Submit your Guest of Honor nominations for WisCon 47 in 2024!
Anyone in the WisCon community is welcome to nominate themselves or others for Guest of Honor for WisCon 47 in 2024! The deadline for nominations is September 1, 2022 at 11:59pm US Central time.
Every year, we ask our community to make nominations for the convention-after-next: As announced in May, WisCon 46 in 2023 will feature Rivers Solomon and Martha Wells as our Guests of Honor. So now we’re ready for your suggestions for Guests of Honor for 2024!
Please email your nominations to email@example.com and include a short statement describing the nominee’s qualifications or why you think they’re a good fit for WisCon.
After y’all submit your nominations, all 2023 WisCon/SF3 pre-con volunteers will have the opportunity to vote on Guests of Honor for 2024 based on those nominations. Our Guests of Honor are chosen by you, the WisCon community, so please submit your picks! You can submit as many names as you like.
WisCon and SF3 are pleased to announce that our Guests of Honor for 2023 will be Rivers Solomon and Martha Wells! As we celebrate our 2023 guests, keep in mind that nominations for the WisCon Guests of Honor for 2024 are open, and anyone in the WisCon community can nominate anyone they wish, including themselves! Please send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rivers Solomon (fae/fer or they/them) is a refugee of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade who resides on an isle in an archipelago off the western coast of the Eurasian continent and writes about life in the margins, where they are much at home.
Solomon’s debut novel, An Unkindness of Ghosts (2017, Akashic Books), won a Firecracker award and was shortlisted for the Locus, Lambda, Otherwise, Astounding, and Hurston/Wright awards, as well as being named a best book of 2017 by The Guardian, NPR, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bustle, and others. Faer second book, The Deep (2019, Saga Press), is based on the Hugo finalist song of the same name by the experimental hip-hop group clipping, headed by Daveed Diggs. The Deep won a Lambda Award and was shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, and Hugo Awards. Their third novel, Sorrowland (2021, MCD Books) was described by Tor.com as “a genre-bending work of gothic fiction that wrestles with the tangled history of racism in America and the marginalization of society’s undesirables,” and The Guardian said, “It’s about escape, self-acceptance and queer love. It’s about genocide and the exploitation of black bodies, self-delusion and endemic corruption, motherhood and inheritance.”
Faer short work has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Best American Short Stories, Best American Horror and Dark Fantasy, Guernica, and Black Warrior Review. Solomon also collaborated with Becky Chambers, S. L. Huang, and Yoon Ha Lee on the serial novel The Vela.
Martha Wells (she/her) has been writing speculative fiction since 1993, and in that time has won Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Alex Awards. Her work has also been nominated for the British Science Fiction Award and the Philip K. Dick Award, and she has been a USA Today Bestseller and a New York Times Bestseller. She has written for Star Wars, Magic: The Gathering, and Stargate: Atlantis, as well as writing short fiction, non-fiction, and YA novels.
Wells is best known for her Ile-Rien, The Books of the Raksura, and, most recently The Murderbot Diaries series. The Books of the Raksura won the 2018 Hugo Award for Best Series, while the novellas, short story, and novel in The Murderbot Diaries have been shortlisted or won Alex, Locus, Nebula, BSFA, and Hugo Awards, culminating in 2021 with the novel Network Effect winning the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel while The Murderbot Diaries as a whole won the Hugo Award for Best Series.
Wells’s powerful and believable worldbuilding and fictional societies are assisted by her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, and she has written nonfiction about the women of Doctor Who; the ups and downs of a long career; and magic systems, the environment, and non-humans. She lives in the USA in Texas with her husband.
At two weeks past the end of the con and most folks’ travel back home, we are now outside the incubation window for COVID-19 that could be plausibly related to the physical WisCon 2022 convention. We’d like to take this chance to give an overview of our COVID-19 safety measures, and their results. We hope sharing this information can be helpful not just to our own members as they continue to make decisions about their safety this year and up to the next WisCon, but also for any other organizations trying to hold safer events in the pandemic times.
