Fozard Guest Post About Resigning as Worldcon Co-Chair

By Colette H. Fozard: By now the news has been announced. I resigned as co-chair of DisCon III.

I have been part of the Worldcon community since 1995 when I attended Intersection as my honeymoon and I welcomed my now husband to the community with a Wedcon room party at Noreascon 4. I started volunteering in 1996 and have volunteered either at the Worldcon or for one I was working or bidding for at every Worldcon I have attended since then. I have volunteered at the Division Head level or higher at every Worldcon since 2017 save one.

In my years of growing responsibility of working for Worldcons, I have become increasingly alarmed and upset at the level of abuse and vitriol spewed at the all-volunteer staff. So much so that I have now abruptly walked away from probably the best chance I had to improve matters ‘from the inside.’

The Hugo announcement made Monday (and since retracted by DC III) made it clear that for the first time ever, all contributors to a Hugo finalist work would be listed and recognized as Hugo Finalists.  No matter how many persons were named by the finalist work – everyone would be credited in the permanent record of the Hugo Awards, receive the finalist pin, and be celebrated as a finalist. The limits that were set were where resources and readability might become an issue.  If you review the Hugo Finalist listings over there years, I can say with strong knowledge that if the listing said “Team [X]” or “X, Y, Z editors and the Staff of A” it was because the Hugo Administrator told the finalist that there was not the ability to list everyone they wanted to.  DC III decided to drop those limits for the first time.  

NOT GOOD ENOUGH, said some of the worst abusers of Hugo Admin staff over the years. They twisted the announcement to meet their selfish ends and I had to watch my staff despair that people were yelling at us for a misunderstanding. Because there were concerns about the readability of the ballot (most vote electronically, but paper ballots are required by the WSFS Constitution) and the physical ability of how many people we could fit together in reception and ceremony spaces, we were accused of stifling BIPOC creators. A rich accusation from the white editors/gatekeepers who pride themselves on being performatively abusive, in a social media community where this is not just tolerated but rewarded.

If this were the first time The Internet rounded on Worldcon staff, I would be less worried, but it happens over and over.  As a member of CoNZealand’s committee, I saw how upset the staff were when numerous Hugo Finalists loudly and publicly proclaimed how upset they were with their programming, did not give CoNZealand a chance to make modifications, and then ran their own programming scheme attaching the convention’s name to it without asking, and finally had the gall to remind everyone at the end that their programming might be eligible for a best related work Hugo Award. A former staffer accused Worldcon 75 of withholding the souvenir book based on her misunderstanding of internal communications, and even though she was clearly wrong, I got to watch former Worldcon chairs, among others, pile on with cheap rhetorical shots, here on File 770 and within the complainers FB post. 

Worldcon staff are people. People who are working hard to do the right thing and put on a convention where all feel welcome. Worldcon staff should be, must be, and are held responsible to ensure their work is welcoming and inclusive as possible, but the endless cycle of assume-bad-faith, attack-without-mercy is wearying, toxic and destructive to the very community these people claim to be a part of and care about.  I have seen senior professionals in the field repeatedly abuse staff, cutting them off to berate them as they are trying to explain how they can help them. I have spent more time listening, comforting and caring for upset, traumatized and dejected staffers who have just been on the receiving end of nasty and vicious abuse (both verbal/in-person and in writing/online) than I care to think about.

I have managed and worked with thousands of Worldcon staffers over the years, from all over the world, and all of them come to their roles at Worldcon wanting to make this event better, inclusive and enjoyable for all. Mistakes will be made, but it is horrifying to see how vicious and unforgiving some in the community have become. 

What is going to happen if this dangerous cycle doesn’t end? I don’t know, and since I’m leaving the Worldcon volunteer community, I no longer have to care.  However, to paraphrase Gritty, the Hero of Philadelphia – keep f*cking around and we’ll find out.

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137 thoughts on “Fozard Guest Post About Resigning as Worldcon Co-Chair

  1. A former staffer accused Worldcon 75 of withholding the souvenir book based on her misunderstanding of internal communications, and even though she was clearly wrong

    Colette, I still have copies of those communications, in which you told me straight out more than once that Supporting Members were not going to get a physical copy of the Souvenir Book unless they had already paid an additional fee for paper communications (a choice which was no longer available at that point). You also promised me that the Supporting Members would be told that they wouldn’t be getting paper copies, but then never told them.

