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Author Topic: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter  (Read 27781 times)

Eurofurence

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To whom it may concern,

we understand some of our guests feel the clothing and decency rules of our Rules of Conduct are impeding their enjoyment of the convention. There have been some speculations about the intent of these rules. We'd like to address some of the aspects, and also correct a few misunderstandings that have apparently gone viral.

Why do theses rules of conduct exist?

While furry conventions may appear to be an entirely own planet to the guest, nothing can exist without interaction with people outside the fandom. At a convention we are guests and a business partner of a hotel. As such, we are expected to avoid anything that may damage the reputation of the hotel. This means that we have to insist on a certain minimal public decorum of our guests. Furry conventions happen at business hotels that under normal conditions expect their guests to at least follow the "business casual" dress code. We've talked to several venues who outright told us that they do not take fan conventions at all as the appearance of the attendees alone would damage their brand image.

It is expected from us that we at least try not to creep out their employees and contractors. In the furry fandom, we are generally very open to unusual behaviour and interests, so it is easy to forget that society at large is way more conservative and secretive about certain aspects. Hence, we need to listen to our hosts and find a solution that is both acceptable to our business partners by keeping the event as open and embracing as possible. Also, remember that we are not alone in the hotel. The lobby is a public area with people from outside coming in all the time, and a number of hotel guests that are not part of the convention being present. We do not want to weird them out, we want to present ourselves as a fun group to hang out with. Because that's what we are, at large.

We are aiming for a harmonic and positive party atmosphere which can only be achieved by establishing a common code of conduct that allow the members of perhaps the most heterogenous fandom in the world, to come together and embrace what unites them - not what divides them. Eurofurence is about the common ground, the interests we all share. Offensive behaviour has no place in such shared space, and the only way to find out with how much you can get away in public is the hard way. Our rules of conduct are the result of 20 years of evolution to achieve the positive, harmonic atmosphere that we have today. Not being able to live every thinkable extreme is the price to pay.

Are there any rules banning specific fetishes or preferences?

No. We will never ask for our attendees' fetishes or preferences. Our rules of conduct do not in any way discriminate against who they are, what they believe in, or what might excite them or not. Our rules only restrict how attendees may dress up and behave in the public space. As long as they do not violate any laws, cause any complaints, or break any rules of the hotel, we do not care what our attendees are doing in the privacy of their hotel room.

Why does the dress code allow this item but not that item?

It is only human to consider one's own special interests being completely harmless but being disturbed by other's at the same time. One of our guidelines is whether an outfit is viewed as offensive and/or sexual in nature by the general public or not. That by itself does not make a very good rule of conduct, though - because as we all know, common sense isn't actually common.

Whenever you have to put very complex circumstances into simple words, there is no way around simplifications and generalisations. When we say "blatant display of fetish gear is not allowed", that is such a simplification, and we're relying on the readers knowledge of social norms to extrapolate the intention of this paragraph.

We then clarify the rule by adding some concrete examples. These examples are not meant so single out any specific group or interest. There is no political agenda behind them. The selection of examples very pragmatically reflects the most frequently asked questions about the legality and/or acceptance of certain items. The list is in random order, and it does not mean that we think that everyone "being into it" is a troublemaker. We know that the vast majority of our guests is not.

We are intentionally not getting more specific that we absolutely have to. Not only would that immediately open up all kinds of loopholes, in fact it is seldomly the presence of single item that is going to cause offense, but the context in which it is displayed.  The difference may be between wearing an item on your keychain or around your neck - or other items you are wearing.

When was the most recent change to the dress code?

The dresscode in its current form was introduced in the year 2010, remaining unchanged until today. Despite recent rumours on twitter, there have not been any additional bans on any specific outfits or items.

I think you have banned a perfectly innocent item! You must change the rules!

The rules for each year are posted when registration opens and can not be changed after the fact - they are part of the agreement both sides enter into when making and accepting a registration. We promised our attendees that everyone will behave accordingly, and you promised us that you will, too. Therefore we will put the topic on the agenda of our annual general meeting. Please write any input you may have to security@eurofurence.org, we will collect your input or queries for clarification and decide if the rules may need adjustment or clarification for next year.

