being a geek is about having a great community

In a couple hours, I'm heading down to San Diego for the craziest, most exhausting, most awesome four days of the year: Comicon.

Earlier this morning, Felicia and I were Google Plussing about how to survive the con. I'm assuming some of you are not among the eleventy billion people who have the G+, so I thought I'd reprint it here, especially for you (yes, for  you):

Felicia said:

If you are at Comicon this weekend a few things:

1) Bring deodorant, it's hot
2) Here's an updated Guild signing/panel schedule:
3) If you see me rush by, I'm not being rude, I'm probably just late for something. Feel free to tweet something about how pale/short I am, that's relatively common reaction.
4) Have fun with your friends, because being a geek is about having a great community most of all.

Then I said:

I can add a couple of things to this:

5) Wear comfortable shoes. It isn't uncommon to walk five miles a day.
6) Stay hydrated. It's hot, you're excited, you're walking five miles a day. You're going to need water. Soda and coffee dehydrate you, so they don't count. If you find yourself thinking, "Man, I am really drinking a ton of water," then you're doing it right.
7) Be patient with your fellow fans, and with the people you're there to see and meet. For some of the big movie and TV stars, this will be the first time they've ever been around a hundred thousand superfans like us, and it scares the hell out of them.
8) For the love of the FSM, don't stop in the middle of a walkway to look at your phone.
9) Come to w00tstock on Thursday!
10) Come to the Eureka panel on Friday!
11) Come to the Nerdist podcast on Saturday!
12) Support the indie artists!

Here are five rules I wrote Concerning Conventions in my Geek In Review column at Suicide Girls a few years ago (This page is SFW, but the site is deliciously NSFW)

And to reiterate what the short and pale +Felicia Day said: Have fun with your friends, because being a geek is about having a great community most of all.

We all talk about how Hollywood has pretty much taken over Comicon, and fundamentally changed it forever. That has its up and downsides, but regardless of how the final math on that shakes out, there is one scientific fact: We who attend conventions get to decide how awesome they are going to be. A promoter can set the tone, and volunteers can keep things running smoothly, but there are more of us than there are of them, and if we commit to being awesome to each other and to the guests, the con can't help but be awesome in return.

Oh, and don't forget: it is dangerous to go alone!

51 thoughts on “being a geek is about having a great community”

  1. Hey Wil, I have a favor to ask, and I expect nothing for it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I have a friend attending W00tstock tomorrow and she’s been really down lately (nothing serious, but Life’s been on top of her lately), and while I’m expecting your show to cheer her up, a shoutout to let her know her friends are thinking of her would be awesome. Her name is Jennifer, but everyone calls her Ed, and she’s full of win.
    There’s no reason for you to do this, mostly because you don’t know me from Adam (well, since you do the show with him, and I look nothing like him, it’s pretty clear that you would know me from Adam, or at least an Adam). I certainly won’t post anything horribly melodramatic if you don’t or think you suck or anything approximating being a dick; I’m too old for that sort of thing (as the steadily advancing horde of grey hair tells me). But it would be an awesome sort of thing for you to do, and I’m pretty sure you’re an awesome sort of guy.
    Anyhoo, whether you do or not, I’m sure Ed will enjoy the show. Break a leg, and enjoy the SDCC.

  2. Another thing congoers want to make sure to respect is the 5-3-1 rule. You’re running around like crazy trying to get in all the stuff you want to do while the con’s still going and you forget to take care of yourself. Respecting the 5-3-1 rule will help you keep yourself feeling better.
    The 5-3-1 rule is pretty simple: Five hours of sleep, three meals, and one shower. Every day.
    Though I admit that I generally fudge it a little and do more like 4-2-1. The shower is NON-NEGOTIABLE, though.

  3. You forgot “Don’t be a dick” (tho it is implied). All of the attendees are there for the same thing (ok, nearly all) – to have a good time, meet people and get cool stuff. Don’t wreck someone’s day by cutting in line, jabbering on your cell during a panel, etc. etc.

  4. I will hang an 8-bit poster in Austin in lieu of being able to join in on the reindeer games.
    and in topics completely unrelated – has anyone else noticed the archives seem to be borked? I was cruising through the early years and now when i try to pull something up all i get is a page full of “Deprecated: Function ereg() is deprecated in /usr/home/wil/public_html/cgi-bin/mt/php/mt.php on line 203″
    it is all terribly tragic.