    I do not appreciate you pretending that the backlash from that was anything other than the result of a poor judgment call on your own part.

  2. I am sorry for the vitriol your staff endured, but contrary to your statement, it was absolutely NOT made clear from the announcements that more people would be somehow recognized. What came across on Twitter was “four names only, sorry.” Given that the tweets were phrased as “we expect only a few categories will be affected” and “we have to do this to make the ceremony shorter,” that very much came across as reducing the number of people being acknowledged.

    It was a whole regrettable mess and I’m very glad it’s being acknowledged and fixed, but let’s not rewrite how the announcement was rolled out here.

  3. I am very tired of Worldcon organisers say they all want to improve things yet then say we all have to accept mistakes will be made. That’s the performative bland statement we see every year. The fact each year the same poor decisions are made shows the planning of the events isn’t actually learning any lessons

  4. “They twisted the announcement to meet their selfish ends”

    they (myself included)…reacted to the statement as it was written. And then reacted to the clarifications as they were written. None of these contained any of the context you seem to think is understood that would exonerate you.

  5. This is most unfortunate. My heart goes out to Ms. Fozard.

    The real issue here is not the one that led to her resignation–from my outside viewpoint, that appears to be a teapot tempest. The true problem is the immediacy of the Internet, and how it promotes what Doc Smith called “loose and muddy thinking.” An event occurs, it gets onto the Internet, some hothead responds without thinking clearly, someone else fires an insult back, a third party (not seeing the open can of gasoline lying nearby) lights a match to shed light on the subject, and–foom! Instant fan feud.

    In the good ol’ days, we had more time to think. Most communication was postal, via letters, fanzines, or apas. Long distance phone calls were ex$pen$ive. One normally thought two or three times before typing, since mimeo stencils weren’t the cheapest things in the world, either, and only for special occasions did we bring out the acid ink and asbestos paper. It took time to kindle a feud, and they were easier to extinguish. Not that we didn’t have plenty of them anyway–the first Worldcon (1939) was notorious for absence of fannish peace–but they didn’t erupt instantly, and usually not over trifles.

    I was connected with the organization of two Worldcons: Iguanacon (1978), a disaster which felt like the fannish equivalent of Omaha Beach, and Denvention II (1981), which was internally peaceful, but exhausting. It was a desire to avoid future stress that drove me away from Worldcon work afterwards–my wife and I ran the Denvention II art show. The only good thing I recall from the experience is that our marriage was stronger afterwards. If we’d had to contend with Internet flame wars, I doubt we’d have stuck with the concom to the end.

  6. Why not present the logistical limitations to each of the finalists and ask them how they want it handled (There are a finite number of characters that will fit on the engraved plate on a Hugo base; ask them how they want to be listed within those constraints, etc)?

    How do you do this for number of rockets when not setting a hard limit? Framing the question something like “With the understanding that we have a limited budget, how many rockets would you expect to receive if you win? Additionally, is there a number fewer than that you would consider to still be honoring your group appropriately, and if so, what is that number?”

    People are more willing to be accommodating and flexible when you work with them, and ask for their input. Of course affected people (and many of the strongest opponents to the DC Hugo Policy were recent Hugo Finalists and Winners) are going to be understandably upset when you impose a policy without asking for input.

  7. Ok, guess I still have more to say. (Sorry, Mike, I went away and brooded for a bit.)

    Blaming this all on white gatekeepers erases the BIPOC that stood up against this policy as well. Calling this performative abuse dismisses that people might be genuinely upset. C’mon. This is nonsense. People are allowed to get frustrated by erasure, even unintentional erasure. Doesn’t make it automatically performative for Internet Points.

    The thing is, it was OVER. The con apologized and as far as I can tell, that apology was accepted, people moved on. (There was a coup, for god’s sake, nobody actually had energy for sustained Twitter anger.) ConZealand is OVER. All of this was dealt with or was fading from memory. Why even post this airing of grievances? You could have just said “please be kind, we’re human” without dragging up the rest of the incidents. It’s possible to call for patience without relitigating things that are already done and dusted. Hell, it would have probably been wise, if you’re calling for people to be nice to staff, not to dredge up past failure modes. People LIKE con staff, for the most part, and they will mostly try and make allowances, but “remember how mean you were about our past screwups?!” ain’t it.

