On Dashcon And Creepers

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I enjoy watching train wrecks in slow motion, and so have been watching the Tumblr-based Dashcon unfurl in all its glorious psychosis this weekend.
Highlights include:

  • An “emergency fundraiser” at the con where they went around asking fans for $20,000 in cash or the hotel would shut them down…
  • …but the hotel claims they know nothing about this $20,000 charge…
  • …and while there’s YouTube videos of fans thrusting dollar bills into the staff’s hands and yelling High School Musical quotes, nobody’s sure if they actually got $17,000 or not.
  • Also, one of the featured guests (Nightvale) pulled out, and the other discovered that their rooms weren’t comped.
  • 5,000 were supposed to have attended; 1,000 did.

Read all about it here.  And the behind-the-scenes look from an ex-organizer here.
Dashcon looks to have been poorly-managed, run by teenagers with more dreams than sense, and it collapsed in ugly ways.  Which goes back to what I said on Friday about conventions seeming like monolithic, competent entities, but really being composed of volunteers with various levels of competence.  There was a lot of hype about Dashcon, so it looked huge, but “Having good press” does not equal “Actually getting the job done,” so watching this fiasco unroll should be educational.
Yeah, ReaderCon and Wiscon and Arisia are all great conventions.  But they’re all run by volunteers, and some of those volunteers are… well, not good at what they do.  And when a con burns through its top-tier management, as it inevitably will, they can only hope that wiser people will replace them, or else it can all fall apart like this.
This is why some cons thrive – they know who to promote – and other cons, like Dashcon, run on a bubbling stew of “Wouldn’t this be cool if…” that doesn’t actually get anchored in reality.



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