  5. I’m assuming this is good advice for any kind of convention? I’m going to the Star Trek con in Vegas next month. August. In Las Vegas. Yeah I’m guessing it will be pretty damn hot. I’ve been to Vegas before, but never been to any kind of convention…and I’m wicked excited. I like the 5-3-1 rule too, that’s a good one :)

  6. Wil, Are you going to Dragon Con this year in Alt. in Sept.? It was a blast last year. May of the people from the next generation was there…

  7. Have a great time at SDCC Wil. I really want to try that con one day. I’m coming over for Phoenix Comicon next year!!!!!
    How can people not shower every day??? Con or no Con!

  8. As someone who has attended a lot of cons over the years, and been to a lot of panel events with actors both as a fan, as a volunteer, and as someone who has worked in television, I’d like to add that, if there’s a Q&A, please, Please, PLEASE, for the love of God, ask a QUESTION.
    Yes, you love the show/writer/actor. We all do. It’s why we’re all sitting here. It’s why we all paid money and stood in line like you did. So what we’d like to do in whatever limited time there is for the Q&A is listen to the person (or people) we all love speak. Not you taking five minutes to go on and on about everything you love about the show/writer/actor, denying other folks a chance to interact with them. Seriously, if I can stand in Leonard Nimoy’s house, ON MY BIRTHDAY, and not turn into a complete blubbering idiot about how much I love Spock and how I was a member of the Leonard Nimoy Fan Club when I was twelve, then you can control yourself for a minute with a microphone (It was, by far, the highlight of my two years working on Big Bang though. No offense, Wil.)
    Also, saying “I love you/your show/your character” really gives the object of your admiration not much of a response beyond saying “Thank you.” Ask a question, and chances are they’ll spend a good portion of the time they answer it looking at you. You’ll get more from the exchange and so will the rest of the audience. It’s a win/win situation.

  9. I suppose that is in the middle, and I should say there’s none around me… because Dallas is still 1,000+ miles from where I live. But thanks Aaron!

  10. How’s this? (to the tune of 12 days of Christmas)
    For every day at Comic-con, this is what I did
    12 movie screenings
    11 Twitter updates
    10 picture signings
    9 costume changes
    8 panel viewings
    7 of 9 groping
    6 Batgirl flashes
    4Square Mayor
    3 meals a day
    2 pits with stink
    but I took a shower every day!

  11. Good advice. Well, except for the coffee/tea thing. It doesn’t dehydrate you, contrary to popular belief. There was an article in Journal of the American College of Nutrition about it a few years back (found out about it on snopes if you’re curious). Good old peer reviewed science; supporting my caffeine habit since 2000 (approx).

  12. Wikipedia says there is one in Dallas. I should apologize to my local Detroit – they did just have a comicon and I missed it. I went once a few years ago, and it felt sad, like Detroit is where comicon’s go to die. However, the lineup for this year was impressive. Sorry I missed it.

  13. Perhaps one day the Detroit con might improve – there was a time, not so very long ago, when Seattle’s Emerald City Comic-Con was a pitiful little affair.
    (For that matter, I remember my first SDCC, when it was still being held at that little hotel convention center up the road, back in the ’80s – I got to meet Larry Niven. No idea back then that this little day-and-a-half affair would blossom into one of the biggest cons in the frakking world…)

  14. Reading this reminds me that last year when I went to the SDCC W00tstock, not only was each guest who I didn’t actually know really nice to me, but for approximately 45 seconds, I got to talk to you and you made me feel like it was super-important that I was there. If you remember (which I admit was unlikely), we talked about Rocky Horror and your blog. I could tell that you were all torn between wanting to go to bed and desperately wanting to talk to each of us in the audience, and that was what made it great.
    We know (or should) that you all see thousands of people over the course of a con, but it doesn’t take much for the people we stand in line to see to either make or break our days(or even months), and last year W00tstock made mine.

  15. demented_pants: Yes, the 5-3-1 rule! Or 6-2-1 even. A few cons I’ve visited had attendees who ignored the VERY IMPORTANT 1…and they usually hung out in the games room…the stench of which wafted out for the world to experience…the fact there was a DDR pad in there really didn’t help…

  16. I would love to take my husband to Comicon. I think we would BOTH love it, to be completely honest. (totally drooling over the mario women’s wallet on time to stop denying it) but I agree about the Hollywood taking it over thing. I saw the cast of some show was going one year, can’t remember the show, and my first thought was…*blink* Why are they there? And really, does Hayden Pantywear, or whatever her name is, mix in well with the natives or is it a little like having Paris Hilton show up?