    Just…you could have let it go. But you made this choice instead. Which was certainly…a choice. Yup.


  8. A significant change of policy should not be announced through a tweet.

    Particularly a significant change of policy that should be up for public debate first.

    Particularly a significant change of policy that was known to be a contentious subject.

    Particularly a significant change of policy that was poorly thought out and withdrawn not once, but twice after the first attempt to change policy through tweet was deleted and replaced with a second slightly less offensive attempt that was also eventually withdrawn.

    Having put in shifts at Ops, and having had to be the Door Dragon people complain about, I agree it’s a stressful business working a con, and people complain about the work you do without understanding it. And that these people also cause their own problems, by acting out without understanding. And brewing up what should be simple issues into massive problems

    However, I can also say that it’s not the people who complained about the ‘4 names or less’ tweet that are causing the majority of problems for the Hugo Awards and Worldcon over the last few conventions. There are some volunteers at Worldcon who have been causing more problems than they help solve. I recall the very entitled ‘senior’ volunteer who caused a series of problems after they took ownership of the Author Signing area, including but not limited to crowd control issues, failing to get water for the authors, and at one point preventing an Author from selling their books at the signing despite that being an contract agreement for their appearance.

    And as to the attitudes and language used, I can only direct you to the scorn I personally received here from the Fandom Elders who disliked my suggestions for how things could change.

    Yes, in the words of Gritty, those that **** around get found out.

  9. I can say with strong knowledge that if the listing said “Team [X]” or “X, Y, Z editors and the Staff of A” it was because the Hugo Administrator told the finalist that there was not the ability to list everyone they wanted to.

    And I can say, with strong knowledge (as a four-time Hugo administrator), that you’re wrong.

  10. However, to paraphrase Gritty, the Hero of Philadelphia – keep f*cking around and we’ll find out.

    Did you think that was a good way to end the post where you explained how your incompetence and poor communication lead to your resignation?

  11. This reads like a remarkably large pile of sour grapes from someone who would rather be right than improve. If a fannish, volunteer organization cannot be responsive to the concerns of its community, I’m not even sure why we bother having a fannish, volunteer organization. One of the strengths of the Worldcon community is that is has a really responsive feedback system. I get that nobody likes to be yelled at, and I also get that if I lived in DC right now, I might be under especial stress, but getting yelled at for making a mistake is part of the job.

    Worldcon and Hugo Administration is in this weird space where they administer the premier award in the field, without the cushion of wads-o-cash, and without professional administrators with lots of institutional knowledge and supportive bureaucracies. There are good and bad things about this. I would love to see some work towards improving the channels of communication and feedback so that people don’t get so badly nicked when things go off the rails, but that is difficult to do without reducing the incentives to respond when things do go awry.

    A lot of people are making a lot of decisions under a lot of stress, right now. And a lot of people are responding to those decisions while under a lot of stress. I think there is some room to ask for some grace on both sides. But the above screed… really isn’t that at all. It’s mostly someone whining because they are being held to account for their actions.

  12. Yikes, this whole post is really gross.

    Typically if an adult is going to pitch a tantrum, she should do so in private. And not make a record of it.

    I have now abruptly walked away from probably the best chance I had to improve matters ‘from the inside.’

    You’re in fandom. You know this is actually called a flounce. And frankly if all that strawmanning you’ve done is how you’re framing this thing–white gatekeepers? Really? What, all the BIPOC are invisible to you?–then you were never going to make any good changes from inside anyway.

  13. I think anybody with any capacity of empathy can see the emotional pain within this letter. That is something any of us who criticized the announcement of the name restrictions on the trophy and on the ballot should consider.

    And yet…This letter fails to do same.

    It ascribes to critics of the policy selfish motives and treats the genuine emotions of other people as false and insincere. It fails to acknowledge that real people have real feelings.

    And which people? The categories most impacted by this policy were Semiprozine, Fanzine and Fancast. The negative reaction was from groups of fans who are deeply connected with Worldcon and the Hugo awards, who also do a lot of the work in fandom, building bridges between fans. These are also the venues which PROMOTE Worldcon and promote the Hugo Awards as valuable and important.

