Sure, they’re more like guidelines, but once you attend as many conventions as I have you begin to discern what kind of actions make your convention–and that of the thousands of people around you–great. Some of these rules should be obvious but, unfortunately, aren’t. Some may be more of a matter of taste. As an introvert, I may prefer something another person with a different disposition wouldn’t. But I’m sharing my ideas so that you can keep these things in mind and, when you’re confronted with one of these situations, you can make a more informed choice about what actions to take.
1. Remember that you aren’t the most important person in the convention center.
Everyone is there to have fun. Don’t be one of those people who feels the need to yell or complain if things aren’t going exactly as you would prefer. Don’t be the person who belittles volunteers who, despite expectations otherwise, probably don’t know much more about a situation than you do. In general, if something is upsetting you, handle it in a mature manner. Also, don’t expect to receive special treatment, or have your concerns handled first, just because you paid to get in. Everyone paid to get in, everyone is equal on the convention floor. The most important point that falls under this category is Don’t cut in line.
2. Don’t be “That Guy” at a Q&A.
For the most part, Q&A sessions are great. The attendees ask good questions, and the guests provide informative or entertaining answers. Of course, though, I’ve never attended a Q&A session where there weren’t at least a ffew bumps in the road–an attendee does something that sours the mood of the whole room, or makes things uncomfortable and awkward. So here are a few brief points on things that I think we should all try to avoid.
- I know that conventions can be expensive, but a Q&A is not the place for you to try to get you one-on-one moment with a guest. Don’t go up to the mike and ask for a hug, a photo, or a phone message to someone who isn’t at the convention (I suppose there can be an exception for someone who is on their deathbed or hospitalized, but it’s still not really the place for this). You’ll either stall the session for everyone, cajole a guest into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do out of fear of looking bad, or make things awkward when the guest if forced to deny you outright.
- This is a fan environment, not a interview or a networking session. Don’t be the person who asks how to get into the acting business (EVERYONE says the same thing and, if you’re a performer, it’s what you’ve heard a thousand times), volunteers their company to help the guest in one aspect or another, or presents their business cards to attendees and the guest. Actions like this just won’t make you any friends.
- Stick to one question–especially since the moderator will usually tell you that you can only ask one question. Sure, sometimes a question can have two parts, but don’t ask a question, get an answer, then ask another one.
- If it takes you more than twenty seconds to ask a question, you’re probably doing it wrong. We don’t need a soliloquy before you get to your question. It’s especially bad when the guest interrupts you to ask for the question. It’s double especially bad if you keep talking after that happens.
- Do your best not to repeat questions. If someone ahead of you asks “your” question, come up with a new one. And don’t be that person from my first point who starts things off with “Well, someone else took my question fifteen minutes ago sooooo…can I get a hug?”
- If the guest has set rules–don’t talk about this movie/show, don’t bring up this controversy, etc.–please respect the guest’s wishes. If you don’t, once again, it makes everything awkward and puts a damper on the fun.
3. Be aware of things around you.
This is another umbrella category that can encompass a few different things, including:
- Try to avoid causing congestion on a convention floor.
- Look where you’re walking–avoid bumping into people, walking through photos, or running over small children (yes, I’ve seen it happen and it was not pretty).
- Be aware of cosplayer’s costumes–they’re often the result of long hours of hard work and lots of money, so treat them well and avoid stepping on, bumping into, or otherwise damaging costumes.
- Once again, I’m bringing up lines. Some lines are constructed so that they wrap around a booth and may not be entirely noticeable upon first glance. Take the time to notice so that you’re not waiting in an area that is not the line. No one will want to let you in front of them and, if you’re somehow helped before the people who waited, you will not be very popular.
4. Take care of yourself.
If you’re well-rested, fed, and clean, you’re a lot more likely to have a good time at the convention. If you’re not, you’re a lot more likely to be in a bad mood–which you may accidentally take out on those around you. Be a good fellow con-goer and make sure you’re at least starting the day in a good mood :).
Do you have any more suggestions for convention courtesy? Leave them in the comments, or tweet at me (@Geekphoria1) and use the hashtag #ConventionCourtesy!