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The Arisia/S*P drama - A Suburbs Boy Living a Country Life [My Flickr Photos]
December 29th, 2007
10:39 pm

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The Arisia/S*P drama
For those dialing in late, it was just discovered last week that the "terms and conditions" associated with the invitation of the creator of Something Positive (or S*P) to participate at Arisia had been left hanging and never resolved. The result was that Mr. Millholland believed that the convention was still working things out, and was planning to attend--while the Programming Division Head assumed that he was no longer interested in attending. Mr. Millholland posted a rather upset blog entry claiming that he had learned--second-hand--that he had been "disinvited," and that he wouldn't be attending. I'm vastly paraphrasing other's words here--hopefully this is a fair, if concise, summary.

Some fans--on both sides--took this quite personally. I was going to reply to one in particular, this comment, in which lizreay said: "What a jerk. Some people need an attitude adjustment. With a large wrench." After much consideration, I decided not to stoke the flames in anyone's journal but my own.

Here's what I wrote:
Subject: Look in the mirror. Oh, hey! There's one!
Do you think there's anyone in the world who feels worse about this than the people at Arisia responsible? If you have any doubt, read their own words, here and elsewhere.

“Before you speak, think -Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?” --Sri Sathya Sai Baba

lizreay, it's really easy to sit behind your screen and talk about "attitude adjustment"--with "a large wrench," even. Yes, there was really poor execution on this. I can tell you sincerely--from my direct and personal experience with the dozens of Arisians I've known--that this contretemps didn't result from any "attitudinal misalignment."

I don't speak for the convention or the corporation; I speak only for myself. That said, when valid criticism of my favorite convention and the hard-working people who run it crosses the line and becomes a vituperative attack, I will stand up and make myself counted in opposition. If that makes me a "fanboy," then so be it. I'm a fanboy. You know what else I've always been a fan of? S*P. I'll never be a fan of self-righteous, thinly-veiled threats of violence.

I'm proud to have been a volunteer, a staffer, and a member of the corporation, and I will continue to do so.

Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
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(26 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:surrealestate
Date:December 30th, 2007 03:43 am (UTC)
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Well, you can see my comments on the topic in arisia. I don't feel like I'm even taking sides -- just observing what's being said on all sides.

And I gotta say, I've been irritated by programming this year myself, but this guy, talented though he may be, sounds like a big baby. I mean, if he wants to bitch someone out, let him bitch out the person who screwed up, but the idea that an entire organization sucks because one person made a mistake... whatever. As I noted, it doesn't seem like a coincidence that he has a long list of cons with which he has problems.


Edited at 2007-12-30 03:44 am (UTC)
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From:scruffycritter
Date:December 30th, 2007 08:13 am (UTC)
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Well in fairness the guy who apparently should be bitched out *is* a division head. He's acting on Arisia's behalf, so Arisia is responsible for the fix he puts them in.

Legally speaking (and morally too imho), an entity is generally responsible for the acts it's employees/members/agents take on its behalf. For ex; A gas station is responsible if the attendant puts gas in your diesel engine's fuel tank, but not if the guy decides to rob you. That has nothing to do with his job.

Once Arisia says, "He did it. We didn't know he did it. We're sorry. We're taking appropriate steps", then yeah, you've got a point, but until that happens, the assumption that it *is* Arisia is the only fair one to make. Arisia can choose to distance itself from the actions it's DivisionHead took by saying they were inappropriate, or take it's medicine.

FWIW. I'd be just as pissed. It's a hell of a thing to find out, especially after the Not-Just-Another-Con Bob Sawyer mess.


Edited at 2007-12-30 08:13 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:surrealestate
Date:December 30th, 2007 08:23 am (UTC)
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AFAIK, inviting someone to be a "guest" (as opposed to being a program participant) isn't actually part of the Programming DivHead's job, so by your definition, Arisia is not responsible.

More importantly, if you did get the wrong fuel but never actually brought it to the manager or owner's attention, would you still expect them to magically seek you out to make amends just because you sent mail to the attendant? I haven't seen anything to indicate that the con chair or assistants were aware of the issue until the WAAHmbulance went screaming by.
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From:scruffycritter
Date:December 30th, 2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
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Actually by my definition it is, because the invitee has no way to know whose job it is. If the mechanic or manager fills your car with the wrong gas, it's still the gas station's fault.

