by Meagan Malone and Maddy Vonhoff
Conventions provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to geeks everywhere. They offer a chance to meet like-minded people, chat with your favorite celebrities and creators, and find out the latest and greatest insider info. Attendees always go home with some amazing stories, but unfortunately, there is usually a bad experience or two thrown in the mix. Join Fanpup in agreeing to follow The Codex of Convention Etiquette and fight the forces of disrespect and intolerance!
1. Common courtesy still applies. We are always astonished when we go to a convention and so many people around us seem to have forgotten how to act in public. We know that people have panels to get to and don’t want to miss getting their favorite actor’s autograph, but can we all make sure that we aren’t shoving people out of the way, pushing through people, cutting in line, etc. while we are doing it? Most importantly, be sure to apologize if you do end up doing one of those things.
2. ASK before you take a picture. Just because someone is in costume does not give you the right to photograph them without their permission. Sure, they are probably proud of their cosplay and want to show it off, but that’s just one more reason for you to go up and ask. Sometimes people will say no – if they are rushing to make a panel or are busy eating, for instance, but most of the time people are happy to stop to let you snap a pic. Plus, you’ll get a cool pose out of it! In particular, never photograph someone just because you wanted a picture of their butt, abs, etc. (plenty of cosplayers are happy to do sexy poses if you ask, and the ones who aren’t are NOT going to be happy that you tried to get one without their permission, anyway). The one exception to this rule is if they are already posing for someone else – then it’s usually okay to go ahead and take your own picture.
3. Limit the seats you try to save - Don’t try to save seats for a huge group of people, and if it’s getting down to the wire and your friends haven’t shown up, give their seats up to the people who have been waiting. This is especially true in larger comic conventions where people have been waiting in line since the day before the panel! Some cons will even kick you out of line if they see you letting a whole group in. Also make sure to not leave an empty chair between you and another person. It’s frustrating to look for two or more seats together, especially in a dark crowded convention hall.
4. Keep up your personal hygiene. Many of you have probably already been to a convention, and if you haven’t yet, you will find that they tend to be hot and crowded, and you are usually in close quarters with strangers. By the end of the day the expo hall can be a pretty smelly place, and standing in line for autographs can be unpleasant. While this isn’t entirely avoidable, it cn be mitigated by some basic upkeep in between days. Be sure to take a shower, use deodorant, and brush your teeth before returning to the convention for the next day of fun. It’s also a good idea to avoid strong-scented perfumes, colognes, and other cosmetic products because they give some people strong headaches and even migraines.
5. Be courteous to staff and volunteers. The people who work behind the scenes and on the convention floor work hard to make sure that the convention experience is as positive as possible for everyone. The thing that we all need to remember is that they have to deal with everyone’s problems, no matter how big or small. You may very well have the biggest issue or most important question, but treating the staff poorly because you aren’t getting the response you want is not going to help the situation. Try to be patient and understanding, and remember that without the staff and volunteers, there would be no convention for us to enjoy. So be nice to them and maybe thank them for the work that they do to give us a pleasant experience.
6. Be respectful of other con-goers. The convention was not put on for you and you alone, and if you go in with that mindset, you’re setting yourself up for conflict and frustration. Your interests and reasons for attending the convention are certainly valid. You wouldn’t be spending your time and money if you weren’t really excited about some aspect of the event. The same is equally true of everyone else, whether it seems like it or not. For instance, it isn’t fair to assume that an older person is only there for their child, that a pretty girl is only there for attention, or that someone without a nerdy shirt, bag, etc. isn’t as big a nerd as you. A fan is a fan no matter what stage of fanhood they are in. Don’t make fun of someone or shame them for expressing their geek identity differently from you.
7. When complimenting cosplayers, always compliment the work that went into the costume rather than their physical attributes. “You look great, good job on your costume” is a fantastic compliment. Feel free to ask about how they put together a particular cool prop or what techniques they used to build their armor. Cosplayers want to be acknowledged for their hard work, but this does not mean they are looking to be objectified. Do not mention their body parts or use this as an opportunity for sexual harassment. Also, negative comments have no place here.
8. When in line for autographs, consider the people behind you. Typically, celebrity guests, authors, and illustrators have a one- or two-hour window scheduled for meeting fans and they can’t stay later. Keep conversations with the person of interest short to allow more people to meet them and keep the amount of things you would like signed in the single digits. Nothing is worse than watching the person in front of you pull out 50 comic issues to be signed so they can sell them later on eBay.
9. Keep an open mind. Comics, video games, TV, and film excite us because they stretch the limits of our imaginations. What’s the point of creating and being part of new worlds if we are still bound by the rules of this one? Don’t dismiss something because it isn’t how you envision it, or because you don’t think it belongs. Whether it be a Muslim Captain America or a bearded Princess Leia, everyone has a right to connect with their inner creative light and express it however they see fit (within the convention rules, of course). We can all welcome the fantastic new stories and ideas we’ll see at the con; open minds are sure to be left with lasting impressions.
Be respectful. Ultimately, that’s what all of these points boil down to. All we have to do is recognize that everyone at the convention has the same goal of having an amazing time, and make sure to treat everyone as we all would like to be treated. Simple as that.
Want to pledge to help make everyone’s con-going experience a little better by following these simple guidelines? Comment below!