Having a Physical In-Person Convention at All
The first question in COVID-19 safety considerations is whether an in-person event should be happening at all, and we’ve had some people ask about why we chose to hold one. Our answer, which is the same for many other cons in our situation, was that we had already committed to hold WisCon 2022 back in 2019 when we signed a contract with the Madison Concourse Hotel. It’s standard practice to sign these hotel contracts several years in advance to reserve the space, and WisCon typically signs ours two to three years out. These contracts specify very high penalties for cancellation, increasing as the date gets closer, with a few strict exceptions. One of those exceptions is an act of government that prevents the event from taking place. In Spring 2020, indoor gatherings were prohibited by local public health ordinance, allowing us to cancel the planned physical WisCon without penalty and instead hold a fully virtual event. In 2021, Dane County (where Madison is located and WisCon is held) still had some restrictions on large gatherings, but it may have been technically possible to hold an event with drastic changes to the format. However, we made it clear to the hotel that we would not be able to fulfill our 2021 obligations under those conditions. Because we have a very good relationship with the hotel, they very graciously did not charge us a penalty for cancellation and proposed a much smaller, non-WisCon event to help generate some revenue.
However, for 2022, there was no superseding ordinance. If we cancelled the event, the contract stipulated that we would owe the hotel much, much more money than WisCon or SF3 has, rendering the organization insolvent and ensuring that there would be no more WisCons ever. So our options were to try to hold the safest in-person WisCon we could— or never have any WisCons again. As it is, we will still owe the hotel a lot of money because the event we were able to have was still much smaller than the WisCon envisioned and expected when the contract was signed in 2019.
But! With very many thanks for your help to #SaveWisCon, between our fundraising and fulfilling a sizable portion of our 2022 obligation, we will remain solvent and have the resources to run another in-person con in 2023. We have specifically — and with much, much patience and grace from the hotel — held off on signing anything for 2023 until we could reasonably guarantee our own solvency and the safety of our members, and also until we saw how things went in 2022 so that we could negotiate for an appropriate size and obligation for WisCon 2023. The WisCon 2022 ConCom, the SF3 Board, and the hotel have been working together to put both WisCon and the hotel in a good position for next year.
COVID-19 Safety Measures for WisCon 2022
As we were obliged to hold an in-person event, we wanted to make sure it was as safe as possible. The following measures were taken by the hotel, the ConCom, and the COVID-19 Safety Team in particular:
The ConCom instituted a vaccination policy that required all members to be “up to date” on their vaccinations/boosters and show proof before picking up their badges. The registration desk (including vaccine checking) was in a separate room, rather than out in the open on the second floor, to help separate possibly un- or under-vaccinated members from the general con space. There were no exceptions to our vaccine policy, meaning that those who could not be vaccinated (including all children under 5) could not attend in-person. The policy also included contractors and vendors such as our childcare providers, our CART providers, and the dealers in the Dealers’ Room.
The ConCom instituted a masking policy requiring well-fitting masks in all public WisCon spaces, with unmasking only permissible for necessary sips or bites. As people have different intake needs for food, drink, or meds for their health, safety, and comfort, we trusted our members to follow the spirit of this policy. And, with notably few exceptions that were addressed and corrected without conflict, WisCon members overwhelmingly followed the masking policy in WisCon spaces. We also strongly recommended high-quality medical-grade masks rather than cloth masks or other types of masks, and provided such masks to in-person WisCon members for free at the Info Desk.
The ConCom, COVID-19 Safety Team, and Communications Committee encouraged members to test as much as they were able before, during, and after the con, and provided free rapid testing kits as well as information on where to obtain rapid testing kits and PCR tests locally.
The ConCom instituted a 600-member in-person attendance cap (down from our typical 800-900 attendance) to ensure that WisCon-exclusive spaces were less crowded. However, this came with tradeoffs in regards to other hotel guests, not subject to our policies, taking up more of the non-WisCon-exclusive spaces. Please see our final case report and takeaways (below) for additional related considerations. Our final in-person attendance was approximately 407 people.
The hotel agreed to a masking policy for hotel employees while in WisCon event spaces.
The day before WisCon started, the hotel changed out all of its air filters on the 6th floor, where a number of WisCon spaces such as ConSuite, Kids’ Programming, Teen Programming, and Parties were.
