DashCon

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Convention
Name: DashCon (formerly known as Tumbl-Con)
Dates: July 11-13, 2014
Frequency:
Location: Shaumburg, IL
Type: fan run, with possible creator guests
Focus:
Organization:
Founder: Megan Eli and Roxanne Schwieterman (Dashcon), Megg Eli and Cain Hopkins (Emoti-Con)
Founding Date:
URL: http://www.dashcon.org (website); http://dashcon.tumblr.com/ (tumblr)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

DashCon was a fan-run convention for tumblr users. It is famous for being disastrously run in a similar way to Ultimate Fantasy. Public opinion is divided as to how much of this was incompetence and how much malice or scam artistry.

As of August 2014, DashCon LLP was dissolved, a new limited company was formed[1] and the new owners[2] moved on to host a new convention, Emoti-Con 2015.[3] In December 2014, this rebranded convention was also canceled for unspecified reasons:

"Emoti-Con Indy is sad to announce that we are cancelling our 2015 event. Due to many concers (sic)— personal, financial, and safety —the June 2015 event will not be taking place. At this time, we have no plans or intentions of rescheduling. Refunds have been issued to those who bought tickets. Thank you all for your support."[4]

Similar Disasters

Origins and History

Originally titled "Tumbl_Con," the event was renamed DashCon (referring to the tumblr dashboard) and moved to 2014.

From the DashCon welcome page:
"DashCon aims to be the largest gathering of Tumblr users to date, concentrating on the particulars of this stand out social media site. DashCon will be a place where Tumblr users can express common site wide interests, in both fashion, art, science, and in the world of geekery. Specifically, the side of Tumblr we have garnered interest from has been the geekery side. This side comprises mostly of people who religiously follow various television shows, movie series, and book series. Notable groups within this ‘geekery’ side would be those who follow BBC’s Sherlock, CWs Supernatural, and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter. In addition to bringing together these groups, we are also very interested in promoting and helping with two common issues found within Tumblr users, mainly, depression and anxiety. We wish to provide informational programming about healthy ways to deal with these conditions."

And:

"We believe the people of Tumblr deserve a space of their own. A safe space where they can meet their friends, learn about what interests them, and have as much fun as humanly possible in a weekend. We love the people of Tumblr, and we want them to have this, they deserve it. As a community so full of love, support, and creativity, we want them to have a place where they can really connect, give them chances to collaborate and connect outside of their laptops."

The preliminary schedule offers over 4 tracks of programming, a vendor's room, a fan art gallery, and guests. The 2014 draft schedule can be found here. The convention is hoping to attract 3,000-5,000 attendees. They have lowered the minimum age to 14; however 18+ photo ID will be required for many panels and live events.

Admins

As of November 2013.

  • Megg
  • Roxanne
  • Sam
  • Lochlan
  • Angela
  • Amber

Committees/Fundraising

In a unique twist for fan run conventions, the organizers have solicited tumblr affinity groups to help raise the necessary capital to host such a large scale event. The exact relationship between these affinity groups and the convention is not clear. The "committees" are arranged based on fandoms (Star Trek, Supernatural, Teen Wolf) along with other communities (Youtube, Videogames ). In the fandom committees, members are offering commissioned fan fic and fan art. The Star Trek Committee plans to split their funds 60/40 - with 60% of the amount raised going to the convention and the remaining 40% to help members of the committee to attend the convention.[5] Below is a gallery of some of the banners for various fandom committees. More information about the committee structure can be found here.[6]

The convention is also soliciting for funds directly and in March announced a $5000 initial fund-raising goal along with plans to apply for grants. From their tumblr in March 2013:
"Hosting a convention is not something any of us saw in ourselves. For a while, Tumbl-Con was just a half-shaped idea I caught a wiff of every once in a while when a stray post or two drifted onto my dash. Breathing new life into this idea has been something all of us staff members have been working tirelessly for over the last month or so; unfortunately, there is only so much passion you can put into starting a business before the real work comes crashing down on your shoulders. Mainly, we have to deal with the government and money. We can take care of the legal aspect, however, money is not something a group of 20-somethings really have in abundance. This is where you, our followers, can help! If we have just a hundred of our nearly 4,000 followers donate a mere ten dollars, we would have enough money to get us on our feet, pay for some software we need, file additional forms, and pay fees for applying for more grants, on top of the few for which we have already applied.