  14. A few years ago, I said that one of the problems with fandom was that no matter what you did, somebody would BITCH. People would do unpaid volunteer work out of the love of the field and the fellowship, and even they did it right or tried to make difficult choices and/or made honest mistakes, someone would BITCH. Nowadays, as Ms. Fozard points out, volunteers are attacked at every turn, character assassination ensues, and the Internet lynch mob comes after you. Even if you walk away, the mob just won’t let it go. I’ve seen it happen to others in my own personal experience, and something like it once happened to me, although fortunately people who knew me finally came to my defense (it was so disgusting an experience that I just gafiated). Some kind of radical change occurred in fandom during my active years of 1991 to 2013. I remember around 2010 or so, people really began to express the belief that there seemed to be more assholes in fandom than ever; I suspect that the Internet is largely to blame, but I’m not sure that’s the whole story. In any event, especially to young people, I would advise that if you value your reputation in the mundane world or your professional life, I would stay the hell away from fandom, and especially volunteer work for it. With the immortality of information on the Internet, and the pathological, relentless vindictive behavior of a significant portion of contemporary fandom, the follies that used to become gossip or legends in just mimeographed fanzines of insignificant circulation could easily trash your reputation and your life in the real world. It’s just not worth it…..

  15. It’s obviously a case of last straw. Here’s a reminder that staff and other volunteers buy attending memberships just to work the con, which they may or may not get back afterwards. I see the critics being considered not insincere, but thoughtless.

  16. I will make one more related comment. People who have been marginalized by publishing gatekeepers and whitewashed by art departments have legitimate grievances. But the con runners are not responsible for that! I wish that the critics would have better aim at appropriate targets without all the collateral damage.

  17. I do find the supposition that anything one doesn’t like about cons is a vicious personal attack and not, say, incompetence, kind of wearing.
    We don’t normally get it from both sides.

  18. RedWombat: There seems to be a lot of discussion these days about “forgive and forget” when that really means “don’t remind me about how terrible I have treated you for so long.” Examples certainly help me to understand how choices and behavior can impact which is why I offered them here and to show how the problem is repeating.

    Lydy: I am perfectly happy to be held account for my actions. As I made clear in the guest post, DC III staffers were getting yelled at for a twisted misreading of the announcement. I’ll be happy to take all the hits in the world for a poor policy, but this wasn’t one.

    John Lorentz: all my experience in this comes after the last time you performed your excellent service to fandom by being a Hugo Administrator.

  19. @Jeffrey Jones

    I’m afraid you’re exhibiting the biases I keep seeing. Pardon con runners they work hard are only human and make mistakes – they buy their own tickets!

    So do the critics and I suspect many paid supporting memberships. Have seen constant annual mistakes repeated by con organisations who mysteriously keep saying they’ll do better and yet fail again next year

    Gate keeping isn’t just in publishing it hsppdns in cons

    ignoring BIPOC for panels unless it’s the standard diversity panels
    being poor at accessibility
    deciding which nominees will be asked to work with a con
    Etc etc

  20. I can only say that at last in part of the recent annoucement, for me the comments on File 770, were critical but not abusive and full of vitrol. (Twitter may be a different thing)
    Of course on problem typical for the internet, sometimes comments come of harsher than they were meaned and others don’t get the message across that you want to get across.
    Critic is somethink that should be espected. We all make mistakes, and it is more fun to be right, but we all want the best for Discon. Basicly if you don’t want people to just nod to everythink you do, this is the wrong fandom.
    And somethink that happened 2017(!!!), should not have been relevand for the discusion of backlash now.

    @Genevra Littlejohn
    Can you try to stay civil? Your post pushed a few buttons, they I found not okay.

  21. @Jeffrey Jones – But in a lot of cases, the conrunners DO bear some responsibility for that by perpetuating the same conditions that caused the original grievances. Cons are not equally welcoming spaces for all and I think the above tantrum demonstrates why these kinds of things keep happening.

  22. Maybe we should discuss specifics. I see 2 categories of fan-run cons: local ones that have mostly the same people running them from year to year and Worldcon, which mostly doesn’t. Are people being shut out of working for the former type? If so, what can be done about it?

    ( also acknowledging that accessibility is a perennial problem.)

  23. I’ve just read a lot of claims of vicious personal attacks in response to the initial policy announcement. Would somebody who’s making those claims mind pointing me at the tweets or other posts that do so?