The Parties policy was changed such that no food, and only non-alcoholic beverages, could be served. As Parties are WisCon spaces, masking was still required between sips.
The ConSuite underwent a complete change of format, removing the buffet-style service of meals cooked by volunteers. Only individually pre-packaged food was served, and meal vouchers were provided so members who needed them could obtain free hot meals at the hotel or a nearby restaurant following their own safety needs and comfort levels. We also had designated rooms for eating for those who were not staying in the hotel and could not eat in their rooms.
The Dessert Salon (which includes the Guest of Honor speeches) was changed to a takeaway format, with no eating at the salon itself during the speeches and the desserts served afterwards in containers. Dessert Salon seating was changed to a reduced and spread out auditorium format developed by the hotel (rather than seating people close together at round tables for eating and talking). The Dessert Salon ticket system for both seating and serving was modified to discourage crowding as people waited to be seated or served. The Dessert Salon was also streamed, and members attending in person who did not wish to be in the ballroom but still wanted a dessert could purchase a ticket, watch from wherever they felt comfortable, and come get a dessert after the event was over.
In all programming spaces, we requested and the hotel developed individual room layouts such that seating was reduced and spread out.
The 2022 Con Co-Chairs asked for and the SF3 Board approved a budget of $7,870 for the COVID-19 Safety Team; not all of these funds were used.
The COVID-19 Safety Team provided free N95 masks, hand sanitizer, and rapid testing kits to in-person WisCon members.
The COVID-19 Safety Team developed a reporting and contact tracing form for anyone who tested positive or was experiencing symptoms, including space for members to specify their locations and activities while at the con. The COVID-19 Safety Team sent emails with all shareable details of these reports twice a day (if new cases had been reported) as well as posting notifications in the WisCon Discord. The emails included information on local healthcare resources and were timed so that members would have the most up to date information in the morning and around mid-afternoon so they could make decisions regarding their morning/daytime or evening activities based on the latest data. The COVID-19 Safety Team had a member dedicated specifically to the task of communication, compiling and disseminating this information.
The COVID-19 Safety Team recruited at-con volunteers to help provide quarantining or isolating WisCon members with supplies such as food, testing kits, and medication without those members having to leave their rooms.
The COVID-19 Safety Team purchased five LEVOIT Core 400S commercial air purifiers to place in key locations around WisCon spaces.
The COVID-19 Safety Team purchased materials for 35 Corsi–Rosenthal Boxes to supplement the commercial air purifiers and the hotel’s HVAC system. The day before WisCon started, ConCom members, COVID-19 Safety Team members, and at-con volunteers constructed the boxes. Two fans were damaged in transit, so overall 33 functional Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes were constructed and deployed. Between the Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes and the commercial air purifiers, all public WisCon spaces such as rooms with programming items or administrative activities had at least one kind of supplemental air purification, with larger spaces having multiple boxes and/or purifiers. WisCon then retained 15 of the Corsi-Rosenthal Boxes for reuse (as many as would fit in our storage unit) and offered the rest for sale for a suggested donation of $20.
The Con Co-Chairs, the COVID-19 Safety Team, and the Online Con department developed a plan for pivoting to an entirely online event in the middle of the convention if we saw either a notable outbreak among in-person WisCon members or extremely high rates in Madison and Dane County. This plan was still contingent on us having started with a physical event in the first place due to the contract with the hotel, and included measures from multiple departments earlier in the process, such as Panels Programming asking all participants if they were comfortable being streamed during the panels matching and scheduling phases.
And, of course, we did our best to offer hybrid programming, including streaming of Guest of Honor speeches and three fully online programming tracks, so that members, whether in-person or online, could participate from their homes or hotel rooms.
We truly believe that the hotel, the ConCom, our Online Con department, our COVID-19 Safety Team, our at-con volunteers, and our entire in-person membership did a great job working together to keep everyone safe! Thank you all so, so much!
Final COVID-19 Case Report and Takeaways
Two weeks out from the end of the convention, we are stopping our case tracking efforts. While it’s impossible to say with any certainty whether some members arrived sick, contracted COVID-19 during travel to/from, or contracted COVID-19 at the con, we can, with much gratitude, report that we had a total reported count of 13 cases including one possible false positive, or 3% of our estimated 407 in-person attendance. That’s just about miraculous.
