Conventions should come with handbooks. I’ve often marveled at the lack of common sense I’ve witnessed at convention panels or in the exhibit hall. Fans can be quite inconsiderate and disrespectful towards each other and towards professionals. Peter David has taken the time to write an extensive “Fan/Pro Bill of Rights” that covers the most egregious and common offenses. I would like a copy of it to be included in every convention program.
The basic gist of the bill (the Prime Directive) is as follows:
“Fans and Pros have the right to be treated by each other with the same courtesy that they themselves would expect to be treated.* Fans and Pros who act like jerks abrogate the right to complain when they themselves are treated like jerks.”
He goes on to cover information that goes past what you’ll find in a basic convention etiquette guide. He talks about expectations for the fan, the pro, and convention runners. A lot of it has to do with just being considerate of the people around you. For example, don’t bring a professional 5,000 things to sign:
“6) Fans with excessive amounts of material to be autographed should be willing to go to the end of the line and wait again in order to accommodate fans with fewer books to be signed. The definition of “excessive” will be the sole discretion of the pro and the convention organizers. If the pro has an absolute maximum beyond which he will not sign under any circumstance, or if the convention has a set limit in order to avoid overcrowdings or excessive lines, this limit should be made clear in the welcome material presented to attendees.”
Also, please don’t be that person in the Q&A line at panels.
“4) Question and answer sessions are designed for succinctly phrased questions that will, in turn, elicit answers. They are not intended for fan pontifications, declamations, circumlocution, or soliloquies…”
It’s a lengthy document and though it’s humorous, it’s absolutely true. If you’ve attended a convention, you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with David repeatedly. You can read the complete version on Peter David’s website—and make sure to check out our convention survival tips.