRA con.

Done and done. Sadly, true believers won't let a bad con experience stop them.
posted by Etrigan at 5:41 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


You know VB/Thanfiction has crawled up out of their orc pit to start preying on kids in Teen Wolf fandom recently, right?

FFS. Details/links?
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:47 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


The $17,000 thing sounds like a situation where the Dashcon people did Pretty Bad Thing X, but they don't want to admit to that, so instead they're being cagey and forcing people to infer that it's actually Even Worse Thing Y. I find it difficult to believe that they would literally just invent a reason to steal money out of pure avarice. If I had to guess, they probably said something was "fine" when it wasn't, which then snowballed to a point where they had to get a whole bunch of money right quick.
Yeah, that's kind of the sense I get too... in over their heads and trying to avoid owning up to it. The ball bit and breath mints thing seem like desperate flailing, grabbing the last assets at hand.

A couple of years back I was on the organizing committee for a small, one-day local arts festival and no matter how simple you try to keep these things, something always feels like it's about to spiral out of control; some new revelation about terms of use for the venue, somebody dropping out, somebody else trying add some totally other activity to the event that's out of scope and hugely distracting... right up until the day of the event itself. Trying to organize an event large enough to require a convention center and flying in entertainment personalities? I can't even imagine.
posted by usonian at 5:50 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


some links as requested, there is a larger post or an expanded version of one of those liked around somewhere but I can't remember where I last saw it.
posted by elizardbits at 5:55 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


I've said this on my Tumbls, but I'd be interested in a legit, official Dashcon 2014 shirt if anyone has one they'd like to part with.

And now that I'm typing this here, they're probably didn't make shirts to sell, did they?

(ht to desjardins, who was totally my source for comprehensive information about this amazing train wreck. Best thing since Balloon Boy.)
posted by gc at 6:14 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I suspect they also ran afoul of the fact that just because you made a deal with the manager who works days on weekdays, does not mean that the manager who works nights, or the manager who work weekends are ok with the deal. I've been to actually well run conventions where we had stuff worked out in writing and everything and had a rude shock on Friday with someone who either (a) hadn't been told what to have ready or (b) flat out didn't care what the weekday management/corporate had to say, those kind of shenanigans weren't happening on their watch.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:19 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Ah, I'm so pleased this disaster has made it onto MeFi. I spent some time yesterday following the dashcon tag on Tumblr, and (after reading the Daily Dot coverage this morning) have been refreshing my memory of the Tentmoot disaster / catching up with the latest Thanfiction nonsense. I sincerely feel bad for the kids who have been emotionally manipulated by the Dashcon staff and have lost money, but can't stop my icky fascination with it.
posted by daisyk at 6:21 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I spent my entire lunch trying to understand how all of this went down and I am now more confused than ever. The link desjardins posted has two parts full of screencaps and from what I can gather they put minors in charge of committees tasked with fundraising and also getting whoever they wanted to the con (Benedict Cumberbatch! Misha Collins!) except if they couldn't get those people to show up then all the money their group had raised would be given to the main con and the committees would end up without even a room table in the hall??

And the money was paid through PayPal to personal account - some of them the personal accounts of the same minors who were the whole committee...?

I mean. What? Just - what? I feel like I must be missing something in my reading and obviously this is not how the whole thing was run. Except I'm fairly sure that's exactly how it happened. And they still had actual attendants at an actual hotel with the Night Vale crew on location (before understandably walking out)! I'm kind of impressed with their dedication - like racing the tide to build a sandcastle, or assembling card houses outside during hurricane watch. Except I've yet to see anyone charge $65 for sandcastle entry, nor scrambling to collect $17,000 for sandbags to save it from crumbling under the assault of anti-sandcastle forces.
posted by harujion at 6:25 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


gc - I've got an actual, legit Daschon 14 shirt that I'd love to give you but the tshirt company isn't letting me cause they don't like daschcon people. Maybe if you paypal me $300? This is a professional tshirt, so don't worry about the money.
posted by Think_Long at 6:27 AM on July 14 [30 favorites]


divabat, if you'd like to write more about the fan problems at VidCon 14, I for one would be interested in hearing about them.

Totally unnecessary meta-fanning: also, I think you're fabulous and I love your FPPs. *runs away blushing*
posted by daisyk at 6:28 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I too was fascinated by this online this weekend and was saddened to realize that it was all taking place in Schaumburg, so close. I feel like I should have gone out there and helped the poor kids who were getting screwed over somehow.

(I mean throwing a con is hard I'm sure, but I've had a better ball pit in my backyard, not even kidding.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:35 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


my headcannon is that this whole con was planned by 4chan
posted by rebent at 6:35 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


...they put minors in charge of committees tasked with fundraising and also getting whoever they wanted to the con...

Was I misreading/misinterpreting or was basically everyone involved -- admins/mods, committee heads, committee members -- either a teenager or just out of their teens?
posted by griphus at 6:35 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Also: My biggest problems with Dashcon.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


The more I read about Dashcon, the more grateful I am that we never had Tumblr when I was an over-enthusiastic but misguided fandom'd-to-the-eyeballs teenager. At least on Livejournal you really had to work for your wank (and it wasn't played out in real time for the whole world to see). There but for the grace of Frodo go I.
posted by fight or flight at 6:38 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Crack dealers work for about minimum wage, and just plain dumbass criminals will happily earn themselves years in prison for less. Some people are just plain fucked in the head and for them it's more about getting off, with the small money just the proof they succeeded.

I guess but this seems a very, very, elaborate effort to be just a scam. I haven't read all the links, what ended up happening to the money? Does no one know?
posted by josher71 at 6:59 AM on July 14


I volunteer for an organization that has been holding educational/professional events of various sizes for fifty years. We all work in specialties that are relevant to event management in one way or another and most of the volunteers are mid to late career professionals. Things still sometimes get seriously screwed up.

How anyone could have thought that an event managed by children with no experience would turn out well is a triumph of optimism over common sense.
posted by winna at 7:07 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


The 4chan conspiracy theories remind me of how the London fire of 1666 was made worse by people running around looking for Dutchmen to beat up cause of course it wad a vast hollandish plot.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on July 14 [10 favorites]


Oh for God's sake, The Whelk, everything reminds you of how the London fire of 1666 was made worse by people running around looking for Dutchmen to beat up cause of course it was a vast hollandish plot!
posted by Naberius at 7:38 AM on July 14 [52 favorites]


The 4chan conspiracy theories remind me of how the London fire of 1666 was made worse by people running around looking for Dutchmen to beat up cause of course it wad a vast hollandish plot.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


The 4chan thing was likely in response to the raids 4chan was doing for the last few weeks, setting up fake SJ blogs and then spamming them with "screamers" and pictures of gore. Tumblr handled that about as well as you'd expect (the older people on Tumblr, though, were confused that 4chan was still around).

While I'm here, here's some of my favorite Dashcon-related posts.
posted by gc at 7:44 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


THE SIMILARITIES ARE TOO GREAT TO IGNORE
posted by The Whelk at 7:44 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


Oh, so THIS is why there are ball pit jokes all over my tumblr feed this morning (I was on an internet time out most of the weekend). I thought the universe just knew that I really needed some Slenderman-in-a-Bouncy-Castle pics this morning.
posted by muddgirl at 7:47 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


After the Dashcon debacle on Friday, I saw an uptick in tumblr posts soliciting donations for individuals. Stuff like "all my furniture was thrown into the street and we have no food to eat and my brother is disabled." (I saw one post that was mostly pictures of almost-bare cupboards.) And they'd tie it into Dashcon by saying something like "if Dashcon can raise $17,000 in a few hours, surely tumblr can help me and my homeless amputee starving kitty cats."

I hope this teaches people a lesson about critical thinking, but probably not.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Sometimes hotels go through managers very rapidly, the same way that Spinal Tap goes through drummers.

Also it appears that there was a corporation run by adults (set up in Ohio) that was legal enough to sign some contracts.

All conventions need to mind their tax status, but those who pay staff especially so, because that could lead to a change in non-profit status.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:54 AM on July 14


I have quite a few MLP cons under my belt now, but did not make to Las Pegasus Unicon, manely because I can’t stand Las Vegas.

ISWYDT
posted by BrashTech at 7:55 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


After the Dashcon debacle on Friday, I saw an uptick in tumblr posts soliciting donations for individuals. Stuff like "all my furniture was thrown into the street and we have no food to eat and my brother is disabled." (I saw one post that was mostly pictures of almost-bare cupboards.) And they'd tie it into Dashcon by saying something like "if Dashcon can raise $17,000 in a few hours, surely tumblr can help me and my homeless amputee starving kitty cats."

I hope this teaches people a lesson about critical thinking, but probably not.
posted by desjardins at 7:49 AM on July 14 [+] [!]


The "Let's raise money for homeless LGBTQ youth in NYC" one seems like a good cause. And it's from the people running the 17000dollar blog.
posted by gc at 7:59 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Online conventions seem to have limited use to me. You have to be there to see the cosplay.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:00 AM on July 14


I'm not really into conventions or interacting with people IRL, but it makes me kind of sad that the organizers who are apparently into a tiny fandom didn't just host a Tiny Fandom Convention. There's a real problem in the fan community if there isn't some knowledge transfer about starting small. It sounds like the majority of fan attendees were perfectly happy with an opportunity to get together and talk about their fandom, so... do that next year. See what happens.
posted by muddgirl at 8:01 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I hope Night Vale gets some inspiration for an episode out of this. "An hour in the ball pit" sounds even more menacing than "The Company Picnic."

Hundreds of people banded together to support a common cause, spurred on by excitement and camaraderie, without actually stopping to check the facts

Tumblr, distilled.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:02 AM on July 14 [25 favorites]


I think we can all agree that the real problem here is that people unironically and without shame refer to themselves as SuperWhoLockians

they must be stopped
posted by elizardbits at 8:03 AM on July 14 [38 favorites]


What's even worse is that the United Fandom of Supertramp, the Who and Tone Lōc have already been using that name for years.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on July 14 [38 favorites]


The "Let's raise money for homeless LGBTQ youth in NYC" one seems like a good cause. And it's from the people running the 17000dollar blog.

Sure, but that's an established non-profit, not Random Dude with a gofundme page. A quick Google search verifies that the URL in the tumblr post is actually the correct one for the center, and that there have been articles on national news sites about the nonprofit.
posted by desjardins at 8:13 AM on July 14


I'm an old fart who's played some part in my 38-years-and-counting local con.

I want to speak up for "the kids." During my six years of participation, 16 to 21 year olds have made crucial contributions. (Some of them attended their first con in-utero, so con-running is actually in their blood.)

