I think I was famous (or infamous) in the Newfoundland cosplay community for two days.
I wrote a piece for my cosplay blog on my personal experiences at Sci-Fi on the Rock this month. I’m sure everyone in the local cosplay community has read it by now judging by the insane response I got. The SFOTR piece was my third story so I thought I had an idea of what response I’d get: none. Instead, I got 800 hits on my blog and quite a few comments. Some of those comments were angry, some were on my side and others were simply counter arguments. I even had a friend text me to remove all mention of them from the SFOTR piece because they have a booth at the con and figured that people wouldn’t want to buy items from them. I’m sure some have noticed how I made certain changes, like removing all the pictures except the one of just me.
I want to clarify some things and then I’ll respond to all the comments I got. I decided to write down all my experiences as a cosplayer and con goer for prosperity’s sake. I wanted to create discussions, share fun stories and practice my writing. I love to write. I decided to start with conventions because I started cosplaying at Anime North. The next piece was logically SFOTR and then Fan Expo (that piece is scheduled for May) and then New York Comic Con.
I want to write about all my experiences. I was not going to skip over SFOTR just because it wasn’t going to be a good news story. I really do dislike SFOTR. Some years I hate it more than others (2012, I’m looking at you) and sometimes I have fun because my friends are awesome.
I dislike SFOTR for a couple of reasons. One is simply that I have a preference for bigger cons. The other, major issue, I have with SFOTR is the location. The Holiday Inn is too small to properly host the number of people attending the con. It’s like being in a sardine can. SFOTR should have been hosted in a larger venue for a couple of years now. I realise that that may not be financially or even physically possible with the size of our city. That doesn’t change my opinion that the con is growing stagnant because of size constraints. As the con gets more popular, there will be more people interested in booking tables or hosting panels. But they can’t because the room won’t be there.
SFOTR has never made me angry though. The Homestuck crowd made me angry which is where most of the negativity of the piece stemmed from.
I want to address the title as well. “Sci-Fi on the Rock: Also known as Convention Hell” was a very deliberate choice. If anyone follows my actual facebook page then they knew that the SFOTR piece was not going to be a positive one. If anyone has ever asked my opinion on the con then they already knew everything about what was in the blog. Actually, they’ve heard worse. But I wanted to make sure my dislike was obvious. That way, if reading unkind things about SFOTR was upsetting to anyone, they would know not to read the story.
I forgot how the internet works.
I don’t apologise for anything. My blog is a personal experience blog. What I write is what I’ve been through or what I’ve felt. I stand by everything I said. I have that right. I paid for my con tickets just like everyone else. That gives me the right to express my opinion, the way people have the right to complain if they bought a faulty product from a store. It’s perfectly okay for me to hate SFOTR just as its fine that some people love it. It’s good that the local convention scene makes people happy. It just so happens that it doesn’t make me happy. That’s life.
Now, I’m going to respond to all your juicy comments.
First of all, I got a really long one from Steve Lake. Check out the original post to see that comment. I’m not going to copy it here because it’s just too long. Steve is the vice chair of the SFOTR committee. By reading his comment, a reader will get to see how an organizer responds to an opinion like mine. He’s 100% percent respectful and he addresses all my concerns. It’s important to read comments like his if you want to get multiple points of view so that you can form your own opinion. It’s also really nice to know that he’ll take the time to read some random blog on the internet. Does it change my opinion? No. But it does mean that everyone can be part of a discussion and share their views even if they don’t agree.
This next one came from SAJ on facebook. I’m going to copy all the facebook ones here so no one has to go looking for them.
I’m sorry, but I have a hard time taking anything in this post seriously because you just come across like a petulant child who is complaining because she didn’t get her way. I’ve had the pleasure of attending SFotR every year since ’09 (save for last year because I was 9 months pregnant) and always find it an enjoyable event that is put together by a group of very hard working volunteers. Like you I have also attended other cons and events in other places and found them also enjoyable. I was at SFotR in 2012 as well, I remember the Homestruck crowd. They were a group of preteens and teenagers, they were a little irritating sure but only to the degree that most teens are. Talking over panelists is total bs and I would have just shushed them and gone on with my day.
Does SfotR have room to improve and grow, sure it does as anything does. The people who plan this event are not trained coordinators who get paid to organize every aspect of the convention down to a T like in some larger cities, they are regular people with jobs, lives and families that donate their time and effort to it who can only improve through trial and error.
You say it’s other people that ruin SFotR for you, but honestly it seems like you were looking to be annoyed by anything and everything.
If you aren’t into it that’s cool, you not going will clear up some space for some folks who are.
But mostly what I got from this post was “I’ve been to other cons so I am an authority on why this individual experience makes this event universally awful.”
Firstly, I’m sorry if there are people that can’t take the post seriously. My writing style probably isn’t for them. I’m glad that she enjoyed SFOTR though. Unfortunately, I think it does a disservice to say that the Homestuck cosplayers were just acting like teenagers. There are lots of teens that are respectful youth that know how to behave in public. I also didn’t meant to come across as some authority on cons. I do think it’s fair to compare my experiences at different conventions. How else am I suppose to decide which cons work for me? I will admit that I was probably very brash in the piece.
From MR on face book: I figure if you know so much, why don’t you volunteer to help organize? Or just stay home.