A member of security asked me to remove this item that did not violate any rules!

There is not much we can do months after the convention, however we'd like to point out that we have a simple process for conflict resolution. The RoC state: »If you have any problem with any action taken by a Staff member you may take the matter up with the Chief of Security or the Chairman.« We appreciate complaints being filed as soon as possible after the incident, preferably directly on site.

Where should I direct questions about items or activities not being listed?

As a rule of thumb, If you have a bad feeling about something you want to wear or want to do in public, there is usually something to it, and it is better to err on the safe side. If you have questions regarding acceptable items or clothing, do not hesitate to contact security@eurofurence.org by email for clarification. Please understand that we will not discuss our rules on social media such as Twitter or Facebook anymore, as it has been proven unsuitable for complex matters. You are invited to email security@eurofurence.org or use this forum if you have questions or suggestions. We will, of course, continue to use social media for announcements and occasional fun tweets.

What is your policy concerning badge artwork?

There are no rules specific to badge artwork, only the general "adult materials" clause of the rules of conduct:

"Display of adult materials (such as room signs, flyers, business cards, posters and drawings on public message boards) is not permitted in public areas of the hotel and convention center. The limit for "adult themed" materials is the equivalent of what you can see on the magazine covers at an average German newsstand."

I have been verbally abused by a member of your staff online!

We saw it happen. It should not have happened. It was very unprofessional. We are very sorry, and we promise to do our best to prevent it in the future. We all have learned a lot about social media in the last few days, and the current events will have consequences. We are in the process of rewriting our social media policies, and re-assigning the responsibilities accordingly. We will make sure that there will no personal discussions or even attacks via our official twitter channels again.

THAT BEING SAID ...

This does not mean that our staffers are fair game to YOUR verbal abuse or harassment. We are furry fans like you. We are not your personal punching bags, but human beings, and setting off a five day twitter shitstorm against individuals of our organisation is never an acceptable reaction, and it will immediately invalidate any valid claims you might have had. It is not in order to provoke our staff to the point they start losing their cool, and then expect them to personally apologize to you for it. "I can spit at you, and there is nothing you can do because I'm your customer" is plain antisocial behaviour, and we will stand united behind any staff members approached with this attitude, no matter what they said to you in return.

Of course, antisocial behaviour committed by staff is also never justified, and if you encounter such behaviour, we expect you to launch your complaint in a civil manner to the manager in charge, and NOT pour oil into the fire. There are contact adresses for almost all departments on our homepage. If you would like to complain to any of our team leads, you can directly write to the board of directors. Even if you want to launch a complaint against the chairman himself - the board of directors consists of more than one person, and you will always find someone to talk to:

- Chairman: Sven "Cheetah" Tegethoff -> chairman@eurofurence.org
- Vice Chairman: Richard Nightfox -> vice-chairman@eurofurence.org
- Treasurer and 'Third Chairman': Ingo "Loewi" Schumacher -> payment@eurofurence.org

All other contact adresses can be found on our homepage:

http://www.eurofurence.org/EF21/imprint

With best regards,

The Board of Directors &
The Public Relations Team

« Last Edit: 09.06.2015, 15:27:06 by Cheetah »
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o'wolf

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #1 on: 09.06.2015, 14:49:00 »

*Moderator's hat on*

We'll keep this thread open for discussion and questions about this statement for a while. Please remain civil and refrain from personal attacks.
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Cifer

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #2 on: 09.06.2015, 15:18:44 »

Sounds good so far, both with regards to convention-goers and their wishes as well as the fandom's appearance in public. Thank you for your explanations.
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meo

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #3 on: 09.06.2015, 15:47:44 »

Thanks for this Thread and i think that should end these whole debate.