Also, if you twitch the refresh button fast enough, Fandom Wank is just as real-time as Twitter.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:32 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Wow. I thought I didn't understand Tumblr, but it turns out I really don't understand Tumblr.

Let me see if I have this right. The "special guests" for DashCon were not going to be People From The Stuff I Like, but rather People Who Talk About The Stuff I Like On The Internet? And people are surprised that it wasn't successful?

At the risk of being all "get off my lawn", I actually heard someone unironically referred to the other day as a "Vine celebrity". WTF?
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:38 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


The thing I completely missed regarding Tumblr is this whole "Social Justice" thing.

I somehow managed to follow a little over 100 blogs and have never seen a lot of this stuff that everyone complains about Tumblr being. No weird, obsessive fandoms, no "Check your privilege, shitlord," or anything else like that.
posted by Gev at 8:47 AM on July 14


And people are surprised that it wasn't successful?

Small, local cons where the special celebrity guest is maybe one notch above "extra who appeared in the background of a scene in S02E14" have been around for as long as there have been cons. I'm not a big con-goer, but the whole celebrity angle is more often than not icing on the con cake. The problem here was that rather than a cake, the organizers had little more than a bowl full of milk, baking soda and Lego pieces. The lack of icing was one of the smaller problems.
posted by griphus at 8:49 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


... for what it's worth, Ben, I'm right there with you. The words all make sense syntactically, but I have no idea what any of this means. So... uhh... good luck with that really popular thing!
posted by ph00dz at 8:52 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


The company I work for just organized a conference, and the sheer amount of work that went into it, on the part of literally 100 people, to organize a conference for 300 people, was mind-boggling. So I have been watching these dashcon reports with increasing schadenfreude.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:58 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


did not make to Las Pegasus Unicon, manely because I can’t stand Las Vegas

ಠ_ಠ
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


I'm sorry to say that not understanding the concept of "celebrity online content producers" is firmly in Get Off My Lawn territory. If someone's videos are reaching 2.6 million people every day, then they are doing better than most television shows or magazines.
posted by muddgirl at 9:00 AM on July 14 [16 favorites]


As a small-con-goer (Hi Jesse the K), I'm perfectly happy going to see People Who Talk About The Stuff I Like On The Internet. To me, a volunteer-led panel on an interesting niche of fandom is more fun than waiting in line to get an autograph from a C-list celebrity who doesn't want to be there. I don't care that much about panels led by writers and producers who are more interested in marketing themselves and presenting a good image than anything else. If DashCon had been organized as a small, relaxed local convention -- the kind of small, relaxed local convention that expects a fair amount of growing pains and disorganization -- I can think of no reason why it wouldn't have been a moderate success.
posted by Jeanne at 9:00 AM on July 14 [12 favorites]


I just remembered I attended a con where the special celebrity guest was David Faustino.

This was in 2005.
posted by griphus at 9:03 AM on July 14


muddgirl: If creating six-second videos, even for 2.6 million followers, counts as content producing and is considered on par with creating television shows or movies, then I will have to ask you kindly to vacate my lawn.

I wholeheartedly support independently created content, and I think the Internet has been a tremendous tool for emerging artists, but "Vine celebrity" is just a bridge too far for me. Kids today, etc.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:06 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Drinky Die: "I hope Night Vale gets some inspiration for an episode out of this. "An hour in the ball pit" sounds even more menacing than "The Company Picnic."
"

"The ball pit, which is in no way a punishment, is actually a small swimming pool purchased for $5 from a Big Lots. The balls in the ball pit, which were also purchased for $5, form a layer at the bottom of the ball pit that is, in some places, up to two balls deep. The ball pit, which, again, is clearly not a punishment, is also placed directly on a large concrete pad and situated by a large audience. Now, listeners, there have been some concerns that if a person were to, say, dive into the ball pit, or even to execute a gentle roll within the non-corrective ball pit, that the person performing that action would be hurt! Possibly even paralyzed!

I will tell you, listeners, that after a short hour in the ballpit, purely as a pleasurable endeavor, and not made compulsory by the menacing presence of the Sherrif's Secret Police Deputies, that the people who have voiced these concerns are, in fact, no longer voicing them."
posted by boo_radley at 9:12 AM on July 14 [32 favorites]


I'll echo the other comments above that noted that this is good practice for corporate life, where things aren't necessarily organized any better. It also reminds me of group projects in college, where one or two people do all the work, and if they burn out, the whole thing is a trainwreck.

I don't know that Dashcon was a straight up scam from the beginning, although the pressure on small committees to raise funds right away does send up a red flag. I think the organizers bit off more than they could chew, realized it pretty quickly, and tried to put the onus on others to plan and fund it.

Regarding the $17,000, I agree with the comment above that suggests they fucked up somewhere else, but blamed it on the hotel instead. Teenagers are mostly too naive to understand how conference reservation contracts work. There's also the sunk cost fallacy - if you've spent $65 on a weekend pass, $100 on a hotel room, $200 on airfare, etc etc, and they ask for some extra so that your weekend isn't a total waste? I can see why you would pony up even if you know it's a scam, because the alternative is getting nothing at all out of your investment.
posted by desjardins at 9:14 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Let me see if I have this right. The "special guests" for DashCon were not going to be People From The Stuff I Like, but rather People Who Talk About The Stuff I Like On The Internet? And people are surprised that it wasn't successful?

There were a thousand people at this convention, supposedly, which is pretty popular. The reason it wasn't successful was because it was completely ineptly organised and also maybe a scam, not that it wasn't well attended.
posted by dng at 9:14 AM on July 14


muddgirl: If creating six-second videos, even for 2.6 million followers, counts as content producing and is considered on par with creating television shows or movies, then I will have to ask you kindly to vacate my lawn.

I don't think anyone is claiming that Robby Ayala is the next Orson Welles, but celebrity culture has never been a process of ranking on absolute talent or hard work, so complaints about Vine celebrities in particular don't make any sense. Does Ayala work more or less hard than Real Life Television Celebrity J-Woww? What about my favorite childhood celebrity, Vanilla Ice?
posted by muddgirl at 9:15 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Let me see if I have this right. The "special guests" for DashCon were not going to be People From The Stuff I Like, but rather People Who Talk About The Stuff I Like On The Internet? And people are surprised that it wasn't successful?
posted by Ben Trismegistus


Quality and/or perceived fame of guests of honor (GOH) does not automagically guarantee success. Not every convention needs to have stars from Doctor Who, Firefly, Lord of The Rings, and Star Trek as headliners.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:17 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


If you can't make six seconds of film interesting you're not going to be able to make two hours of it much fun.
posted by dng at 9:18 AM on July 14


Not complaining - it just gives me a big ol' "does not compute". I feel the same way about J-Woww and Vanilla Ice, if that helps.

You make a good point that "celebrity" is a concept completely separate from talent or hard work. Pity that the definition is so broad that it can be equally applied to Emma Thompson and Snooki (to pick two names at random).
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:18 AM on July 14


I wouldn't presume it was a scam. Why assume malice when simple incompetence explains it so well? All it really takes are a couple of people who don't understand the yawning chasm between a CSR saying "I'm sure that won't be a problem" on the one hand, and a signed contract by the GM on the other, plus a light sprinkle of panic when it goes south.
posted by tyllwin at 9:19 AM on July 14


dng: "If you can't make six seconds of film interesting you're not going to be able to make two hours of it much fun."

get out of here michael bay

who do you think you are

shoo
posted by boo_radley at 9:19 AM on July 14 [7 favorites]


To everyone: I'm not suggesting that cons need big stars. But if I understand the concept correctly, the Tumblr folks who were touted as main attractions are people who write Tumblr blogs (or whatever the proper terminology is) about the particular fandoms that the audience members are into. Is that right?

If so, it's like CriticCon - celebrating commentary on pop culture rather than the culture itself.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:21 AM on July 14


Is that right?

Maybe. The fact that there was little concrete information on who, exactly, would be at the con is pretty high on the list of "why this was a catastrophe."

Watch the Bronies documentary if you have NetFlix if you're particularly confused that people will want to see Tumblr-famous fandom people at cons. It's less "commentary" and more about fanart, fanfic, etc.
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I feel like you might not have very much experience with fandom if this baffles you. The acronym and concept of BNF has been around for easily as long as mefi itself and very strange things have been done in support of this weirdly intense cult of personality.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 AM on July 14 [16 favorites]


Yeah - if your con is targeting people within a fan community - one built around fanart, fanfiction and so on - there will be celebrities within that group. This isn't a new concept, or one limited to Tumblr - BNFs (Big Name Fans) are often guests of honor at sci-fi and fantasy conventions. Some of them publish zines, some are prolific fan writers, some are talented networkers...

You might not understand why somebody would want to meet a fan writer or artist, Ben T, but it's not extraordinary that it might happen, and it happens in mainstream fandom. And I imagine many of those Sci-Fi BNFs are looking with bewilderment at people like PewDewPie and saying "but I have a highly influential sci-fi blog. That guy just plays video games and screams. How come people are paying attention to that?"

(Although DashCon was also meant to have Welcome to Night Vale, who produce a half-hourly dramatic podcast based on their own IP, along with derivative products.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:41 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Jinx!
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:42 AM on July 14


But if I understand the concept correctly, the Tumblr folks who were touted as main attractions are people who write Tumblr blogs (or whatever the proper terminology is) about the particular fandoms that the audience members are into.

If so, it's like CriticCon - celebrating commentary on pop culture rather than the culture itself.


I think this happens to some degree at every conference, though - academic, professional, what have you. There are always meta-presenters who discuss what other people are doing in [field]. I would rather attend a panel discussing an fan-written alternative universe where True Blood isn't a campy clusterfuck than I would a panel with whatsherface who died in season 3.
posted by desjardins at 9:43 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


What they're not telling you is that the ballpit was filled with cue-balls and replicas of the sphere from "Phantasm." And they're put into the pit after you are put into the pit. With a front-end loader at full lift and also potato guns.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:51 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Huh. Ok then.

Maybe it's just a timing thing. I mean, I enjoy Sherlock and I'm slightly fanatical about Doctor Who (and watched all the Whedonverse and Star Trek shows when they were on), and while I do enjoy reading commentary about the shows, it's never occurred to me to care about who is writing the commentary or want to meet the people who are writing the commentary. I just don't have the kind of time to delve that far into the fandoms - I just enjoy watching the shows and talking to people about them.

[desjardins, I agree that panel discussions are a separate thing. Those are often great, and I enjoy beanplating as much as the next guy.]

tl;dr -- I acknowledge that the nature of fandom has passed me by and you guys are right about how things have changed.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 9:56 AM on July 14


Reading through these disasters is just... this is why there are professional event planners. This is why there are specialists in the field. Not engaging one for an event of such a size is negligence and overweening arrogance/ignorance on a level that I find hard to fathom. I shudder to think what the fallout would have been had there been any kind of injuries or assaults or whatever during DashCon or Las Pegasus.