We need your help to get us settled logistically, just enough to make sure we can make this happen, for you, for us, and for all of Tumblr. Please consider donating ten dollars, or even more, if you’re feeling generous. This would give us the capital we need so we can get to a point when we can start selling tickets, and, ultimately, get this con up and running more quickly and more smoothly.

You can donate here to our Indiegogo campaign. We appreciate all the help and support you have given us so far, and we look forward to your continued input as we plan what will be the most amazing convention we can plan."[7]
Tickets went on sale in the summer of 2013. Shortly after Yahoo bought Tumblr rumours began circulating that DashCon was not a fan run event. The convention issued an explanation that it was fan run and also pointed out that any funds left over would be used to organize DashCon 2015:
"Lastly, we stand to make no where near $1 million. We don’t even stand to bring in a figure anywhere near $1 million prior to our expenses being paid out. In fact, given our expenses, we will have less than $100k left over from our first convention, and that leftover money will go right into DashCon 2015. This is a perpetual event, so we need to make enough for two conventions in one year. This is quite a feat, but we want to be able to give people as many opportunities as possible to attend an event specifically tailored for them."[8]

Panelist Requirements

Panelists will be vetted "to determine their qualifications in several different areas, including but not limited to subject knowledge, leadership abilities, and public speaking skills." They must also be willing and able to submit to a Skype video interview before being selected. A list of panelist requirements is posted here. Panelists who manage to attract more than 50 attendees across two panels held the same day will get their membership for that day comped. Panelists who exceed a head count more than 100 (or full house) will receive their membership for that day free. This policy is a departure from most fan run conventions where fans participate in programming without regard to compensation. Nor are fan panelists typically measured by the number of panel attendees.

Volunteers

In June 2013, the convention made a request for volunteers.
"Volunteer Perks:
  • 1-11 hours: receive our undying gratitude
  • 12-19 hours: receive a refund of your badge cost
  • 20+ hours: receive a refund of your badge cost and your hotel room* will be comped for Fri & Sat nights."[9]

After October 2013, the event stopped accepting volunteers.

Reactions/Reviews

The vast majority of fans welcomed the convention announcement with excitement:

"I WANT TO GO TO DASHCON MORE THAN LIFE THEY HAVE AN ENTIRE ROOM DEDICATED TO BALL PITS AND INFLATABLES AND NIGHT VALE AND TORCHWOOD AND ALL MY FUCKING FANDOMS"[10]
"76 hours. I have to baby sit for 76 hours so I can go to dashcon next year. I so hope its worth it."[11]
"I’M LOOKING AT THE TEMP SCHEDULE FOR DASHCON NEXT SUMMER

AND IF THIS DOESN’T BECOME THE BEST CON EVER

I JUST

guys you have no idea but i am crying right now. i am tearing up.

DASHCON IS IN SCHAUMBURG. I LIVE FUCKING NEXT TO SCHAUMBURG. AND AND AND THESE PANELS ARE FUCKING GENIUS JUST a;kldfjhadkl;sf"[12]
"Will someone please buy me a plane ticket and con badge to DashCon I’ll give you my firstborn and my soul and a planet."[13]

Some fans raised concerns that the convention might not be real or might not actually take place.

"I'm trying to convince a friend to come with me to DashCon. She is afraid that she's going to buy her badge and everything and then the event won't actually happen. Is that a possibility?"
to which the convention organizers responded:
"Hello! I can assuage fears along these lines fairly simply.

Our contract with the hotel basically has a clause in it that says neither us nor the hotel is allowed to cancel, un-reserve, re-allocate or otherwise keep us from the usage of our rooms, the room block, or anything along those lines. Basically, we have to have this convention! There is no other way for us to make the money required to pay for the space, and if we didn’t have the convention, we have no idea what we would do with all those rooms for the weekend! Along with that, we also have several other contracts with other companies, services, and people which we are responsible for. We, simply put, can’t afford to quit. If we were to quit now, it would ruin us personally, financially, and the business would likely have to declare bankruptcy, ruining the owner’s personal credit along with it, and possibly making them liable for any leftover bills the company would have, which at this point would be a considerable sum.