  24. Here is the thing about the good old days: they weren’t good for everybody. Posting in a zine, “Isaac Asimov groped me again, and I don’t like it” (if anybody actually had the nous to do it) reached only the people in that zine. Ditto with “that conversation was racist and made me uncomfortable here.” If you want proof of that, look at the reminiscences and memoirs of variously-marginalized people who did try to complain, and were ignored. Look at all the old photos that contain exclusively white people.

    The difference now is that one person can tweet, “Wow, [X] groped me and I didn’t like it” and tens of others can say “Wow, I thought that was just me.” One person can say “I was on a panel and they didn’t bother to install a wheelchair ramp even though I requested it,” and instead of relying solely on the goodwill of the con committee that made the mistake in the first place, they can make sure that other disabled people know there’s a problem. Some choose to call this an Internet mob; others call it organizing. There are people who have consistently been excluded from fandom who are present now, and who are angry about the continuing exclusion.

    The anger in the voices is there because of patterns of bad behavior. Look at all the inaccessible hotels that were booked without the organizers making plans to make them more accessible. Look at the people who said “Why are so many of these panels all-white when the following BIPOC experts are attending the convention?” only to be told, “Making up panels is complex and accommodates many factors, including availability.” People are angry, not because of a single isolated event, but because it’s one in a series of events, and something needs to be done.

    It’s much easier to say “Internet mob” than it is to say “What did I do wrong, and how can I fix it?”

  25. @Genevra Littlejohn:
    Even if that perhaps was the case, do you really think, that is a great goal?
    I post what gave me the worst vibes from your post:

    Yikes, this whole post is really gross.

    Typically if an adult is going to pitch a tantrum, she should do so in private. And not make a record of it.

    You know this is actually called a flounce.

    First is keep your anger quiet, what towards a woman is not the best vibe.
    Second, flounce reminds me of trolls, not good for the situation.
    Both gave me quite bad vibes. Exspecially when we have someone who got a lot of pushback, so much that she opted out. (I leave it open, if this was overreacting or if there was really some abusive stuff because I only checked File 770 about the isue)
    May be that I am overreacting, but this was my reaction to your post, sorry.

  26. @StefanB I don’t know that this is a productive direction to carry this conversation; I think we might be better off here if we don’t tell each other how they should express themselves or that they should keep their anger quiet.

  27. @Chris R: I suppose you’re right–we should cut each other some slack in that regard, although I reserve the right to make exceptions for those who have clearly demonstrated their ability.

  28. @StefanB, I’m a woman of color (though according to her post there aren’t any of those in this conversation). I was not saying “women need to keep quiet,” I was saying that throwing an exclamation-point-ridden post full of fallacies is a really bad look.

    And just because you’re reminded of trolls by the word for what she’s doing doesn’t mean it isn’t the word for what she’s doing. This isn’t brave, this isn’t a woman driven to the edge by her faceless white horde of attackers, this is a person who despite her stated long experience in the job hasn’t learned how to do it, and has somehow not yet learned that being criticized is not the same as being attacked.

    At any rate, I’m not continuing this discussion with you as I do not feel it’s going to be productive on any level.

  29. This is going to be a long one so buckle up, dear filers.

    TL; DR: I was WSFS Division Head (overseeing the Hugo Administration Team and other aspects of the convention) for DisCon III, have since resigned, and do not agree with the above perspective.

    I have immense privilege. I’m white. I’m male. I’m middle class-ish. I have a secure job. I have familial support. Part of that privilege allows me to choose how I spend my time. I choose to spend some of it organizing SFF conventions, particularly of the literary tilt and particularly Worldcon.

    I have, since the bidding for the 2017 Worldcon began, been involved in bringing a Worldcon to DC. We lost for 2017 but won the right to host in 2021. I was asked to serve as WSFS Division Head for that convention, overseeing the volunteers that ensure the convention meets its obligations under the WSFS constitution (to administer the 2021 Hugo Awards and site selection for the 2023 Worldcon, and to hold a business meeting). I have been performing this volunteer job since late 2019.

    In the months since then, we’ve had a pandemic and an attempted coup, I’ve changed jobs, I’ve moved, I’ve been dealing with crippling anxiety, and I’ve still managed to perform my duties (some might say well). That was up until this past week.

