Octocon News

The program schedule for Octocon is now online here (PDF). It looks like the LGBTQ panel is still on, though I’m not sure whether I’m actually on it. The panel on the Bechdel Test looks interesting too. Hopefully a good weekend is in store.

In less good news my email is currently buzzing with the news that my good friend Pádraig Ó Méalóid has apparently been banned from the convention. I know that Pádraig has been rather critical of the Octocon committee this year, and perhaps rather more aggressive about it than he should have been, but I know my fan history well enough to remember that banning people from conventions rarely ends well. The right way to deal with one’s critics is to prove them wrong by running a great event.

Unfortunately, as another Irishman has just pointed out to me, as a nation they do have a tendency for a bit of hot-headedness. Here’s hoping that this doesn’t degenerate into a legendary feud carried on unto the nth generation.

116 thoughts on “Octocon News

  1. “Point of information; I have seen it reported elsewhere that James Brophy is dyslexic.”

    I apologize to James Brophy for each and all of my comments on his spelling and writing. I was inappropriately rude, and should have inquired as to whether such was the case before making any such comments. I apologize.

  2. Mark: I’m sorry, but I fail to see why everyone else jumping in helps. It most often has precisely the opposite effect. In a lot of sense, it isn’t our business.
    Angie: Irish fandom are lovely. In my eyes, at least, this doesn’t reflect on anyone but those immediately involved and certainly not on Irish fans, who are some of the friendliest and most welcoming in the world.

  3. Kari: It is not a private matter, simply because the Octocon is a public event. Therefore, how the organisers act towards the membership is of public interest.

    Having everyone jump in probably doesn’t help matters that much, except for in one crucial regard – having members and potential members protest about the words and actions of the committee may help inform the committee about what words or actions would serve them and their event best.

    It’s like housetraining a puppy. Even if it’s out of ignorance, or a belief it was a good idea, it’s not right, so we (that is, fandom at large) are putting their nose into the mess, talk to them sternly, and show our disapproval, so that it hopefully won’t happen again.

    Should it later be revealed that they’ve banned Padraig because he’s actually an insectoid alien who is using these large fan gatherings to plant mind viruses in the heads of the guests and other members, well, then the puppy was fully justified, the analogy breaks, and I’ll apologise.

  4. How to go about banning someone from something 101

    (1) Have they done something REALLY bad? As in, a potentially jailable offence?
    Yes: Ban them.
    No: Issue them with a verbal warning, citing specifically what they have done (or are alleged to have done).

    (2) If no, then do they do the same thing again during the convention?
    Yes: Ban them.
    No: See Question 3

    (3) If no, do they commit another offence during the convention?
    Yes: Issue them with a written warning, specifying what they have done (or are alleged to have done) and stating that their next offence, however minor, will lead to an automatic ban.
    No: Clean slate. The offence and any disciplinary measures expire at the end of the event. Any future offences get treated as per (1).

    (4) If no, then do they offend again after a verbal and written warning?
    Yes: Ban them.
    No: If the event is a one-off never-to-be-repeated, then leave it at that.
    If it is a recurring event, and the person registers for or turns up at the next event, inform them in writing at the earliest possible time (as soon as you receive the application, or as soon as they turn up at the event) that they are on a best behaviour warning and that any single breach of convention rules will result in their being banned.

    (5) Do they offend again at the next event?
    Yes: Ban them. With 2 years of repeat offences, it could be deemed fair to ban them for an extended period of time, say 2 or 3 years, and that they are on a permanent best behaviour notice after that.
    No: Remove the best behaviour warning, but notify them that they are on parole for x years and that a breach that would cause them to be banned again will result in a permanent ban from the event.

    (6) If no, do they offend again after this warning within the Parole period?
    Yes: Ban them for life.
    No: Clean slate. The offence and any disciplinary measures expire at the end of the parole period. Any future offences get treated as per (1).

    At all stages, it is important to have (1) a written record of both the offence/alleged offence and what disciplinary measures were taken, and (2) an appeals procedure where the disciplinary procedures can be questioned. However compelling the incidental/anecdotal evidence, without due cause and due procedure any banning of anyone from any event open to the public just ends up looking like “me & my mates don’t like you so there,” regardless of anything else that happens. Unfortunately, the damage to Octocon has already been done, anything the Committee does now is damage limitation. As Angie says, a swift “sorry, we made a bad call, our mistake” will go a hell of a long way towards smoothing over this mess, but the longer things go on, the worse it’s going to be for Octocon and Irish fandom in general.