Secondly, we have made a promise to you guys, a very personal one if I’m being honest. You know our names, you know where to contact us, you have our personal blogs. We feel highly accountable to our followers and we are doing our damnedest to make it happen. We won’t quit because we don’t feel like doing it, and we have a game plan should any of us fall ill.

Thirdly, we want this to happen too! We love tumblr as much as you guys, and we have a game plan for this convention which is working, and will continue to work. We have the force, the motivation, and honestly, the ticket sales to do it. We are selling tickets steadily enough to get everything we need for the convention, plus some fun extras for our attendees!

Basically, it would take the end of the world to make this convention not happen. Hopefully that helps!"[14]
Not everyone welcomed the convention however.
"Just found out there is going to be a tumblr convention next year…. dear god can you imagine all the SJ bloggers and hipster bloggers in a room together. That is going to be a hell hole."[15]

DashCon Fanworks

Because many fans were under 18, a slightly tongue in cheek slideshow was created "How To Convince My Parents To Let Me Drive To Another State To Meet Strangers on The Internet"[16]

Because for many fans, this would be their first face to face meeting with people, "Party at DashCon Hey!", a filk song was created about how to deal with the anxiety. The song was posted to Youtube.

"meeting all my friends for the first time,
am I gonna fit in?....
So hard without a laptop in front of me
it's definitely not an online party
'cause all I see are real people
I wonder how this is gonna go?...
I'll be back online tonight....."

Convention Weekend and Controversy

DashCon debuted to reports of problems including misused funds, and panel and guest cancellation.[17] The number of attendees were lower than the initial projections of 3000-7000, with some estimating around 500 attendees at its highest point[18] and 1000 for the whole weekend.[19]

Late into the opening day of the con, the organizers announced that the hotel was "threatening to shut down" the convention unless they could pay $17,000 by 10 p.m. Central Time.[20] Attendees at the con as well as people following their tumblr were asked to donate. People were encouraged to rally for fandom solidarity, with the organizers claiming that they "suspect it's due to the fact that upper management doesn't like the people at the con." The organizers managed to raise the money in time for the payment and deleted the original request, though some have pointed out that there has been no confirmation that the money went directly to the hotel.[21] Subsequent reports contradict the amount of money actually raised by con-goers, with one person claiming that attendees contributed $3000, with the remaining $17,000 coming from ticket sales.[22]

The following day the organizers posted an explanation of the situation, stating that they had an earlier agreement with the hotel to pay in installments over the course of the weekend, but on July 11 the hotel management requested $20,000 to be paid immediately. The con organizers' plan had been to use the money from weekend's walk-in attendees to cover the total costs, so they did not have the funds on-hand to cover it.[23] The organizers promised to refund everyone who'd loaned them the $17,000, including those who donated in cash and do not have written proof.[24] However a closer read of the July 12, 2014 "Explanation" post have led some to speculate that refunds may be limited to PayPal users.[25] A second-hand report from a con-goer who'd talked to the staff says that the hotel requested the payment when the organizers could not fulfill the room block they had agreed with the hotel management; attendance was only 15% of what they'd expected.[19]

Several members of the cast of Welcome to Night Vale (WTNV) were invited to the convention and scheduled to appear for a panel, but pulled out when the organizers were "unable to pay for [their] flights, hotel, or performance fee".[26] The organizers responded on their official tumblr they did have money to pay the cast but had technical difficulties that prevented it from happening.[27] A staff member posted on their personal tumblr that the cast of WTNV lied, and that they actually were paid but chose to leave anyway.[28] The organizers offered various prizes to attendees who'd paid for tickets to the panel, including "an extra hour with the ball pit", which has since become a meme in discussing the convention.[27] On an anti-Dashcon tumblr, an anonymous commenter claimed that some of the prizes were supposed to be rewards for backers of the convention's IndieGoGo fundraising campaign.[29]