    This Monday, the convention released policies related to the Hugo Awards and how finalists would be listed in certain places that were met with displeasure in the community. Those policies were created to deal with a) space constraints at receptions and award ceremonies, b) budget constraints of the receptions and trophies, c) constraints relating to font size on both ballots and in-ceremony visuals, and d) in response to multiple requests to list long lists of contributors to Hugo Finalists over the last few years, including pushing on Hugo staff when limits were imposed. There are constraints; they are real and limiting. That being said, the policies were not initially my idea nor that of my Hugo admin, but we didn’t stop them in their tracks — we moved forward with devising a roll-out and implementing them.

    The policy spun and spun and we lost sight of those actual constraints. We didn’t vet it enough (it was vetted but not enough and not through those that would truly be impacted). We didn’t listen to all feedback. We kept pushing forward. All of this is the royal we because, as WSFS DH, I was a member of the convention committee that did this even if I didn’t personally do it all.

    The policy was bad (which I should have said early on) and then it was rolled out poorly. The tweets and release focused on accessibility rather than the real limitations. The tweets didn’t link back to the full release, which at least had a bit more context. The tweets also had images without alt-text and featuring all-white individuals, ironic for a policy claiming to respond to access issues. The clarifications didn’t clarify anything. The posts were deleted in response to a request to remove one of the photos. They were then reposted, without the responses and context. All of these were mistakes. Period. Full stop.

    We had expected the response, but were off by a degree of magnitude on the amount of displeasure. I and my Hugo Administrator argued, even in light of the work we had put in, that we should reverse course. We were met with pushback and, at a meeting Monday evening in which we were to debate how to respond, my Hugo admin was asked to resign.

    My Hugo admin admits he made mistakes in the process and could have done better, but he knows, I know, many people know, this was not wholly on him and he should not have been asked to resign. He, however, conceded. In light of this response from our superiors, the mistakes I made, and the loss of a trusted staff member very close to the opening of nominations for the awards he was meant to administer, I tendered my resignation. I couldn’t, in good conscience, continue to work under people who would ask that, didn’t believe we could get the job done, felt someone else needed to step in to do said job, and I just wasn’t having fun anymore (see privilege).

    Given the tumult that had brought us to this point, we (myself, my Hugo admin, and our superiors) ended the meeting and decided to sleep on it. We’d figure out how to deal with the underlying policy and who went where in the morning.

    Morning came and went. The community continued to be angry; heads continued to be called for. I was having even less fun. No response from our superiors. I contacted my Hugo admin and we decided to formally, and to the full committee, tender our resignations. The convention needed to show it was responsive, and if that meant this issue, that wasn’t even close to fully our fault, fell on our shoulders, so be it. Much of my staff, knowing the situation, followed up by also resigning.

    Suffice it to say, there were mistakes up and down and, as a volunteer organization, mistakes will be made. We (the Hugo admin and I, and others on the committee) were ready to own those mistakes, apologize, and reverse course. That has since happened and the community has accepted that apology. People, myself included, have resigned, partially, in a show of those mistakes.

    This post just reopens the wounds, lays blame at the wrong people — yes, people were less than civil in their displeasure, but that is besides the point. At best, this post is unhelpful. At worst, it is further harming the relationship between conrunners and the community such that fewer members of the community trust conrunners have good intentions and are hearing input, that fewer community members want to get involved in conrunning (something that is desperately needed for a variety of reasons), and that we keep ending up yelling at or past each other. This post should not have been made and surely not like this.

  30. Examples certainly help me to understand how choices and behavior can impact which is why I offered them here and to show how the problem is repeating.

    In which case, may I suggest you pick a better example than the response to the recent four-names-or-less decision? Because there was already a statement by the concom that acknowledged y’all screwed that one up and said they’d try to do better going forward. (It was a good apology, most people I saw accepted it. I even retweeted John Picacio approving of the apology, IIRC. )

    So the example you’re giving is both not at all what most of us read in real-time on Twitter, and also not what the official con account is saying happened. In light of that, this really does not come off like a generalized plea for kindness.

    Look, I get Twitter is like drinking from the firehose. Most cons I go to these days have a dedicated social media person who has experience with how social media goes. ( I think most cons should, honestly.) I get being a con staffer is hard. But “be kind, we’re trying” is a much more solid message when you don’t try to tack on “and also everyone is wrong about THING!” at the end.