My best guess at the $17K thing is that the organizers probably had to pay major deposits up front, and the hotel agreed to balancing out the payments during the con, from the gate. Attendance was way lower than expected, no money coming through the gate, so a sack got handed around. One would expect, though, if that were the case then the DashCon 'organizers' would be able to account for that money somehow, and would have already done so. That they haven't, or don't appear to have, is pretty damning.

Also hotels don't change contracts partway through events. It's just not a Thing that happens. Hotels cancelling or booting out events of this size due to non payment happens, but rarely, because pretty much every hotel and/or convention centre requires hefty, hefty deposits upfront--even months and months out, merely to secure the space. Back when I worked in the field, we'd be paying 50% deposits at the time of contract signing, with varying payment schedules usually reaching 100% by the time of load-in. Occasionally there are things that get billed after (e.g. room service to comped rooms have to be billed after the fact), but for the most part everything is paid for in advance.

Including, especially, the talent and panelists. Nobody with an agent is walking onstage anywhere without their payment being guaranteed in writing, or already paid.

One wonders how many contracts DashCon signed with their talent, and how far into oblivion they're going to get sued for breaking them. If any were signed at all. The utter hubris of already planning DashCon 2015 is mindboggling after all this mess.

I'm also kind of totally confused as to how they got this event insured. No hotel or convention centre is going to allow any size of event to occur without proof of significant insurance.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:01 AM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Hell, nevermind professional event planners - this is why people ideally help run fan-run cons before they actually try to run their own cons. Or go for a safer lower-key launch like at a local college so you've got a bunch of the infrastructure for free.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:05 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


tl;dr -- I acknowledge that the nature of fandom has passed me by and you guys are right about how things have changed.

Well, I don't think things have changed, though. I'm socially awkward and an introvert, so I don't go to fan conventions. But this kind of culture has always been around and people have been in to it as long as I've been a fan (so at least the mid-90s, and from what I hear from older fans even far back into the 70s at the very beginning of television and movie fandom, and even earlier into sci-fi novel fandom). It's not even exclusive to sci-fi fandom - Tom and Lorenzo are popular for being "fabulous and opinionated," and I for one am not going to fault them for capitalizing on that success, nor am I going to fault the fans who want to meet them in person, even if that's not my thing.

It's not my thing, but it's someone's thing, and I'm likely a minority.
posted by muddgirl at 10:07 AM on July 14


When I heard vague rumblings about a Tumblr fandom-based convention being in the works, I assumed it would be one of those low-key, smallish cons that were mostly about hanging out with fellow fans, albeit with a younger set of fans and a lot of panels I'd find cringeworthy. I had no idea this total disaster was in the works.

I'm really sort of astonished no legit adults stopped to have a reality check at any point of the con planning process. Did no one think finding an experienced mentor for the con planning process was a good idea? And what in the world did the parents of the teenagers who attended and/or helped run the con think?

I feel bad for the people involved, but man, what a hilarious clusterfuck.
posted by yasaman at 10:08 AM on July 14


The other thing, re: guests, big-name or not, is that not every con needs them at all. Conventions can be entirely about meeting other people who like the things you like, or meeting other members of your community whom you've only interacted with online.

(Really the problem here is that the umbrella term "con" is used for wildly disparate events.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 10:11 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, SDCC or NYCC, which are basically a third costume party, a third P.R. event, and a third industry networking convention are totally different animals from the Springfield BiMonSciFiCon.
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


(And, IMO, part of the problem with Dashcon was that they wanted to have the grandeur of the former with the organizing skills of the latter.)
posted by griphus at 10:19 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


My all-time best con experience was a panel about film archiving and preservation, with a guy who works with or had worked with NASA's film archive from the Apollo era. It was fantastic.

Celebrities are overrated.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:23 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


The other thing, re: guests, big-name or not, is that not every con needs them at all.

Yeah, true. Cons (as in fandom cons) aren't really my thing in general, but when I was involved with the Callahan's fandom, we'd have a Callahanicon every year. The total organizational involvement was taken on by whoever was hosting in whichever city it was that year, and consisted almost exclusively of:

1) Signing a contract for a group rate at a local hotel
2) Organizing a place for everyone to go out for dinner on the Friday night
3) Organizing a potluck at their house (or someone else's if not big enough) on Saturday night
4) Finding a place for us to have the inevitable OH MY GOD I AM SO HUNG OVER I CAN HEAR MY HAIR GROWING brunch Sunday morning.

Everything else--flights, paying for the hotel, etc--was left up to those of us who wanted to attend. The fandom has kind of disintegrated a lot, so they don't really happen anymore, but they were pretty much a textbook way of organizing the Small Fandom Con without any headaches or legal liabilities or anything.

Problem with the folks in the FPP is that they thought they could do the same thing with a wild-ass guess of thousands of attendees. We'd have, I think the biggest I went to, maybe 50? Tops?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:24 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


My guess is that they asked an actual event planner to help early in the process, found out what said event planner would cost, and thought to themselves "It's not worth THAT much. We'll show them we can do it!" After that it was a total adults-free zone. If it had been one day, with one track of panels, a small shared artists ally and floor - it would probably have been a manageable size cascading disaster. Instead, it was full-on avalanche of disaster.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:29 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Re: VidCon

This is my first ever VidCon. I've been to plenty of conferences, but the only other convention I've been to was BurlyCon which was for burlesque industry people. It was small and well-organised. (I've also been to A-Camp, which is sort of convention like except it was a weekend in the woods and there wasn't an expo hall.)

Issues with VidCon:

1. There were way too many unaccompanied teenagers wrecking havoc. John & Hank did try to institute policy about not scaring the special guests and causing trouble, but no one paid attention. Every so often you'd hear screams followed by a MASSIVE HORDE of teens smothering a particular special guest even if all they were doing was crossing the street. One such group injured a heavily pregnant woman who had retreated to a quiet spot specifically so she could avoid being trampled on.

1.5 Not all of these kids were chaperoned (and sometimes their chaperone wasn't helping). There didn't seem to be a system related to waivers or liability or something, which surprised a lot of us.

2. There seemed to be no communication between VidCon and convention security over lines. There were 2 doors open for an entire building's worth of panels and signings, and everyone got forced into one "line" that eventually became a clump anyway. So many people missed panels simply because we couldn't get into the building! Or the fangirls would take up space just to scream at the panel but not actually listen. Taking a break for food or water or bathroom penalised you: you couldn't get into a panel. (Especially aggravating was when VidCon management sent an email to everyone saying that you weren't allowed to line up for panels in the building becuase of fire safety issues - except the convention hall staff were FORCING people to line up.) Once you got INTO a panel, it was great, but getting in there was a hassle.

3. It was like pulling teeth trying to get VidCon to respond to these issues. There were not enough volunteers, and they were largely silent on social media. Their new-policy emails would be sent in the middle of the night - yet Internet access in the area was spotty.

4. There were two levels: Community and Industry. I would have preferred an Industry pass but couldn't afford it. I did notice that I was taken much less seriously because of my Community pass - and because I tended to look & dress young (it was hot!!!). Had I known this was going to be the case I would have dressed much more business-like the entire time.

5. You can tell that a lot of the businesses at the Expo Hall were much more interested in attractive-looking teenagers than everyone else. As someone who was neither I got snubbed a few times.

I was rooming with some VidCon veterans and they said that this year was definitely one of the worst - too many people and no way to manage it all.
posted by divabat at 10:34 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I think it might be worth pointing out that one of the primary admins of the convention (and LLP co-owners) is apparently 32. The incompetence on display here really can't be entirely waved away as adolescent naivete.
posted by thepigeonsknow at 10:35 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


That sounds like a good guess to me, stoneweaver. A friend of mine left the corporate planning world and struck out on her own as a freelancer. Her fees are right in line with industry standard, and she's lost count now of how many phone calls she's gotten at the last minute from people who had previously said "Ha! That's too much to pay, I can do this myself!" begging for help.

I'm kind of surprised that hotels/convention centres aren't starting to require that a CMP or CEP be substantially involved in the entire process.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:40 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


nevermind professional event planners - this is why people ideally help run fan-run cons before they actually try to run their own cons.

posted by rmd1023 at 1:05 PM on July 14


A-yup. The concomm I'm on is made up of people who literally spent years volunteering in various roles at our previous local sci-fi convention. We're lucky in that our Chair works in the hospitality industry, and therefore has been able to negotiate some decent deals for us with local hotels. And when we were getting started, we received tons of advice--free consulting, really--from the previous con's administrators, who had retired their convention after twenty-five years and wanted to see ours succeed for the local fans.

Running even a small, fan-run convention is tough. It takes a lot of hard work to organize one. We barely make enough money to run the next year's event. And the challenges just keep popping up. Larger, for-profit conventions have been moving in because they've realized that our area has a huge untapped pool of fans AND is within a day's drive of 2/3rd of the US, so they siphon away fans attracted by big names. Fans themselves have changed, too--in addition to getting a lot of their fandom itch scratched via the internet (and thus not really seeing the appeal of small cons for fans to interact with each other), they aren't willing to volunteer to work unless they get free memberships and more in return.

Cheryl Morgan wrote a good article about many of the challenges faced by fan-run conventions these days. She's talking mostly about WorldCon and what I think of as the "Old Guard" in fandom, but she makes a lot of really good points about what it takes to do a convention these days.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:41 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I really want to hear about Dashcon from the perspective of the hotel workers. Those poor people. I bet they went out after work and got good and drunk.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:41 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Only convention I ever went to was a Star Trek convention when I was a kid. Having George Takei's autograph is neat and not all celebrities are overrated. :)
posted by Drinky Die at 10:43 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


That's because Uncle George just keeps getting more awesome every damn day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:46 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Well, I don't think things have changed, though. I'm socially awkward and an introvert, so I don't go to fan conventions. But this kind of culture has always been around and people have been in to it as long as I've been a fan (so at least the mid-90s, and from what I hear from older fans even far back into the 70s at the very beginning of television and movie fandom, and even earlier into sci-fi novel fandom).

Possibly Tumblr, because it facilitates connection, social networking around media and so on, is having a kind of intensifying effect... in the same way that old-timey sci-fi authors and fans still have Livejournal accounts, both because it's where the community is and because it is set up in a way that works well with the required mix of broadcast, friendcast and targeted local planning/cliquey gossiping.

