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The Problem With (Some) Con Runners
Posted Oct 18, 2019 - 18:15:42

There is an ongoing problem in the con running community, and it's the instinct to avoid any sort of public turbulence. Reactions to the Vic-pocalypse have driven this home, but it was this instinct that allowed a missing stair like him to stay for so long in the first place.

And I get it. Con staff's are scared to piss off people. Most don't have the money for lawyers and legal fees if someone were to sue, so they don't speak up. But if your primary responsibility is keeping attendees safe, sweeping things under the rug is never helpful.

The first time I heard about Vic Mignogna was at Anime Milwaukee 2010. It wasn't anything remotely close to his worst accusations -- a friend felt uncomfortable with comments Mignogna made, he hugged another friend without her consent -- but combined with the rumors out there, we chose to quietly blacklist him from the con we all worked for (NoBrandCon).

It wasn't much, but it was what we could do.

But it's not just the sexual predators (of which there are a number still floating around the con scene), but other screw ups made by staffs. Sometimes its poor planning, sometimes its money mismanagement, sometimes it's something malicious -- I've seen all of these things happen in the twenty three years I've been staffing cons. And for most of them, things always get hidden away. There are show promoters who would run a failed event, then quietly move towns and start a new one under a different name... attendees none the wiser.

Which is why we started reporting on stuff at Nerd & Tie. We wanted a record of this stuff to be at least semipermanent beyond the ephemeral social media posts that get lost to time. People and cons need to be held accountable. Have we been perfect? No. Have we published some "hot takes" which were kinda terrible? Yes. But we've strived to be accurate, and overall I think our record is pretty good.

(That said, please contribute to our legal fund - http://gofund.me/nerdandtie )

But the reaction from some of the con staffers out there has been... not great? I mean, yeah -- I don't expect people we've written negative pieces about to be big fans of mine. But even some con staffers in the world at large who I've never written about have taken shots at me. One guy who works for Anime Milwaukee, COAF, Naka-kon, and Kumoricon has literally called me a "blight" on the community.

He's the reason I'm skipping AMKE this year.

And it's ridiculous. Like a different guy who runs a bunch of cons has complained that I'm just dragging up "drama" and it's just nonsense. I'm writing down the stuff hardly anyone was willing to do so for years. There are others out there with me (like File770 has been doing this forever), but we're all small operations. This isn't "drama," this the community we're stewards of.

Guys like Mr. "Blight" think that we're being over nitpicky reporting on stuff like Tokyo in Tulsa, but when a con severely mismanages a situation, it should be remembered. People should know that Person A did a bad thing that time. It's important.

Screw ups need to be documented and remembered. And it's not to say people should never forgive cons for their mistakes, but that forgiveness should be an INFORMED forgiveness. It's the only chance we have at getting better.
- Traegorn

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I think the problem with some of the "problem people" is that there IS no consistent source of information. For instance, a con I worked on had Vic Mignona as a guest in 2011, and no one came forward and said "Hey, did you know that he's been a problem at other cons?" As far as I know, no one complained of anything he did at our con, but until things really hit the fan, it was just a little secret among the cons which HAD reacted to him.
Yeah, this has been a problem since people started getting any fame or power (and in the small pond of fandom, that can be very tiny amounts). I don't want to start on secondhand stories... but I started hearing them in the 80's, from female friends and second hand. I've been guest liaison a lot - and did once learn a GoH made an unwelcome advance to my girlfriend when I wasn't in the room. She didn't want me to say anything or do anything... and I don't know what we should have done, but it sure is a crappy situation to find yourself in. Do we have a template policy for what a concom member has to do in that sort of situation nowadays?




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