Supanova Sydney is approximately one month away which means thousands of fans will all be converging on The Dome at Sydney Olympic Park to see their favourite celebrity, comic artist, buy some fandom merchandise, and show off their fantastic cosplay.
There are so many posts out there about Convention Etiquette (mostly targeted at cosplaying) and Supanova have some great tips on their website too. As a convention attendee I feel there is no harm in adding another to the mix – especially when I have a few personal gripes about things I’ve experienced. So here are my thoughts and general tips for remaining a human being at conventions and getting the most from your weekend.
Plan, Plan, Plan.
I have heard so many complaints from people who say they missed a certain Q&A panel because they were off buying an action figure and didn’t know said panel was on.
First and foremost: Read the program guide. Plan what you want to see and don’t wing it. Get there as early as you can and buy your tokens in one hit. It is so much easier if you get the token buying out the way so you can avoid that line again multiple times.
Autograph sessions usually run all day every day, except for when the celebrity is doing a panel, photo session or having a break. So there is always going to be that opportunity to get your precious piece of merchandise signed.
Most conventions have multiple photo sessions with celebrities so if one conflicts with a panel you really have to see, buy a token for another session. If there is no avoiding a clash of panels or photos, prioritise.
Don’t get on the conventions facebook page, twitter or email and abuse them. They try their best to make everything available for everyone, but can’t work magic. Remember, they don’t schedule the convention just for you.
Waiting in line is inevitable.
With large conventions, there are also large crowds and one of the things that come with that is long lines. I have been to some conventions that just have a handful of people working the token booths and others that have more staff. Either way, if you want a photo or autograph token you’ll be waiting in line – possibly for a long time. If you are having your photo with a popular celebrity, you’ll be waiting a long time too. So be prepared for it and don’t get frustrated and take it out on the volunteers.
Planning is also key here. Don’t go to the token booth 5 minutes before a photo session is about to finish and expect you’ll get a token for it.
Most conventions start lining people up for Q&A panels while the one prior is under way. Be mindful of this if you want a good seat – or sometimes a seat at all.
Remember that VIP and specialty ticket holders paid a lot of money for their spot in line. So don’t get angry when they automatically get to go to the front of any queue making your waiting time even longer.
Remember Your Manners
Most of us, unless we were raised by wolves, were taught the meaning of “please” and “thank you” and personal space. Guess what? It costs nothing to remember any of them. Whoever you are dealing with, be it a celebrity, cosplayer, vendor or volunteer, remember to be polite.
Ask a cosplayer if you can take their photo, don’t just assume because they’re in a costume it’s a free-for-all. Don’t assume because they are in character, you have the right to invade their personal space and touch them or the costume they have worked on for months.
When you get a photo or autograph with a celebrity remember to say thank you. I know it can be overwhelming meeting your idol. But what city/country/convention wants to be known for having rude fans that can’t even take the time to say thanks for a photo or auto?
Be polite to volunteers. They are there to help your convention day go as best as it can, but its not their fault when it doesn’t.
Don’t assume that because you see them on TV or in movies you know the celebrities personally.
Something that bothers me is how familiar some people treat celebrities. Yes some of them are very personable and easy to talk to but remember they aren’t your best friend and they are not who they play on screen.
Don’t ask them weird, personal questions and don’t touch them inappropriately. If you are going to ask for a hug in your photo session (and in my opinion I think that is borderline too personal) please remember your deodorant. This shouldn’t need to be said, but imagine you were hugging 300 people in an hour and they were all sweaty and smelly from standing in line? Yeah, it’s not a nice thought.
Q&A Panel Etiquette
Q&A panels are great, they give you the chance to ask your favourite personality that burning question about your favourite episode/series/movie/scene/moment. But there is one thing that really bugs me when people stand up and ask a question. They seem to forget how to speak properly.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a question start with “Um, I was just wondering.” It makes you sound so ignorant. Please, please, please, it will not kill you to put a “hi [name]” in front of that.
Try to keep your question short and to the point. Don’t tell a long story about how a certain episode meant so much to your grandmothers cat. I’m sure it means a lot to you, and that’s great, but there are lots of others waiting to ask a question too. Save that story for when you get an autograph.
Don’t ask the same question as someone else. If you hear your question being asked, don’t get up and repeat it. It makes you look like you weren’t listening and just logic?
Don’t ask for hugs. Really. Just don’t.
Follow the Q&A etiquette rules for the convention. Most of them will have them posted on their website but if they don’t, its good to remember certain topics to avoid. Generally don’t ask anything too personal, like about religion, politics, sex or money. I’m sure there are a few questions that may skirt these topics and are ok to ask, but just think before you ask it.
Every form of cosplay is valid. Whether its elaborate costumes people have handcrafted for months or something someone has bought at a costume shop. If you don’t like it, guess what? Its not just for you to like. Keep your negative thoughts to yourself so everyone can enjoy their convention time.
As I mentioned above, be respectful of cosplayers. Be respectful of the hours of work they have put into their outfit and don’t touch it without permission. Ask if you can take their photo, but please don’t stop in the middle of the isle to do so.
Be polite and respectful of others.
Use your common sense. (If you don’t have any, try to find some before con day.)
Let me know your dos and don’ts of conventions below in the comments!