(And before that there were email lists, and UseNet groups, and back to mimeographed 'zines...)
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:47 AM on July 14


I LOVE the letter from the hotel that is "proof" that it's not a scam, with nearly everything redacted except the one sentence they want to show you.
posted by smackfu at 10:57 AM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you can just get hotel stationary from your room's desk. That cracked me up, too.
posted by sfkiddo at 11:03 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Andythanfiction/VB/Jordan Wood has written about DashCon.
posted by divabat at 11:13 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


sort of like joe hazelwood writing about deepwater horizon innit
posted by elizardbits at 11:18 AM on July 14 [5 favorites]


I kinda feel bad for Andy that his reputation is preceding him here because he does make a lot of good points.
posted by divabat at 11:21 AM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agree with divabat. He does make a lot of solid points about stuff that is legit mock/criticism-worthy and stuff that it's kind of problematic (or just silly) to be poking fun at.

In other news, I saw on Tumblr a few minutes ago (so take this with a grain of salt) that Roxanne (one of ConCom members) is actually in school for event planning.
posted by naturalog at 11:25 AM on July 14


I have no problem with the message. The messenger is a different story.
posted by elizardbits at 11:36 AM on July 14


yeah, maybe too many years in fandom have made me cynical, but all of the "this is what happens when kids put on a show!" comments feel hilariously naïve about the shenanigans that grown-ass adults get up to.
posted by kagredon at 11:39 AM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I have limited experience running small (SMALL) things. Like 300 or so people show up, things. No special guests. No tracks. Some demos and vendors and the like, but very small scale. My experience has been that people who have never planned something make Big Plans when they're brainstorming about what would be cool.

Most of them are OK being walked back to more Reasonable Plans when it actually comes time to planning. However, there's a subset of people that absolutely can not fathom why you're telling them Big Plan is basically impossible in the given time frame. They will not back off. They will tell everyone that Big Plan is happening. They will opine at length about Big Plan. They will not, however, do anything to make Big Plan happen. They will be grumpy that no one has seen the brilliance of their Big Plan and swooped in to make it happen. Now, in many cases someone does swoop in to at least manage expectations of attendees before they arrive. They may even be able to pull off some limited version of Big Plan by working themselves to the bone.

I suspect that the people who planned this thing have actually volunteered at least somewhat for some event. They have gotten their asses saved when they made Big Plan, and they expected that to magically happen this time. Either there was no one capable of walking back plans, managing expectations and salvaging the moment OR that person noped right out of there and said "Be it on you" rather than saving them.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:48 AM on July 14 [8 favorites]


I have no problem with the message. The messenger is a different story.

Indeed.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:57 AM on July 14


People like Andrew Blake continue to move through social circles and exploit people because 99% of the time they can craft a message that is true and admirable and we shouldn't shoot the messenger so they get a pass until *whoops* it happened again who saw that coming?
posted by muddgirl at 11:59 AM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Actually "don't shoot the messenger" isn't even the right metaphor, it's closer to "don't hate the player, hate the game" or something, which is kind of bullshit when the player IS the game.
posted by muddgirl at 12:01 PM on July 14


I'VE SEEN WANKS YOU PEOPLE WOULDN'T BELIEVE...SCREENED COMMENTS UNDER FAKED SUICIDE NOTICES...I WATCHED INCOHERENT SCREEDS GLITTER IN THE DARK DURING LEXICONGATE

ALL THESE MOMENTS WILL BE LOST IN TIME, LIKE MONEY SHOVED HASTILY INTO A SACK

TIME FOR BALL PIT

posted by kagredon at 12:02 PM on July 14 [28 favorites]


Me saying that he brings up a lot of good points with regards to DashCon doesn't mean I endorse everything else he's done or that I'm giving him a free pass on anything.
posted by divabat at 12:05 PM on July 14


There is a feminist blogger on tumblr whose name escapes me atm who makes various good posts on the insidious nature of rape culture and microaggressions. She is also a virulent TERF. I don't link to the things she says on which we share the same opinion because the nature of her other writing is so repulsive to me. It's not hard for me to find other good writers expressing the points with which I agree, so I do that and reblog their stuff instead.
posted by elizardbits at 12:10 PM on July 14 [18 favorites]


Professional event planners don't inherently do better than all-volunteer concoms. They may not make the exact same mistakes, but things can still happen.

As for grown-ups (grups) vs. teens, being a grup doesn't guarantee 'adult' behavior. A jerk is a jerk no matter how old they are.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:13 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Who's Andrew Blake?
posted by magstheaxe at 12:14 PM on July 14


and what is a TERF?
posted by boo_radley at 12:16 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


Andy Blake and a round up of links on various associated sockpuppets and wank.
posted by elizardbits at 12:17 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Andrew Blake. The Tentmoot link in the FPP is also a relatively concise retelling of most of the saga ("Jordan Wood" in that story is Andrew Blake)
posted by kagredon at 12:17 PM on July 14


I mostly linked him here because he was brought up in discussion earlier and I recalled that he had written something about it.

From following the DashCon tags on Twitter and Tumblr I didn't really see anyone who said the same stuff he did - there were a couple of posts about how no one is obligated to donate to anything, but nothing addressing why it's problematic to blame teen girls for everything (as I did with my VidCon rant) or why it's not that stupid to have loud singalongs. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.
posted by divabat at 12:18 PM on July 14


Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a radfem who denies trans women their rightful place in feminist spaces.
posted by elizardbits at 12:18 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Professional event planners don't inherently do better than all-volunteer concoms. They may not make the exact same mistakes, but things can still happen.

Things can still go wrong, but when things go wrong who would you rather have: a bunch of well-meaning (or not) people who have no idea what to do, or people who have experience and training in planning events?
posted by winna at 12:21 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


In other news, I saw on Tumblr a few minutes ago (so take this with a grain of salt) that Roxanne (one of ConCom members) is actually in school for event planning.

Isn't this like being a premed though? It sounds like total hubris to be in school for something like that and try and immediately, with no real experience, go out and try and do it.

These people deserve to be mocked.
posted by emptythought at 12:22 PM on July 14


I think what it does is endorse his revisionist history/spin about his own con con.

The problem I see is that most responders are not blaming teen girls for everything (that seems mostly concentrated at Oh No They Didn't, where commenters are so curmudgeonly about everything, it's hard to take them seriously), nor is anyone hating loud singalongs. They're easy responses to ignore, but by arguing against these mostly-imaginary attacks, Mr. Blake draws attention to himself and how he is such a Defender of the Good, unlike Those Big Meanies at FandomWank and ONTD (oh and also since they're big meanies they're wrong about him as well, naturally)
posted by muddgirl at 12:22 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Exactly. He's a toxic person with an obvious agenda and giving more eyes to his attempts at legitimizing his claims in the guise of being a concerned fandom veteran is, well. I'd just rather not thx.
posted by elizardbits at 12:27 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


elizardbits: "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a radfem who denies trans women their rightful place in feminist spaces."

Oh, ick.
posted by boo_radley at 12:28 PM on July 14 [10 favorites]


The problem I see is that most responders are not blaming teen girls for everything (that seems mostly concentrated at Oh No They Didn't, where commenters are so curmudgeonly about everything, it's hard to take them seriously), nor is anyone hating loud singalongs.

Huh, really? Because that was the bulk of the complaints I saw online - "stupid teenage girls and their stupid singalongs making me embarassed for fandom". All over Twitter and Tumblr (more so Tumblr).
posted by divabat at 12:28 PM on July 14


(as well as the $17,000 being a meme)
posted by divabat at 12:29 PM on July 14


Cheryl Morgan wrote a good article about many of the challenges faced by fan-run conventions these days. She's talking mostly about WorldCon and what I think of as the "Old Guard" in fandom, but she makes a lot of really good points about what it takes to do a convention these days.
posted by magstheaxe


Good article. Much of it is specific to the unique nature of Worldcon - they rotate sites every year, have a bidding process to be a host, vote on Hugo Awards. However much of the advice is very good. Example:
Back in the dark ages of the 20th Century, amateur-run events used to get something of a free ride when it came to expected standards. Everyone knew that the people in charge were doing what they did in their spare time, and a certain amount of roughness around the edges was not only acceptable, it was expected, and rather charming. That no longer applies.

These days, if you run an event — any event — people expect it to be run professionally. If it isn’t, they will let you know. No amount of complaining that you are all volunteers will save you. I know that’s not fair, I know you were only doing your best, but cultural attitudes change, and we have to change with them.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:30 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


There was Due South fan fiction?
posted by josher71 at 12:32 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


i once wrote a fanfic where various firefox browser extensions were doing a sex

there is fanfic for literally everything
posted by elizardbits at 12:33 PM on July 14 [22 favorites]


Professional event planners don't inherently do better than all-volunteer concoms. They may not make the exact same mistakes, but things can still happen.

Actually, yeah on balance they do. Significantly so. Had there been a CMP or CEP involved in planning any of the cons mentioned, they would have gone differently.

Plus, a CMP/CEP has resources at their disposal for quick-fixing things when they go sideways, because of knowledge that they have which a bunch of volunteers almost certainly don't.

I mean, I dunno, maybe you have more experience in planning large events than I do. But from everything I've seen professionally (both on the planning side, and later being involved in the culinary side for a few events), every event done by pros is better-executed with fallback plans in place than anything done by volunteers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:35 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I'm having trouble imagining what possessed half the group to sing songs from High School Musical, and the other half to do the Hunger Games salute.

But it has given me an idea for the most incredible crossover fanfic.

Two ideas.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:36 PM on July 14 [8 favorites]


"stupid teenage girls and their stupid singalongs making me embarassed for fandom".

Oh jeez, I'll defend the brony fandom to the death but if "singalongs" were the worst thing adult men brought to fandom it would be really, really great. They bring much worse things. Please, more singalongs instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:39 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


However, there's a subset of people that absolutely can not fathom why you're telling them Big Plan is basically impossible in the given time frame.
Oh god, this. For our small festival we were trying to keep our parameters very small and limited: Find a venue. Have one room set up as a gallery full of community art submissions, and another room as an artisan marketplace. There was one person who kept trying to sneak new things into the planning that were just so far beyond our capacity, and really kind of off-mission. The exchanges were like:

"Oh I just had an idea, we can have a parade to kick it off!"

"Why don't we wait and see if anyone shows up to this first one, and think about a parade in the future if it really takes off?"

"And we can make these big paper maché puppets! I was in a parade that had those once and it was awesome! Let's have a parade!"

"I really don't think we have the time or manpower to organize a parade and make giant puppets."

"Well, I think it would be too bad not to do a parade, it would be great for community spirit."

Half of every planning meeting was spent arguing them out of crap like that instead of dealing with stuff that really needed doing.
posted by usonian at 12:43 PM on July 14 [8 favorites]


I apologise for the distress caused in linking to Andy Blake.

