This is the text of the flier that was being circulated at Chicon 2000.
There is a definite “Old Fan Network” to fandom, that can be intimidating to Neo Fans. Think about that, do you make an effort to be inclusive when you attend conventions, or do you talk to the same people, and ignore people you don’t know? Remember: Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet.
With that in mind, I would like to present
1 – We all need to feel like we belong somewhere, that’s why we’re here. Many people feel like fandom provides a sense of family that they don’t find elsewhere. Fan snobbery, or a sense that some fans are more welcome than others is the last thing we need if fandom is going to survive in the 21st century.
2 – Don’t assume everyone knows your name, or your work (if you’re an author, artist, costumer, etc.). Wear your nametag. Introduce yourself. Have a name card if you are a panel participant. “Hi, I’m Arthur Grande and you should all know who I am.” does not cut it.
3 – It doesn’t matter how you came to fandom, what matters is that you’re a fan. It shouldn’t matter if you like science fiction, fantasy, horror, movies and television, comic books, anime, role playing games, costuming, writing, filking, collecting books or painting yourself blue. Anyone who identifies themselves as a fan should be welcomed to fandom.
4 – Fandom changes. So do fans. Get used to it now. As the world of science fiction has gained popularity it has grown. It is no longer possible to read every piece of science fiction published every year, and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
5 – Explain your references. Not everyone has read every book, novella or short story that you have. Not every one has seen every science fiction movie out there (some people haven’t seen Star Wars, believe it or not…). Not everyone reads your fanzine. Help us out. Customer’s corollary – not everyone has seen your greatest costume. Bring pictures, please!
6 – Don’t assume that we’re all on a first name basis with authors or big name fans, use last names when you refer to people. (There is more than one guy named Bob out there you know…) We all wear nametags for a reason. Help the Neo Fans meet new people and find new authors to read.
7 – What was a seminal work for one generation may be completely unknown to another generation. Let the Neo Fans know what you’re talking about. We may not have been born yet. And remember, some books improve with age, while others are dated rather quickly. Also, a work that changed your life when you read it at age twelve may not have any effect on your thirty-year old friend when you suggest they read it.
8 – Moderators should try to avoid only calling on their friends when they take questions. It makes the Neo Fan feel left out and not wanted when every hand acknowledged is called by name.
9 – Neo Fans are eager to learn, there is so much out there we haven’t read yet. Help us out, if you’re doing a panel on “100 Books You Must Read.” come prepared with a *handout* so we can take it home and try to find them.
10 – Remember, out of print may as well not exist for the Neo Fan. If we can’t get our hands on a copy, we can’t read it, no matter how great you think it is.
11 – It doesn’t matter if you call it Science Fiction, SciFi, SF, or Speculative Fiction, it’s all the same thing. Let’s quit wasting time arguing about what name to use.
12 – Always remember, someone in the audience is at their first convention (Or their first WorldCon, or “insert name of con”Con). As fans we need to assure that they feel welcome and enjoy themselves enough to come back for another visit next year, and hopefully bring a friend.
Who is writing this rant? My name is Julie Stickler, and I have been reading science fiction and fantasy since I was 10 or 11 years old. I never even knew fandom existed until I attended my first media convention six years ago at the age of 28. While I felt welcomed at media cons for four years, when attended my first literary cons two years ago I found a different world. My first WorldCon was BuconeerCon in 1998, and I loved it. But even at the panels on surviving your first con and how to attract new fans to fandom I felt a definite Old Fan Network in operation. I hope that my little piece here has given you something to think about. Feel free to e-mail me at SF ACAD DI@aol.com if you have comments or ideas on how to make Neo Fans feel more welcome in fandom. In the meantime:
If you are willing to help newbies get acquainted with Fandom, please write “Neo Fan Friendly” on your nametag. If you are at your first convention, or still feel like a Neo Fan, please write “NEO FAN” on your nametage.
Permission to reproduce and distribute this flyer at other conventions is granted, as long as the author’s name continues to appear on it.