She made two excellent points. Volunteering is an excellent way to help make change. I have never volunteered at SFOTR, except for last year. It took about a month and a half to hear back from anyone and then there were some scheduling issues at my place of employment which meant that I couldn’t. But I think that anyone that has the time to volunteer and that wants to make an event better should do so. As for just staying home, that’s what I plan to do starting after this year. I made the decision last year that if SFOTR did not get a new location then I would no longer go. So this year I’m dropping in on Saturday to check out a few booths belonging to close friends and their panels. Then that’s the end of my attending SFOTR.
This one from MD is another committee response. We can’t expect everyone to like what we do, my fiancé says he’s spoiled because his first con was Otakon and it’s hard to go to something with that much money and space and then be satisfied with a small town con (and despite being in our capital city, that’s what it is). It would be silly to think that everyone who comes in the door is going to be a happy customer, but after all you’re not popular until someone hates you grin emoticon! As a long time committee member, all I can tell you is that we put a lot of work into it and we know there are some shortcomings and regular complaints people have (like space)…we’re not blind. Often, there’s logistical reasons behind the way something is and hopefully we can always improve, but in a small city and a population restricted to the island, there are certain limitations we will always have. For instance, a more experienced panel moderator would not have let someone ramble on and we are getting better at knowing who to give that job too, even have a guy coming in from Halifax to help this year. Would I call it the con from hell? Not myself (Dashcon anyone?) I’m sorry you’ve had those experiences, but even though it’s a long, busy, tiring weekend behind the scenes, I’m looking forward to it!
I don’t have anything to say to this except that the advantage of a small town means you get immediate feedback from organizers. Also, I had to look up Dashcon. I actually want to go to that. It sounds bad in the “this is a fascinating train wreck” way.
G.E said Totally get some of the problems you’ve had. The committee wants to move to a bigger space too, we assure you. But it’s hard to book somewhere when there are only three potential places to move into that can meet our needs. Also, I believe 2012 was the first year for divisions in the contest. Yes, it was messy. We also work to make it better each year. Try not to hold things against the Homestuck kids- they were 15. Grade ten. If you or your friend had asked them to be quiet or leave, they likely would have. They couple of them I know are nice kids, but they’re kids. Yeah, they don’t know all the rules yet. Instead of complaining three years later, why not find a committee member or volunteer at the time? We do try to address problems.
I received three other comments from people saying that the homestuck cosplayers were rude, as well as the fact that they weren’t listening to anyone. Dragonflybee told me that “They were loud and rude, and I personally spoke to a volunteer about them but nothing was done. I even tried shushing them myself in the lineup for the costume contest!” So no, those kids would not have listened to me if I had politely asked them to be quiet. I really, really think it’s unfair to fifteen year olds to justify bad behaviour based on their age. I think teenagers in general can be a little misbehaved at times but also that most of them try their best to respect others while having a good time. Dragonflybee did tell me that those kids seem better behaved now, which is great. The best I can say about them is maybe they were behind most other teens in the development of their maturity.
SB on facebook said, On your list you say more volunteers would be an improvement. I 100% agree! Problem with volunteers is they have to be the ones to come up and ask about volunteering… Sadly there isn’t always a rush of people wanting to work instead of do more fun things. BUT if you know anyone who wants to volunteer they should go talk to Kit Sora and see if she has work for them to do!
I found the committee to be really slow in responding to my volunteer submission. That may have been because I sent it too early in the season. I don’t know how SFOTR looks for volunteers other than a link on the website. Maybe SFOTR could advertise that they look for volunteers if they aren’t already. If there are some ads, please send them to me and I’ll link to them here. However, I do agree with SB. Volunteering doesn’t always sound like fun so it can be hard to get people.
If there is anyone reading that hasn’t thought about volunteering, you should consider it. At the very least, it’s something people can use to beef up their resumes. If anyone is interested in volunteering, you can use this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are a few more comments on facebook that talk about the difficulty of getting volunteers and about how hard the committee works. Those comments readily admit that there are still lots of things about the con that could use work and efforts are being made to improve. I’ve also heard stories where committee members and volunteers failed to properly address an issue. In general, it seems that people are optimistic about the con and enjoy it. My actual blog received three comments from people acknowledging how bad the Homestuck cosplayers were. Then there was the comment from Steve Lake as well as one from AdriftKitty, who told me to be part of the solution instead of the problem.
In summary, I still think SFOTR is a bad con and I don’t see it improving much anytime soon. However, there are many other people who love and support the con. While I personally don’t recommend going to the whole con, I do think it’s good to check out one day just so people can form their own opinion. At the very least, the popularity of SFOTR allows for the growth of the geek community. It is because SFOTR is so popular that there’s room in the community for Avalon Expo, the new convention starting this August.
Also, here’s some general discussion questions:
1. Do you prefer a small, medium or large sized con?
2. What would you like to see at future conventions? I personally would like to see a speed dating session. I’ve seen it done at other cons. Maybe someday I’ll organise one with Avalon Expo.
3. What was your best con experience? What was your worse?
The upcoming schedule for my blogs are: Fan Expo 2011 & 2014 (May), NYCC 2012 &2013 (June), Steampunk Newfoundland (July).