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Enjoying a Con – The Etiquette of Fan Conventions

Attending fan conventions and other events are a big part of nerd culture. As a hardened con-goer, I’ve personally seen a lot of things, both good and bad. Whether you’re a regular like me, or considering visiting your first convention, these basic rules of etiquette will make your experience that much better. Some of these may feel like common sense, but people still manage to break these rules constantly. Don’t be that person.

Try to Remove Your Headpieces During Panels

Panels often have limited sight lines to begin with, especially in the smaller event spaces. Be kind to the people around you and behind you… take off anything that may inhibit someone else’s view. If you are unable to remove your headpiece for some reason, find a seat in the last row if possible. In the same vein, don’t hold your recording devices in a way that will obscure the views of the people around you. These videos seldom turn out good. The best way to go is to be present in these moments and really take in what the panellists have prepared. Chances are pretty good that they will have a videographer that will be posting the entire panel on YouTube. Think about the people behind you that may have waited HOURS to see the panel and now all they can see is your phone. It is also mildly distracting to the panellists. If you MUST snap a pic or record something, do it quickly and hold it no higher than your neck.

Wear deodorant (especially at really crowded cons).

Yes, we should all be doing this at all times but for some reason, this especially needs to be stated for Convention goers. I have heard rumours that San Diego Comic Con is the smelliest of all the conventions (heat + crowds + lots of people wearing non-breathable fabrics = lots of bad smells). Wear deodorant, people.

Don’t hold multiple spots in line for panels

One or two is fine, but after that, you are just being a jerk. Convention queues can be nuts. Like, sleep all night outside, nuts. You don’t want to do this alone because everyone needs to take a bathroom break from time to time. But if you invite a flock of friends to join you in line right before the panel is to begin, it will mean that other people that have waited for hours may not get into the panel.

Ask permission before taking photos of Cosplayers/Celebrities/Influencers.

This is probably the most important rule of convention going. Respect the space of celebrities and influencers. You may feel like you know them but they don’t know you. Say “hi”, ask for a pic and no matter what they say, honour their answer and keep moving. Also, many Cons have set meeting times with panellists and celebrities and because of this you will probably not see them walking the floor. There is often a fee associated with this. Check out your Con’s rules and regulations before you go.

Don’t resell things you buy at the cons.

We get how tempting this can be. You have spent a lot of money on tickets, lodging and transportation. You may feel like you need to recoup some of those expenses and selling merch may help. This is big business for some, in particular when it comes to exclusive and limited edition convention offerings. It also causes a lot of problems for fans, especially at D23. The lines are LONG, often several hour queues. Things do sell out quickly. If you are scooping up merch to sell, it means that the folks who are also in line with you may not have the same opportunity to purchase these items. It is okay to pick up gifts for friends and family, though.

Be patient.

You will be waiting in A LOT of lines. Don’t complain, just embrace it as the weekend’s reality. Consider bringing a folding stool, snacks, water and anything that will keep you distracted. Just please, for the love all around you… wear headphones. Everyone hopes that the lines will move faster but sometimes these things are out of our control. Just remember that we are all in it together!

Try to only ask one question at panels.

Don’t overtake the conversation, if you can help it. Be aware that the people running the panel have spent a lot of time planning it and they probably do not appreciate having it derailed. This especially applies at more informal panels, like the ones at LeakyCon. The smaller panels are part of what makes the convention great. The robust exchange of ideas related to fandoms can be exhilarating. Sometimes people agree and sometimes they may not. In these instances, it is okay to vocalize how you feel but let the conversation continue to flow. Always let the moderator or panellists direct the topics.

Be respectful of the opinions of others.

There are a LOT of passionate fans out there. And lovers of pop culture are generally a very well educated group. They read all the books, they watch their favourite shows over and over. They are really knowledgeable about lots of things. Just remember that your opinion is as valid as someone else’s. Remember that most of these Cons are built around fictional art. Being moved by a particular story is one of the greatest joys of life and we are thankful that there are Conventions that celebrate these things. It is okay that people like Fantastic Beasts and it is also okay that people feel let down by J.K. Rowling. We can all exist, peacefully in the same world together.

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