    ETA: Jared, thank you for that.

  31. Even if Colette’s post wasn’t the best thing to say at this point in time, there’s still a message in there that comes through Jared’s as well: the internet’s response to mistakes is so strong that it drives people away from doing jobs that need to be done. That’s bad.

    The fact that some of the negative response may be deserved, or that some of it represents real pain on the part of the responders, doesn’t change the fact that every year, someone needs to fill a dozen difficult unpaid jobs, and the hiring statement for each of them should currently say “A bunch of people on the internet will get mad at you before this is over. Whatever mistake you make, you will publicly get called out for it.”

    The pool of competent people who would fill such a job must be getting smaller every year.

  32. I feel the need to repeat my question from above. I keep hearing about how terrible the internet’s responses are, but I am reasonably good at Twitter and I must have missed this. Could someone who saw that come back with links showing it? The only things I saw on Twitter were critiques of the policy, along with some anger about the policy, but I do not recall seeing much (any, really) abuse.

  33. @bill I think the actual thrust is “If you don’t do a good job, then people you hurt will get mad at you.”

    People talk about “the internet” like the people voicing these issues aren’t also human beings.

    Ffs, FiyahCon managed not because they didn’t make mistakes but because they were considerate and transparent in their communications and efforts.

  34. Well said Colette, and thanks for doing your part, unpaid and largely unacknowledged, for all those years. It’s a bastard when the volunteers are abused by people who waltz in screaming, me, me, me; and waltz out again.

    Looking at the complaints about the organisers and even the MC of the NZ convention, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they never got anyone to step forward again. I hope you get a well earned break from all the vitriol, but you might have to stay off the internet to achieve that 🙂

  35. Conrunners are volunteers. We are not paid to work here. In fact, we give up our time (and frequently some money as well) out of love for science fiction and the enjoyment of cons. Frequently, because we are working the con, ensuring things happen, we miss parts of the con we would have liked to have seen.

    So when people attack volunteers or criticize something for not being perfect, it no longer is fun; our main reason for putting ourselves to all this trouble. Then, since we are not paid, we can just stop and let someone else deal with all this. But, the danger is, that eventually cons run out of volunteers (especially people willing to lead and run things.)

    Instead of attacking from outside, critics should work to join the conventions and help to make things happen, not drive people away.

  36. I’d like to second the point @redwombat made about needing a social media person–someone who’s able to find, summarize, and report on the response without taking it personally or immediately snapping back. This is a known issue: it makes sense to have a plan in place to respond to it.

    I know that this person does not exist because a friend in WorldCon leadership tried to recruit me on the spot when I brought the nascent twitterstorm to their attention.

  37. @Sam A lot of the people who offered critique…do work cons.

    And as much as I love cons, honestly? I’d rather cons not happen then cons hurt people.

  38. Wow, there sure are some lies in this post.

    As a 2020 Hugo Finalist, CoNZealand Staff member & one of the main organisers of CoNZealand Fringe, I’m going to address the lies that concern me specifically, since folks have already weighed in on the attempt to gaslight the community about a discussion that happened literally four days ago.

    Anyways, Colette says:

    numerous Hugo Finalists loudly and publicly proclaimed how upset they were with their programming, did not give CoNZealand a chance to make modifications

    That’s just not true. The convention had many chances to make modifications, and some modifications were made in the end.

    Before anyone was complaining on social media, finalists were emailing with the convention asking for panel changes or additional panels, and a lot of those requests were simply ignored.
    Before the finalists were even announced, I volunteered with programming & offered to cross-reference the list of panelists against the eventual hugo finalists’ roster, to see if we were leaving anyone out – I did this when I was working on programme for Dublin, and it was a very useful QA measure. The suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm and never followed up on. I never even got grenadine access until the week before the con.
    Once the programme was shared publically & finalists started talking to each other, we worked with the convention to come up with panel additions and changes at the last minute: finalists who’d been given numerous panel spots stepping down to let others have a couple & cross referencing a giant spreadsheet of panels that weren’t full yet with folks’ availabilities.

    And now, misleading & untrue things about Fringe:

    and then ran their own programming scheme attaching the convention’s name to it without asking, and finally had the gall to remind everyone at the end that their programming might be eligible for a best related work Hugo Award.

