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Feedback / Ideas for next year

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  • #25685 Quote
    I had a really good time at FM!  (I wrote a con report for flayrah.com , but who knows when that’ll get greenlit.)  Thought I might also give some ideas for next year.  Granted, I completely understand that the ideas might be (1) stupid, (2) unrealistic, (3) not possible due to budget or things like (4) fire and safety regulations.  Here goes anyway!

    First off, even with all the events, rooms and programming, most of all this felt like a social con: people were primarily attending to hang out with each other (Saturday especially), so anything that helps the social angle should probably receive emphasis.  Location is important – the closer things are to the dealer’s room, the more likely people are to meet and hang out. For example – the downstairs lobby had tons of room, chairs, and a nice ambiance, but since it was a little away from the action, it tended to get under-used.

    The easiest solution is to add chairs in the main area of the con, but alas, we’re victims of architecture.  Chairs would block the hall, the main artery.  Of course there’s room in the upstairs lobby, but that food stand that the hotel set up was really convenient, I wouldn’t want to sacrifice that; that’s a keeper for next year!

    Most of all I think the solution would be to add an upstairs lounge/zoo space, with chairs and tables to hang out.  But where?  Well, the gaming room’s got space, but would probably become too cramped and noisy if you tried to have both zoo and gaming in there together.  I’d put a zoo in either the Navajo or Pawnee room, and the other would be the Fursuit Lounge.  If you still need the panel space, drop Artemis and use the Yakima Room.  Another possibility is to re-purpose the Miami room: it served 3 purposes this year (Artist Alley, Art Show and Fursuit Photography).  It might be possible to put these three things in different spaces, or to pair them elsewhere. (Like having Artist Alley along one wall of the Gaming Room, for example).

    The outside lounge in the inner courtyard was *really* popular, there should be more done with that next year, as long as late-night noise levels aren’t a problem.  Unfortunately the big unknown factor here is the weather. Could literally put a damper on things.

    It would be nice to have a space available for a Dead Dog party, but that may not be in the budget.  Also, schedule a feedback session!  And if it’s possible, have some way to easily identify con staff from a distance, in case you need to flag someone down quickly.  I wasn’t sure who was who, though maybe there were identifiers, and I wasn’t looking closely enough.

    What to do about the sadly under-attended panels?  Hard to say.  Maybe the attendees just aren’t panel people.  Still… First I’d drop the adherence to 1.5 and 3-hour time slots in a pre-set grid. Why alwys 5-8, 8-11?  Embrace a less structured arrangement.  Yes, ok, it’s a nightmare to coordinate.  Realize there’s a psychological factor when you present the schedule to people.  They look at these white rectangles and think, “Whoa, 1.5, 3 hours solid… that’s a big commitment of my time.”  Solution: have 1-hour, 1.5-hour, 2-hour (etc.) time slots – don’t be afraid to leave grey spaces between events. Start them whenever.  No, scratch that – don’t schedule anything before 10:30 or 11 a.m., let people have breakfast without feeling rushed.  Don’t have any big panels or main stage events between 5:30 and 7:30.  Sure, the gap would look ugly, but it gives people time to have a nice meal with their friends.  Social con!  And it was really nice for the hotel to double the mall shuttle from once-per-hour to twice-per-hour.  Ask if they can do that again during peak mealtimes?

    Fursuit lounge: Great entryway, do that again next year! Easy to get in and out, while giving privacy.  Now just add a few more (or stronger) fans, and maybe a full-length mirror.

    Some cons have a note-board or a table to leave flyers on – I’m not sure the con needs this; besides, note-boards sometimes get taken up by stupid notes instead of useful ones.  Still, it’s a nice way to advertize room parties, even if they aren’t officially signed-up convention Room Parties.

    What else… uhh… put out an advance call for donating items for the auction, collect more Feud questions way ahead of the con, maybe online… the sponsor’s brunch thing… Heck, I really liked everything else.  Registration was amazing, the con staff were really on the ball whenever I interacted with them; I think you all did an amazing job!  Thank you so much for Furry Migration!


    #25708 Quote
    I’ve took a week to read responses but I like that you have done a highlight reel of various points so I’ll start here:

    Social spaces:
    This is a double edged sword, so i think we need to go into psychology to better understand the answer.
    There was seating designed for about a 500 person convention. However, it was not in the “right place” as it was underutilized in social area/zoo area, consuite, and backyard area and most people were sitting down on floor in upper lobby. This was a known weakness of this hotel. But others during bid process that made it to final round had similar issues. As you pointed out, victim of architecture.
    Drawback is upper lobby is not really designed and even good for fire code standards so really should not have too many chairs up there. Yes, it is the natural meeting point, yes, this is where everyone can see each other…it is also major traffic flow area. Many times throughout weekend there was a “Wall” of people chatting between main stage and dealers. making egress difficult. More chairs in this area would have made this even more difficult. We also had to allow space for queue line for hotel sandwiches.