For me all the rules of conduct could be reduced to some simpler Words, namely "Be excellent to each other". If we all want to be that we can forgive personal bulls*#+ and carry on just what we all are, what ever we are Furfans, Artists, Partygoers...you name it.
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Wotan

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #4 on: 09.06.2015, 16:43:31 »

For me the rules are made from common sense, so I'm agreed with all the rules. Nice job team keep working! :)
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Suicune

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #5 on: 09.06.2015, 18:37:49 »

I'm wondering why the dresscode stuff has to be pointed out that specifically. I mean how to behave here and there should be part of everyones education. But it seems like that wasn't the case. oO"

SouthPaw

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #6 on: 09.06.2015, 18:48:42 »

I'm wondering why the dresscode stuff has to be pointed out that specifically. I mean how to behave here and there should be part of everyones education. But it seems like that wasn't the case. oO"

Things get added to CoCs based on experience, much like warnings in product manuals such as "Do not iron clothes whilst wearing" and "Contains nuts" (the latter on a packet of peanuts...yes...really).

In an ideal world, the CoC would just comprise "Rule 1", which boils down to "Don't be a dick" (albeit dressed up in more polite language). Unfortunately, this isn't an ideal world so things have to be spelled out...
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o'wolf

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #7 on: 09.06.2015, 19:21:06 »

I'm wondering why the dresscode stuff has to be pointed out that specifically. I mean how to behave here and there should be part of everyones education. But it seems like that wasn't the case. oO"

Talking from a personal point of view here:

There is the saying "behind every rule there is a story". Trust me, there are some stories you don't want to hear. Perhaps surprisingly, the worst are not even related to the folks who brought up the topic on Twitter.

I've seen code of conducts of other (non-furry) fan events. The Eurofurence rules are refreshingly concise and permissive in comparison.
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VickyVixen

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #8 on: 09.06.2015, 20:45:30 »

Thank you for finally handing out a public statement. If it's not too much of a bother, I'll hand out some constructive criticism.

I can see how there are three parties at work here:
- The people who start with a question: "What is your stance on pacifiers, padding..."
- Angry or confused furries lighting the fire.
- Some guy(s) you put in charge of your twitter account.

Okay, now what exactly bothers me about this story is how bad the communication was at that point, and if it may be lacking in other fields as well.

It might seem a bit far-fetched, but here's why these problems of bad communications occur:
At this point I feel the site, which is your portal towards communicating with furries from all around the globe, is lacking in administrated and thorough communication.
You arrive at the site, and find a big banner with only a small scroll down button. This is your showcase. However, most new visitors have no idea what they're really going to get unless they search outside of your website for references to the con.
I definitely think Eurofurence needs a positive restructuring in presentation of hierarchy, and that it should be clearer for the visitors of the conference who is in charge and what will be done.

Below the banner they see: CONTACT US and NAVIGATION.
I feel these categories are a bit too clumped together, while all of them redirect you to an impersonal form. That's not a very good way of representing yourself. Make sure that the visitors know who's in charge and what will happen by means of visual clues.
The navigation could be simplified, and there should be a good page that tells all about your conference without needing to go to the forums.
Once you've made sure that your visitors can understand what makes them excited about the con, who they can talk to (perhaps even their avatars!) and where they can have all their questions answered in a detailed matter (not just: Do whatever seems respectful to you) you'll be all in. You'll have friendlier users with a more packed community and probably less online fights.
Make sure you communicate a lot more with your community. Organise small games or online events, Q&A perhaps, who knows? You could even ask your friendly furs what they would like to see. Interact with them.
Never forget that no matter how many years you've run for, you'll always need to find ways of adapting without ever having to be negative about it.

Today's professional communication is all about transparency and thoroughness. Be complete, first introduce the subject you're talking about. Then what the problem is, then what you're going to do about it, then you finish with what you'd like to see in the future. Tada! Writing skills :) -> Better replies + better understanding. There will always be naughty furs, but Eurofurence should find the real professional way to handle those furs. Find the fine line between transparency and closure and find the fine line between honesty and being rude. We all want to say: "F*** those dirty cubs and dildo wearers and those boobs who make guys have instant boners."(not my quote), but being politically correct is still more important than giving out your raw opinion. You've got being politically correct semi-covered, but you're still not clear and transparent enough about it.
I hope my message has arrived properly, transparent and clear. I can see that Eurofurence can think about bringing the good things in, I'm definitely confident about that.
I wish the staff the very best and I think that aside from those problems the con will be as fun as every year.
« Last Edit: 10.06.2015, 00:11:51 by VickyVixen »
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Fineas

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #9 on: 09.06.2015, 22:01:41 »


At this point I feel the site, which is your portal towards communicating with furries from all around the globe, is lacking in administrated and thorough communication.
You arrive at the site, and find a big banner with only a small scroll down button. This is your showcase. However, most new visitors have no idea what they're really going to get unless they search outside of your website for references to the con.
I definitely think Eurofurence needs a positive restructuring in presentation of hierarchy, and that it should be clearer for the visitors of the conference who is in charge and what will be done.

