Tag Archives: affordability

WisCon badges — A tale of accessibility, affordability, and sustainability

Chris Wallish
SF3 Communications Committee

Ah, the humble convention badge. In its most basic form, it says simply, “Please let me into all your sweet programming spaces, for I am a member of this convention (having agreed to your Code of Conduct).” Often, it also says, “The name printed here is my nom de convention. Please use this and no others.”

But at WisCon, our badges say so much more.

The back of the badge

The first line on the back of your badge tells you the name(s) you used during registration — there may be two names listed if you indicated you wanted a specific badge name. This line also lists what type of membership you have (e.g., Adult, Teen, Youth) and how many tickets to the Dessert Salon you purchased (D:0, D:1, D:2, &c.).

On the back of everyone’s badge, we also print the contact information for our Safety team. This includes Safety’s phone number and (new this year!) the URL to use to get to Safety’s online reporting form.

Are you participating in programming this weekend? Your schedule is also printed on the back! This includes the day, time, location, and title of each programming item.

The front of the badge

On the front of your badge we print your name as large as we possibly can so that it’s easy to read from a comfortable distance. Under your name (much smaller) we print you home city, state/province, and country.

And that, in a nutshell, is the stock WisCon badge.

But wait, there’s more!


Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.
Pronoun stickers at WisCon 40.

We also provide — available at our Registration Desk whenever you’d like to stop by to take them — pronoun stickers. This year’s stickers include she / he / they / e / xe / ou / ze / zie. As well as “any pronouns” and “singular they is always grammatical”. You can absolutely choose to not wear a sticker. You can choose to wear multiple stickers! You can change your sticker(s) throughout the weekend if you want! And if you don’t see the pronoun you need, please email us and we’ll try to get one custom printed for you: registration@wiscon.net If you’d like to know more about our pronoun stickers, this post from last year does a great job of covering the etiquette and protocol of navigating pronouns.

Interaction indicators

A full set of interaction cards at WisCon 40.

Our interaction indicators are an idea that comes from the autism community, and we are proud to offer them for everyone who feels it’s helpful to give folks some guidance on the best way to approach you in any given moment. The cards are designed to fit into your badge holder right behind your badge, with the top portion sticking out to indicate which interaction you prefer. Here’s a quick guide to how to use the cards.

First, take the whole set! You’ll need all of the cards — red/hexagon, yellow/triangle, green/circle — for the system to work. Each of the cards is marked in three ways: by color, by symbol, and with text that spells out the name of the color.

  • Red / square*: STOP. Don’t talk to me! (* A change from WisCon 40 when it was a hexagon.)
  • Yellow / triangle: I only want to talk to people I know in person — not strangers or people I only know from the internet.
  • Green / circle: I would like to talk to people, but I may have trouble initiating conversation.

Please respect these badges! It’s okay to mess up at first — you’ll soon learn to look for them and follow their cues.

“Ask Me!” buttons

“Ask Me” — now in button format for WisCon 41!

Who are these folks with the teal/turquoise buttons that say “Ask Me”? These are concom members and other long-time WisCon attendees who have volunteered to share their vast wealth of WisCon information. Have a question about WisCon? “Where’s the Con Suite?” “When is the Tiptree Auction?” “Can I register for next year’s WisCon yet?” “Which way to the pool??” Anyone wearing an “Ask Me” button can likely answer any of these questions — and many more! Don’t be afraid to ask!

Return your badge holder before you leave

As much as possible, WisCon reuses its badge holders from year to year. This saves us money and reduces waste, which is important for our commitments to affordability and sustainability.

This also means that we ask you to please not affix stickers to your badge holder. Please stick them directly on your badge!

And we also ask you to please not stick convention ribbons on your badge. We especially ask those of you planning parties or readings, and so forth, to not have badges for your event. Yes, badge ribbons look totally awesome! An amazing technicolor convention coat of sorts! But… then we can’t re-use the badge holder, and we’d really like to.

So please, as much as it’s possible, keep your badge holder in pretty good shape and return it to the Registration area as you leave WisCon this year. If you forget or something unspeakable happens to your badge holder, no harm done. We’ll have one for you next year!

Discounted rooms on the 6th floor available for WisCon 41

Jess Adams

WisCon is pleased to offer a limited number of discounted rooms on the sixth floor of the Concourse Hotel.  Because there are so few discounted rooms available — this year we have 6 — we’re offering them via a lottery.

The discount applies to specific rooms (all of them are double rooms with 2 queen beds) on the sixth floor of the Concourse.  This is the floor where many parties happen in the evening and also where the safer spaces and the Con Suite are.  This means that there’s more noise generated by foot traffic, elevators, and so on. If you are someone who needs a very quiet room with not many people passing by at all hours, then the discounted rooms may not be a good fit for you.

How can you enter the lottery for a room?

We are accepting requests April 10-20 (closing at 11:59pm Central Time). After the request window closes, we will get in touch to let you know if your request is filled.

To request to be entered into the drawing for a discount, send an email to affordability@wiscon.net, with the subject line: ROOM RATE DISCOUNT.  Include the following details:

  • The name your reservation will be under
  • Your arrival and departure dates
  • The number of people in your party
  • Any accessibility needs you have.
  • The best email address to contact you.