  17. “We who attend conventions get to decide how awesome they are going to be. A promoter can set the tone, and volunteers can keep things running smoothly, but there are more of us than there are of them, and if we commit to being awesome to each other and to the guests, the con can’t help but be awesome in return.”
    Truer words have never been spoken. *slow clap*

  18. I went to my first Comicon this year in Phoenix and I dealt with long waits the same way I always do: bring a book to read – not a heavy, hard-cover sort of thing, but something small, light, and entertaining. Also, if you like to write (as I do), a small notebook an paper are most desirable.

  19. havent gone to the con since 02
    miss the days when one could just hang out and chat with creators
    my first con was in 89…it was like mecca
    have a good time will
    really wish they would start livestreaming panels…for those who cant, and wont go

  20. Am interested in seeing your report on ComicCon. Read a news article a few days ago that the movie studios are not having a major involvement in ComicCon as in previous years. Am wondering if you have seen that. :) Enjoy!

  21. Vegas in August can be HOT! Shorts, t-shirts, sandals are pretty much the dress code. Although it is a dry heat, with the current ‘heatwave’ in evidence, I would recommend sticking with the dress code and drink lots of water. Yes, other drinks count to an extent, but any alcohol consumption will contradict that (OK, for nerd factor, water = +5, cola +2, alcohol -3).
    Find the AC, keep hydrated, and if the Star Trek Experience is still around, ride it. Above all else, have a great time!

  22. Sorry, I meant to add that when I was there then, temps averaged 103 degrees – and that was before the heat index was factored in.

  23. Tejano54e
    if the times is correct, this would be a good thing for the con…in a sense
    sure, the extra money helped, but the con lost what made it special…and crowds were growing without the hollywood takeover
    but i have a feeling that once the convention center size increases, so that instead of one hall h, there are 3 or 4 megahalls and the size of the con attendance can expand to 200k…hollywood will return with a vengeance

  24. I did The Star Trek experience the first time I went to Vegas. Sadly it’s gone! It was very cool though. I traded put-downs with a Klingon. I lost. badly. But it was fun! 😀 Last time I went to Vegas it was November…it was gorgeous, perfect weather. Since I’m going a-conning…I have a feeling I’ll mostly be indoors anyway :)

  25. I would like to say, we will miss you at GenCon this year. Was great seeing you last year. If you ever want to come as just an attendee, we will have a blast.

  26. In discussing my days off with my boss (for GenCon), she said … “Why do I know that name ???” I gave several examples of your work, to which every time she said no, not it. Then you could almost see the light bulb: “He was in that show on TV, the geek one …” “Big Bang Theory?” “YEAH, that’s it!”
    Your appearance on a seldom watched (by my boss) TV show has made you infamous to her now …

  27. One day I’d like to try one of these big conventions, but I’ll never go to a one-franchise convention again after a bad experience with a Doctor Who convention a few years ago. I went on my own as I couldn’t talk anyone else into shelling out money for it, but I thought hey – we all have something in common, maybe I won’t make best friends and hook up with a group of people, but people will at least have a friendly word or two to say, right?
    Wrong. I’ve never been around such a mean spirited, downright rude group of people in my life. The few people who did speak to me actually turned their backs – literally – when I mentioned it was my first convention. Apparently, I wasn’t a real fan. After a few attempts to make conversation with people while in line for things, I realised that not only did nobody want to talk to me, they didn’t want to talk to anyone but the stars and maybe the people they came with. It wasn’t a community, it was a group of people who happened to be in the same room.
    I did get the opportunity to meet some of the cast, who were all extremely friendly and nice, and had a great conversation with a supposedly ‘minor’ cast member in the bar when he did what not one other person had done the whole day and actually came over to speak to me, but I’ll never forget how awful the fans were.

  28. Thanks for the feedback.
    I have never been to one of these events. There was a comic con in San Antonio a few weeks back but I did not know of it til after it was too late.
    Is San Diego the biggest?
    As things get popular, they get bigger, as things get bigger, they lose some of the what made them popular, I think.