  5. And obviously, (4) above should have read “If yes, do they…”

    The dangers of ctrl/c and ctrl/p should never be underestimated…

  6. I have known Padraig via Livejournal for approximately four years and if anything he has been a consumate professional and gentlemen to all his readers/friends there. Myself included.

    It saddens me to see what has happened here and I am certain that James’ comments are both untruthful and distorted and do not reflect the Padraig we have come to know and respect.

    I hope this is just yet another fickle splinter within fandom but placing the focus on a person who has sought to critique and improve a social gathering/convention smacks of bullying and borders on a smear campaign.

    I wish this could be solved in a mutually beneficial manner but it seems the hamfisted and borderline illiterate comments from the Octocon exec have made this nigh on impossible.

    Just apologise to Padraig guys, that’s all it takes.

  7. Just for the record: At 11.00pm last night I replied to Ms Hannigan thus:

    You are going to need to clarify this quite a bit, I’m afraid. What ‘behaviour’ are you referring to?

    It’s now 8.48pm, very nearly 22 hours later, and I have not yet received a reply.

  8. While Gary went on a bit overmuch about the grammar and spelling of James’ message (as Gary is prone to do at times), it is worth noting that his underlying point was that large portions of James’ message were very nearly incomprehensible — exactly the thing you don’t want in a message of explanation or refutation.

    My reading brain suffered a precipitous decline several years ago, which has dramatically affected my ability to parse badly-formed writing; as a result, I (perhaps like Gary) literally could not make sense of his message. I found myself wanting to know what the issues involved were, but by the time my brain had rebooted its way out of the middle of the post, I honestly had no more idea than when I started.

    Dyslexia is a quite understandable excuse for much of it, but it also reads like something written by someone who was putting words down faster than the brain behind the keyboard could form them into meaningful sentences, a sure sign of “post at haste, repent at leisure.” Hopefully, at least for my sake, we can get a more measured and methodical reply in the future.

  9. Oh, also, the fascinating Immortal Storm-style train wreck of this whole kerfuffle actually made me late for my appointment taking one of our cats to the vet this afternoon. I hope you’re all happy (I suppose Calliope herself didn’t mind the delay).

  10. Cheryl, I’m shocked, truly shocked. I expected better from you. AND, no one else seems to have noticed.

    So I’m simply shocked: total. What is fandom coming to when such an event is without note.

    How _could_ you post a Wikipedia link! Here, of all places. A spot I believed to be fetid dingo kidney free. And you are a GIRL too! 😉

    What is fandom coming to. 🙂

    PS.. See Gary, I do know how to name it properly when required.

  11. Morgan:

    Mea culpa. In my defense I did try to find something that explained the issue better. Ideally I wanted Dave Kyle’s article from Mimosa #6. But Google was not being my friend and the Wikipedia article was the clearest explanation of the Great Fannish Exclusion Act that I could find. Just because it is often doesn’t mean that it is always wrong.

  12. Have you any idea how ridiculous that sounds?

    Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl… don’t you see? You have to pass on your mantle of “Menace to Fandom!” to Pádraig so you can take on the new role of “Menace to Publishing!”

  13. Heck, if you look at the Revision Histories for the Wikipedia articles on the first Worldcon and Worldcon in general, you see a decent number of fannish names in the mix: Vicki Rosenzweig, David Levinson, Arwel Parry, myself, Mark Atwood, Vince Docherty, Elspeth Kovar, Keith Lynch, Ed Dravecky, “Orange Mike” Lowery, and perhaps others whose Wikipedia user names aren’t sufficiently namelike for me to spot.

    Between the lot of us, we ought to be able to cobble together a not-too-awful article or two about matters fannish. 🙂

  14. Thankfully, while I was away people made all the points I wanted to make myself, so that now I can tell myself firmly that I have accumulated enough failstorms points this year to last me for another decade and step back.

    However, I have to say that

    a) Yesterday I went with a fine comb over Padraig’s LJ in search of the horrible things he said about Octocon and I only found vague grumblings. I also found a few substantiated critical points, for example the failure to keep the websites updated and the failure to post a membership list. If he wrote this hellfire and brimstone stuff about Octocon, he must have done it elsewhere.

    b) I intended to come to Octocon this year, mostly to meet a few people. But in the end, I had a good long look at the website, then at the Ryanair website, and decided not to come.

    First of all, I did not have a clear idea what the con was doing. The guests where people I either did not know or meet pretty much every time I step outside my door. I like Dave Lally quite a lot but he’s in the Tun every month.