The organizers had trouble fulfilling their promise of covering the hotel rooms of other invited guests. The Sherlock Holmes podcast group The Baker Street Babes found themselves having to pay for their hotel rooms when they discovered that the organizers had withdrawn their card from the hotel account without informing them. The group were initially unable to contact the organizers and threatened legal action.[30] The group updated on July 13 that the organizers have contacted them, claiming that there was a misunderstanding, and the account is being settled,[31] but on July 14 found that they're still being charged for the bill.[32] Other invited guests who similarly found themselves billed for their rooms are Gingerhaze, who was a "Featured Artist",[33][34] as well as geek bloggers Lyndsay Faye and beinggeekchic.[35] All these guests were reimbursed a few days after the convention.

Response to the convention had been critical, with some speculating that it was a scam, while other think that it wasn't malicious, and was result of poor management and incompetence.[36][37] The organizers' lack of experience has been criticized,[38] as it has lead to questionable decisions such as setting a comparatively high ticket price for a fan-run convention,[37] announcing a partnership with actor Misha Collins' non-profit organization Random Acts despite that not being true,[39][40] only releasing 500 daily tickets which would have made it almost impossible to achieve the projected 3000-7000 attendees,[37] and already refusing refunds for advance tickets a year prior to the convention itself.[41] Random Acts has released a statement that they're not partnered with Dashcon, and has advised people who've donated to contact them, and to always obtain a receipt when making donations.[42] A former committee member has posted their personal experience of the preparations that went into the convention, claiming poor communication, lack of transparency, unrealistic goals such as trying to get Dylan O'Brien from Teen Wolf and Tom Hiddleston from the Marvel films guests, and a poor to non-existent screening process to allow people to join the committee.[43][44] Some have voiced concern that the organizers were able to pay the salary of at least one staff member, when fan-run conventions are usually volunteer.[19]

Aside from the larger money-related controversies, the convention was generally disorganized, and rife with miscommunication and last-minute changes.[45] However, some attendees claim that the outside reaction is overblown and exaggerated,[46][24] and even those who found the convention chaotic add that they had fun, and the staff were nice and doing their best.[45][19] At the end of the convention, the organizers announced that they will still go ahead with their plans for a 2015 convention in Indiana.[47][48] They also stated that there will be no refunds for the full weekend,[47] and on July 13 updated the rules on their website to state that there will be no refunds for the canceled WTNV panel.[49] Additional live updates can be found here.

The Ball Pit Meme

Main article: Ball Pit
The origin of the Ball Pit meme

During the convention, Emma Grant, an attendee, created a faux 'postcard' and posted it to her tumblr. The image was immediately reblogged many times and ultimately became the source of the Ball Pit Meme. However, it was not until the Welcome To Night Vale live reading event was canceled, and fans who had paid for it were promised "an extra hour in the ball pit"[27], that the meme was born.