Also I spotted this: Statement from Random Act re their involvement in DashCon
posted by divabat at 12:48 PM on July 14


Half of every planning meeting was spent arguing them out of crap like that instead of dealing with stuff that really needed doing.
posted by usonian at 3:43 PM on July 14


I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:49 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


This is what boggles me about Worldcons. Every year it's a new committee, working with a new venue, trying to produce a highly structured event with a high percentage of international guests and attendees. How is that ever going to be a recipe for an outstanding success? Almost literally the only thing that carries over from event to event is the name and the good will.
Not quite.

First, the people who organise worldcons tend to be very experienced at conrunning for their bids to even make a chance and are working several years in advance; Helsinki 2017 is already campaigning and has been for a while.

Second, there's a large core of socalled SMOFs, Secret Masters of Fandom, aka the sort of nerd who actually enjoys running cons and doing all the administrative scuff work et all that you need for a con. That's a huge reservoir of experience, knowledge and labour you can tap into.

Third, the Worldcon has been structured over the decades, having run annually except during American WWII since 1939, provides it with a stability that other cons lack, making it harder to do something stupid, at the expense of a certain flexibility, e.g..

It's obviously far from perfect and a lot of the cruft surrounding it seems irrelevant at first, but has in fact been shaped by a decades old history of solving problems and overcoming crisises.

(anybody else going to Loncon?)
posted by MartinWisse at 12:51 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Second, there's a large core of socalled SMOFs, Secret Masters of Fandom, aka the sort of nerd who actually enjoys running cons and doing all the administrative scuff work et all that you need for a con. That's a huge reservoir of experience, knowledge and labour you can tap into.

posted by MartinWisse at 3:51 PM on July 14


What's more, SMoFs have their own con where they talk about convention planning. This year's event is in California.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:53 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.

Part of me hopes you specifically mean someone constantly trying to have a parade.
posted by griphus at 12:53 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


our person like that is prolly greg
posted by elizardbits at 12:54 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Another brief behind-the-scenes account from someone who was involved in the early marketing effort. Sounds like the planning team was appointed largely by popularity, which utterly fails to shock me.
posted by dialetheia at 12:56 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.

Probably, but it's one of those human things were sometimes you just want to give yourself the room to dream big and sometimes it pays off. Like seriously, I bet one time there were these five people planning a music festival and one person was all, "I know! Let's build this giant stick figure man and then BURN HIM!"

And everybody else was all, "That's retarded."

(I don't care if that is ahistorical, I am going to continue to believe it went down that way. Apologies for r-word though.)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:57 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I made papier machete once and it ruled

Give me 17000 dollars plz
posted by Greg Nog at 12:57 PM on July 14 [4 favorites]


Mark from Mark Does Stuff (I mostly know him for Mark Watches Hannibal) has a Q&A on his experience at DashCon, including serving on 10 panels.
posted by dialetheia at 1:02 PM on July 14 [11 favorites]


Maybe they should have sold potato salad to make money.
posted by desjardins at 1:04 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Half of every planning meeting was spent arguing them out of crap like that instead of dealing with stuff that really needed doing.
posted by usonian at 3:43 PM on July 14

I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.


Every organization, really. There's always at least one person who thinks 'let's you and him do all the work' takes care of their obligation to consider budget and, y'know, reality.
posted by winna at 1:05 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


There was Due South fan fiction?

Oh man, is there ever. Due South was actually one of the bigger fandoms of the 90s, and clung on through the mid-00s. It's not totally dead yet, even.

Back to the actual topic at hand, while plenty of the mocking I've seen has been of the "lol teenage girls" variety, I think most of it has been of the generic "lol tumblr" variety. And Tumblr fandom does indeed skew young and female, but there are also plenty of adults, some of whom were involved in this mess, and who presumably should have been held to higher expectations and a higher standard of accountability.

This makes me feel like an ancient fan at the ripe old age of 25, but it really seems like there's a lot less continuity and mentoring happening in this latest iteration of fandom. Even though I've been more or less a fandom lurker for years, even I'd have resources to call on and people I could ask for help with how to run a con. Dash Con is just a terrible object lesson in "listen to your elders" and "maybe seek help from your elders." I mean, this has happened before and this will all happen again, but I think Dash Con is notable for being the first real disaster of the Tumblr fandom era.
posted by yasaman at 1:05 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


Greg idk if a papier machete would be very useful for anything
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:06 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Part of me hopes you specifically mean someone constantly trying to have a parade.


We should have known this is what would happen when we let Robert Preston organize our con.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:06 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


(It was an autocorrect error but now I'm kicking myself for never coming up with this pun before)
posted by Greg Nog at 1:07 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


Half of every planning meeting was spent arguing them out of crap like that instead of dealing with stuff that really needed doing.
posted by usonian at 3:43 PM on July 14
I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.
posted by magstheaxe at 14:49 on July 14


If they have just one, they're getting off too easy. Most genre conventions attract their fair share of people with unconventional behavior patterns, and that includes people who tend to get locked into their day dreams.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:10 PM on July 14


Greg idk if a papier machete would be very useful for anything

PARADES obvsly
posted by elizardbits at 1:12 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Mark Oshiro is the classiest dude (also a Certified Fandom Celebrity, if Hugo Award Nominations are anything to go by). His is a good post to point to if you need to find a grown man who defends teenage girls and fan culture in general.
posted by muddgirl at 1:22 PM on July 14 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Mark's post is really really good.
posted by kmz at 1:43 PM on July 14


I'm not going to link people who might not want to be linked but I follow one person who was there who has been pricking a lot of silly rumours about DashCon. Her view: it's a shame that con management made rookie mistakes in all sorts of areas, but missing Night Vale aside, she had a great time, met some great people, and thought it was all worth her sixtyish dollars.

also the whole time I've been reading about this I've had friendship is witchcraft's convention song in my head
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:00 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


I have only one question about this whole ratfuck: that picture that's been everywhere, of what looks like a high school gymnasium with a bouncy castle in the background and an inflatable swimming pool full of plastic balls -- is that really the Thing? Or is that a picture of some other hideously sad thing that has been appropriated to illustrate people's emotions about the Thing?
posted by KathrynT at 2:18 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


A good way to make money at a con is by getting everyone addicted to smoking, and then selling them packs of American Spirit with like a sticker on them or something, for a hundred dollars. Special con stickers stuck to limited edition con cigarettes. That way punters'll buy two packs: one to smoke, and one to keep. Throw in some variations and introduce a treasure hunt ("See if you can find the Marlboros with the sticker upside-down! Wacky misprint!") and you'll be just fine.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:23 PM on July 14


no that's the real "attraction", that's the ball pit in which extra time was offered in order to compensate congoers for the absence of actual things they paid for.
posted by elizardbits at 2:23 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


this thread has a ball pit AND an orc pit

sweet
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:25 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


If you mean this picture, yup, it's real. The photo was taken and captioned by popular fanfic writer Emma Grant, who evidently posted it in earnest without any intention of mocking the con. Here's Emma Grant's account of her time at DashCon for good measure.
posted by dialetheia at 2:26 PM on July 14


no that's the real "attraction", that's the ball pit in which extra time was offered in order to compensate congoers for the absence of actual things they paid for.

I have been in a funk of unknown etiology all the day and this is so breathtaking that it may have actually caused me to have an emotion.
posted by KathrynT at 2:28 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


a friend of mine attended on a press pass and shared some photos from a panel titled "Can U Knot?: Exploring the Omegaverse" (nsfw?? text)
posted by p3on at 2:33 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Even better, the whole offer of "extra time in the ball pit" as an amelioration effort seems to suggest that the ball pit was in fact something congoers had to pay to use, such that free extra time would apparently have an actual value.

which, lol
posted by elizardbits at 2:33 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


It's the exchange rate that gets me. One Welcome To Night Vale live show = 1hr ball pit.
posted by emmtee at 2:35 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


My neighbors have that same pool in their front yard, currently being used as a splash pool for all the neighborhood children, which means that the water in it is equal parts grass clippings and pee. And it still looks more appealing than that ball pit.
posted by KathrynT at 2:36 PM on July 14


Also I may be expecting entirely too much, but the flow chart from that Omegaverse powerpoint presentation doesn't even make any sense! It's just more vague bullet points squeezed into a flow chart for no reason whatsoever.
And let's not forget--let's not forget, dude--that keeping wildlife...uh...an amphibious rodent... for, uh, domestic, you know, within the city limits... that ain't legal either.
posted by dialetheia at 2:46 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Even better, the whole offer of "extra time in the ball pit" as an amelioration effort seems to suggest that the ball pit was in fact something congoers had to pay to use, such that free extra time would apparently have an actual value.

which, lol


Speaking of LOL, actually - Is it possible that this was intentionally humorous? At least in a kind of whistling past the graveyard way...
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:59 PM on July 14


I had the same thought, but Emma Grant reports:
Sometime that day WtNV canceled and the concom made the infamous (and actually earnest) "We'll give you an extra hour in the ball pit" statement, and then it was well on its way to becoming an internet meme.
posted by muddgirl at 3:02 PM on July 14


You can't see the ball pit. You only see what you brought with you to the ball pit.
posted by fleacircus at 3:14 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


You can't see the ball pit. You only see what you brought with you to the ball pit.

Scabies?
posted by kagredon at 3:17 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


pee, apparently
posted by elizardbits at 3:29 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


Just had to share this amazing bit from that Emma Grant LJ post:
At the end, I asked [the con committee] if they were aware of the massive wank exploding on Tumblr and how they planned to address it from a PR perspective. The answer was that they hadn't had a chance to talk about that yet (totally reasonable), but that they already know that they were not coming back to this hotel next year, and in fact, the cool new hotel they'd picked out in Indianapolis was even bigger.

Okay, so. This hotel was way too big for this con. The meeting rooms were cavernous, and there were so many of them. The space was appropriate for a Chicago-wide ComicCon, but there were maybe 1000 people at this con in all. I don't know what they paid for that space, but damn, that was a huge waste of money. And the fact that they still think this is an event they're going to be able to organize again and be taken seriously... well, I'm pessimistic about their chances.
DashCon 2015: We learned our lesson, and this time we're booking an even bigger hotel!

Also, Emma really ought to to into politics or diplomacy or something - "I'm pessimistic about their chances" is the nicest thing that could ever be said about their plan.
posted by dialetheia at 3:31 PM on July 14 [5 favorites]


It is but the scabies and pee in thine own mind.
posted by fleacircus at 3:32 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


You can't see the ball pit. You only see what you brought with you to the ball pit.

Scabies?




