Background and policies

We’re glad you’re interested in Vividcon! Here’s some information you may find useful.

Vividcon originated from a particular tradition of small, intensely analytical and also exuberantly freewheeling, slash- and queer-friendly fan conventions, and we think it still feels like that. But the con has grown and changed in some ways, and vidding has grown and changed in many more. We’ve been asked to write up some information about what the con is like and what you can expect at it; that’s what this is. (This document supplements the at-con rules given in the program book, but doesn’t replace them.) Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have questions!

  1. Vividcon is a con for anyone who likes vids.
  2. Vividcon is for both gleeful enjoyment and analytical critique.
  3. Vividcon is public. Mostly.
  4. Vividcon is open to attendees of all gender identities.
  5. Vividcon wants to be accessible.
  6. Vividcon is social!
  7. Vividcon wants all its members to feel safe and comfortable.
  8. Vividcon wants all kinds of vids.
  9. Vividcon thanks you for reading through this document!

1. Vividcon is a con for anyone who likes vids.

We are not a con specifically for vidders. Many of our members, and nearly half of our concom (staff), have never made a vid. Although a few of our program items may be specifically intended for vidders or would-be vidders, most are not, and many are about aspects of watching and appreciating and discussing vids.

We are not a con for a tight clique in which everyone knows everyone. Some people do come often and count on seeing friends there, but each year, about a quarter of our members are coming to their first Vividcon ever. The con’s intensity and energy may feel overwhelming if you’re shy, but we encourage you to say hello, speak up in panels, and enjoy yourself; or to sit quietly watching vids, nibble a brownie in the con suite, and enjoy yourself that way. Our volunteer coordinator wants to remind you that offering to help at the con is a great way to meet people and feel useful!

2. Vividcon is for both gleeful enjoyment and analytical critique.

We love vids! And we believe that it’s often interesting to analyze things you love. VividCon is a place for both squee and critique, for both exuberant dancing to vids and sober consideration of their achievements and flaws. We understand that it can be difficult to hear someone say something critical about your vid, or your friend’s vid, but it is not a violation of VividCon mores to say publicly, in a panel or a vid review, “I disliked this vid because…” or “that vid didn’t work for me because….”

On the other hand, it certainly is against VividCon mores to say “That vidder sucks,” and we expect panel moderators to shut any such comments down. We’re critiquing vids, not people.

We take vids seriously, and we expect people to want to pay attention to them! We ask that you not talk, sing along, use any electronic device that produces any light or noise, or do anything else during a vidshow that will disrupt the viewing experience of the people around you. If you need to leave the room, please wait until the brief pause between vids if at all possible. When you want to come back in, you’ll push the signal button at the door, and the volunteer inside will open the door for you when the currently playing vid has ended.

The exceptions to this are the Premieres overflow room, where talking and moving around is fine; the VividCon Pub Quiz, where vids function as background music for trivia questions; and Club Vivid, the con vid dance party, which is full of noise, lights, and movement or we’re doing it wrong! The con suite has a TV and DVD player, and anyone is welcome to watch vids there whenever it’s open, but other people will certainly be talking and moving around while they’re playing. (Anyone wanting a hushed, vidshow-like environment outside of a vidshow is encouraged to watch vidshows in their hotel rooms, either by making use of vidshow streaming available online for all members or by checking out a vidshow DVD from the con suite.) And of course if a panel moderator shows a vid during their panel, they may ask for silence, or talk over it to point things out, or stop and start it: whatever fits the panel’s needs.

3. Vividcon is public. Mostly.

Many attendees write up con reports, often including descriptions of what was said in panels (or worn at Club Vivid) as well as of vids. You may be quoted, either with or without your name (as shown on your con badge) attached. This is not a violation of Vividcon mores; what happens at Vividcon need not stay at Vividcon. However, we do want to protect our members’ privacy, and that means that certain kinds of public reporting are not okay.

Do not quote or identify anyone by any name other than the one that was on their badge (including an LJ or other journal name), unless you are absolutely certain that they are okay with another name being used. However, it’s not uncommon for people to use one name face to face in conversation, but prefer to be referred to by another one in print and on the internet; don’t assume that a conversational name is fine to use in a con report or an account of your weekend. And if you yourself want to be identified with a name other than the one you’re using in conversation, let people know that! You might note it on your name badge, for instance.

