Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Feeling Badgered

Prior to last night's BASFA meeting, much deconstruction of the fannish train wreck that was Con-X-Treme happened. Among the foolish things the convention reportedly did was to use wristbands for admission rather than badges, and to require that every member have their photo taken, and that photo was made part of their convention membership credentials. When I expressed extreme incredulity that a convention would do what I consider such an incredibly stupid thing, jorhett (who I should make it clear neither worked on Con-X-Treme nor was even there at the con and didn't even know it was happening) told me that having a photograph as part of your membership badge -- to make it "impossible" to share badges -- was standard operating procedure at "East Coast" cons.

I said, "When did that start? I've attended Boskone, and they don't do that there."

The reply: "Boskone? Is that in Boston? Well, I meant south of New York."

I raised an eyebrow, "So Massachusetts isn't on the American East Coast?"

But I digress. I find the idea that you would have to have a photo-badge to attend a convention absurd, for many reasons, but most notably because of what it tells me about the organizers' priorities. See this posting from last year and read my article "Feeling Badgered" in Argentus #6. In that article, I set out what I consider the main criteria for a convention membership badges are, and I make ticket-to-admit the second priority, not the first.

In my opinion. photo-badges for all members sets ticket-to-admit priority to stratospheric, and everything else to insignificant. It sets off all of my hot buttons. I know that Lisa isn't the only person I know who would refuse to attend a convention that required photo-badges for all attendees. Remember, I'm someone who doesn't think you should have to show government-issued photographic ID to collect your membership if you have one of the good alternatives such as your original membership receipt or convention publications received by mail or can be personally identified by a trusted convention staff member. I detest the "your papers pliz" culture that we've become.

Note that there are certain specific applications where a photo badge is justified. I wouldn't issue them to the entire convention staff and committee, but if there are certain very sensitive areas -- in particular ones where the Treasury Office That Does Not Exist is located -- there might be some justification for a small number of photo-badges, particularly if security is being provided by paid guards who don't know who the individuals involved are.

But requiring every member of the convention to have their photo taken and that photo appear on their convention badge or other token-of-admission-to-event? Not for me.

Edit, 13:50: Clarified that the person who brought up the photo-badges issue as "routine at east coast cons" was neither associated with Con-X-Treme nor attended it. My apologies if my earlier wording implied otherwise.
Tags: argentus, badges, fanzines
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