Don't be silly- you can't actually see scabies. You can only feel scabies.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:40 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


"I'm pessimistic about their chances"



That is some Tim Gunn level shade.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:41 PM on July 14 [7 favorites]


Sarah (bisexual-books)'s take on the Homoerotic Subtext panel that she was also on
posted by divabat at 4:08 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


I helped organize one of our regional professional meetings recently and I'm so relieved it was before I read this or I would have seized up with terror. In our case, we've been doing these meetings for over 50 years, so we roughly know how many people will attend; that's the biggest hurdle, I guess.
posted by acrasis at 4:53 PM on July 14


I owe divabat an apology because I really did miss the majority of the kneejerk dashcon backlash that looks like occurred mostly on the weekend when I was AFK.By the time I logged onto Tumblr it had already moved on to the backlash to the backlash and the original trolls had rolled off into obscurity (and I do believe that whoever started the BDSM panel rumors and the shit about the gay subtext panel were trolls although the rebloggers were probably sincere but too trusting)
posted by muddgirl at 4:54 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]


So, hindsight is obviously like the piercing vision of the mighty hawk, but it seems like if this had taken place in a much smaller venue (and therefore there had been no emergency panhandling), and there had been no celebrity guests, it would actually have been a pretty cool event.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:21 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


the running order squabble fest event has been rescheduled for tuesday morning, please hold your vegetables.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:34 PM on July 14 [2 favorites]


I have been reading running order squabble fest as "running order squable feet" for months, and only now, at the bottom of this thread, realized my error. Something about seeing Drinky Die's comment including the name not in bold, I think.

That's all I got.

This con sounds like a complete cluster, though.
posted by Alterscape at 8:02 PM on July 14 [3 favorites]


So, hindsight is obviously like the piercing vision of the mighty hawk, but it seems like if this had taken place in a much smaller venue (and therefore there had been no emergency panhandling), and there had been no celebrity guests, it would actually have been a pretty cool event.

I will say this for the whole thing: apart from some rumors that some of the 18+ panels weren't being rigorous about checking ID, I haven't seen any reports of threatening/harassing/predatory behavior at the con, which is a huge positive, especially for a con that had a lot of young, female, first-time attendees. This is probably more a credit to the decency of the people attending, because it seems like the organizing committee didn't have a working finding-our-ass-with-both-hands policy, let alone a viable harassment policy, but hey.
posted by kagredon at 8:15 PM on July 14 [1 favorite]



I have been reading running order squabble fest as "running order squable feet" for months,


that happens - it's something about the running and the word "fest"
posted by sweetkid at 8:48 PM on July 14


Tickets for the fest will be available shortly.

(Tickets for the feet will be... sold privately.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:34 AM on July 15 [2 favorites]


You Know That Tumblr Convention That Went to Shit? It Wasn't That Bad (Vice.com)

The above link is a interview with someone who was a vendor at the convention. So, not representative of everyone else's experiences there.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:20 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


It sounds exactly as bad as described, except they didn't mind because they enjoyed watching the disaster.
posted by smackfu at 6:35 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I am convinced that every convention, regardless of genre, theme, size, and profitibility, has at least one person like that on their staff.

They are IDEAS people! They are the dreamers of dreams!
posted by Theta States at 6:40 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Oh man, is there ever. Due South was actually one of the bigger fandoms of the 90s, and clung on through the mid-00s. It's not totally dead yet, even.

Back to the actual topic at hand


AS IF you just tried to segue away from deeply involved stories about the Due South fandom!!!
posted by Theta States at 6:43 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


They are IDEAS people! They are the dreamers of dreams!

My best friend likes to come up with massive creative project ideas and then tell me to do them. When I protest that making a marionette ring cycle* would be a lot of work for which I'm not particularly well-suited he tells me that he is the idea man and it's my job to do the execution.

This is funny when it's your friend. It's MADDENING when it's a colleague.

*someone feel free to steal this idea because it is awesome
posted by winna at 7:27 AM on July 15 [4 favorites]


....it really seems like there's a lot less continuity and mentoring happening in this latest iteration of fandom. Even though I've been more or less a fandom lurker for years, even I'd have resources to call on and people I could ask for help with how to run a con. Dash Con is just a terrible object lesson in "listen to your elders" and "maybe seek help from your elders."

posted by yasaman at 4:05 PM on July 14


I suspect that one of the reasons for that lack of continuity is economic. Morgan touches on that in her essay:

The main reason why so many of the people involved in running Worldcon come from relatively privileged backgrounds is that it takes one heck of a lot of time, effort and money. Volunteering is not cheap, and many people can’t afford to do it.

The thing I liked most about Madeline Ashby’s contribution to the Worldcon debate was where she pointed out that people her age (early 30s), even in a prosperous country like Canada, have no hope of owning a home, or being able to afford a family. They also, of course, have no hope of job security, and if they have any sense they’ll be worried sick about pensions too...

...Pro tip: if you want young people, and people from minority groups to get involved in con-running, try to remove the economic barriers that prevent them from volunteering


And from the comments on her site:

...I also think that you are spot on with the effect of economic uncertainty, but that does not just apply to potential guests. Conventions depend on volunteers to do the grunt work, and operating on a model of ‘pay up front and then work your ass off and you can probably get reimbursed’ just doesn’t work for a lot of people any more, especially on the Worldcon level. You’re working 2 jobs and you have somehow managed to afford a Worldcon membership when it’s in your hometown. Why on earth would you then turn around and spent precious time from an experience you worked hard to afford hauling chairs or badging at a door?

(emphasis mine)

In my experience, most folks got into the fan-run convention scene by volunteering as teens and college students (or college-age), when they didn't have much money but could at least get a free badge for doing a day's work. Then they grew up, got jobs, and could then turn around and run a convention. There was a certain amount of stability there--the older folks running and volunteering at the conventions usually had a regular job with predictable hours that provided a certain amount of disposable income.

But nowadays? The college and and post-college folks who are able to come to my convention all seem to be working multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet, with crazy hours that make it hard for them to commit to working through weekend. They might not be able to work the requisite hours to qualify for a free badge, and they might not be able to attend without one.

Plus the problem is, if you're a small fan-run convention, giving away badges to volunteers is extremely tough to do when every penny counts and even the ConComm members are paying full price for their membership. But then attendance is dropping because one of the Wizard Worlds or Comic-Cons has moved into your area, and they're able to offer things to volunteers that you can't afford. You need volunteers badly, but if you give away badges, it hurts your bottom line and leaves you wondering if you'll be able to put the convention on next year. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation.

Combine that with the other issues Morgan outlined in her essay, and you start to understand the changes that are affecting fan-run cons.
posted by magstheaxe at 7:28 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


If you think running a Con sounds like fun, the ConRunner Wiki should cure you. Even if you don't, it's an interesting Internet rabbit-hole.

Still not cured? 1) Attend a Con that 2) doesn't suck and 3) watch with a critical eye what works and doesn't. 4) Volunteer(*) at Cons that 5) don't suck until 6) you're a less horrible person. This will result in 7) you being conscripted into some thankless staff position.

Problem solved, and nobody has to spend any extra time in the ball pit.

(*) Fan-run cons that are tax-exempt non-profit. If a big faceless corporation is making money, then remember what Cpt. Reynolds said about "I work, I get paid." See also: remarks about not sucking.
posted by sourcequench at 8:27 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


AS IF you just tried to segue away from deeply involved stories about the Due South fandom!!!

I have no deeply involved stories to tell! I got into Due South during its mid-00s renaissance, when the fandom was almost aggressively nice and drama-free, everyone happily coexisting together. I missed out entirely on the fandom's heyday, having been too young at the time, and only heard about the Ray Wars second hand.

Anyway, magstheaxe, I suspect you and Morgan are right to identify economic reasons as the cause of the lack of continuity. Even though I'm not really a con-going type of fan, I'd hate to see smaller fan-run cons all swallowed by the bigger Wizard Worlds and Comic-Cons. I know some cons have "scholarship" programs that cover the cost of con attendance for fans who would otherwise be unable to attend, but a handful of such scholarships doesn't seem like it's going to do enough to overcome so many fans' significant economic barriers to con participation.
posted by yasaman at 9:44 AM on July 15 [1 favorite]


Volunteering is not cheap

One of the most true but annoyingly counterintuitive things there is.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:54 AM on July 15 [6 favorites]


Comic-Cons have dominated the landscape for years now. Any aspiring convention that wants to get big rapidly seems to add "Comic-Con" to its name. I joked with a conrunner that he should do the same for his rapidly growing con; the answer I got back was "Heavens, no".
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:09 AM on July 15


Mark from Mark Does Stuff [...] serving on 10 panels.

He's too self-deprecating and too generous here: 10 panels in 2 days -- of which 5+ were last-minute additions to cover a panelist who was unable to attend -- seems to me like a huge amount of work that the convention got for free. (I'm assuming his wording of "sometimes my badge will be comped; a few have given me free lodging or reduced lodging" means that none of these happened here.)

But still: Mark Oshiro is the classiest dude:
It’s a business expense for me, I have to view each con trip as a promotional outlet for me, and moneywise, they’re always a loss. My hope is simply to gain more fans and exposure and pay my dues. I go to conventions because I want to make the community better. I often am on panels about representation, race, and queerness, and I want to do the difficult work of making fandom more diverse through it.
Yes he is.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:29 AM on July 15 [3 favorites]


I was one of those kids who started volunteering at age 15 to get food and crash space (not even a badge!), and volunteered through to age 22 or 23, and was eventually on the convention committee (which did get me a badge - for weeks of work). First I did it because I had no money; later I did it because I liked being involved and also still had no money.

I left because volunteer cons could give Gilliam's bureaucracy from Brazil a run for its money in their petty, unbending ways, and they insisted that a friend of mine buy a membership to be a panelist, despite the fact that he was not attending the convention and would only be there for the one hour panel (on a subject he studied academically). They graciously offered him a cut rate - $10 for an evening pass, to come and talk about his work. He passed.

Also, in grad school I discovered these conventions where the panels are much better prepared and sometimes come with slide shows. They still charged too much money, but often would waive the whole fee if you did a few hours volunteering.
posted by jb at 8:32 PM on July 15 [2 favorites]


A report from a Dashcon Vendor
posted by The Whelk at 6:34 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]


That's actually the same vendor as the Vice article, but a completely different write-up.
posted by smackfu at 7:49 AM on July 16


Huh, odd.
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on July 16


Dashcon's official postmortem.
posted by kagredon at 9:56 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


The section is utterly gobsmacking:
Regarding refunds on Welcome to Night Vale reserved seating

After speaking to our legal counsel, we have been advised that we are unable to provide refunds on these seats. This decision was based on several of DashCon’s Rules and Policies, which can be found here. The pertinent rules are quoted below:

#21: DashCon will not refund badges or reserved WTNV seats for any reason.
It has been confirmed that this rule was changed to reflect WTNV seats mid-event, but other rules render any change to #21 moot regardless.