  29. I rarely comment because I figure it’ll just get lost in the sea of replies, but I really think you and Felicia pegged it, square-on. Some of these things, including the showers and proper hydration, cannot be stressed enough, and sometimes, they need to be stressed OUTSIDE of cons, too. I haven’t been to many conventions, but I’ve experienced this first hand at many game sessions not at a con! (Yeah, as in *I* have been guilty, too.)

  30. I wish I could be at comic con but alas I am stuck in the middle of Texas. But to carry on with the being a geek theme I will be playing Rift. And as a bit of interest I ran across a guild in game called of all things “Wheaton’s Law”. They live by the code “DBAD” and you know I joined them and they are a great bunch of folks so far.

  31. Great post, so funny! But, I really wanted to find you and never did see you at The Guild booth. I had a early birthday gift for you, but will save for next year! Are you going to be there today tho?? I can stop by real quick! You have always been so kind when I have met you in the past-and even in a rush have taken a pic with me. You rock!!!

  32. Tejano54
    comic con is both the biggest and the longest running
    i started going when it was already big (about 30k for the weekend) but still small enough for one to truly enjoy the experience
    dont see how its enjoyable standing in line for 4 hours to get into a panel
    dont see how its enjoyable not being able to spend a few minutes with one’s fav creators…getting only a few moments to say hi
    i attended the con for just a few things…to walk the floor and see creators i spent the year reading…to go to the kirby and golden age panels…and to check out collectable comics that i would never be able to afford
    best time i ever had at the con was spending a full hour chatting with neal adams about how he and o’neil got around the censors and the comic code, when they made green lantern/green arrow…and then listening as the discussion turned to quantum physics and his theory of how the world was created….cant do this anymore

  33. Thank you Michael Vezie and Mouse Comma The for commenting on the “Soda and coffee dehydrate you” comment. That’s a myth I keep running into, and I just don’t get. They’re both 98+% H20, so how on Earth would that make you less hydrated than you were before you drank it?
    The article Mouse Comma The referred to is this:
    “The Effect of Caffeinated, Non-Caffeinated, Caloric and Non-Caloric Beverages on Hydration”
    Ann C. Grandjean, EdD, FACN, CNS, Kristin J. Reimers, RD, MS, Karen E. Bannick, MA and Mary C. Haven, MS.
    Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Oct. 2000, vol 19 no.5, p591-600.
    Quote: “Advising people to disregard caffeinated beverages as part of the daily fluid intake is not substantiated by the results of this study.”
    Or, if you prefer, see the bottom of this Snopes article, which summarizes the above study:

  34. The main problem I have with that study is that the American College of Nutrition is funded by corporations like Coca-Cola, Kellog's, and others. I just don't believe their journal is credible.

  35. OK… How about these?
    “Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review”
    R. J. Maughan, J. Griffin
    Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (official journal of the British Dietetic Association) Volume 16, Issue 6, pages 411–420, December 2003
    Quote: “Conclusion The most ecologically valid of the published studies offers no support for the suggestion that consumption of caffeine-containing beverages as part of a normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested or is associated with poor hydration status. Therefore, there would appear to be no clear basis for refraining from caffeine containing drinks in situations where fluid balance might be compromised.”
    “Caffeine, Fluid-Electrolyte Balance, Temperature Regulation, and Exercise-Heat Tolerance”
    Lawrence E. Armstrong; Douglas J. Casa; Carl M. Maresh; Matthew S. Ganio
    Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 2007;35(3):135-140
    Quote: “A variety of investigations have been reviewed spanning more than 75 yr. The evidence indicates that consuming a moderate level of caffeine results in a mild increase of urine production. Although this diuresis may (240-642 mg of caffeine) or may not (<240 mg) be significantly greater than a control fluid (0 mg of caffeine), there is no evidence to suggest that moderate caffeine intake (<456 mg) induces chronic dehydration or negatively affects exercise performance, temperature regulation, and circulatory strain in a hot environment. Caffeinated fluids contribute to the daily human water requirement in a manner that is similar to pure water.” (emphasis mine)
    These are two literature reviews of many other science papers from many other credible, peer-reviewed, scientific sources, and the conclusions from both are that caffeinated beverages hydrate just as well as water.
    This isn’t a corporate conspiracy, as your previous comment would require for you to reject that study, this is science.

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