victorthecook: (Default)
[personal profile] victorthecook
I try, usually, to post gently if at all on touchy subjects.  Gentle clearly isn't getting through to Baycon. 

There's more to say on this subject than I can cover this evening, but the short take is that Baycon has launched from last year's low point, and reached a new, much lower point.  If things change dramatically next year, the con might recover.  Otherwise, I expect it will slowly collapse under its own weight.   I'm not giving them any more money until I see verifiable signs of progress on the basics. 

Last year's Baycon was one of the few cons I've gone to which I really didn't enjoy.  The programming was weak, things were disorganized, and I came away feeling very disappointed.  So much so that this year we decided not to take a hotel room, and to attend only one day of the convention.  This year was much, much worse.  I'm so glad we didn't sink more into it, financially or emotionally.

To begin with: Programming.  I was only at the con on Sunday, or this list would undoubtedly be longer.

* Listing Doug Berry on every program item is hilarious if the rest of the schedule is reasonably correct.  When the web schedule, the pocket program, and the notes on the room doors disagree, on Sunday, it just looks like Doug is the victim of some fool who can't use the scheduling software.  Well, we all were, weren't we?

* Putting people on a panel who have no idea what they're talking about is bad, but doing it for something like "A Shot Rang Out", which is basically improv comedy, is cruel and ruins the event.  Or was that your intention?  I know the programming staff had a mad hate on for this item and the people who used to perform it.

* Putting the events about making things in the smallest rooms you have meant that people couldn't get into the room, while other space sat mostly empty  -- and while knowing what's going to be popular can be difficult, you get no credit for getting it spectacularly wrong.  Hint:  building stuff is popular, lately.  Even costume stuff.  See also: Maker Faire.

* Guest of Honor concert?  Well, you can say plus-or-minus a couple of hours when Steve should go on stage -- surely that's good enough?  Steve wasn't sure until just beforehand when he was going to play, and where.  Nobody else was, either.  Way to treat a fan guest, guys.

* I think that having the guests of honor critique submitted works in front of an audience and the writers/artists is either foolish or cruel or both.  I admit that I didn't see any of these events, and it's barely possible that this could have worked -- but my pennies never land on edge, either.

Publications:  Well, the pocket programs were late and riddled with errors.  The people who did all the research and editing for the restaurant guide, and gave you copy, are steaming mad at you for not bothering to print the guide.   There is no excuse at all for leaving people to search the office parks of Santa Clara, praying to find a restaurant.  None.  If the cat ate your database, you could type up something from memory and print a few copies.  Newsletters -- Sunday morning wasn't available until sometime after 2PM.  Information-free, too -- despite schedule changes.  Hell, you could have filled with restaurant reviews, or just a list of names, and done a service to your membership.

Leadership, or lack thereof:  Well, I've been in other places where someone who had copy for a restaurant guide would print it herself.  It's pretty clear, though, that Baycon discourages people doing anything outside the formal department structure -- so you get in trouble if you make sure things get done.  If you have a very large con, that's actually vital to keeping things organized.  Baycon is no longer very large, but its departmental organization is.  I saw many, many 1-day badges, so they may be able to back up their claim of 1800 memberships -- but I'd be surprised if there were 800 warm bodies on-site at any one time.  Baycon needs fewer titles and more people getting things done.  And it needs to retain smart effective people, instead of getting them to quit in groups.
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June 2011

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