    For the rest, I had the strong suspicion that the con was mostly media and comics. I have nothing against either, but it’s not the kind of programming that excites me, so I wasn’t enthusiastic. I’d probably have come if I had found some cheap tickets, but what with Ryanair charging you for breathing it just wasn’t worth it.

    I have now found, a day too late and a penny too short, your convention programme on line, and I have to say that I am not impressed. It’s a pdf: there is no reason why it should be so poorly formatted. It shows up on my computer in several different fonts. With different widths. In shades of flourescent yellow and turquoise. I assume the two columns are two different rooms?

    But, you know, never mind. The panel titles actually do sound interesting, even if almost all of them seem to be media related. But why on earth don’t you have the names of the panelists? That is usually my main way of deciding if I want to go to a panel, because there are some people I’d listen read out the yellow pages, and others that I will very carefully tiptoe away from a room from.

    So, yes, if Padraig has been mumbling and grumbling in a corner about Octocon, or even stomping his feet yelling rudely about it, and and if this level of attention to detail was characteristic of the convention itself in previous years, I am suspectin’ he might have had a point.

    To conclude, I think you – the committee – have done something of which you did not realize the gravity, for reasons that seem to me essentially frivolous in the grand scheme of things, a scheme of things that includes Famous Authors now dead importuning young girls, a convention hotel being flooded and destroyed by a couple of fans with consequent bankruptcy of the convention, another Famous Author groping a host during the Hugo ceremony, a member of a con being sectioned, and another member of a con taking pictures which she then posted on the internet with hilarious captions like “Oh my god look at all those fat freaks!”.

    I concur with all those who have said that an apology would go a long way towards showing that you just didn’t realize the context in which you were operating, which is understandable because, at least from the photos, you do all seem very young and Irish fandom being relatively small, can’t have had the number of Old Fans breathing down your necks people here have had.

  15. Cheryl, because I have cut-and-paste here, and I’m not afraid to use it!:

    “The worst PR failure I’ve witnessed during my 26 years in fandom, and I’ve seen some pretty bad things.”

    I’ve seen worse. Heck, I’ve contributed to worse.

    Also, as a point of general information to many unfamiliar, or only slightly, with the fannish past, see “Exclusion acts” here for just three of the most prominent examples.

    But there have been many less famous cases. The justified ones don’t get remembered. The ones where the committee makes themselves look like idiots do.

    Return with me now to 1939, which has had innumerable accounts written of the First Exclusion Act.

    As a reminder or new info to all, you can buy Harry Warner’s excellent history of fandom of the 1940s, All Our Yesterdays in the NESFA Press edition.

    Many of the original columns that inspired the book are here for free.

    Most relevant of those to this current affair is Harry’s account of Sam Moskowitz’s incredibly self-centered and biased history of fandom in the 1930s, The Immortal Storm. As is paraphrased at that page, Moskowitz’s account of the feuds of the Thirties is so hyperkinetic and overblown as to make World War II seem like a subdued and anticlimatic affair.

    I actually, incidentally, banned someone from Iguanacon II, the 1978 Worldcon, on Friday or earlier of the con, after the fan — who was rather infamous in some circles — was caught by hotel security not just attempting to charge room service orders, via forgery, to other rooms/guests, but having used a stolen credit card to get the room in the first place.

    This was after several past incidents at other cons where the fan had been caught in acts of thievery. (He was also famous for not showering, and various other memorable traits.)

    No one remembers this incident but me, and I didn’t even remember it until just now, not having had occasion to think of it in decades.

    That’s what happens when you have cause to ban someone: they’re too embarrassed to try to let anyone know about it.

    The fan was last seen at the edge of Phoenix, trying to hitchhike a way out of town.

    (I’ve just googled his name, and he’s mentioned twice, both in fannish documents from thirty or so years ago; I have an immensely vague memory that suggests I heard that he died a couple of decades or more ago, but I could be completely wrong in that extremely vague thought.)

