Archive for Smofcon 30 - Fannish Inquisitions

Fannish Inquisitions by Helen Montgomery

In our continuing quest to make the Inquisition as useful as possible, we're trying something new. Or a combination of several old things, which we don't think have been done together before. It's all my fault, honestly. Or it's all my brilliant idea. We'll see which way it goes...

There will be two Inquisitions. On Saturday we will get the Seated Worldcons (Texas / London) and all Smofcon bids. It will start at 4pm, and the vote for the 2013 Smofcon will be at 4:40pm (approximately). On Saturday evening, we will have all Worldcon / NASFiC bids.

The Questionnaires

Each Bid (that I know about) has been mailed a FAQ to complete. The answers will be posted on the Smofcon website after November 20.


The Inquisitions

This year, all questions at the Inquisition will be asked by the Three Inquisitors: Helen Montgomery, Deb Geisler, and Stephen Boucher.


Over the last few years, I began hearing some concerns about how the Fannish Inquisition was not really helpful, and was easily derailed with silly questions. I checked my perceptions with several other people, and asked their opinions. The major thoughts were as follows:

  • Poor Questions - people ask questions that could easily be answered by a FAQ sheet or on the website. ("What's the weather?" "What's the smoking policy?" "How long does it take to get there?")
  • Difficult Questions - some people ask questions that need to be answered, but some questions are posed in such a way to put the presenters on the defensive and makes the audience uncomfortable ("Jane, you ignorant slut!"). We want to see difficult questions posed and answered politely.
  • Friendships - because many of us are friends with each other, we are often afraid to ask the hard questions to the presenters.

I pondered and came up with some ideas, presented them to Laurie and Joni, got a few other people on board, and set out to see if we can improve.

This year, all questions will go through the three neutral Inquisitors.

How to Submit Questions

Smofcon members can submit their questions prior to the convention online...

We ask for your name and email in case we need to contact you to clarify your question - your name will not be mentioned in connection to the question at the Inquisition.

At the convention, we will have copies of the FAQs, and will also have index cards available so questions can also be submitted during the convention. At the Inquisition, each Bid will present. There will then be a break where attendees can submit questions in response to the presenations. The Inquisitors will then be asking all questions. You can submit questions for all bids in a category, or for specific bids only.

The Follow-up Session

On Sunday at noon, there will be an opportunity in Riverview C for the bidders to have mini fan tables / displays, and for attendees to go talk with them and ask any additional questions that may have arisen in the Inquisition. Attendees can also feel free to volunteer to help, or to throw money at the bidders. We're pretty sure they'll be cool with either.

There you have it. Smofcon 2012 Fannish Inquisition. Thanks to Laurie and Joni and the rest of the committee for being willing to try something new, thanks to Deb and Stephen for going along with me and being Inquisitors, and thank you for participating.

As I said, this is an experiment. I look forward to hearing from people after the Inquisitions about what worked and what didn't, and suggestions for future years.