    Programing and art show, artist alley under utilize:
    Well yes…no disagreement. But this fact does not make me believe we should get rid of them. Furs have good things to say and teach other furs, art is a major building block of community, and artist alley that recognized the reality of offering an opportunity to new artist, but also teach them the responsibility of taxes and economics. I think all of these are all victims of “first year con” syndrome which has attendees assuming first year cons are just one big social room, with maybe a dealers room and/or a fur suite lounge, and nothing else. We wanted to put on the map everything we wish to do, now and in the immediate future. Interactive Competitions, robust paneling, levels of artist participation from those just starting to the full on professional. Sure, attendees weren’t ready for it, but we did say it was going to be there and people need to believe that if FM says it is going to offer X, there will be X. But it does require participation. If an attendee does not participate, it is still there, just an empty space.

    Paneling has more for me to comment on, but I am programming so here it is:
    First year I decided to be more of a hands off approach outside of wanting 90 minute blocks. 1 hour blocks have continually shown issues at other cons in running over time limit, and we had request early on for “big blocks”. Yes, some people just have 20 minutes of info…fine, just give 20 minutes…but most issues have lots more info and entertainment usually. It helps push people to go beyond “hey, Starfox was a really cool game!” to asking them to go into history, game design, sales figures, and documented cultural impact of it. Yeah, take some time to research, but any topic usually has some really cool bits in it, teach us all, including yourself, a lesson.
    All I can do now is stress a set of rules i wanted in year 1 but was suggested to be more hands off and allow for context.
    at least 2 panelist in case 1 can’t make it
    “long” panels divided into part 1 and part 2
    a clearer definition of adult panel
    More of outlining process
    Instructions on how to “Sell” a panel
    Yeah, may be a wall of text, but when i have a page “how to build a better panel” people may know why it is there and I can say “RTFM” when the ask why can’t panels just be a lone fursona wanting just 15 minutes to talk about why they like pumas.

    more later…

    #25728 Quote
    The cuddlepile was fun, first time I’d been to one so was a little nervous, but afterward I wished there had been another one scheduled – maybe near the end of the con, when folks are stressed and short on sleep, and need a moment to relax?

    Some sort of bulletin board is a good idea, not only for room parties, but to inform everyone of any panel cancellations/reschedules.

    The Iron Pen/Iron Artist contest was a good idea, but I suspect a lot of people ran into the same problem I did – I wanted to enter, but not arriving at the con until Friday morning, I found my hands too full with dealing with travel/room check-in/et al.  I’m not sure when would be a better timeslot, though.

    #25741 Quote
    I got that with iron competitions. It is based of model from a 3 day convention so i needed to create a system that worked for a two day convention like FM that still left time for judging and announcements. Option 1 was to do them as “first panel” in rooms Thursday night give necessary lead time. Many fur cons start with people arriving on Thursday or leaving early Friday morning. The use of twitter and website was to allow those NOT at convention time to still create and then get to convention. This seems to still work okay in concept, but as you pointed out, traveling still takes time and effort and could it be delayed just a few more hours. This was debated but their was another issue to deal with.

    This part was purely an issue of 2 departments working with each other. Art show did not know how much space to give or even good idea what this would look like, so was a little reluctant to give copious space for something they never of heard of before at other fur cons. You know, i get that, respect that, and since first year was “proof of concept” needed to be done. I was willing to error on NOT stepping on their toes and/or interfere with their audience until they got a chance to “see” what it would look like.

    Now they get it, and see how it makes for more diverse art show. WINNER!

    I think next year we will do a check in IN art show and thereby also be able to push back deadline as the assumption iron competitions will be working side by side with art staff to put up pieces for display, just a side by side process. With this fact, we CAN move final deadline to close of ART show on Friday.

    A known consequence:
    Early entries will get more view time and possibly more ballots as if a person votes at 3pm Friday near open does not see contestant because that contestant entered at 6pm near close. This fact will have some impact, but I think only some.
    I think you argument of “having more time” is valid as long as participant realizes that when art show opens, just like an artist selling Art, Art will be there and the option of being voted on and bidding on is going to happen. Just a risk of getting there early vs later. I think this is also kinda good as we are still stressing inspiration vs refinement, so a person who can do an inspired quick sketch or draft is given some slight weight to one that takes a little longer to fuss over the lines or “i”S and “T”s. This is the whole idea of competition.