    CoNZealand Fringe was put together by a small group that included some Hugo Finalists & some non-Hugo-Finalists – there were also many Hugo Finalists who complained about their programming but weren’t at all involved with organising Fringe.
    The convention was aware of Fringe before it was announced to the public – I personally told the Programme DH about it, including the name. I got a cordial but uninterested response and was not asked to change the name.
    It wasn’t Fringe who brought up being eligible for Best Related Work. Folks on SFF Twitter mentioned it first, and we retweeted it because it was a nice, flattering thought. It wasn’t brought up at all during programming itself – in fact we made sure to disclaim during every stream that Fringe was not a part of CoNZealand, and to let our viewers know about upcoming CNZ panels relating to the topic we were discussing, to make sure we weren’t competing with the con.

  39. This part seems fairly on target to me:

    and then ran their own programming scheme attaching the convention’s name to it without asking, and finally had the gall to remind everyone at the end that their programming might be eligible for a best related work Hugo Award.

    Readers know the difference between asking permission and merely being “aware” you had appropriated the name of the Worldcon for your online venture. “Was not asked to change the name” is not permission. In fact, you did NOT have permission.

    Last year when File 770 contacted the CoNZealand chairs about whether the Fringe had permission to use the convention’s name. David Gallaher, Vice-Chair, Business for CoNZealand replied, “They do not have our permission to use the CoNZealand name. And they don’t need our permission to do what they are doing.”

  40. I’m providing additional context because the phrase ‘without asking’ on its own is misleading, as I mentioned above.

    With this post, Colette is attempting to shift some of the responsibility for bad decisions & miscommunications away from herself, by painting people who had legitimate complaints about the policy as harassers – just like she is describing hugo finalists who had legitimate complaints about last year’s programme as abusing staff, and lumping them all in with Fringe in order to dismiss their points.

    It’s also disingenuous to talk about CoNZealand staff’s upset at the criticism without touching on the fact that there were absolutely staff members who were upset by the convention’s handling of those same issues, or that many of the people who complained, both last year and this Monday, were also hurt and upset at WorldCon for continuing to get the same things wrong again and again, year after year.

  41. Pingback: Pixel Scroll 1/15/21 Scroll With A Pixel Earring | File 770

  42. Claire Rousseau: I’m providing additional context because the phrase ‘without asking’ on its own is misleading, as I mentioned above.

    It’s clear that you didn’t get permission, and you don’t even claim to have asked for it.

  43. @Mike

    I refer you to CoNZealand Fringe’s official statement that was present on their webpage.

    “All third party trademarks (including icons and logos, where used) remain the property of their respective owners. CoNZealand Fringe’s use of third party trademarks does not indicate any relationship, sponsorship, affiliation or endorsement between CoNZealand Fringe and the owners of these trademarks. Any references by CoNZealand Fringe to third party trademarks is to identify the corresponding third party goods and/or services in accordance with nominative fair use under applicable trade mark law.”

    Convention Fringe events are a widely recognised practice worldwide, and trying to attack members of the fandom for organising them is not acceptable.

    At no point did they refer to themselves as an official sanctioned Worldcon or WSFS event. And yes, items presented at the convention can indeed qualify for ‘Related Works’ nominations, as they can for items presented at any fandom event. And complaining about that is very dubious!

    Can you please immediately retract the claim that they appropriated the Worldcon name?

  44. @Jay Blanc

    I mean… they still used the name without permission? I’m not hugely bothered by it personally (admittedly I’m neither past nor present concom) but I can understand why some people were, and… they did still use the name without permission, that’s not in dispute. As far as I can tell Mike’s not wrong in his understanding of the facts and telling him he shouldn’t be having the feelings he does about it seems… hm. Weird. This seems more of an agree to disagree situation than a retraction situation.

  45. Using the term ‘X Fringe’ is and has been an accepted fair use term for conventions worldwide. As acknowledged by CoNZealand, they did not need ‘permission’ to advertise a ConNZealand Fringe event calendar. Claiming it was ‘appropriation’ and an act in bad faith is entirely inappropriate and should be retracted.

    Again, no claim was made to be official WSFS events, the WSFS trademarks were not used to identify the Fringe Calendar. Any use of Hugo Award, Worldcon et al were in descriptive terms of what a panel was about… None of this is appropriation.

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