#25: The Schedule is subject to change at any time, even during the convention.

Last line on the Rules and Policies page: “DashCon reserves the right to change these rules at any time, and attendees are responsible for their own individual knowledge of the convention rules.”

DashCon has been instructed that refunding the reserved seats in direct opposition with our rules would call into question all of our rules and policies.
"We changed the rules, you're not getting a refund, and PS fuck you."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:34 PM on July 16 [5 favorites]


If you would like your PayPal donation refunded, please let us know by 11:59pm EST on Saturday, July 19, 2014. ... If you donated cash and would like it returned, please also let us know by 11:59pm EST on Saturday, July 19, 2014. ... Even if you’ve already emailed or invoiced us about your donation, please do so again

Not only are they requiring that people who donated request that their money be returned, rather than just reversing all the transactions, but they aren't counting any previous requests, and they're going to deny every claim made after Saturday night. Hope you aren't out of town this weekend!

"We changed the rules, you're not getting a refund, and PS fuck you."

Just came in here to post that exact excerpt. I love that they explicitly admit to changing the rules mid-event like it's no big thing! Unbelievable. Wonder where that money went. Also, they follow it up with this incredible bit:

DashCon has been instructed that refunding the reserved seats in direct opposition with our rules would call into question all of our rules and policies. We are both saddened by and understanding of this stance. Potentially losing the enforcement of all of our rules and policies is not something we can risk now or at any time in the future. For anyone who has questions regarding this decision, we will [upon request] direct you to our legal counsel.

I literally laughed out loud at the idea that refunding the tickets would be the final straw that "called into question all of our rules and policies" after this insane comedy of errors.
posted by dialetheia at 10:41 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


It's a goddamn jinx, I was gonna note the same bullshit. "advised that we are able to provide refunds" my ass. Scammy scam is scam.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:54 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that "official statement" actually made me lose a lot of sympathy for them.
posted by kmz at 7:47 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


That statement was so much ugh.

We can't refund your seats because our lawyers say so? Puh-fucking-leeze. They can't refund your seats because they don't have the damned cash.

And I could have knocked up that 'accounting' of the money in Excel in about three minutes. Show the entire thing, show that there was someone at the hotel who signed off on it, and their phone number/extension.

These people are going out of their way to say "We fucked up. Sorry." All the significant blame is being placed elsewhere; whose fault is it that you couldn't pay WTNV? Yours. Nobody else's.

AND THEY'RE STILL PLANNING A CON FOR 2015!!!!!!!! wtf I can't even
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:22 AM on July 17


fffm, not only that but in a bigger hotel, apparently

because of reasons
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on July 17


MORE ROOM FOR BALL PIT, DUH
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 AM on July 17


Important Reasons, I'm sure. Like total utter incompetence.

(also above that should have said "not to say we fucked up" derp)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 AM on July 17


I know it's been said before but I can't get over it and really want to make sure it doesn't get lost in all the other lessons this clusterfuck has taught us:

Please realize I say this as a person who is accepting of many things, but the term "Superwholockian" is not one of them and I think if you use it to describe yourself without irony, you should really just think it through for a little bit.

I just keep coming across it and then forgetting what it means and then remembering and getting all worked up about it all over again.

For the sake of the children, I hope that it is their generation's version of my 1990s Material Issue haircut. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Reminders of it now make you nostalgic for your lost innocence. But after a few decades passing you can maybe see why it wasn't the best idea. Especially sticking with it for so long.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:54 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


> The Schedule is subject to change at any time, even during the convention.

So I'm the only one who heard that in Cecil's voice?
posted by benito.strauss at 9:04 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Please realize I say this as a person who is accepting of many things, but the term "Superwholockian" is not one of them and I think if you use it to describe yourself without irony, you should really just think it through for a little bit.

I'd venture to guess that these are kids who haven't actually been taught much in the way of critical thinking skills. See also: the organizers of this... trainwreck? Clusterfuck? Epic goatfuck of legendary proportions?

I can't seem to find quite the right word to describe this dog's breakfast of a so-called con.

But I will be waiting with anticipatory schadenfreude to see how much worse they screw it up next year. In a bigger space. Somehow ("a miracle occurs") attracting more people than this one did, and this one didn't have all the negative publicity.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:37 AM on July 17


uh I meant negative publicity before the event derp
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:45 AM on July 17


I'm picturing something similar to that accident earlier this year where an outdoor bouncy castle was improperly tethered in high winds and was swept away with little kids still bouncing inside, except way more hilarious due to cosplay.
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


that... happened?

that should happen at next year's con I think
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:49 AM on July 17


WTF do critical thinking skills have to do with Supernatural/Dr Who/Sherlock? Don't get me wrong, I do my best to ignore that side of tumblr too, but it's absolutely no different than being a fanatic about a sports team or pokemon or something, and yet fans of those sorts of things don't get mercilessly mocked and put down just for liking stuff too earnestly.

The thing I hate the most about this whole clusterfuck is how it's invited people to make fun of "loser nerdy teenage girls" with impunity. Their taste in television shows or fanfic has nothing to do with how awfully this was handled.
posted by dialetheia at 9:51 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


that... happened?

Yup.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:52 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


WTF do critical thinking skills have to do with Supernatural/Dr Who/Sherlock?

It has to do with mushing them together. I believe critical thinking skills allow you to enjoy things you enjoy without uncritically smooshing them together like... I dunno, like a smooshy thing.

Their taste in television shows or fanfic has nothing to do with how awfully this was handled.

Which is probably why most of my commentary has focused on the conpocalypse caused by the disorganizers.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:54 AM on July 17


MCMikeNamara: "Please realize I say this as a person who is accepting of many things, but the term "Superwholockian" is not one of them and I think if you use it to describe yourself without irony, you should really just think it through for a little bit."

Front cover of TIME magazine, an undetermined future date:
THE DESTIEL/DOCTOR/JOHNLOCK GENERATION

SuperWhoLockians are weird, they like to "ship" things that are not packages and I didn't google to find out what that means, they still live with their parents so they can spend all their money on scarves and black contact lenses, and probably they smell?

WHY THEY'LL SAVE US ALL

by A Guy Who Went On Tumblr Once, It Was Horrible
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:55 AM on July 17 [9 favorites]


To be fair though, Tumblr sucks.

Mmm, hamburgers!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:59 AM on July 17


It has to do with mushing them together. I believe critical thinking skills allow you to enjoy things you enjoy without uncritically smooshing them together like... I dunno, like a smooshy thing.

I completely disagree, and I have absolutely no idea what you mean by "uncritically smooshing them together". It seems to me that creatively combining universes in all sorts of different ways is a more "critical" and creative way to interact with entertainment products than uncritically accepting the prepackaged entertainment in its original form, even if I'm not personally interested in the confluence of those particular fandoms.

Mostly I'm just sick and tired of seeing these kids pulled up short on their choice of entertainment. The sense of superiority about other peoples' completely inconsequential interests has become extremely tiresome.
posted by dialetheia at 10:07 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


Okay, so we disagree.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:10 AM on July 17


Pssh, if you find Superwholock bewildering, it's nothing next to The Big Four, which is a crossover shared-universe fandom for How to Train Your Dragon, the Disney Rapunzel from a few years ago, Brave and Rise of the Guardians.

I don't really understand how or why this is a thing, but the sheer amount of talent and work that's been put into it--I'm talking about really clever photomanips, AU art, etc.--is astonishing.

So, you know, I don't always get kids these days, but they're pretty cool. Superwholock's got some general fan wankery issues going on, but that's more because it's a large fandom at the juncture of three already pretty wanky fandoms, not because kids are putting their peanut butter in their chocolate.
posted by kagredon at 10:30 AM on July 17 [7 favorites]


The Big Four, which is a crossover shared-universe fandom for How to Train Your Dragon, the Disney Rapunzel from a few years ago, Brave and Rise of the Guardians.

Haha wow, I'm continually amazed at the depth and breadth of these communities. I hardly even know any of those individual fandoms! I honestly love this stuff though. Creative remixing and retelling of these stories is the new postmodernism, and I love that kids (and usually marginalized kids) are reclaiming the narrative machinery for themselves in whatever small ways they can. Viva fanfic! Viva crossover AUs!
posted by dialetheia at 10:36 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


not because kids are putting their peanut butter in their chocolate

PARDON ME but i think you'll find that they are putting CHOCOLATE in their PEANUT BUTTER
posted by elizardbits at 10:44 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


PARDON ME but i think you'll find that they are putting CHOCOLATE in their PEANUT BUTTER

is this some kind of knotting thing
posted by kagredon at 10:46 AM on July 17


is commercials from long ago
posted by sweetkid at 10:47 AM on July 17


5000 word Pac Rim AU fic with Reese's commercial kids as unlikely Jaeger team (feat. Doublemint twins as pilots of Double Fun), matching gifset
posted by kagredon at 10:50 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


For the record, and to be perfectly clear because I'm ultra-paranoid today about seeming like a dick when I'm not even trying, I have no problem with what the SuperWhoLockians get up to, especially in their creative pursuits. I respect the fuck out it for many reasons but probably mostly because is a most certainly an alternate time line where my parents somehow had me 25 years later (magic is real there), where I would have been doing the same thing online for the world to see rather than just me alone in my bedroom.

(That sounded dirtier than I intended but it also kind of fits for this situation.)

It's the term itself that breaks my brain every time I encounter it. But I also realize it's not for my brain.

But I kid because I love.

5000 word Pac Rim AU fic with Reese's commercial kids as unlikely Jaeger team (feat. Doublemint twins as pilots of Double Fun), matching gifset

For example, I am very tempted to find out how I can make the above happen somehow. The sooner the better.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:53 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


kagredon: "5000 word Pac Rim AU fic with Reese's commercial kids as unlikely Jaeger team (feat. Doublemint twins as pilots of Double Fun), matching gifset"

I want to see it happen with those "drift compatible" Folgers siblings.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:54 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


GODDAMMIT now I am singing FOLGERCEST FOLGERCEST to the tune of the spider-man theme song
posted by elizardbits at 10:57 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


Here lies MCMikeNamara.

Cause of death:
choking in his sad cubicle
reacting to the phrase
"drift compatible" Folgers siblings

Loved by many, hopefully by some
as much as he loved that joke.