We want to especially extend our thanks to those who tested positive very soon after arriving and took the necessary measures to take care of themselves and keep those around them safe, up to and including leaving the convention entirely. We know it must have been so gut-wrenching and disappointing. Thank you.
Our COVID-19 reporting was sent directly to all members who had purchased an in-person membership, and sometimes included additional, voluntarily disclosed information such as names. An anonymized record of all 13 reported cases, including the possible false positive and location information, is available publicly at the link above.
Of the reported cases, a number cluster around the Governor’s Club Lounge, or the Governor’s Club Library. The Governor’s Club refers to floors 12 and 14 of the hotel, which require a specially coded room keycard to access. The Lounge is an open service bar located on the 12th floor that also serves breakfast, evening appetizers, and late night desserts, and requires the same keycard to access. (Note that this is a separate space from The Bar, which is a publicly accessible bar on the ground floor of the hotel.) The Library is a smaller room adjacent to the Lounge that serves tea and coffee, also requiring the same keycard. The Library and Lounge share a wall that has small decorative openings, meaning that the two rooms are not sealed off from one another and share some amount of air exchange, especially at the seating close by the wall on either side. While both of these spaces are popular with WisCon members, they are not WisCon-exclusive spaces subject to our masking and vaccination policies. In addition, other hotel guests were there, often taking different or no COVID-19 safety precautions, and many hotel guests staying on these floors (WisCon members or otherwise) bring other guests into these spaces.
In our (manifold) COVID-19 preparations and pre-con communications, we tried to stress that, because we expected to fill less of the hotel, there would be more non-WisCon guests at the hotel, not subject to our policies. We also can’t control what WisCon members, or any hotel guests, do in public spaces such as the lobby, non-WisCon-exclusive semipublic spaces such as the Governor’s Lounge, or private spaces such as individual guest rooms. Safety department volunteers, all three Con Co-Chairs, and additional ConCom members (as available) circulated in WisCon-exclusive spaces throughout the con and reminded members of our policies when necessary (in addition to members reminding each other), but WisCon had no power to do that in spaces not exclusive to WisCon, or in private spaces. This is a safety consideration that every in-person event, and every in-person event attendee, will have to negotiate for themselves.
Finally, one last wrench in the works: The federal mask mandate for air travel was repealed very shortly before WisCon 2022. This changed many people’s personal safety calculus on travel, and we informally heard from some registered members that they were not attending in person, as well as receiving some last-minute requests to change from an in-person membership to the cheaper online membership (in-person memberships include all online membership access). This made it hard to estimate our total in-person or online attendance in the end. However, this also caused a last-minute wave of cancellations or no-shows for reservations at the hotel. This can unfortunately result in financial hardship, as the rooms within the block we reserve for WisCon every year come at a specifically negotiated lower rate. Because of these specific terms, rooms in our reduced-rate block have a more stringent 14-day cancellation policy rather than the 24-hour cancellation policy on general reservations. This caused some members who planned to join us in person, but ultimately could not, to still be charged for the first night of their planned stay. The best we can do, and what we recommend for other events, is to very clearly communicate the specific policies and timelines for their event’s hotel(s) so attendees and members can make informed choices.
Ultimately, we wish there had been zero cases, that no one arrived sick, got sick during travel, or got sick while in Madison for WisCon. But we think everyone who works to put on WisCon — which specifically includes all our members, who *ARE* the people who make everything from panels to chairing possible — did an amazing job doing our best to keep each other safe.
Thank you all for your hard work, your communication, and your care.
Thanks to everyone, online and in person, for your participation in WisCon this year!
For our in-person attendees: Please keep testing regularly until 2 weeks after the con, to the extent you are able! If you test positive, please let us know using the COVID reporting form. The link to that form is available in our emails sent out to registered members and on our official Discord.
As part of our COVID-19 safety policies at WisCon 45 in 2022, we will send out email updates to registered in-person members each day we learn of at least one new case, just as we did each day during the con. We plan to do this for two weeks after the con, then post a final update and summary publicly on wiscon.net.
