Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Sorry About That

[Note: I speak for myself only here. This post does not represent the official position of SFSFC or any of its committees, including San José in 2018 and the prospective Worldcon 76 Operating Committee.]

A couple of days ago, I linked from here to the announcement that Kevin Roche will chair San José's Worldcon if SFSFC's bid wins. Said announcement was deliberately written in such a way that you could chop each paragraph off the bottom without affecting the total story, even to the extent of chopping everything but the first sentence. Apparently this announcement had Too Much Information for some people.

I got a complaint about how the announcement repeated too many things that he already knew, like how Worldcons are selected and what a Con Suite was (instead of "convention hospitality suite") and complaining about repeating the name of the bid multiple times. He seemed so satisfied that he "solved" the problem by only including the early part of the announcement. He hadn't a clue that if you already know everything about how Worldcons work and know all of the jargon and have been attending Worldcon for fifty years, of course you only need the first sentence.

Something I have learned by my own experience at bidding is that most people with an interest in what we do at the World Science Fiction Convention are not immersed in the full culture and do not have a complete understanding of the entire jargon. Okay, yes, "Con Suite" is Fanspeak, and lots of us know it. I suspect, however, that newcommers won't have a clue about what it means. Oh, and at a World Fantasy Convention (which was where the specific reference came from), it's not likely you'll even see the word used; "Convention Hospitality Suite" is more likely.

Heck, there are regular Worldcon attendees I have met, as in people who have attended more than half a dozen of them, who have been mostly unaware that the site of Worldcon is selected by the members of Worldcon. Yes, even with the tables covered with bids, even with the Site Selection desk prominently located, even with advertising everywhere, even with bid parties as far as the eye can see, there are Worldcon attendees who don't know how the system works. And if you're not a Worldcon attendee, you're even less likely to know. There are a lot of people who, for example, participate in SF/F genre events and would be interested in attending a Worldcon in San José, but don't know that they can help make it happen by joining the 2016 Worldcon as a Supporting Member so that they can vote on the election next year. They don't know what a "Supporting Membership" is. They don't know that they can vote by mail. If they know there's an election, they assume that they have to show up in person. They're not stupid; they just haven't been educated.

If you wonder why we are so careful about the wording for "pre-supporting" members and why there's an explicit statement that such memberships only support the bid, it's because a whole lot of people assume that paying $20 now buys them admission to the 2018 Worldcon. You have to tell them that they're making a donation, and that if San José wins, they'll need to pay more to actually attend. That will make some of them balk, because they don't get the concept of donating money to a cause that isn't a sure thing, but that's better than getting $20 from them now and then having them angry at us later can claiming that we lied to them. Which they will.

Worldcon bids who spend their entire marketing effort solely trying to sell to the people who already know the entire process are unlikely to win their elections unless they are running unopposed. That doesn't mean that you should ignore the "base" (you'll also probably lose if you do that). It just means that you must not assume that the only people who vote are those who have voted in the past and have attended Worldcons since the 1960s.
Tags: fandom, sfsfc, worldcon

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