See you at WisCon!

6th Floor Discounted Rooms

  • contact:  affordability@wiscon.net
  • WisCon 41 deadline:  April 20, 2017

Being able to stay in a room in the Concourse Hotel is one of the pleasures of WisCon — and also one of the biggest financial barriers to attending the convention.  As part of our commitment to affordability, each year WisCon is able to provide a limited number of rooms with discounted rates.  We hope that offering this discount can help just a few more people get to WisCon by making your stay a bit more affordable.

Though we call it a “discount,” the way it actually works is that WisCon will pick up the tab for the Sunday night of your stay. To be eligible, you must be staying at the Concourse on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.  You may be staying longer, but must at least be staying on these three nights.

We generally have 6 double rooms (with 2 queen beds) available on the the sixth floor, although the number, type, and location of the rooms may vary slightly from year to year depending on what space the convention needs for programming.  Because the number of discounted rooms is very limited, we make these rooms available through a lottery system — details below.

Noise caveat

Because the rooms that are marked as “eligible discounted sleeping rooms” tend to be on the sixth floor, that puts them on the same floor where many of the parties are held in the evenings and also where the safer spaces and the Con Suite are. This means that there’s more noise generated by foot traffic, elevators, and so on. If you are someone who needs a very quiet room with not many people passing by at all hours, then the discounted rooms may not be a good fit for you.

Room lottery

We do not ask specifics of your need for a room — we assume that if you request a discounted room that you need one.  But because we have a limited number of eligible rooms, we offer rooms to members via a lottery.  We do track who receives a discounted room and may remove your name from the lottery if you received one last year and we have more requests than rooms available.  If we do not receive more requests than rooms, then you may receive a discounted room two years in a row.

Every year we will take requests during a set period, then conduct a drawing to determine who receives the discount.  We announce the request period via our blog, social media, and email newsletter.  Keep an eye out every spring for the announcement with details on how to enter the lottery.

Volunteer Rebate

  • contact:  treasurer@sf3.org

WisCon is successful thanks to the work of our members — everyone who works six or more hours during the convention, presents a paper, appears on a panel, and or works on the planning committee in the months before WisCon is a volunteer. Our volunteers come from our community, and we’re all here at WisCon because we love it and we want it to succeed. But as a whole, WisCon and our parent organization, SF3, recognize that “free” labor is a burden that not everyone can afford.

In recognition of that fact, and to help make WisCon more affordable, we offer a rebate on the price of convention membership to our volunteers.

To qualify for a WisCon Volunteer Rebate, a volunteer must:

  • Serve on the WisCon Convention Committee; or
  • Participate in programming by appearing on a panel or presenting a paper; or
  • Volunteer for six hours during the convention, with all hours confirmed by the relevant Convention Committee Department Lead.


  • Opt to receive the rebate using the form provided by WisCon’s Registration desk at the convention.

Rebates are disbursed within four weeks of the end of the convention, usually via PayPal. Disbursement via a mailed check is available upon request. The amount of the rebate may vary according to the financial status of the convention, but can be up to 40% of the price of an adult attending membership.

WisCon’s Volunteer Rebates are intended to increase affordability, and funds that are not disbursed go toward our overall efforts to keep costs low and to make the convention inclusive and affordable to all.

Affordability Policy

  • last updated: March 2016
  • contact: affordability@wiscon.net

WisCon believes in making our convention a space for everyone, including those for whom attending conventions may be financially difficult or impossible. Over the years, WisCon has worked to weave together a variety of policies and practices designed to help lower economic barriers to attending and participating in WisCon, as well as making the convention overall more affordable for all members.

WisCon’s long-standing commitment to our Con Suite — which serves all attendees with healthy, easy to access meals — and to providing low-cost at-con Childcare are spaces at WisCon which contribute to this goal. WisCon also encourages and works to facilitate room and ride sharing among convention attendees, and provides a limited number of discounted room rates.

The WisCon Member Assistance Fund helps members who need a bit of a boost to attend and enjoy Wiscon. The WMAF awards attendees amounts ranging from $50 to $500 to assist with covering travel or hotel expenses. Members can be nominated by other members, or nominate themselves; this effort is generously funded by SF3 and our donating members.

WisCon aims to encourage a conversation that includes a diversity of voices from a wide variety of backgrounds. Class background and socio-economic status are two factors that impact the ways in which we see both our own world and the speculative fiction universes we’ve come to WisCon to discuss. They can act as frames for envisioning possible futures, other worlds, and negotiating the building and growth of our ideals. By lowering the financial barriers to attending WisCon, we open the doors to include more people in this conversation which strengthens and deepens the discussion.

WisCon works in concert on these issues with Friends of Dennis, a grassroots fan project dedicated to fostering discussions of class and classism from within a speculative literature framework. We are working together to find ways to make attending WisCon more affordable, and to make sure that con-goers are aware of the options available to help them meet their budgets.