Thanks for your help in continuing to keep our members safe!
Our traditional Thursday evening (5/26) Guest of Honor reading has moved this year to the Madison Public Library Central branch (201 W Mifflin St), a 0.2 mi (~5 min) walk from the Concourse! Here’s a Google Map with walking directions.
Doors will be open at 5:30, and the event starts at 6pm Central. Our Guest of Honor Sheree Renée Thomas will be reading this year.
Afterwards, she’ll be signing books. No book? No problem! Room of One’s Own will have a table at the event with Ms. Thomas’s books available for purchase. If you’re in town Thursday night, please come out and join us!
If you need to take a taxi to or from the venue and could use some financial assistance, taxi vouchers for Union Cab are available at the Concourse front desk. Be aware that wait time may be up to an hour due to staffing shortages.
Since the reading happens before WisCon and is free and open to the public, we cannot guarantee that attendees will be vaccinated and/or masked.
We sincerely apologize to the members of the WisCon community! We accidentally misinterpreted CDC guidance regarding how long it takes to be “up-to-date” after a booster (according to the CDC, you are up-to-date immediately after receiving a booster). This means that for people ages 12 and over, if you received your primary series more than 6 months before the con, as long as you have received at least one booster shot prior to picking up your con badge, you are up-to-date. It’s not too late to get boosted and attend WisCon!
Everyone attending the convention—including members, vendors, and any contractors—must be up to date on their COVID vaccines when they arrive at Registration to pick up their con badge. Up to date means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine; and for individuals 12 and older, one booster dose if their primary series was completed more than six months before the con. (See “Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 vaccines.”)
At Registration, we will be checking vaccination cards to verify that EITHER:
a primary series was completed on or after November 27, 2021 and before May 12, 2022 (This means, your primary series happened less than 6 months before the con. In which case, your last shot needed to happen at least 2 weeks before the con for you to be up to date.) OR
a primary series was completed before November 27, 2021 AND a booster shot was administered at any time afterward. (This means, your primary series happened more than 6 months before the con. In that case, you need to be boosted, but you are up to date as of whenever you got the booster.)
Given that as of 4/13/2022 the CDC has not approved vaccines for children under 5, children under 5 will not be allowed to attend WisCon 2022. Hopefully we will see more smols next con!
Since boosters for children ages 5-11 are not yet recommended by the CDC, we are not requiring them for children ages 5-11 to attend WisCon.
TLDR: Party applications are now open until Saturday, 4/30, at 11:59pm US Central time — but in order to reduce the amount of unmasking that happens during parties, we’re only permitting non-alcoholic beverages to be served at parties: no food, no booze.
As fun as room parties at conventions can be, what’s even more fun is an open party available to everyone. Starting at 9pm Friday-Sunday, WisCon offers parties hosted by WisCon members and open to every member of the convention. In past years, parties have included karaoke, a haiku-and-earring party, and piñata-smashing.
Party spaces must be requested in advance. Unfortunately, we are unable to entertain late party requests due to scheduling requirements.
Party reservations are prioritized due to a number of factors. We are particularly enthusiastic about parties with a history at WisCon as well as parties that are promoting other cons, SF groups, book & author promotional parties, and other events. Please note that there are a limited number of party room reservation slots available.
We’re counting on your creativity to host awesome parties even without the appeal of food. Maybe your party have will awesome music, fun games, or cool craft activities! How about a mocktail bar?
To submit your party request, please email email@example.com. Include in your request:
Your name, email address, and a phone number where we would be able to reach you
The names and email addresses of all other party hosts
Name or title of your party
Brief description of your party (just a sentence is fine)
Scheduling preferences, as party schedules impact other programming, and it may not be possible to change dates once initial schedules are set.
Any special equipment or room layout needs you have
If you’re considering requesting party space, please read the complete list of WisCon Party Rules. Questions? You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have updated our COVID-19 vaccination policy as of April 2022 (as reflected on our COVID-19 Policy Page):
Everyone attending the convention—including members, vendors, and any contractors—must be up to date on their COVID vaccines two weeks before the con starts. Up to date means a person has received all recommended doses in their primary series of COVID-19 vaccine; and for individuals 12 and older, one booster dose if their primary series was completed more than six months before the con.
