"Tumblr convention" a total disaster

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2014/07/14/tumblr-convention-a-total.html

Especially around this story, but in general (some of the comments over at jezebel’s take on the story I found disappointing for example), I’ve noticed a fair amount of hostility aimed at tumblr. I’m wondering how much of that is attached to the fact that tumblr probably tends to have a higher population of teen girls? I don’t know… am I reaching on that point? Didn’t Kevin Smith once make a similar point about Twilight fandom? Has anyone made that connection with My Little Pony fandom, that the reason why “bronies” get so much shit is because it’s a show aimed at tween girls so it’s either a) creepy for young men to be involved or b) it’s unmasculine for young men?

Also, unrelated, but I’m not sure how to post this overwise… I seem to be having issues with the main page of the forums loading (or some stories). It just comes up blank with the header visible and that’s it. Anyone else having this issue?


this doesn’t really make a lot of sense. i’d think any forum with a high population of teen [any gender] would probably receive (and deserve) a lot of ridicule and hostility.

wasn’t kevin smith’s point that you should be nice to twilight girls in order to groom them to be sexually available for the next generation (or perhaps you yourself, wink wink nudge nudge) of ‘nerds’?

at any rate, this story is a harrowing tale of incompetence. if it’s representative of what teen girls can do, then i guess they deserve the mockery.

1 Like

I doubt that’s what he meant entirely, since his own daughter was/is a twilight fan… though I think he made that part of his statement as a joke and as a statement of fact. Nerdy, geeky girls are cool and it’s cool to be in a relationship (and yes have sex with) with some one you have something in common with.

And I’m sorry, why do teens deserve ridicule. It’s the single most awkward phase of one’s life. You’re trying to figure out who you are, your body is completely uncooperative, and we live in a culture that thrives on kicking people when they are down. Mocking teens (of either gender, but especially teen girls) can often lead to suicide. Do you honestly think that’s something we should just brush off and laugh about?

Also, I’m not focusing on the incompetence of the convention (which is kind of a seperate issue here), but on how people who are on tumblr are treated and that there is a large number of teen girls on tumblr, and as my niece told me, a fair amount of those who are on tumblr are, in her words, socially awkward.

But yes, let’s keep shitting on teen girls because we think they are “dumb”. That will end well, I’m sure.


The internet has made it super easy for young projects to bite off more than they can chew. It’s simple enough to get enough money now for a good or popular idea that folks who aren’t ready for the reality of a project that big can end up starting way too big. Used to be, you were more likely to end up starting small and growing by necessity. Used to be, you’d have started with a much less ambitious plan so there would have been less room for disaster. When you planned for it to be on a shoe-string and crowdfunded by a smaller handful of fans and marketed to a smaller set of fans, the bar was set lower and the worse-case-scenario was less sad. Everyone had a cheaper, lower expectations, good time and went home with big dreams and ideas about cool stuff they want to add or help do better next year. They have a feeling of getting in on the ground floor, being an integral part of the community who was there way back when. They get the OG experience and can look back on it being small and even kind of shabby with fondness. The disasters are smaller so they’re easier to fix and they’re looked on with a laugh. The time that the cheap hotel the convention could afford was kind of skanky and you let a panelist brush his teeth in your sink because his didn’t work is a fun story. That you saved the day with a big pizza order when money fell through to buy the band dinner and you got to have a beer with them back stage is a fun story. You don’t remember being angry that the organizer dropped the ball. You remember being a little part of something fun and personal with someone you like. You’re proud of the organizer taking on the challenge and doing the work they did to make anything happen at all. That it wasn’t everything they’d hoped for or you’d hoped for pales in comparison to all that they did make happen (even if it turns out that it was mostly just getting a whole bunch of your fellow fans together for a good time that weekend). When you have everyone knowing from the start that it’s going to be thrown together, best we can do on what we’ve got, let’s all get together and have the most fun we can celebrating the thing we love, DIY grassroots kind of thing, it’s no biggie when things go a little wrong or are kind of lame. When you go big and have folks expecting something much nicer, when that expensive stuff falls through, you end up with people going home bitter and disappointed and laughing at you not with you.


Does everything need its own hyper-specific convention?

Yup. I’m trying to read comments on another story, but all I get is a blank page.


Someone was able to start a thread on the issue (BBS flakiness). I would have but at the time, this was the only page I could get to load.

