So, normally, I wouldn’t bother putting some of this in at all, but I was required to provide a trip report. Under the Toyota principle (“you asked for it, you got it”), here’s The Rest of the Story.
First, a disclaimer: there are many genuinely polite and kind people who attend Smofcon. Sure, we’re all flawed human beings, but I think most of us at least have good intentions and try to act with civility.
However, there are also a few (and I hope that it was only a few) who act otherwise.
SPFII, one of the SF Bay Area convention corporations, put forth a bid to hold the next Smofcon in San Francisco next year. While I am a non-board member of SPFII, I wasn’t there specifically to promote the bid. Instead, I’d been sent by SFSFC, the parent corporation for ConJosé, the 2002 Worldcon, on a scholarship they offered to two Bay Area fans. The board and other members of SPFII, which is a non-profit, also work on BayCon, which is run by Artistic Solutions, Inc., a for-profit corporation. Additionally, a bunch of bay area fans, including myself, are also members of BASFA, which does not itself run conventions.
Another fannish group in the western region was bidding to hold the Smofcon in Portland, Oregon.
At the Smofcon I just attended, held in Washington, D.C., the con suite had a flyer table where a bunch of convention flyers were available for people to take. Most notable among these, of course, were the flyers for the upcoming Smofcons.
Someone removed all the flyers for the San Francisco bid, putting them across the room on the floor behind a skirted table. While one could see the flyers from the right angle, they were not available for Smofcon members to peruse.
Edited to add:
Aside from the childish passive aggressive stunt this is, there’s several problems with it, specifically:
- It makes it appear that Portland was running a dirty bid and not being sportsmanlike. Now, I personally have no reason to believe that it was Portland’s bid committee that moved the flyers and I’m not accusing them of anything. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be difficult to come to that conclusion, quite possibly causing one to bear a grudge against an innocent party.
- From a strategic perspective, the only reason to remove one’s competitor’s flyers is because one believes that one needs that advantage in order to win. This also gives the apparency that Portland felt they needed unfair advantage to win.
- From a non-strategic perspective, the only reason to remove a bid’s flyers is simple spite. In this case, however, they have injured the Portland bid’s reputation as well as harmed the San Francisco bid.
In a weird way, it’s back-handed flattery: if the San Francisco bid were truly irrelevant, no one would bother with such a childish stunt.
However, someone needs to have their License to Smof revoked.
As if that weren’t enough, during one of the panels I attended, two of the attendees made spiteful comments about the head of the San Francisco bid, who was not present at the con (he had to work some brutal overtime to get a software project out). Ironically, they accused said person of malice. I don’t mind if hostile things are said about a person to their face, but saying that someone did something out of malice when they’re not there is, well, brilliantly ironic.
I felt extremely unwelcome despite Kevin Standlee’s and Bobbie Du Fault’s trying to calm things down. Prior to the blowup, Kevin quite artfully talked about Bay Area fandom while being diplomatic about everything. I quite admired his skill, frankly.
However, given the incidents above, is it any surprise that the panel on dealing with difficult people was standing room only?