At Registration, we will be checking vaccination cards to verify that EITHER:
a primary series was completed before November 27, 2021 AND a booster shot was administered on or before May 12, 2022, OR
a primary series was completed on or after November 27, 2021 and before May 12, 2022.
Given that as of 4/13/2022 the CDC has not approved vaccines for children under 5, children under 5 will not be allowed to attend WisCon 2022. Hopefully we will see more smols next con!
We are making AMAZING progress on our work to #SaveWisCon, thanks to your help!
We have now raised just over $32,000 in donations of which $30,000 will be matched, for a total of $62,000 raised to support WisCon! This is absolutely incredible, and we are so grateful for everyone who contributed and helped spread the word.
70 people have completed our Volunteer Interest Form to help out with pre-con volunteering. Thank you all!
We’ve gained 252 new email newsletter subscribers since November, which is helping us make sure everyone gets the latest con news and updates. Not getting the newsletter? You can sign up here.
We have a total of 418 registrations (in-person and online). Our goal is 1,000! Please register and tell your friends about WisCon, too.
PLUS we are receiving a total of $5,500 in grants from:
We deeply appreciate their support and encourage everyone to learn more about these excellent organizations.
Thanks to your donations and these grants, we’re at roughly $67,000 in total funds raised!
Is this the end of #SaveWisCon fundraising? Are we just done now, forever?
Well…probably not, y’all, for a couple of reasons:
It is basically impossible that we can book enough rooms to meet our hotel contract, so we are going to owe the Concourse a lot of money. This is just how things are because of the pandemic: we want people who feel comfortable to attend WisCon in person to attend, but we recognize that in-person events are a significant risk for many people.
My initial $70k-ish fundraising goal assumed that we would sell 500 online memberships (half of what WisCONline sold in 2020). We’re currently at a small fraction of that, and I don’t know how likely it is we’ll be able to get close to 500. So that’s revenue we were hoping to have that we may not have.
That said: This is a HUGE step towards making sure WisCon continues happening in the future!
From now through April 24 at 11:59pm US Central time, you can apply to join the 6th floor discounted room lottery!
What is the 6th floor discounted room lottery?
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 5 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.
Because the rooms that are marked as “eligible discounted sleeping rooms” are 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.
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 an entry from the lottery drawing if that entrant was awarded a discount the previous year; this caveat is a factor only if 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.)
We are accepting requests through April 24 (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 email@example.com, with the subject line: ROOM RATE DISCOUNT. Include the following details:
The first and last name your hotel 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.
Entries which do not supply all listed information will not be entered into the lottery. Please limit submissions for the discount lottery to one entry per party.
Ahoy! This is Kit (WisCon 2022 Co-Chair & Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent nonprofit) with an important update about WisCon in 2023: We are urgently recruiting for co-chairs so we can have WisCon in 2023! (Nope, no April Fool’s joke here!)
The deal is that I (Kit), as Treasurer, won’t recommend that the Board sign a contract with the hotel for 2023 unless we are sure that we have co-chairs. Signing a hotel contract puts WisCon on the hook for many thousands of dollars, and breaking a hotel contract would effectively bankrupt our organization. We need to make sure that a WisCon is going to happen before we sign a contract, and at a minimum, that means we need at least two co-chairs.
Couldn’t Ira, Aileen, and I just co-chair again for 2023? Co-chairs are asked to take a year off in-between cons so that we don’t burn out dedicated volunteers. This explains in part why there was no official WisCon in 2021: Ira and I had just co-chaired WisCONline in 2020 and no one else volunteered to co-chair for 2021.
What happens if we aren’t able to get two confirmed co-chairs for 2023? In that case, we would plan to sign a contract with the hotel for 2024 and there would be no WisCon in 2023. If that happens, Ira and I are both willing to stay on the ConCom as Fairy Conparents to help document how we actually run WisCon. We’ll encourage all of our current pre-con volunteers to stay on with us to work together on creating department/committee runbooks under a more flexible schedule than con-running permits.