If you are taking pictures, remember that not everyone wants to be photographed. Do not take pictures of anyone who hasn’t given you permission, and do not put con photos online, even without names attached, unless you have your subjects’ separate permission for that. Because the Club Vivid dance room is so crowded and busy, we ask that you not take pictures in it at all; it’s too difficult to ensure that only your subjects are in them, and it may make nearby fans feel uncomfortable or constrained.

Also, you may not record con program events (by audio, video, or both). You can take notes, liveblog, or tweet from panels (but not vidshows! See above) and the con suite, but please be considerate of your fellow congoers. Verbatim panel transcripts in their entirety are discouraged, as these are also recordings of a sort.

4. VividCon is open to attendees of all gender identities.

VividCon welcomes members of all gender identities and gender expressions. We want the con to be a safe space for everyone, and are constantly working to make adjustments to con space and con policy to that end.

The hotel has two public restrooms near the event space, each of which has a wheelchair-accessible stall. For the duration of the con weekend, the public restroom which the hotel usually labels “Men” will be relabeled simply “Restroom.” The public restroom which the hotel labels “Women” will retain that label. While these restrooms are open to other hotel guests, historically the majority of people you encounter are fellow VVC members. We ask that all members use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using, and assume that any other members they encounter going about their business in the public bathrooms are doing the same.

For any members who are uncomfortable with using one of these public bathrooms and who are concerned about having time to get back to their own hotel room between con events, one possible alternative is requesting a room on the second floor (as long as the heavy doors are not a problem) or a room close to the elevators on another floor, or making private arrangements to use the bathroom of another con attendee who is staying in such a room. There are also unisex public bathrooms available on each of the guest room floors starting with the third floor, and Women’s and Men’s rooms located on the first floor.

All attendees are welcome to note their preferred pronoun(s) on their name badges. If you’re not sure what pronoun to use when referring to someone, ask politely what the person wants you to use. (If you’re in the midst of a public discussion, simply refer to them by name.) If you use an incorrect pronoun for someone and they correct you, use their correct pronoun going forward. If you feel someone is deliberately misgendering you, please speak to a member of con staff.

5. Vividcon wants to be accessible.

Fundamentally, the concom wants to make the con work for anyone who wants to attend, and asks that any members with accessibility concerns that are not completely addressed here please contact access@vividcon.com before the con. Our goal in this policy is to offer a high level overview of the event space and answer some of the accessibility questions that might arise. Naturally, people’s needs and accommodations will vary, so please contact us if you have questions in areas we have not covered here.

If for any reason a member can’t contact the concom beforehand or finds there are unexpected difficulties at the con, the concom will try and address issues as they arise at the con itself as quickly as possible; any concom member can be asked for assistance. Concom members will be identifiable by their red badge holders at the con.

If you wish to remain anonymous when discussing any of your accessibility concerns, please feel free to create an anonymous email account to write to the concom; you do not need to identify yourself, just say that you are an attending member and explain your needs. If a member does share their identity, it will be kept confidential except for those concom members who are working on any accommodations.

The access@vividcon.com address will be checked regularly leading up to and during the con so members can request help even while the con is ongoing, and all requests will be responded to as soon as possible.

About The Hotel Area

The hotel is about a five minute taxi ride from O’Hare Airport. (We strongly advise flying in to O’Hare rather than into Midway, which is much further away.) Wheelchair-accessible taxis can be ordered by calling Chicago Central Dispatch at 1-800-281-4466. More details are available at http://www.easyaccesschicago.org/transportation, which also has details for how to get discounted vouchers ($5 each way) for anyone who is a registered paratransit rider in their home area.

The hotel is located at 8101 West Higgins Road (link goes to Google Maps where you can zoom in to see more detail of the area). The hotel is on a busy four-lane road with no sidewalks on that side of the road, which unfortunately can make the grocery store, most of the nearby restaurants, and the nearby CTA station challenging to access. (The hotel shuttle no longer offers rides to nearby destinations.)

The hotel does have a fully accessible Outback Steak House, which offers gluten-free options. The front desk will provide menus of local restaurants that deliver, and grubhub.com has great Chicago-area coverage of restaurants that deliver to a specific address, often complete with online menus. The hotel rooms come equipped with a fridge and microwave in a mini-kitchenette area.