---

Another timeline that almost just happened!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:04 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Crossovers are as old as the Internet, if not older.
posted by divabat at 11:14 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


(a camera solemnly pans across cave paintings of Sonic and Knuckles as Sam and Dean)
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:16 AM on July 17 [6 favorites]


275 comments = the exact point where a thread in recent activity becomes 100% incomprehensible.
posted by bleep at 12:16 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Sticherbeast: "(a camera solemnly pans across cave paintings of Sonic and Knuckles as Sam and Dean)"

no-one is mpreg, this is not authentic Fan Art
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:40 PM on July 17 [5 favorites]


275 comments = the exact point where a thread in recent activity becomes 100% incomprehensible.

It helps if you google "knotting" NO IT DOESN'T DON'T LISTEN TO ME IT DOESN'T HELP ANYTHING.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:17 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Pssh, if you find Superwholock bewildering, it's nothing next to The Big Four, which is a crossover shared-universe fandom for How to Train Your Dragon, the Disney Rapunzel from a few years ago, Brave and Rise of the Guardians.

They've wrapped Frozen into it too, now.
posted by Karmakaze at 1:20 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


If they are telling the truth in that postmortem, the #1 cause of the fuckuppery is not actually talking to each other. They need one person in charge, and all important decisions must ultimately go through that person so no promises are made that can't be kept. None of this "so-and-so had already emailed him without telling the rest of us."

Mr. Cranor’s email, as well as our response, wasn’t found by Cain Hopkins and myself until late into the evening on July 15, 2014.

What? This is your biggest talent, the primary draw, and you don't even see his email until 3 days later? I just cannot understand this.
posted by desjardins at 1:36 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Which seemed really apparent from that one girl's blog who was a committee head.

It's so funny that no matter how many shiny new collaboration and communication tools that get built, people fundamentally don't want to talk to each other and there's nothing anyone can do to change that.
posted by bleep at 1:55 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


Seems like they also ran into a kind of trust death spiral. If everyone trusts everyone else to have money, you can slip your way out of trouble, maybe with some temporary credit card debt. When people start demanding cashier's checks, you either have the cash or you don't.
posted by smackfu at 2:11 PM on July 17


Sounds like a pyramid scheme then.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:29 PM on July 17


More like living paycheck-to-paycheck.
posted by smackfu at 3:16 PM on July 17


More to the point, when people start demanding cashiers' cheques, it's because they are nigh-100% certain that there is no other way they can get paid.

If they are telling the truth in that postmortem

Reads to me like that's a reallllllllllllllly big 'if.'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:16 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I once read a Sharpe/Highlander/Babylon 5 crossover fic. Which totally made sense: there is no way that Sharpe wasn't a Highlander-style immortal, the way that he kept surviving (and he carried a big sword), and he'd love long enough to visit Mars at the time of the rebellion.

Sadly, only one chapter: I wanted to see him kick ass against the Earth Forces.
posted by jb at 4:56 PM on July 17


This makes me realize that 90% of my output as an english major was literary cross-over fanfic but I didn't know there was such thing...
posted by bleep at 5:09 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Melissa Anelli, who runs LeakyCon and helped with VidCon, talks about what to keep in mind when running a con for the first time.
posted by divabat at 12:27 PM on July 18 [2 favorites]


Well this deserves a round of applause.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:31 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]


The "extra hour in the ballpit" thing is everywhere.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:35 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]


There's an extra push for ball pit popularity because "Ball Pit" is the title of paul and storm's new album. So I've seen some overlap of people talking about ball pits.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:50 AM on July 19


The most damning thing, I think, that will end future DashCons is from the Vendor accounts above - DashCon attendees don't have any money to buy stuff. They are a young audience and that's fine, but they just don't have the money to spend on the floor to make carting out a bunch of t-shirts worthwhile.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:21 PM on July 20


You know it took some thinking, but after reading that statement(which autocorrect just tried to turn into "steamer", which is also applicable) i was reminded of something i ran into years ago.

A bunch of kids in their late teens backed by their parents money who decided they wanted to start a record label, and were convinced that sticking feathers up your butt made you a chicken. the exact "we can't do that because lawyers" came out several times, and in the end they fucked me and my bandmate out of like $500 at the threat of lawyers.(at the time, i didn't realize that there was such a thing as being judgement proof). They actually got quite a few people involved(artists, venues, etc) and talked really big about lots of stuff and got plenty of money thrown at them, and borrowed plenty of money as well. The whole thing turned into a slow motion trainwreck that an amusing postmortem could be written about.

Everything about that statement they posted just radiated the same "i'm an adult now! this is serious!" hubris festival vibe as something they would write.

The lack of communication between various "team members", the lack of a clear leader/person in charge that the buck stops at, etc.

And the thing is, having been a lets take on big projects and sell things and make money kind of teenager, and having been around a lot of people like i just described... this whole thing is just radioactive with the fact that they just so blatantly must have isolated themselves from anyone who would tell them to slow down, or not do XYZ ridiculous thing, or really tell them to do anything. Yea, i know there's some people who are older than 25 involved in this whole thing but it's all been structured and set up in such a way that no one can really pull a handbrake anywhere. And i can't help but see that as being utterly intentional because don't tell me what to do!

I mean, i'm projecting my own experiences into what i've seen/heard of this, but i really think that the lack of communication is because no one wants to be accountable. They all see themselves as the one eyed man, and the one person who is smarter than all the plebs around them.

I see incompetence here, but i also see tons of arrogance/hubris. You don't fuck up this badly and then keep digging unless there's several people with serious attitude problems, or pretty much the entire group even.

The thing I hate the most about this whole clusterfuck is how it's invited people to make fun of "loser nerdy teenage girls" with impunity. Their taste in television shows or fanfic has nothing to do with how awfully this was handled.

I think that's unfortunate, but i think that making fun of the teenagers who actually organized this, and thought they could like totally do it all by themselves with no experience and no outside help while handling a massive amount of money completely deserve whatever hate and pointing and laughing anyone feels like giving them.

Especially since they still don't get it, and are still acting all serious and "professional" and trying to downplay and redirect from the fuckups while simultaneously basically telling the people who went and were unhappy and want money back to go fuck themselves.

The "extra hour in the ballpit" thing is everywhere.

Wow... that is shockingly "with it" for a big corporate chain that is decidedly ancient, and seemingly only exists anymore for drunk people to eat at in the wee hours of the morning and retirement-aged people to take their grandkids or just hang out. It'd be like if the AARP twitter posted a joke about this or something. They must have a pretty decent "social media ninja".
posted by emptythought at 4:28 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]


Denny's has had a surprisingly on-point and active presence on Tumblr for a while now (warning: garbage memes everywhere.) It doesn't really make sense and no one is sure how it happened, but everyone seems to have decided to roll with it for their collective sanity, which, come to think of it, is a statement that is broadly applicable to being on Tumblr or going to Denny's.
posted by kagredon at 10:47 AM on July 21 [7 favorites]


Wow... that is shockingly "with it" for a big corporate chain that is decidedly ancient, and seemingly only exists anymore for drunk people to eat at in the wee hours of the morning and retirement-aged people to take their grandkids or just hang out.

Have you been there in the wee hours of the morning? It is filled with teenagers. I probably spent a year of my life in Denny's and Perkins and similar places when I was a teen. My friends and I were too young/poor to go to clubs, the malls were closed, and our home lives sucked. I would have been squarely in the tumblr demographic then. Denny's is spot on.
posted by desjardins at 11:08 AM on July 21 [6 favorites]


I feel like the Denny's Twitter Person was hired because someone in marketing has heard of Twitter but doesn't spend a lot of time in meetings because no one else is entirely clear what Twitter is. He produces a couple of weekly slides with metrics that he made up and people leave him alone.
posted by Etrigan at 11:13 AM on July 21 [4 favorites]


That official statement is a wonderful example of how not to reflect on a failure. Their analysis seems to involve one or two 'whys' and certainly nowhere near five.

Example:

Q: Why did we still need $17,000, and where did it go? A: Money at the door didn't cover the outstanding balance.
Q: Should we have been more prepared? A: Yes, the contract wasn't correctly communicated by someone in our team and we've sacked them.

And they stop there after two questions. No questions about why there was no oversight. No questions about why no one with experience of contracts didn't check it. No questions about how someone like that ended up in a position of such responsibility. No systemic analysis at all.

The problems with WTNV similarly are evaluated as ultimately being the responsibility of one rogue staff member who they've fired. And since that person's gone, they don't have to think about their terrible communication systems, their lack of any defined management structure or responsibilities etc.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:11 AM on July 23 [4 favorites]


"Five whys" is way too depressing in this case. You don't have to get too far down the tree before it's a complete train wreck and just... stop.

First why:
Q: Why did we still need $17,000 and where did it go? [we're not even up to that fiasco yet]
A1: We didn't know when we'd have to pay.
A2: We didn't have any working cash float.
A3: We thought money from the door would cover it.

Second set of whys:
Why didn't we know when we'd have to pay?
Why did we think it would be a good idea to do this without any cash on hand?
Why were we wrong about the cash from the door?

The answer to all those pretty much come down to the same thing: we've never done this before, and didn't ask anyone who has for advice.

Third why: why the fuck not?

(By which I mean to say, you're absolutely right, Busy Old Fool. That statement showed no critical thinking or lesson-learning whatsoever. It's an annoucement that this will absolutely happen again next year if they even get it together enough to try. If that's not what they meant to say, they should try again.)
posted by ctmf at 11:04 AM on July 23 [1 favorite]


I noticed the repeated "one person screwed up, we've removed them" scapegoating too, but Busy Old Fool's comment really nails the "SO THAT'S FIXED THEN, NO NEED FOR ANY MORE REFLECTION" denial underlying it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:21 PM on July 23


A jaw-dropping account of the experiences of the 'volunteer manager' of the vendor hall.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 5:25 AM on August 8 [6 favorites]


More 'hysterically overwrought' than 'jaw-dropping', imo.
posted by empath at 1:00 PM on August 8 [3 favorites]


It does add one intriguing answer to "why did we need to raise $17,000 at the last minute?" which is "money was inappropriately spent/embezzled."
posted by muddgirl at 1:20 PM on August 8


One of the reblogs on Busy Old Fool's link claims that because their flights were paid for, they were not volunteers but employees of Dashcon. This seems wrong to me - they were never on payroll or had to fill out W-9 forms, and having your flights comped shouldn't be considered proof of employment. I've had my flights paid for for a conference and I was on a regular US tourist visa at the time, and I think this is relatively common.

Am I right in my deduction? Is there anything I can link to as a source?
posted by divabat at 2:43 PM on August 8


I am not a lawyer, but from Google, Esq. it seems like reimbursement of expenses may not count as "payments" that would disqualify someone from a "business visitor" automatic visa waiver. On the other hand some people reportedly have been turned away for trying to speak at a conference without an explicit visa, even though they weren't compensated in any way, so...
posted by muddgirl at 2:56 PM on August 8


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