If there is going to be a WisCon in 2023, we need at least two co-chairs. At least one of these people should have had some previous experience with WisCon/SF3 in a pre-con role, meaning that the person is current or former member of the ConCom, Personnel Committee, Comms, or the SF3 Board.
If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know via Basecamp or email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
You can find more information about being a co-chair below.
Role: Conference Committee (ConCom) Co-Chair
Department/Team: The Co-Chairs supervise the ConCom and work with other SF3 committees also working on Con business (Communications, Personnel, etc.)
Reports to: SF3 Board via monthly reports
Time Requirements: During the less-busy part of the con year (July-February), each co-chair spends an average of about 2.5 hours/week on con-related tasks. During the more-busy part of the con year (March-May) this increases to 4-5 hours/week; exact time needed depends on how well-staffed the rest of the ConCom is.
Presence at con: Required. At least one Co-Chair is “on duty” at all times during the con.
Term: One year, starting in July.
Role summary: The role of the Co-Chairs is to work together to provide high-level management over other ConCom departments to ensure that WisCon takes place. The Co-Chairs generally keep track of which departments are more or less active and what major tasks need to be done at any given time. The Co-Chairs also help Departments coordinate with each other (especially if members of one department don’t realize something they want to do will impact another department). Co-Chairs also run the Guest of Honor selection process for the following WisCon (details below), and analyze the prior WisCon’s feedback survey results. The Co-Chairs interface with the SF3 Board primarily through monthly reports.
At the end of the day, if a task doesn’t have anyone working on it, Co-Chairs must decide whether to complete the task themselves, delegate it to someone else, or decide the task will be left undone.
Running ConCom Meetings. This includes setting the dates and reminders, setting the agenda, collecting reports in advance of each meeting, presiding over the meetings themselves, and making sure minutes are published afterwards.
Tracking Responsiveness/Reports. A large part of the job is keeping track of who hasn’t reported in for a while and what emails are going unanswered to make sure everyone’s on track and to keep morale up. If someone isn’t responding to emails about once a week or so, the Co-Chairs reach out to them, and if they get no response, notify Personnel, who makes a determination on how to proceed. If a role is to be listed again, it should be taken to a ConCom meeting for a discussion, any suggested/agreed-upon modifications made, and then posted.
Tracking Departmental Coordination. If a Department has a question that can be answered by another Department, or is proposing changes that may impact another department, Co-Chairs must help connect the relevant Departments to each other as needed. Sometimes Departments know who to ask or realize which other Departments are involved with a task, and sometimes they don’t.
Making Judgement Calls on Events/Roles to Keep/Drop. Sometimes it is not possible to fill a role before the con. There’s a limited number of things that can just be cut, but Co-Chairs must also weigh whether events will keep happening at future cons if they are not formally run at a present con. Co-Chairs have to determine what tasks absolutely have to be done.
Being On-Call During the Con. There is a chair cell phone that can be used to contact the chairs anytime during the con. Most of the calls will come from the hotel. Chairs can choose how to split up the times of being responsible for the phone. Some chairs alternate days, others take specific shifts during each day — whatever works for the two of you.
Participating in Safety Processes. If someone wants “to talk to a manager,” co-chairs our our ultimate at-con managers. Co-chairs may also be involved in judgment calls about Safety issues (such as potentially banning someone, asking them to leave, etc.).
Running Guest of Honor Selection Process. The chairs are responsible for selecting a GOH Vetting Committee and making sure the GOH nomination and voting process is executed according to schedule. This involves collating the GOH suggestions and putting together bios for the candidates, making sure the surveys get run, and contacting the top finalists to invite them (for which there are templates).
Answering Questions. The Co-Chairs may receive a wide number of questions (both from inside and outside the ConCom/SF3), and they must either answer the questions directly or help forward the question to the person/department who might be able to answer. It’s not uncommon for people to write basically asking to be invited in an “official” capacity. We have an email template for responding to that.
Analyzing Prior WisCon Feedback Survey Results. Co-Chairs are in charge of analyzing the post-WisCon survey results from the con before theirs. This may involve working with other departments to implement changes based on the feedback received.
Manage tasks that don’t belong to any other department or that have slipped through the cracks between two departments. This includes supervising printing of standard-sized materials and contacting previous year’s lifeguard and child care team to see if they are interested in working again this year.
