“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.”
– Catherine Aird

As a follow up to my previous post on organizing events, here are some articles about a couple of recent community-run conventions that crashed and burned in spectacular fashion. They’re rather lengthy so find a good chair and maybe a tall glass of juice and some popcorn (or do as I did and read the articles on a tablet while lazing around on the bed).

The first is DashCon, a recently concluded community-organized Tumblr convention. The Daily Dot has a good write-up about the event from an outsider’s perspective.

Here are some other perspectives to give you better idea what happened and how the whole thing turned into a trainwreck:

Our other example is last year’s Las Pegasus Unicon, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic convention.

Here’s a write-up about this event. It’s basically the same as DashCon; the main difference here was that there were higher profile guests (e.g. Tara Strong) making the trainwreck even worse.

Thanks to this MetaFilter post, I found a list that summarizes how these things happen to community events:

  1. Some people have an ambitious idea for a fan convention
  2. They expect a huge success and book beyond their budget
  3. The con starts and Friday ticket sales won’t cover booking costs
  4. Organizers scramble to keep the show running
  5. People speculate that the whole thing is a scam
  6. Everybody is assured ticket sales will be up for Saturday
  7. Guests are not paid, pay their own way, or don’t show up
  8. Attendance is way down on Sunday because everyone’s heard about the trainwreck
  9. The organizers either skip town or get cornered to pay what they can

The other link in that MetaFilter post also gives a veteran anime convention organizer’s perspective in holding such events.

The take-away here is that if you want to hold your own community event, you have to be realistic with your expectations: start small, be professional at all times, and know that holding events is hard work and not a way to boost your ego/excuse to fly in and rub shoulders with celebrities/earn a lot of money.

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