I kind of see that as part of our ultra-niche culture that’s been evolving. There is no common culture anymore (whether there actually was or not is another matter entirely), but there is niche culture, where everyone has their own cultural expression. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure, but I think it is. It’s probably the logical outcome of consumerist culture in general merged with the post-60s rights movement, but maybe that’s debatable?

1 Like

Slightly OT, but yay for Noelle Stevenson.

Have been reading Nimona for ages.


Did 4Chan know about this…I literally can’t even wrap my head around what a Tumblr convention would be.

1 Like


Here is someone’s personal experiences as part of a committee for a particular fandom that was charged with raising money for the convention.

1 Like

I spent a few decades in science fiction fandom (not the multi-media stuff - before that). I’ve seen hotels pull amazing things, both financial and otherwise, in the sure and certain knowledge that the “rookie” fans won’t and can’t sue. No willpower, no financial ability to pay a lawyer. Of course, in the case of the larger SF cons where this was attempted by a hotel, they found that the fans in charge had been running conventions for longer than most professional conrunning businesses had been around, so they lost big in the ensuing lawsuits. Or would have, had their lawyers not seen the direction things were going and forced them to settle. So yeah, a $17,000 holdup in the case of management sensing weakness is not only possible, to me it seems probable.


Sometimes when there’s been an earthquake, a bad storm, power outage, or other large anomoly, I’ll find the conversation the next day to be refreshingly “real”. There’s been an event that wasn’t optional, it wasn’t part of a fan experience. By contrast, the world cup, the superbowl, the previous night’s episode of TV must-watch, that’s all optional, fractured, defining us by our taste in entertainment.

It certainly seems that more media has meant more fragmenting. I’m also thinking about that line from Diamond age, Something like, “The neo-victorians understood the advantage of everyone reading the same newspaper”.

But this kind of preference civilization means that problems can be ignored indefinitely- until one day they suddenly can’t. In the end, everyone will once again be talking about non-optional experiences. At least, that’s the apocalyptic acolytes’ view.

1 Like

Tumblr is what you make of it, I think the majority of blanket hostility comes from MRAs (and similar ilk) who hate Tumblrpolitik and rant alternatingly about “Social Justice Warriors” and “fake geek girls”.


Well, now you know.

Who cares? People with similar interests like to meet up. It’s not like Tumblr is a highly-specialized or esoteric niche, anyway.


Another book I need to read!

But I think there are some examples where it’s more than just “this is my preferred culture”. I think the christian subculture that’s evolved in the past couple of decades is a great example. It’s not just church, they have their own media, popular culture, associations and groups, schools, etc. There is an alternative to the girl scouts now, called American Heritage girls, which doesn’t have any of them disagreeable feminist views of the Girl Scouts. It’s an entirely different mode of thinking about the world that puts that group outside of the mainstream and into their own, at times deeply combative culture. I think it helps explain the inability to compromise on many of these issues.

1 Like

They demanded $17,000 at the last minute because that’s the only way they can be a “convention manager” for a living. I can only choose to be amused by these scams


Conventions are big moneymakers if you do it right. So it’s not so much that some specific group needs the convention, but someone wants to make their rent by convincing a bunch of fanboys to pony up for a weekend in a hotel.

That said, they’re also money pits if you do them wrong. Trying to start out to big is a classic mistake. The venue is going to charge you the same if 500 people show up or 5000. I suspect the people who put this convention on lost money however. It’s just so horribly mismanaged and there are a ton of ways you can bleed money if you don’t know what you’re doing. More importantly, it looks like the people running it were “ideas people” and weren’t very good on the followthrough and weren’t willing to drop ideas once it was discovered that they weren’t going to work. That ball pit should have died shorty after someone worked up the cost on the number of balls they would need to buy to make it not suck. The game room is relatively easy to plan for and was a complete loss. They apparently never bothered to figure out the staff situation during the convention. Level of effort everywhere was between 0 and 1/2 asses.

To be fair though, most first year conventions are clusterfucks to at least a certain degree. There are too many unknowns and too many initial costs to do everything right on the first try unless you’re talking about a convention put on by one of those convention companies (and then it’ll be an expensive bland corporate affair). The best advice is to start small and maybe even exclusive until you figure out what works and what doesn’t and just how much of everything you need.