    I’m tempted to tell the story of how the FBI came to inspect the Huckster Room at Iggy, for copyright/trademark violations, particularly those related to unauthorized “Star Wars” merchandize (this was 1978, the year after the film came out, and LucasFilms weren’t happy campers about bootleg merchandise), and I managed to talk the FBI team into letting me accompany them, to, ah, help things go smoothly as possible between FBI and fans, who are, shall we say, not the most natural mix, as they went through the Huckster’s Room — which had some 300 tables or so, at a convention with some 4700 attendees — and at one point, one of the only three dealers actually selling bootleg merchandise, after brilliantly explaining to the FBI that he had lots more where that came from, and, yes, he knew it was illegal, but they should just try to take the stuff away from him, because he knew his rights — this was, you understand, with the FBI agents identifying themselves immediately at the start as FBI agents, here to check for material in violation of trademark — and after some very calm explanations from the FBI agents that he could, of course, choose to not voluntarily surrender the material in question, in which case they’d have to arrest him and handcuff him and jail him while he awaited bail, rather than the alternative they offered, which was to simply hand over the few items in question, and carry on his merry way for the rest of his life — the guy leapt to the top of his chair and started screaming at the top of his lungs: “THE FBI IS RAIDING THE HUCKSTER ROOM! EVERYONE RUN!”

    However, it was so noisy that no one more than three feet from him could hear what he was saying, so eventually he blustered down and turned over the stuff.

    Within minutes rumors were coming back to our Operations office that “Gary Farber has called the FBI in to arrest the convention’s committee’s enemies!”

    This is just one of the milder stories of the sort of things that happened with Iguanacon, the 1979 Worldcon. And I’m tempted to tell that FBI story, but, as you can see, I will resist! Because that would be a digression, and I never digress.

    But that was a case where a fan certainly could, arguably, have been tossed out, and yet somehow we tolerated even an attempted incitement to riot.

    Ray: “Between the lot of us, we ought to be able to cobble together a not-too-awful article or two about matters fannish.”

    Working on Fancyclopedia 3 isn’t a terrible idea, either, though absolutely Wikipedia will be seen by approximately one jillion more people.

    AFDD: Oh, that’s what “being sectioned” means.

    “…and another member of a con taking pictures which she then posted on the internet with hilarious captions like ‘Oh my god look at all those fat freaks!.'”

    Only last year….

    “…a convention hotel being flooded and destroyed by a couple of fans with consequent bankruptcy of the convention….”

    A brief account of Disclave, 1997, for those unfamiliar with that one.

    They didn’t destroyed the whole hotel. Only large chunks of it below the fourth floor!

    Note to kids: if you’re into bondage, don’t hang yourself or your partner, or anything heavy, from your hotel room’s water sprinkler.

    Which reminds of the time it started raining in the SunCon (1977 Worldcon in Miami Beach) Art Show….

  16. “I don’t know Padraig at all. My decision and it was mine was made from what I’ve seen this year and witnessed in the past. I was prepared to talk about it but It’s all so messy now that it’s hard to know what to say.”

    “Padraig, we’re all very sorry. Its been a very foolish decision that was made with little thought of the consequences. The ban is lifted. Could you please attend Octocon? We would like to buy you drinks.”

    Seriously Nichola, just copy and paste that to Padraig. This story is on the Forbidden Planet blog, Rich Johnston’s BleedingCool, The Comics Journal’s Journalista, ComicBookResources and many other places in under 24 hours from only the tiniest of tweets. Seriously, take it. Those three lines are my gift to the committee. The sooner you do this, the better it will be for all concerned.

  17. a convention hotel being flooded and destroyed by a couple of fans with consequent bankruptcy of the convention,

    FWIW, IIRC (insert other peculiar abbreviations as necessary), the couple responsible for Dripclave weren’t even fans, or at least weren’t actual members of the convention.

  18. Which reminds of the time it started raining in the SunCon (1977 Worldcon in Miami Beach) Art Show….

    That also happened at the Art Show and the Dealer’s Room of two consecutive Dragon*Cons a few years back. IIRC, I was chatting away with T Campbell when the deluge started pouring right through the giant fancy chandeliers at the Atlanta Hilton.

  19. I’ve just found myself with some time on my hands so read this entire damn thread. Dublin is a city I love, and I’d been thinking of trying out an Irish con. I don’t know padraig, the octocon cttee, or the rights and wrongs of this history; I am pretty certain, though, that the way the octocon committee has dealt with this ensures I won’t be sampling their con any time soon.

  20. GF: Most relevant of those to this current affair is Harry’s account of Sam Moskowitz’s incredibly self-centered and biased history of fandom in the 1930s, The Immortal Storm. As is paraphrased at that page, Moskowitz’s account of the feuds of the Thirties is so hyperkinetic and overblown as to make World War II seem like a subdued and anticlimatic affair.