We welcome your ideas about how we might achieve this goal. Got a good one? Contact us at the email above and let us know!

WisCon Member Assistance Fund

  • contact: fund@wiscon.net
  • WisCon 41 deadline:  February 28, 2017

Do you need some financial assistance to make attending WisCon possible for you? The WisCon Member Assistance Fund may be able to help!

The way the Fund works is fairly straightforward. The Fund is a pool of money to which anyone can apply to request some funds to put toward attending WisCon — whether that’s to cover airfare, gas money, hotel costs, childcare, or any other prohibitive cost. Details on our nomination process are below.

One of the aims of the fund is to promote diversity and to give folks a way to join us if they’ve been unable to do so in the past. If you’ve never attended WisCon because the cost kept getting in the way, we strongly encourage you to nominate yourself for the Fund! Whether you’re an established industry professional, a long-time reader, or a brand-new fan, we’d love to have you. Whether you want to be on panels, give readings, or sit quietly in the back of a conference room, we want you at WisCon.

If you have attended WisCon via Member Assistance Fund monies in the past, you can be nominated again. If funding is limited, we will give priority to people who have not previously received assistance. But we do try to fund as many nominees as we possibly can, so please don’t pre-deny yourself by not applying!

Is this a scholarship fund? We used to be known as the WisCon Scholarships, so perhaps you recall that name! But funding is for everyone who needs assistance, not only scholars and academics, so in 2013, WisCon changed the name to encourage anyone who needs assistance to apply.

Funding Amounts

We’re able to award funding in any amount up to $500 — many requests fall into the $100-$300 range, and we’ve awarded funding amounts as low as $50.

Nominating Someone (Including Yourself!)

The Fund is open to everyone. You can nominate a friend or an acquaintance. And we absolutely encourage you to nominate yourself! To nominate someone, send an email (to the email address listed at the top of the page) with a quick synopsis that includes the following:

  • A little bit about the person you’re nominating.
  • The nominee’s email address.
  • An estimate of how much funding will be needed (see notes below).

A good way to look at this is — What dollar amount would make the difference between being able to attend and not being able to attend? Also, if that dollar amount is flexible, please let us know by providing a range. The Fund strongly prefers to assist as many nominees as possible, and occasionally we’re able to do that by offering a nominee slightly less than their maximum requested amount, which then frees up some funding for another nominee.

Nomination Period

The Fund has a fixed nomination period. The dates that nominations open and close are listed at the top of this page. Nominations must be received by 11:59pm Central Time on the deadline listed. There’s no advantage to applying earlier — the decision process will not begin until we know how many nominations we have, and how much money is in the fund. However, please do not send a nomination before the nomination period has opened, as we may not receive it.

Our timeline is arranged so that everyone nominated will hear from us in time to sign up for programming, which generally ends in mid-March.

Donating to the Fund

Money for the Member Assistance Fund primarily comes from donations. If you happen to have a little extra to share with others, we are grateful for your help! Our parent organization, SF3, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, so your donations will be tax deductible.

There are three ways to donate:

  • During online registration when you buy your WisCon membership.
  • Via check. Make the check out to SF3 and put “WisCon Member Assistance Fund” or “WMAFund” in the memo line. Then mail it to: SF3 / Attn: WMAFund / P.O. Box 1624 / Madison, WI 53701
  • Via PayPal using one of these 2 buttons:

One-time Donation: WisCon Member Assistance Fund

Recurring Donation: WisCon Member Assistance Fund

How often would you like your gift to recur?
Enter your donation amount


  • contact:  childcare@wiscon.net
  • WisCon 41 deadline to register:  May 15

WisCon is pleased to be able to hire professional child care providers for care of infants and toddlers (ages 0-6 yrs.) whose parents or guardians register them in advance. This service is subsidized by WisCon and costs $1 per child for the duration of the convention.

Child Care is open during daytime programming hours, and closes during the lunch break. Parents are responsible for removing their children from the Child Care room for meals and for providing bottles for infants. Snacks will be available. A late fee will be charged to parents who do not pick up their child promptly at the close of Child Care hours.

Don’t confuse Child Care with Children’s and Teen’s Programming, which is for kids seven and older!

Con Suite

  • contact:  consuite@wiscon.net
bowls of fruit, cookies, and crackers in the Con Suite
The Con Suite — fruits, cookies, & crackers

The WisCon hospitality suite, or consuite in fannish parlance, is a place for you to relax, enjoy a tasty snack or beverage, and chat with other members. WisCon’s consuite is widely known as one of the most complete hospitality suites at a science fiction convention. Our organizers work long hours to provide you with options for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner! If you just could not tear yourself away from the convention, you could conceivably eat Con Suite food all weekend. (But we do highly recommend Madison’s restaurants!)

the coffee/tea station in the Con Suite
The Con Suite — coffee/tea station

All the bounty of our Con Suite is included in your WisCon membership. You can enjoy it as much or little as you care to. Please stop by the sixth floor at some point during your visit and check it out.

Our Con Suite is overseen by volunteers who have been certified by ServSafe.  We are committed to providing delicious meals and snacks according to strict safety standards that keep every healthy.