Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
2017-08-21 12:23 pm (UTC)
Huh, the fact it's confusing to you means it was not as helpful as I optimistically thought!
The idea is that it's a simple meta-rule: if you want something from someone else, you ask first. Whether that's taking their photo or touching them or initiating a conversation or whatever. I think for a lot of people this is basic etiquette they learn before they even start nursery school, but there's a contingent who think that SF cons are the place where you get to "be yourself" and being yourself means ignoring basic manners.
Some cons try to pander to jerks like that because they want fandom to be "inclusive" of white American men who were bullied at school for being geeky and used their programming skills to move into a higher social class than their parents belonged to. And the good impulse to want to be inclusive of such people is easily manipulated into making organizers thinking they have to allow such people to be horrible to anyone who doesn't fit that demographic. Other cons make long lists of rules about exactly what is and isn't ok and essentially codify good manners, which has the failure mode of everybody constantly being on edge in case they've accidentally violated some interpretation of some byelaw.
I felt like the "ask first" rule was a good compromise between those two problems. Everybody can understand, even if they find negotiating complex social interactions challenging, that if you want some interaction with someone else, you should ask first. But that's completely useless if it's just a confusing slogan. This con had a lot of first time attendees who aren't part of the surrounding culture, which I think is a lot of what made it feel comfortable for me, I didn't feel like an intruder among the people who've been attending SF cons for decades. But it also means that lots of people may not have understood the instruction :-/
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