    I was only recently quoting from something else by Moskowitz for a piece I’m writing, where again his veracity and lack of bias would seem to be suspect. Small oul’ world, all the same…

  21. Just as an example of how fast and how far around the world this sort of thing spreads – I’m in Melbourne, Australia, and found out about this from a link on Ansible, not that I’m likely to be in Ireland any time soon, but the fights of Fandom are indeed global!

  22. Anna:

    Regarding the Octocon guests, Mike Carey is a very fine writer whose books I have enthused about regularly. He writes horror, which may not be to eveyone’s taste, but he’s absolutely a very worthy guest. He writes comics as well novels which is useful for a small, multi-interest convention. As to Dave Lally, he is indeed fairly ubiquitous, but the honoring of local people who have done good in fandom is absolutely an appropriate use of a fan GoH slot.

    As to the program (which I actually linked to in the post above), it came out on Sunday night, and I first saw it about the same time as I started receiving emails about Pádraig being banned. I suspect that the committee may have done more with it had they not been otherwise distracted.

    I did think it was an interesting program – I was very happy with the three panels that they offered me. I had also had very pleasant interactions with the con committee. So despite warnings from Pádraig and others I was looking forward to the convention and hoping that the folks running it would prove Pádraig wrong. Unfortunately some of those involved have taken the view that forcing people to take sides in their feud with Pádraig was more important than the convention. There was clearly no point in my going if everything I said at and about the convention was going to be viewed in the context of my being a friend of Pádraig.

  23. Cheryl – I didn’t want to sniff at their guests. I just didn’t know them, and when I have to decide whether to go to a con, the things that really pull me in is that if there are guests that I know either as writers or as people. Usually then I go to a panel because the title looks interesting and I find out that some writer I haven’t heard of is a really interesting speaker, and usually I check out their books as well. (And sometimes they’re good, and sometimes not…)

    This is just retracing my personal train of thought, and nothing to do with the calibre of the guests. And yes, I am totally behind honoring Dave Lally at an Irish con!

    But I still don’t understand the reasoning behind not putting the name of the panelists in the program. (Also, creating a table in Word is not that taxing, even if your head is occupied with other matters. OK, I’m biased because I used to do formatting for a living.)

  24. I am as we speak finalizing the programme for this years Swecon, the weekend after Octocon, and a reason for leaving out the names of the panelists that strikes me would be if they are not all of them 100% confirmed yet.

  25. Unfortunately, as another Irishman has just pointed out to me, as a nation they do have a tendency for a bit of hot-headedness.

    As this was ‘pointed out to you’ by an Irishman, I’m not criticising you for writing this, Cheryl, but I do feel it’s a particularly unhelpful bit of cultural stereotyping. It’s bad enough that so many people around the world see this mess as the only thing they know about Irish fandom, without their also first reading that all Irish people are basically hot-headed and always keen for a bit of a brawl. And it came from one of us, so must be true! Like any other national generalization, it’s probably true and untrue in about equal measure. I’m not involved in fandom here, know none of the main protagonists (antagonists?), and am still cringing in discomfort at the bad feeling floating around.

  26. Hallie, I take your point, no question, being of Irish extraction myself – that said, I read that original remark as being more light-hearted than trenchant observation – and that was before all the real unpleasantness kicked off.

    to echo your own words, not criticising you, just sayin’ with all goodwill.

  27. Hallie:

    Point taken, but I used that comment precisely because, as I went on to say in the very next sentence, I wanted them to prove the stereotype wrong. As you will see from the above, this has been going on for some time, and it needs to stop.

  28. Johan:

    …a reason for leaving out the names of the panelists that strikes me would be if they are not all of them 100% confirmed yet.

    By that standard, no convention of any sort should publish any sort of program at all, nor should they list any guests, including the guests of honor, because no programming can possibly be 100% confirmed. There is always the possibility of something changing or someone having to change their plans at the last moment.

    Nothing is absolutely certain. Programming schedules are always subject to change without notice, and anyone who makes their plans on the assumption that a published program schedule is absolutely immutable is a fool. Of course, fandom is full of a bunch of people like that, who would probably yell that they “bought their ticket” and that the failure of a scheduled program participant to appear as originally scheduled was a “breech of contract” or something silly like that.

    (I do not speak academically; I was informed by a member of ConJose in 2002 that our failure to make it possible for him to attend every single panel — including capacity-controlled items and multiple simultaneous items — at his personal convenience was a “breech of contract,” because presumably it was our responsibility to arrange the schedule of a 5,000-person convention for his personal convenience because he had bought his ticket, and we were required to entertain him because he’d hired us to do so.)

