June 13, 2011


Okay, here’s the first entry in my con running blog. 

Today’s topic is badges. I have no idea why I chose this to be the first topic.  It was just one of those, “it hit me in the shower” kind of things, so here it is.

I am going to start with discussing why conventions have badges to begin with.  It’s not about security, though that is a convenient, and useful, bonus.  It’s because it’s the rare convention where the members know everyone else at the con. It helps you identify who you are currently engaged in a conversation with, when you’re standing in the hallway, at a party, in a panel room, etc.  Causal conversations tend to pop up frequently, and it’s really nice to know who the other person is.

Okay, so given that, let’s get to the most common mistake I see at cons regarding badges.  This issue was first pointed out to me by Fred Grimm, and he was absolutely correct.  Too often the person (people) responsible for labeling the badges, make the names too small.  If you can’t easily read the name at a distance of about 4 feet, then it doesn’t fulfill the primary reason the badges exist.

The second mistake I see is that the convention views the badge as a way to show off the AGoH’s artwork.  I like good artwork as much as the next guy, but if the artwork makes it impossible for the badge to meet its primary function, then the badge is not actually useful.  My recommendation is make sure there is ample room for the name on the badge.

That’s pretty much it.  Badge quality, size, etc. is up to your budget and preferences.  Please, just make sure we can read the badge.


  1. I think I'm going to start requesting that cons list just my first name and then my employer; my last name is rather cumbersome.

    I agree with you on the artwork point -- I like to look at pretty pictures too, but not if it renders the ID portion of the badge moot.

  2. Also, what's your position on letting people use nicknames, fan names, or other aliases instead of their real names on their con badges?

  3. I've been back and forth on the alias issue over the years. I think it's okay. There are a lot of people in fandom who go by nicknames, and that is how most everyone in fandom know them. For example, I wonder how many people know Ackbar's real name?

  4. For the conventions I've been involved with, it was a safety and security issue--we wanted real names on badges. Our fear was always that if we had to call 911, no one would know who "Miss Pittypat" was and we'd have no way to contact his/her family.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. The emergency issue was one of the reasons I was back and forth on this issue. Ultimately, though, my thought came down to this: make them reg with their real name and alias. Then reg can cross-reference the alias in an emergency.