Kumoricon 2020
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Follow-Up Questions and Clarifications for New Autographs Process

Posted June 5, 2018

We wanted to follow up on yesterday's announcement about Kumoricon's new guest autographs procedure. We received a lot of questions and feedback about this process, and wanted to clarify in more detail why we are doing it. While it is impossible to make everyone happy, this policy reflects years of research to try and proactively solve past problems. We know this is very different from what we've done before and can seem complicated. We'd like to address some concerns and explain why we reached the decisions we did.

In short:

We received significant criticism in previous years. The new autographs policy is focused on resolving the following issues:

  • Last year, we had an issue where we had to cap a line 1 minute after it opened. We designed this new policy to prevent that.
  • People were actively hovering around the area despite numerous staff diligently attempting to disperse crowds. At some point, the majority won over the minority, though staff tried their best. Beyond the question of fairness, there was an issue of safety and violating venue rules for space. Our new policy ensures there is no possible benefit from "hovering" or "camping". People missed out on seeing more of the con because they were waiting around for autographs instead.
  • We are still learning how to better utilize the space we have—and where our limitations are.

Here is how we hope to fix that:

All autograph sessions require advance passes, which will be distributed by random drawing two hours in advance of each scheduled time. There is no pass distribution at the autograph session. To prevent crowding, every drawing line is open for 30 minutes, and everyone in line has an equal chance of drawing a pass.

Passes and autograph sessions are not located in the same area of the venue. If you successfully draw a pass, you are free to head to that specific autograph session at any point during its scheduled time. There is no longer a need to linger and wait for the signing.

Please be aware that tickets are non-transferable once they are acquired. Badge numbers or your name on your photo ID will be matched with winning passes to prevent reselling winning passes. The full process is detailed on our Autograph Passes page.

Important clarifications

The number of autographs that guests sign is not changing from previous years and might even increase.

For several years, we've observed that guests can sign autographs for about 80 to 120 attendees per 90-minute session. We know that number can sound low, but we ask that you think of that in terms of time per person. We are keeping that number the same, with 80 passes, and 40 waitlist passes, per session. The only thing that is changing is how we distribute entry.

For many autograph sessions, your odds will be better than you think.

When you hear "random drawing", things come to mind like winning a rare prize in a lottery or a ticket raffle. However, for some of our signing sessions, most attendees in line are likely to draw a winning pass. Also, the majority of our guests have at least two signing sessions, and some have three, which further increases your chances. Some guests will also have tables in the Exhibits Hall for even more autograph opportunities.

What is wrong with having a first-come, first-served line?

Due to restrictions of our venue and the amount of venue space available, we cannot keep a long line in place for several hours due to availability of space, venue safety, and the number of sessions scheduled.

Why can't we pay for a guaranteed pass for a signing session?

Kumoricon, like most anime cons, has made the long-term decision to make almost all convention programming included with the cost of a badge, except when food or drink is served or supplies are consumed. We do try to serve a variety of interests among attendees with our very limited, long-time VIP program offering a dedicated autograph session among other carefully curated perks. But even so, we limit the availability of those to ensure good experiences for VIP and non-VIP alike.

For 2018, the decision is already out of our hands due to contractual agreements with our guests. However, we are continuing to listen to feedback on this for the future.

At comic cons where guests charge for signings, the convention usually must financially guarantee a certain number of autographs sold. This is not Kumoricon's model, nor that of most other anime cons in the country. While Kumoricon and other anime cons may someday have to move toward the comic con model, where conventions sell access to guest autographs, it is not this day.

Why can't we sign up for an autograph session online or during registration?

We wanted to have a system that allows both pre-registered attendees and at-the-door attendees to have a fair chance, and that does not rely on needing to email or text attendees at the convention to see if they won a drawing.

Is Kumoricon considering feedback from attendees in deciding what autograph system to use?

Absolutely! This new policy grew out of feedback from attendees and guests. After the 2017 con, we received a large amount of feedback about our first-come, first-served system, and it became clear that we needed to try a different system for 2018. Before designing our new random drawing system, we reviewed a large number of possibilities, taking into account limitations of our available venue space for standing lines, the number of staff needing to run each system, and the ability to provide fair chances to all of our attendees.

After the 2018 con, we will see how this new system does, consider feedback from attendees, and decide whether to repeat it or to try something new. After the convention, we would love for you to attend our Rant and Rave panel, or email us at autographs@kumoricon.org.