  29. Kevin, I was referring to the case where people have been contacted but have not yet agreed to appear. But I was just speculating. I see no good reason for leaving out the names of panelists. If not all have confirmed attendance, then print only the names of confirmed participants.

  30. “…but the honoring of local people who have done good in fandom is absolutely an appropriate use of a fan GoH slot.”

    No, it’s not. The absolute rule of thumb for a fan GOH (and to a large, though lesser, extent) has always been that you never, never, never pick a local as your fan GOH.

    If someone is important enough to fandom, and done enough for fandom at large, they’ll be recognize by someon who isn’t from your local group: by definition. And only someone who has contributed significantly to fandom as a whole deserves to be a Fan GOH, since not enough such people get recognized.

    The one way to know someone hasn’t done enough to be worthy of being a Fan GOH is that their local group picked them; then you know they’re doing it because no one else would, and then you know that the Fan GOH isn’t, in fact, someone who has done much of anything for fandom at large, but instead is just a mate of the organizers, and has diddled around only in the local fandom. Which is all very well, and nice, and there are many nice ways to reward that, but bringing them to the attention of fandom at large by making them a Fan GOH isn’t one of them; it’s just an embarrassment to any con that demonstrates such parochialism.

    That’s always been the traditional thinking on Fan GOHs. Similiarly, you wouldn’t pick a local pro GOH who is so unknown to the sf community at large that no one anywhere else would make them a GOH; you wouldn’t pick someone whose fame as an sf writer extends only to your local town.

    Criterion for Fan GOH and Pro GOH have always been identical in this regard, and for the same reasons. Your con looks foolish if you pick people who don’t deserve it, if you pick people people who don’t have a reputation far beyond your local fan group.

    And this is why Fan and Pro GOHs are supposed to be, at least in theory, treated with equal respect: because they’ve both done major things, respectively, whether they’ve up and comers that people from all over are saying “oh, my, what impressive new work X has been doing in the past few years” or whether they’re insufficiently honored long-timers, whose work for decades has left fans around the nation awestruck at their many fantastic contributions to sf or fandom.

    It’s certainly true that innumerable sf cons have gotten this wrong about Fan GOHs in recent years, but perpetuating getting it wrong, and declaring that it doesn’t matter, is wrong.

    It would be a statement that, in fact, the Fan GOH doesn’t matter, isn’t important, and that, incidentally, the committee is a) ignorant of tradition and the point of having guests of honor (which is to hono(u)r them for their important accomplishments, and draw everyone’s attention to those accomplishments, — the primary purpose is not to hire attractions to bring in more attendees, though that’s not an invalid secondary benefit).

    Picking a local as a fan GOH is a sure sign to an outsider that the committee is likely clueless, self-centered, parochial, and ignorant, and that sort of thing tends to go hand in hand with incompetence. It’s a warning side. As a rule, back when I was attending a number of sf cons per year, and trying to decide which ones to go to, if the Fan GOH was someone I’d never heard of, and I inquired, and found out that it wasn’t me being ignorant but simply that the concom had picked someone who had done a lot to work on the local con, and was well-known only at the local club, I knew better to attend that con.

    This used to be the attitude of many fans. Maybe that’s changed now, because so many badly run cons have been so prevalent so long that the blind have been leading the blind for so long that the cons that know better, and care, are fewer in number than the clueful conventions, where the fans are active beyond their local con, and know their fanhistory, and who has been important in fandom regionally, or nationally, or internationally, and haven’t been honored before — and there are always such truly important to fandom fans who have never been asked to be a GOH, or have rarely been asked, or who haven’t been asked in a long time — and a con that picks a local over a truly deserving fan leaves that truly deserving fan unhonored just one more year — again.

    The people who really matter to fandom deserve to be honored.
    Someone who has been an earnest local dogsbody, an extremely good
    gopher, or who has been on your local concom for years, and everybody at the local club loves Sue or Mike, but nobody outside your club has ever heard of them or cares — give them a plaque, name something after them, whatever: there are all sorts of ways you can honor them without using up your Fan GOH slot on someone no one else has heard of, no one outside your group cares about, and there’s no reason anyone outside your group should. If Sue or Mike has really been important, the fans three cities away should know about them, and choose them.

    Letting such actually important fans go unhonored, instead: that’s an insult not just to that deserving fan, but to fandom as a whole.

    The rule of thumb that you always pick your Fan GOH from another local, and never from your own local fan group, is absolutely sound, and any con that violates it should be looked on with great askance.