Interfacing with the SF3 Board.
Skills & experience:
All Co-Chairs Should Have:
Task management and delegation skills.
Excellent organizational skills.
Excellent one-on-one communication skills (for communicating with other co-chairs)
Time and ability to check email and Basecamp on a frequent basis
At Least One Co-Chair Should Have:
Some degree of comfort with public speaking in front of large audiences
Excellent written communications / public relations skills
Ability to lead meetings effectively, including making sure everyone gets heard, covering an agenda, and sticking to a time limit.
Ability to take notes during meetings (these do not have to themselves be minutes-quality, just enough to write the minutes later).
Prior ConCom experience of at least one year preferred
Co-Chairs should not also be chairing/leading any other departments/teams within WisCon or chairing any other cons
Co-Chairs should not co-chair two WisCons in a row
If you are interested in co-chairing for 2023 or if you have questions about co-chairing, please let the current Chairs know by email to email@example.com!
Hi all! We have a few major updates to share with you as we reach the end of March:
1. We are capping in-person memberships at 600 this year as a safety measure. Most years, our cap is 1,000, which is the maximum capacity of the hotel. At the last couple of in-person WisCons we’ve reached roughly 850 to 900 members. To date, we have sold about 260 in-person memberships for WisCon 2022.
If you are planning to attend WisCon in person, we strongly encourage you to register ahead of time and book your hotel room as soon as you’re certain of your travel plans. Discounted hotel room rates are available until April 26, 2022. We understand that planning travel during the pandemic is more complicated, but for the safety of all our members, we will need to stick to the 600-person cap and may not be able to sell tickets at the door this year. Remember you can always double-check your registration status and convert between online and in-person memberships!
Note that this cap does not affect online memberships! We have no plan to cap online memberships and are happy to welcome everyone who wants to attend virtually.
2. Regarding our Guests of Honor:
We’re thrilled to confirm that Sheree Renée Thomas will be attending WisCon 2022 in person and will also be available to participate in virtual programming.
Unfortunately, due to family commitments and the ongoing pandemic, neither Zen Cho nor Yoon Ha Lee will be able to participate either physically or virtually in WisCon 2022.
We have yet to receive confirmation whether Rebecca Roanhorse will be able to participate virtually (for the second time) or physically.
WisCon Guests of Honor are chosen by, and often from within, our own community, and we want to honor that choice by continuing to celebrate all of these amazing authors during WisCon 2022, just as we would if a Guest of Honor were suddenly sick and unable to attend. Thank you for your understanding!
3. With the pandemic, things are definitely different for WisCon this year: we’re having to make major changes both in response to the disease and in response to the limited time and energy volunteers have to run events. Here are a few updates:
The People of Color Dinner (organized by the Carl Brandon Society) is cancelled.
All of our Safer Spaces will be operating online only (the Safer Space for People of Color, the Safer Space for Trans & Genderqueer People, and the Disability Safer Space).
We will not be serving meals in the Con Suite; we’re working on safer alternatives assuming we can get the volunteer power to do so (see below). We will have Grab & Go!
The Vid Party will be running both physically and virtually this year!
We will be having a Gathering (activities to be determined based on COVID-19 safety).
We’ll have at least one Guest of Honor speech. The Dessert Salon is likely to be very different due to safety concerns. We’re still working out what that will look like with the hotel, so more updates to come.
If you don’t see your favorite event listed here: We’re still sorting out a lot of details, and we’ll give more updates as soon as we can.
4. We still have some significant volunteer positions that need to be filled. We’re at the point now where if we don’t get volunteers, we’ll have to start making cuts to what WisCon can offer.
We’re looking for more members for our new COVID-19 Safety department.
We need a Lead for Con Suite so that we can have robust alternatives to our usual dining room.
We need at least one more Kids’ Programs Lead by the end of this month or we’ll have to cancel Kids Programs for this year.
More updates on these and other opportunities coming soon! If any of these volunteer opportunities interest you, please complete our Volunteer Interest Survey as soon as you can. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll continue to provide updates as the con approaches! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our email newsletter: It’s the best way to guarantee you don’t miss any announcements.