Panel Reports, Notes and Videos

External links/Additional Reading

Official Messages

Third Party Essays/Articles

Convention Volunteer and Attendee Reports

References

  1. The name was "So Attacked Entertainment." Could be a reference to the meme I came out to have a good time and I'm honestly feeling so attacked right now.
  2. Megg Eli and Cain Hopkins, who was a staff member of Dashcon),
  3. [1]
  4. Emoti-Con Indy, Archived version
  5. NOTES FROM THE MEETING!!!! post from the Star Trek DashCon Committee tumblr dated Feb 2013; reference link.
  6. reference link.
  7. hosting a convention post at dashcon.tumblr dated March 11, 2013; reference link.
  8. DashCon tumblr post dated July 11 2013; reference link.
  9. DashCon FAQ accessed Nov 21, 2013; reference link.
  10. I want to go to DashCon tumblr post dated August 13, 2013; reference link.
  11. 78 hours tumblr post dated June 25, 2013; reference link.
  12. I am looking at the tumblr post dated June 29, 2013; reference link.
  13. Will someone please? tumblr post dated Sept 2013; reference link.
  14. I am trying to convince a friend tumblr ask dated July 22, 2013; reference link.
  15. I just found out tumblr post dated March 14, 2013; reference link.
  16. reference link.
  17. DashCon 2014 - What Happened? tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack machine link; reference link.
  18. kirbeh tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; Reference link.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 DashCon - emmagrant01 livejournal post dated July 14, 2014.
  20. - URGENT PLEASE HELP tumblr post dated July 11, 2014; reference link
  21. hythe's Dashcon tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; reference link.
  22. not burnie's "Final Revised Post" on tumblr dated July 14, 2014; reference link. As of July 14, 2014, the convention organizers have not yet supplied a full accounting. However, given that the attendance on Friday night was estimated to be around 500-1,000, the $3,000 figure seems a more plausible figure to have raised within one hour.
  23. THE EXPLANATION tumblr post dated July 12, 2013; WayBack Machine link.
  24. 24.0 24.1 bisexual-books tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; reference link. She also repeated these facts during an redditt interview: " It was all honor system. I was there when Roxanne announced that on Saturday morning. She claimed anyone who donated more than $1 if they came to the staff office and wrote down their name, email address they used to buy their con badge, and the amount she would refund them all on honor system. I don't know anyone who asked for a refund though." Source dated July 14, 2014.
  25. "Those who donated VIA paypal, we will be refunding you guys after the convention as soon as possible, starting with the largest amounts, and moving down from there.".
  26. Apologies to fans in Northern Illinois tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 CLARIFICATIONS AND BACK UP PLANS- tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack Machine link
  28. Wtnv Lied Just So You Know… tumblr post dated July 13, 2014; reference link
  29. Trashcon tumblr post dated July 13, 2014; reference link.
  30. Dash Con, The Baker Street Babes tumblr post, dated July 13, 2014; WayBack Machine link
  31. Dash Con, The Baker Street Babes tumblr post, dated July 13, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  32. Dash Con, The Baker Street Babes tumblr post, dated July 14, 2014; reference link
  33. Dashcon Featured Artist announcement - Gingerhaze tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack machine link
  34. "Found out I'm footing the bill for my own hotel room after all, so that's cool. Not surprised tbh"- gingerhazing tweet, dated July 13, 2014; WayBack Machine link
  35. Dashcon: Where I Draw the Line tumblr post dated July 13, 2014; reference link
  36. GOOFCON: DASHCON ISN'T A "SCAM" IT'S JUST SILLY - Black Rectangle post, dated July 12, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 Over the course of a weekend, DashCon 2014 descended into chaos - The Daily Dot, posted on July 13, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  38. scifigrl47 tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack machine link.
  39. DashCon and Random Acts— The partnership of awesome! tumblr post dated July 10, 2014; WayBack machine link.
  40. Random Acts is not partnered with Dashcon - tweet dated July 13, 2014; reference link
  41. Welcome to Hell: A DashCon Experience. By: seh221/Sarah H. tumblr post dated July 14, 2014; link
  42. Random Acts tumblr post dated July 14, 2014
  43. augustinesycamore tumblr post, dated July 12, 2014; Reference link.
  44. augustinesycamore tumblr post Part 2, dated July 13, 2014; reference link
  45. 45.0 45.1 Dashcon masterpost by a vendor tumblr post dated July 13, 2014; WayBack Machine link.
  46. DashCon fics - Mark Does Stuff tumblr post dated July 12, 2014; WayBack Machine link
  47. 47.0 47.1 HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DASHCON FEEDBACK PANEL tumblr post dated July 13, 2014; WayBack machine link
  48. "#dashcon already has money to go to 2015. Someone asked why not use that money but the money was from 6 mo ago. Down payment made." - SarahKFetter twitter, posted on July 14, 2014
  49. hythe tumblr post dated July 14, 2014; reference link
  50. A transcript of the video is available at the Youtube page and a reference copy is available here. Additional notes can be found on hythe's tumblr here.
  51. WayBack machine link.
  52. Reference Link Part 1, Reference Link Part 2, Reference Link Part 3.
  53. Reference link.
  54. Reference link.
  55. WayBack machine link.
  56. reference link.