In the 2nd point, I'm not sure the analogy completely fits this part because the issue is one of an ongoing relationship issue where a gas-fill is not, so the goal would be to try to contact the attendant in this case, rather than his boss. And he did that, and found out he wasn't invited after all.

But when you find out you were blown off, there would be two choices.

1) Do as you say: complain to his boss.
2) Show them the same level of consideration. Let them find out what they did by a third party.

Maybe Millholland didn't take the Miss Manners approved high road, but I don't think it's fair to say what he did was inappropriate.
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From:surrealestate
Date:December 30th, 2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
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I think your analogy applies as well in my reply as it did in your initial comment.

I also think Milholland comes off like the bigger ass in this situation, and trust me, it's not because I think Arisia is a perfect organization run by perfect people. RK comes off as a drama queen who enjoys the complaining and especially enjoys knowing that no matter what he says, his fans will agree with him.
From:scruffycritter
Date:December 31st, 2007 09:01 am (UTC)
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From:chaiya
Date:January 1st, 2008 12:23 am (UTC)
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From:bridgetminerva
Date:December 30th, 2007 08:45 am (UTC)
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" vituperative"

wow. good word.
(note to self keep Hp on my side)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 30th, 2007 10:11 am (UTC)
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 30th, 2007 10:15 am (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:December 30th, 2007 01:40 pm (UTC)

there's blame enough to go around on both sides...

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you don't just take "we're working on it" as the last word from _ any _ organization for months without following-up and escalating.

Apparently his con manager kept sending private notes (which apparently got spam-trapped or ignored; I know not which) to the last person he corresponded to. Then at the 11th hour he "cleared" Randy for the "Public Flaming Gambit." This behavior, also, is reminiscent of the "drama queens" made fun of in the self-same webcomic.
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From:happypete
Date:December 30th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)

An example of what I think might have been a far more effective approach...

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What do you think would have happened if Randy or his con manager wrote a note to the con chair explaining what had happened from their point-of-view, and closing to the effect of "I'm really sorry you couldn't work things out for me to participate this year. Perhaps we can come up with a better arrangement for '09?"
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From:chaiya
Date:December 30th, 2007 04:38 pm (UTC)

Re: An example of what I think might have been a far more effective approach...

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Oh, damn, if ONLY someone on that side of the discussion had been so reasonable. Randy has decided he would rather be pissed about Michael's mistakes than resolve the situation.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 30th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:December 31st, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)

Part of the problem...

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...is what it means "to invite." There are a good many "invited" participants at Arisia who receive nothing more than a comped membership.

I just read his FAQ on con invitations. If you are going to invite Mr. Millholland, you should expect to comp his membership, pay or defray travel expenses [not a big deal for the "trip" to Arisia ;) ] , pay for a hotel room, and provide a vending table.

That's actually not a bad list--as he says, there are no "green M&M" clauses.

What appears to have happened is that the invitation was to be "on the program," i.e. get that comped membership in exchange for a few hours of panelist time.

I suppose that the disucssion that failed to ensue was which definitions of "invite" and "guest" were being used.

Sigh. It's a shame.
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From:dlobok
Date:January 1st, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
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I did? And what play was this?

It was a bureaucratic snafu at one point. The problem is it snowballs when Mr. Whitehouse chose NOT to address the problem after he realized it existed and swept it under the rug. Another problem arose when it turned out he was doing all communications through a personal email address, a large "no no" for Arisia (all emails are supposed to be done via Arisia email accounts for accountability - basically to prevent things like this).

There's a lot more to it, obviously. And every story has two sides and the real answer is usually somewhere nicely inbetween. That said, I'm saddened that the original poster of this discussion took his fight only to her personal LJ more than his and the other Arisia fans' interpretation of events (a few of which have been quite creative).
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 1st, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:January 1st, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)

Eh...

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As I posted in response to Randy's gracious reply else-web, this was an old-fashioned net-inflamed dust-up.

People got pissed. Rumors, half-truths, and inuendo took center stage. In other words, pretty much par for the course in net-mediated drama.

