Open Season on Bad Panel Attendees
I was at NorWesCon over the weekend, which I enjoy going to. Let most lit-focused cons, it’s primarily to me a “panel” show — one where panels are pretty much what you do there. (Some gaming shows are like that as well, like DunDraCon or Gen Con, and some aren’t.)
I love doing panels, probably more for the five minutes or so after a panel when you get to just randomly chat with people who come up than for the panel itself. But there’s something that has been rubbing me raw lately. Someone else summed it up well in a tweet:
So here’s my addition: It’s open season on all of you who raise your hand to “add a comment.” I’m no longer going to be nice about it.
I will cut you off if you aren’t getting to a question. If you say “I wanted to comment on the last person’s question” then I will tell you flat-out no, and that you can talk with that person after the panel. If you say “I have a comment and a question,” guess which one I won’t shut you down for. And if you sneak a fake question past me, I won’t address it and I will never call on you again so long as I remember your face. Trust me, I won’t be shy about letting you know that’s why.
Why take such a hardass stance on these assholes? Because they rob everyone else of time. Every time I have to say “I’m sorry, we can take only one more question” and several hands are up, those of you who didn’t get to ask your question have those people to blame. All of those people who shows off their need to look smart and show how they should be on the panel instead extoll a cost from us on the panel and everyone there to see the panelists.
This used to be something I would only do if I was moderating, but since I can’t guarantee the quality or “niceness” of the moderator on any given panel, from now on I’m just going to speak up.
If you want to offer a comment, offer one after the panel. Come up to us or up to whoever you wanted to offer that comment to.
There are exceptions. There are genuinely good comments, part of the reason I’ve been hesitant in the past to say anything. But I did the math this year, and that was maybe 1 good comment to 8 useless ones. The return isn’t worthwhile.
Some panels are built to be all about taking comments, and that’s cool if that’s what they attendees are there for. I’ve also solicited comments from the audience, in which case they’ve been, well, solicited.
But at this point, if you’re one of those time-sucking assholes who pops up with unsolicited comments, you can go fuck yourself, and I will be happy to let you know that.
 And yes, they got recorded.