The front desk can also sell sundries including painkillers, antacids, menstrual supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors, and a limited selection of snacks and beverages.

In addition, if you need specific help (a ride, a grocery run etc), please let us know. While we cannot provide services directly, our convention is small and friendly and we will do our best to help you get the word out about your specific needs or point you to resources being organized by other attendees.

About The Hotel Rooms

The hotel has a smoke-free policy throughout and can provide hypoallergenic pillows on request.

The hotel’s guest rooms generally have wheelchair-accessible front doors but not bathroom doors. Members with strength or mobility issues may want to avoid those on the second floor, as the guest room areas on this one floor are separated from the elevators and function space by heavy doors that do not open automatically. On the other floors, there are no such doors.

The hotel has some rooms classed as accessible which have a larger bathroom with handrails, an adjustable showerhead that can be hand-held, and a shower chair, some with a standard tub and others with a shower stall, and a light signal on the room door for the hearing-impaired. Room doors are not self-opening; you may want to bring a doorstop or the concom can provide one if requested in advance of the con. If you ask, hotel staff will also move end tables out of your room to make more space for your equipment.

The hotel has two public restrooms near the event space, each of which has a wheelchair-accessible stall. For the duration of the con weekend, the public restroom which the hotel usually labels “Men” will be relabeled simply “Restroom.” The public restroom which the hotel labels “Women” will retain that label. While these restrooms are open to other hotel guests, historically the majority of people you encounter are fellow VVC members. We ask that all members use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using, and assume that any other members they encounter going about their business in the public bathrooms are doing the same.

For any members who are uncomfortable with using one of these public bathrooms and who are concerned about having time to get back to their own hotel room between con events, one possible alternative is requesting a room on the second floor (as long as the heavy doors are not a problem) or a room close to the elevators on another floor, or making private arrangements to use the bathroom of another con attendee who is staying in such a room. There are also unisex public bathrooms available on each of the guest room floors starting with the third floor, and Women’s and Men’s rooms located on the first floor.

About The Con Space

Nearly all con events take place in the second floor function space in four meeting rooms that are in close proximity to one another and the hotel elevators. Here is a floorplan that may help in planning (click for larger size):

sketch of the layout of  the con space

During Thursday night registration, a volunteer will be on duty in the quiet hangout room to bring registration packs to members who may have difficulty fetching them themselves from the sometimes crowded mezzanine area. During Club Vivid (our Friday night dance party), a volunteer will be on duty in the quiet hangout room and, when it is open, the con suite, to bring snacks and non-alcoholic drinks as available, to members who may have difficulty fetching them themselves. Also during these times, tape will be put down to mark off a “mobility line” as seen on the floorplan. We ask that no members congregate below the mobility line, in order to keep a clear path open between the elevators, restrooms, con suite, and quiet hangout room.

A line usually forms in the second floor area for the first vidshow and the Premieres vidshow. There can be crowding and a rush when the vidshow first opens. Any members for whom these conditions may be an issue can be let into the Premieres show and other major events early. If you need to arrange early access, please check the “Pre-boarding for Premieres” box on your registration form or email access@vividcon.com.

We will set aside dedicated seating space in the vidshow and panel rooms for our members with disabilities, including space for wheelchairs and scooters, based on the needs of our attending members. Because the number of people who use this space changes from year to year and because the seating layout may change between panels and vid shows, we appreciate advance notice from members who know they will need space or think they may, so that we can plan accordingly. Please let the concom know of your needs at access@vividcon.com.

The concom will be happy to describe the space in more detail for new attendees and to work out any accommodations you might need. If additional needs arise at the con, they will be addressed as quickly as possible.

Other Issues

All service animals are welcome at the hotel and the con.

Aides are welcome at the con; they just need to be over 18. The concom asks that any member who will have aides attending with them let the concom know in advance how many aides will be coming; special badges will be made up for them to ensure access throughout the con, and will be included in the member’s registration packet.

Some large-print programs are printed up each year. If you let the concom know in advance that you want one, we will ensure that one is put in your membership pack; more copies will also be available on the reg table and in the con suite. Most of the information in the con program will also be posted on the con website starting Thursday after registration.

The con rents most of its audio/visual equipment from outside vendors and the configuration often changes from year to year. Any members with hearing limitations are asked to contact the concom as early as possible so we can provide a good solution. Again, access@vividcon.com is the best place to email for this type of request.