As usually happens, cooler heads will eventually prevail.
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From:dlobok
Date:January 17th, 2008 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Holy crap I remember you now. How have you been? The move went well? Are you still writing?

(I apologize for the late reply - after Pete replied to me in my LJ and all seems okay, I forgot to come back here and reply to you because - well, life is busy)
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From:happypete
Date:January 17th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC)

all is well, indeed...

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that offer of a drink and open ears and mind in the hours surrounding Rocky is still on. I'm looking forward to meeting you. --P
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From:running_girl4
Date:December 30th, 2007 01:18 pm (UTC)
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Here Here!!
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 30th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:December 30th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)

Noel, Noel, Noel...

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...trust me. It's a lot of fun. I have been there, eight years running.

As I would think you would know from the Poly community, there are a lot of people who get off on spreading the negative.

People without direct first-hand experience make lovely targets for this sort of rumor-mongering.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 30th, 2007 02:05 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]
From:happypete
Date:December 30th, 2007 04:33 pm (UTC)

Hmmm...

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Go back to my friends-list circa late January/Early February of any given year and you'll see almost nothing but happy accounts.
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From:greendalek
Date:January 1st, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC)
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From:happypete
Date:January 1st, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)

what can I say...

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it's fun for me and my friends.

I guess I enjoy the con for what it is.

My guess--as with many annual events, people arrive with baggage loaded not with clothes and sundries, but instead chock to the brim of expectations.

If people could leave that crap at home and just have a good time, there'd be a lot less drama.
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From:lothie
Date:January 7th, 2008 04:26 am (UTC)
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I've only been to Arisia a couple of times (and not recently), but I always enjoyed it.
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From:dlobok
Date:January 1st, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
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How come you didn't have the bravery to post this reply to the actual person who posted it?

Seriously, if you honestly believe this, you should have said it to the person in question instead of retreating to your personal LiveJournal for the chorus of, "YOU SURE TOLD THEM!" Or did you post it and delete it quickly for fear of retribution?

I'm pretty disappointed by this. Not that you feel this way - you've every right to do so. I'm saddened that your course of action is to say it only to your friends instead of proudly speaking out and defending this thing you love so dearly - and then you followed it up with a catty, passive aggressive post in my comic's public feed.

Aside from the fact you've either not seen or chosen to ignore all the facts in the incident, all it says is you're brave behind closed doors - where it doesn't count.
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From:dlobok
Date:January 1st, 2008 01:19 am (UTC)
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Actually, I just remembered that I didn't turn off emailing comments on that post in my LiveJournal. I double-checked and I don't have ANY copy of this magical retort you posted to the user in question.

So basically, you're just telling your friends how you went off on someone for acting brave behind a screen - while acting brave behind a screen.
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From:happypete
Date:January 1st, 2008 03:15 am (UTC)

Think what you want.

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If I wanted to be behind a screen, I would have friends-locked this post.

I don't need to explain any further. The reason I posted it here is exactly what I said: the fires had been stoked a-plenty on this issue. I had no intent on engaging "wrench-wielding" partisans in someone else's "house."

I didn't "post this retort." I composed it and then deliberately chose not to post it there. Perhaps you misunderstood me when I posted, "i was going to reply." [emphasis added].

Given everything I've read--on both sides--I think my summary is accurate, if greatly abbreviated. Additional complications--like Mr. Whitehouse's role working for another convention--are certainly germane, but basically just add to the central point that wires got badly crossed.

If anyone should be ashamed, it's you. You could have taken the high road here--and it would, I believe, have been to your ultimate benefit. Instead, you chose the route of the public tantrum.

I hope it at least made you feel better.
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From:scruffycritter
Date:January 1st, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
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I gotta echo what pete said in response to this.

Yeah, Arisia screwed up. I've flamed them as bad as anyone given what happened to Robert Sawyer last year in Chicago, This. Just. Should. Not. Happen. Arisia's only appropriate reaction is one of egg on face. I agree with that position. I'll defend you on that.

But seriously, if you feel the need to come to random Arisia attendee's LJ's to make your point, I cannot help but wonder what Arisia could do to make you happy.

Please tell what exactly Arisia could do to fix this?

If there isn't anything they can do at this point, why are you wasting any more of your breath on it?
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