Smofcon Scholarships Awarded

CanSMOF Inc., the parent organization of the 2009 Montreal Worldcon, has selected the recipients of two scholarships to attend Smofcon 32, a convention for conrunners. Jean-Louis Trudel of Quebec City and Jared Dashoff of Washington, D.C. will each receive 500 CAD to help defray the cost of attending Smofcon.

One scholarship was designated for a Canadian citizen or resident, while the second was open to anyone involved in running conventions, anywhere.

Smofcon 32 will be in Manhattan Beach, California from December 5-7.

Two SMOFcon Scholarships Offered

CanSMOF Inc. is taking applications for two scholarships of up to 500 CAD each to help conrunners defray the cost of attending SMOFCon 32, being held in Manhattan Beach, CA December 5-7.

One scholarship is open to Canadian citizens or residents; the other is open to all. Eligible applicants will be automatically considered for both scholarships. Preference will be given to fans who have not previously attended a SMOFCon. Click the link for the application form.

2014 Smofcon Site Picked

Smofcon 32, a convention for con organizers, will be held in Manhattan Beach, CA from December 5-7, 2014.

Its theme will be “All Roads Lead to the Same Castle: Traveling Together Into the Future” –

Smofcon is intended as a venue to discuss and exchange ideas about convention running and we feel that the broader the base, the more different points of view and experience, the more enriched we all are. Whether your “road” is SF&F, anime, comics, gaming, steampunk or anything in between, we all want to build the strongest castle we can.

Bobbi Armbruster and Kim Marks Brown will co-chair the event, hosted bythe Southern California Institute for Fan Interests at the Manhattan Beach Marriott.

SMOFCon 31 Scholarships

Jenni Merrifield of Port Moody, British Columbia and Pablo M.A Vazquez III of Austin, Texas have been awarded C$500 scholarships by CanSMOF Inc. to help defray the cost of attending SMOFCon 31.

SMOFcon 31 will be held December 6-8 in Toronto.

“Selecting only two scholarship recipients out of the field of applicants was a challenge,” according to CanSMOF Scholarship Committee member Kevin Standlee, who evaluated applications along with Robbie Bourget and Terry Fong. “There were many worthy applicants, and I’m sorry we could only pick two of them for the grants to go to Toronto. I hope Jenni and Pablo both learn things and help share their knowledge and experience with the other members of SMOFCon.”

“SMOF” stands for “Secret Masters of Fandom,” a humorous term for people who organize science fiction and fantasy conventions.

SMOFCon is the annual convention about organizing science fiction and fantasy conventions. It has been held in different cities around the world, usually in early December, since 1984.

2013 Smofcon Website Up


Smofcon 31 will be held December 6-8 at Toronto’s Royal York Hotel.

The annual convention for sf convention runners is chaired this year by Diane Lacey. Her committee includes Ruth Lichtwardt, Catherine Crockett, Debra Yeung, Chris Smith, Mark Olson, Priscilla Olson, Jeff Orth, Claire Beaumier and Tim Sellmer. 

The con’s theme is “Learning From The Past, Looking To The Future.”

Current membership price is $50 Canadian.

2012 Smofcon Scholarhip Winners Named

CanSMOF has awarded Danielle MacDonald (Ontario, Canada) and James Shields (County Meath, Ireland) scholarships to the 2012 SMOFCon.

MacDonald has worked a number of art shows, and is also interested in masquerades and food and hospitality services. This will be her first Smofcon.

Shields has worked in programming, and is interested in developing uses of web technologies to further aid conventions and their memberships with their online experience. This will be his first Smofcon in North America.

The winning applicants were selected based on a demonstration of their potential for contributing to their local fandom and Canadian fandom. The 2012 selection committee was Terry Fong, Diane Lacey and Kevin Standlee.

CanSMOF Inc., is parent non-profit organization of Anticipation, the 2009 Worldcon, The first scholarship was open to a Canadian citizen or resident, while the second was open to anyone involved in running conventions, regardless of their place of residence or citizenship.

Smofcon 30 will be held Philadelphia from November 30-December 2.

The City of Smofly Love

Smofcon 30 will be held next year in Philadelphia, November 30-December 2, 2012. (Although no longer breaking news, I wanted to get it on record here for future reference.)

Smofcon 30’s theme will be “Building a Winning Team: The Right Player for the Right Position.” They’ll explore how to create and keep an organizing committee for every size convention and associated tasks such as:

  • defining the skill sets needed for a particular job
  • identifying a person’s skill sets (people, data management, logistics & planning, money handling, marketing and publications, computer and internet, theatrical, etc)
  • matching people to jobs to get the most enthusiasm and effort
  • keeping a geographically diverse committee together
  • evaluating yourself – figuring out which convention job(s) you’re best for

The 2012 Smofcon committee is: Joni Brill Dashoff, Laurie Mann, Ben Yalow, Todd Dashoff and Jim Mann.

Memberships cost $50 until February 29; $60 (3/1-9/30); $75 (10/1 and at door).

Smofcon 30 information is also available via Facebook and Twitter.

Mitchell: Bid Type Signifiers

[Editor’s Note: At Smofcon Finnish fan Eemeli Aro presented a Mariehamn in 2016 Worldcon bid that left the internet wondering whether he was serious or not. The debate inspired Petréa Mitchell to devise a set of criteria for diagnosing hoax convention bids which she posted to the SMOFS list. Having some experience perpetrating hoax bids myself, I was thoroughly entertained by her thought experiment. Petréa has given her permission to repost it.]

While waiting to get a definitive statement from the Mariehamn bid on its intended level of seriousness, I got to thinking about how we tell hoax bids and non-hoax bids apart, because I am a bit of a social psychology geek. (I’m a programmer, and my particular interest is in usability issues, which means having to learn a lot about how the human brain works.)

When I tried making a list of sensible-sounding criteria, I realized most of them actually don’t work. To wit:

(1) Date: Works if it’s obviously outrageous, e.g. Christmas, or in the past, or a year centuries in the future.

(2) Location: Again, has to be really obvious, like fictional (Xerps, Z’ha’dum), or not a city (Aberdeen Proving Ground). “Too small/out-of-the-way” is a criticism that gets made of actual Worldcon bids from time to time (remember the discussion about perceived lack of air connections to Spokane recently?).

(3) Silliness of campaign: IIRC, most of the content on the Australia in 2010 Web site when it first appeared was the timeline of how the bid started with an ill-chosen remark. The first Orlando bid poster is riffing on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Serious bids have no trouble getting silly, so this actually doesn’t work as a signifier.

(4) Degree of online presence: The site for Mariehamn consists of a single page, but between that, its Facebook page, and it Twitter account, it has more of an online presence than all the apparently-serious-so-far bids for 2017-2019 combined.

(5) Degree of organization: I’m guessing that most people would expect all the hoax bids to be run by a bunch of slackers and everything else to be polished efforts by well-organized groups. OTOH, I expect everyone on this list has encountered the occasional counterexample.

(6) SMOF density: Thinking over some recent hoax bids I’m familiar with, I think the hoaxes may actually have a slightly higher average level of conrunning experience involved.

So the confusion over the Mariehamn bid is due to #3-#6 being useless, sounding plausible on #1, and mixed appraisals of #2.

Given how many of these don’t work, it’s a wonder that most of the time everyone’s able to tell immediately which ones are the serious bids and which are the hoaxes.

[Postscript: We’re now reliably informed that Mariehamn is not a serious bid.]

[Petréa Mitchell regularly contributes to several fannish blogs and writes a quarterly sf-oriented fanzine named Picofarad, “The zine of little capacity.”]