VividCon maintains a large vid lending library that is available in the con suite throughout the weekend. All current-year vidshows are available on DVD as soon as the show begins, and all of the hotel rooms come equipped with televisions with various video and audio inputs for use with your own audiovisual equipment.

The vidshow room is normally kept quiet and darkened in the style of a movie theater, and members are asked not to leave in the middle of a vid under normal circumstances. However, this does not at all apply to a medical or other emergency. Members should feel free to leave immediately when necessary.

Note: The statement above is drawn from a draft worked out in open policy discussions online in July 2010 and reflects a combination of longstanding VividCon practices and more recent suggestions that we’ve adopted based on community feedback.

6. Vividcon is social!

Con program events start sharp on Friday morning, so most people arrive on Thursday. People will be saying hi and hugging in the lobby, concom will be hauling equipment and sorting out paperwork, and toward the evening we’ll be setting up early registration in the second-floor atrium (the center of con space). A crowd of people generally collect, hanging out and talking. Come pick up your membership packet and join us!

Many people hold informal room parties during the con, especially in the evening. Some of these may be announced publicly, usually by a note on the announcement board in the con suite, and such a party is always open to anyone who wants to come. Some people also just prop their hotel room door open to indicate that they’re open to con members dropping in; if you wander the halls and hear vids and voices, and the door is open, it’s not a violation of Vividcon mores to knock, peek in, and say, “Hi, I was hoping to find some people to hang out and watch vids with?” Of course, they may only have had the door open because the pizza was about to arrive, so if they say “Oh, sorry, we’re not actually an open party,” just say “Whoops, okay” and move on, secure in the knowledge that you haven’t done anything inappropriate.

Sometimes we print up door hangers for people to put on their doorknob to indicate an open party. If you see such a hanger, it’s entirely legitimate to knock even if the door is closed.

If you’re having a room party, therefore, post it in the con suite, leave the door ajar, or use a door hanger if you want to welcome people! And, you know, don’t if you don’t.

7. Vividcon wants all its members to feel safe and comfortable.

We know that some of the policies described above, particularly the value we place on frank discussion of dislikes as well as likes, may distress some fans. In that sense, we’re not a “safe space.” However, we want everyone to be as comfortable as they can, in the context of these policies! We approve of conversation, debate, and the airing of different points of view, but we expect our members to treat each other with respect, and we will not tolerate abuse or harassment. We love the fact that people dress for Club Vivid in everything from wild costumes to cocktail dresses to jeans and T-shirts to pajamas, but we expect everyone to respect one another’s boundaries both during the party and at all other times. If someone’s words or actions make you feel threatened or unsafe during the con, please tell a concom member as soon as you can, and we’ll do our best to
make things right. We reserve the right to cancel the membership of someone who behaves badly enough.

8. Vividcon wants all kinds of vids.

VividCon is an equal opportunity con. Our goal is to give vidders and vid fans a place where they can share and see a wide range of vids. We do not judge or discriminate against vids for genre, sexual orientation, source, fandom, age, technique, or even if we think they’re in poor taste or badly made.

Because adult material is accepted, VividCon is intended for adults only, and attendees must be over 18. Please be aware that you may, and most likely will, see such material in various vidshows and panels. You may also (horrors!) see vids that you don’t like. It’s all part of the deal.

Boring legalese: the concom officially reserves the right to not show any vid for any reason whatsoever. In practice, we will actually only use this to avoid showing vids that we think are going to create serious liability issues for us, and if we do have to use it (we’ve never had to so far), we will discuss our concerns privately with the vidder first.

9. Vividcon thanks you for reading through this document!

We hope that we have managed to address any concerns you may have. If you have questions or want to discuss anything further, you are welcome to write to us:

vividcon@vividcon.com — for general questions

access@vividcon.com — for questions about accessibility and special needs

vvctech@gmail.com — for technical questions about vid uploading, etc.

You can also directly contact the concom member in charge of a particular aspect of the con; our names and areas of responsibility are listed on the Contact Us form of the con website.

If you’d like to get perspectives and input from the larger Vividcon and vidding community, as well as the concom, you can post a question or comment to the con’s LiveJournal or mailing list.

Thank you for your interest in Vividcon! We hope to see you there.