Voodoo Message Board

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A voodoo message board is a type of communication board set up at fan run conventions to allow fans to connect with one another. These types of message boards predate cell phone and the Internet and have been used for decades.

Some message boards provide cork board, a list of attendee names and small pins. You write a note to the person you are trying to reach and then place a pin next to their name (hence the name "voodoo" - stick a pin into someone's name and they might actually hear you). People also use the message boards to let others know that they have checked into the hotel and registered at the convention. Other message boards are less structured and simply allow people to pin up handwritten notes.

The message board concept is said to have been invented by Erwin S. "Filthy Pierre" Strauss, and has been a fixture at WorldCons for decades.

Types of messages to be found on vodooo messages boards can range from looking for a ride, a member for dinner, or to join an outing. Room parties are often announced, and lost and found messages can be posted. Often silly or satirical messages are left to amuse passersbys.

While voodoo message boards today are being replaced by cell phones and the Internet, they still have a role at fan run conventions, particularly where fans are known only by their pseudonyms and are therefore hard to identify.

Examples of Usage

  • "The voodoo message board is a way to leave and get messages from your friends. It consists of a corkboard with a list of everyone at the convention, some map pins, and a card file separated by alphabet letter. Here’s how it works: 1) when you arrive, highlight your name on the list of attendees, so others will know you’re here. 2) to leave a message for someone, put a pin next to their name, and write a message for them on an index card (be sure to include their badge name & yours). 3) file the index card behind the letter that corresponds to their badge name. Then, when they see a pin next to their name, they’ll know to look for your message. You can also keep an eye on your name. If you see a pin by it, be sure to pick up your message *and* remove the pin." [1]
  • "We plan to set up a "Voodoo Message Board" in the vicinity ofConvention Registration for the duration of the convention. It works as follows: an alphabetical print-out oflhe Media West*Con 22 membership roster is posted. Push pins are available, and anyone wishing to leave a message for a specific person finds that person's name on the print-out. If a push pin is not already placed to the immediate left of the name (indicating a message is already waiting), place a push pin there. Then write the desired message on an index card (or other piece of paper) and place it alphabetically in the file box provided next to the roster (behind the alplabetical divider for the appropriate letter of the last name of the person the message is for). When checking your name for messages, remove the push pin from the left of your name when retrieving your messages from the message box. Simple, nu? [2]}}
  • "On the subject of meeting people: this year VCON will have a voodoo message board. This innocent but spookily-named board will be lurking near Registration, awaiting your attention. A Voodoo Board: The names of all pre-registered convention members will be listed alphabetically on a large board. At-the-door registrants may add their names to the list when they arrive. To leave a message for someone, stick a pin in the board next to their name and leave a note in the alphabetically organized message box nearby. To retrieve a message, remove the pin by your name and find your message in the box. Pins come with the board." [3]
  • "Even after thirty years of attending cons, I still get little chills thinking about the singular experiences that never fail to pepper the long weekend: lucking into a Kaffeeklatsche; finding an unexpected pin next to my name on the Voodoo Message Board; encountering an author whose book I just happen to have on my person; having a wholly non-ironic conversation about broadcast engineering with a guy in an Elfquest outfit.” [4]
  • "A check of the Voodoo Message Board downstairs revealed a waiting message from the organizers of the Hugo ceremony, who were wondering why they hadn't heard from me, next year's organizer, about observing them. They had: I'd written email through a friend of theirs months before asking if I could tag around with them the afternoon and evening of the event. So much for message-passing. I posted a note back to them and noted their huckster table name to try to get them in person." [5]

Gallery

References

  1. from the Escapade FAQ
  2. from the 2002 MediaWest*Con program book
  3. VCON: Voodoo Message Board: 2012
  4. 7 Reasons to Attend Worldcon, July 2009
  5. Pipers & Plaid: My Trip to Scotland and Intersection, undated but possibly 1998