    Here endth the lesson.

  31. I should proofread more carefully when I’ve just woken up; I trust everyone will be able to make their way through my sea of typos above, and my apologies for having not gone back and plucked those many typos out before hitting “post.” I’m still working on waking up.

  32. “Kevin, I was referring to the case where people have been contacted but have not yet agreed to appear.”

    Johnan, if 5%, or even 10%, of your expected program participants cancel at the last minute after having definitely said they were coming, then listing them, then having them listed on your public program schedule as being panelists/speakers, and then updating the convention attendees on the day, or on the first day of the con, that here’s the updated program with the names of everyone now expected to show up for their panels, is fine.

    If many more than 10% of your expected program participants, people who have said they’ll be coming to the con, barring last minute emergencies, aren’t showing up, something’s wrong with your con.

    If you, the concom, have been scheduling for panels many people who have only tentatively said they might show up, Ur definitely Doing It Rong.

    If you don’t know, a week before the convention, whether most of your program participants are showing up, your con is probably a disaster. There’d be no reason for that other than huge incompetence.

    There’s no reason to not have a firm idea of whom the vast majority of your program participants will be, and whether they’ve committed — barring individual emergencies — coming to the con, two or more weeks before the convention. If you don’t have that information by two weeks before the convention, then either you’ve not been communicating competently and swiftly enough with your solicited program participants, or the people you’d like are, in large numbers, doubtful as to whether they’d like to come to your con and are refusing to commit, or, well, whatever the reason is, something is wrong.

    And that was true in the years before email. Phones and snail mail were enough to establish that working rule in con-running by, oh, 1948.

  33. Certainly there are always some 5%, maybe even 10%, of desired program participants who have said they’re probably coming, but won’t know for sure until the last minute.

    It’s best not to list them on the program, and then announce them on the first day of the con, or whenever they actually arrive, as a special bonus.

    And there are always a few people who have committed, but who
    suddenly have to cancel because of last minute personal emergencies.

    So a program is always expected to have a few last minute changes; additionally, someone may be coming to the con, but can’t be available during a given set of hours for some reason or another.

    But a con where the program is suddenly undergoing large-scale changes of participants on the day from where it was a week ago is a con that has Done It Wrong.

    Unless you’ve suddenly had a local volcano erupt, or a flood, or a national emergency, or an epidemic, or the city has broken out in riots, or something else unforseen has occurred that has had a general and large disruptive effect on everyone concerned.

  34. Gary:

    Dave Lally is not an “earnest local dogsbody”, he’s an Irish fan who has gone on to become a major figure at both Eastercon and Eurocon. That an Irish convention should choose to honour him is, IMHO, an absolutely appropriate use of their FGoH slot.

    And before you start on your next rant, could you please a) make sure you are awake, and b) get some understanding of what you are talking about. I appreciate that you have a lot of expertise and historical knowledge to offer, but jumping in with both feet when you are unclear what you are jumping into is not helping.

  35. Just want everyone to know that Octogon has now been heard of in Taiwan – well done, that committee, great advertising!

    Won’t be going though, the flight’s a bit too pricey and the organisers don’t come across as the most together bunch on the planet. To be honest, though, neither do the defenders of Pádraig Ó Méalóid.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out how true comment number 16 was.

  36. Sinead (#43): Yes, a convention has the right to ban someone. Everybody else has the right to discuss that decision, second-guess it, and otherwise express their opinions about it. That includes random people from thousands of miles away who’d never heard of most of this until the current controversy broke out.

    Several: the original letter stated “This matter is not open for discussion and we will not enter into any online discussion regarding this nor will we discuss this with any other persons. This decision is final.”

    My interpretation of that is: (1) We will not discuss this decision with a view towards changing it. (2) We will not discuss it online (i.e. publicly). (3) We will not discuss it with third parties. (4) We will not change this decision.

    I note that “We will not inform Pádraig of the specific reasons behind this decision” is not part of that statement. I do not know whether or not they would have had they been asked privately; nor can anyone determine that now.

    Kari (#52) Other people jumping in might or might not help; we jump in because we feel like it. That’s necessary and (along with Cheryl allowing it here) sufficient.

    Anna (#68) “a convention hotel being flooded and destroyed by a couple of fans with consequent bankruptcy of the convention,” at least one wasn’t a fan, and the convention (corporation) didn’t go bankrupt. The convention did stop being held. A few years later, the organization that ran it started a new convention.