    Does this seem reasonable solutions?

    #25742 Quote
    I will respond to cuddle party as there has been a whole bunch of pro-con debate on this from several avenues. So i will articulate both what we saw and behind the scenes. Some editing done to protect individuals. I’m saying this as programming head as ultimately these were my decisions and so here is/was my thinking, and I do not regret the path i took.

    The cuddle party was flagged by me when I first got it. i know the tradition, i know the danger, i know the allure, i know the damage it can cause. I’m old and alternative, I’ve heard and seen or been in it all before.

    I spoke to panelist, I shared my concerns, i warned of issues. I asked for specifics and suggested reclassification as adult. Assurances were made. promises offered to address issues.

    I then had a decision to make.

    If i deny, the old crotchety racoon would be saying “NO” and most furs would have NO good clue why.
    I know i already have a massive crowd that says I’m an old fart here to ruin all the Furs fun. *Sigh* I simply accept and ignore this criticism and instead focus on my responsibilities as programing, that’s my job. My personal views have nothing to do with it.

    I will not say what my personal feelings are on this matter or what answer I personally wanted to say, it is not relevant. Only my job as FM programming matters here.

    If i said yes, i knew we have a plethora or social and potentially legal grenades to deal with. But again, most furs do not know these exist. They just want something they know they like.

    I said yes. But with a huge requirement/burden that i was trusting an individual to keep it within certain lines. To manage the issues and expectations and try to keep these all in check.

    I will not comment on whether or not lines were crossed or if person holding the panel succeed or failed to the view of FM. Do not need to.

    Instead, we now have examples:

    people were denied access to this panel due to perceptions of personality (the “elites” can have fun but others can’t”)
    we had parents of 13 year olds in building who could have viewed this room
    We had big media who could have documented this.
    We do have stories/post that exist that effectively say “if you want grinding and fursuits, come to FM.”

    Ignoring Furry Migration for a moment, Is this the image we want of furry?
    Is this what we tell our friends and family what we did during weekend?

    I’m pleased to say that even panel holder looks back and says “wow, i did not know i would have to deal with this.” This person i honestly can say is a bright guy, yet I do not fault him for not knowing ahead of time, in spite of my warnings. Many of these examples you have to live through. As I sometimes point out, I have over 2 decades of going/helping/running conventions under my belt. I’ve had my share of mistake, no reason to spend time repeating them other than maybe to teach a lesson.

    This is a good example as i grip the reigns a tad tighter in future years that there are reasons why sometimes i put requirements on things. Reasons i may say no, reasons if i have to “suggest” changes to panels there are reasons the panel submitter do not immediately see or are relevant.

    I want good panels, I want GREAT panels. I do not know everything, but i do commonly know what does not work.

    Already we have one panel submission that cause me pause to talk to person. It sounds odd, challenging and socially as dangerous. i like these. Furry is to be challenged, furry is to explore options, furry is to get a little out of your shell.

    But we still must be safe, we still must be respectful, we still must be honest, and we still must care enough about other furs that we have to consider consequences.

    I hope i have done that with this post.

    #26069 Quote
    I didn’t realize that social profiling was done during the cuddle panel.   That makes me quite sad.

    I was very very very surprised to see something like this on the schedule.  What you wrote helped my understand the decision process but we should never be afraid to say no just to avoid backlash.

    Furry Migration Staff (Volunteers) & MNFurs Board Member.

    Posts on the MNFurs forums are of my own opinion and do not reflect that of MNFurs or chartered events unless otherwise stated.


    #26072 Quote

    Yeeeeaaaahhh… I definitely agree with all the points you brought up.

    This was my first time attending a fur con. I was honestly surprised that this was going on.

    Not to say there’s anything wrong with a little oxytocin boost. It’s just that we have to be aware of our surroundings. And having a panel dedicated to cuddling seemed pretty… well… are there any other cons that have done this?

    I dunno. It seemed odd for a con to officially be hosting this as a panel. Perhaps as a room party, but as a panel? I’m unsure. Of course, that’s just me.

    I was glad to know that the panelist brought up those ground rules, though.

    #27833 Quote
    My con report has been posted!  (Flayrah did some additional editing, like linking to someone else’s con report, but otherwise it’s largely intact.)



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