    Gary (#69) “No one remembers this incident but me,” You should know better than that. (Though I recall the “charging to others” took place in the hotel restaurant.)

    Raining in the Art Show also occurred at a Seattle convention (you’d think they’d know how to handle rain there, wouldn’t you?) Raining in Dealers Rooms is even more common.

    As to what Octocon can do now, it seems that if they decide (publicly) “We goofed, people yelled at us and we changed our minds.” then they end up looking good (everybody makes mistakes, not everybody learns). On top of that, the story becomes boring.

  37. “Dave Lally is not an ‘earnest local dogsbody’, ”

    I didn’t say a word about Dave Lally, Cheryl. I quote what I’m responding to. If I don’t quote it, then it’s not what I’m responding to. Which wasn’t in any way, shape, means, or form, about Dave Lally.

    What I wrote was about the general claim that “the honoring of local people who have done good in fandom is absolutely an appropriate use of a fan GoH slot,” and about tangential observations from that.

    I’m sure Dave Lally is a fine fellow. But I didn’t say a word about him.

    I also, to be clear, back on the general topic of Fan GOHs, and as a digression, absolutely expect to not know about the accomplishments of many utterly deserving Fan GOHs these days, people highly important across various fannish circles for many years, simply because fandom is so very large and multitudinous these days, and because I haven’t been paying much attention in the past decade or too. But even if I were paying maximum attention, I couldn’t be expected, and probably no one could be expected, to know who is important in all the many subfandoms and offshoot fandoms, that make up Greater MegaMetaFandom Today. Let a thousand subfandoms bloom! And they do.

    Just to be absolutely clear, I am in no way attempting to claim any authority upon Who Does And Doesn’t Deserve To Be A Fan GOH at any given convention, or any given subfandom or national fandom or area, geographic, or topical, of fandom.

    I merely stated some general principles, that used to be traditional, in a strong way; naturally, various people’s mileage will inevitably vary, and they are free to state their own, differing, views. I’m sure there are good points to be made that differ from mine.

  38. “You should know better than that.”

    Fair point. “No one but a handful of people who worked on Iguanacon, say, as Operations shift supervisors, and anyone they may have told, remember this.”

    You’re probably right about the restaurant versus room service; my memory is fuzzy on various details of thirty-two years ago, absent a good jog or document to freshen up said memories.

    This also may apply to details of last week.

    And to second your last point: willingness to admit to a mistake makes almost anyone look good. Stubborn unwillingness to admit to a mistake, and stonewalling, does not.

    Richard Nixon is not a useful role model for any person or entity. Neither is, I dare suggest, at risk of a political digression, George W. Bush. (Or, if you prefer, Bill Clinton and “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”)

  39. #78: “I was only recently quoting from something else by Moskowitz for a piece I’m writing, where again his veracity and lack of bias would seem to be suspect.”

    Sam Moskowitz wasn’t a deliberately untruthful man. He prided himself on his meticulous attention to the facts, and being a stickler for them.

    His problems were:
    a) as a researcher, he was often poor about sorting out what was an accurate account and what wasn’t, and often went with his preferred account;
    b) he preferred his own, frequently highly inaccurate, memories to verifiable records which contradicted them;
    c) he frequently wrote about matters that he was deeply or shallowly involved in, and made his biases the heart of what he claimed were objective accounts
    d) he invested grandiose importance to matters that were, from any objective standpoint, trivial, if not downright boring.

    He is, in any of his writings, a more unreliable narrator than most who claim to write history, or biographical sketches. But he is, nonetheless, still a valuable source on certain matters, when that’s taken into account, simply because there are so few sources on many of the people and events that he variously wrote about in various places.

    #75: “FWIW, IIRC (insert other peculiar abbreviations as necessary), the couple responsible for Dripclave weren’t even fans, or at least weren’t actual members of the convention.”

    Disclave had acquired a sort of barnacle of members of the alt.sex.bondage group from the alt.* hierarchy that is not-quite-Usenet (better phrasing to be accepted from Seth, who knows 10,000 times more than I do about matters Usenet), which is to say, a number of people whose primary fandom was BDSM, and some or many of whom were only incidentally, if at all, sf fans, but who came along to the hotel because it’s where their asb friends were partying.

    (What percentage were interested in Disclave qua Disclave, I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone on the Disclave committee knew.)

    And, yes, it was a couple (or more?) of the asb folks who did said attachment to sprinkler system, thus, ah, precipitating the events that followed.)

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