Below the banner they see: CONTACT US and NAVIGATION.


I might be mis understanding you there, but did you notice the menu at the top right?
And is that what you are looking for or are their still things missing in your opinion?

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VickyVixen

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #10 on: 10.06.2015, 00:01:06 »

Oh I forgot to talk about that menu, but I think the same applies a bit from above: bit less cluttered. What I find a pity about making lists for links for info is a nearly endless hopping from the home page to a piece of information.  I'd love to see that sidemenu with links turned into a showcase on the main page itself. Little bits and pieces that really give a feel of the con. I like the art a lot, but I'd love to see a nice welcoming and a page that gives anyone who'd be interested in the con the real vibe :)
I really should have said that in my previous post instead of just talking about visual clues only. Heheh... ^_^

Edit: Whoosh this almost is starting to look like it could fit into the feedback category.
The point of this and my previous post is however to reveal a link between community, the site itself, disputes and attitude.
What I wanted to show is how design can help create a friendlier and informative environment and thus contribute to a better community with less disputes and misunderstandings.
The biggest role model in this case should be Eurofurence staff, of course. Good representation is key.
« Last Edit: 10.06.2015, 00:07:51 by VickyVixen »
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Runo

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #11 on: 10.06.2015, 00:18:25 »

One thing I think everyone should always keep in mind when talking about organisations like Eurofurence is that it's run entirely by volunteers, and free of charge.

This is not meant as an excuse.

Rather, what it means is that the organisation will continue as long as the people responsible or it have fun doing it, and enough of it do do it for free.

Try to force these people to run such an organisation like a business, to accept all and everything, no matter how much it irks them, to give up themselves "for the good of the organisation"? That won't work here, because the only reward they get is the fun they have doing it, and their dedication to the community. Take the fun away, and sooner or later, there's no motivation left to continue.

So please, cut all those people that invest every last bit of free time and any sliver of sanity they still possess ( ;) ) into it some slack, because otherwise, you might one day find that instead of an event that might be a little rough around the edges at times, there will be no event at all anymore.

 :-\

PS: If there was any doubt: No, this is no official statement or anything at all. It's just my peronal opinion as someone who's seen a lot of people break down and lose their nerve behind the scenes at some point or the other. I know I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, doubly so in times like these.
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Suicune

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #12 on: 10.06.2015, 00:27:57 »

I'm wondering why the dresscode stuff has to be pointed out that specifically. I mean how to behave here and there should be part of everyones education. But it seems like that wasn't the case. oO"

Talking from a personal point of view here:

There is the saying "behind every rule there is a story".

I know. But it's still sad that it's always like that ^^

timoran

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #13 on: 10.06.2015, 01:22:43 »

During both this incident and the incident around EF's refusal to refund a membership for a dealer in January, several members of the EF staff made comments on their (yes, personal, but very much public and identified as EF staff) Twitter accounts to leave the impression that Americans are unwelcome at Eurofurence. This includes one of the members of the EF Board of Directors.

Do the other members of the Board share this anti-American sentiment? Could this be clarified? I have seen that American visitors to EF are no insignificant number, based on the nosecount page.
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Runo

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Re: Official Statement Regarding the Policy Debate on Twitter
« Reply #14 on: 10.06.2015, 01:27:15 »

During both this incident and the incident around EF's refusal to refund a membership for a dealer in January, several members of the EF staff made comments on their (yes, personal, but very much public and identified as EF staff) Twitter accounts to leave the impression that Americans are unwelcome at Eurofurence. This includes one of the members of the EF Board of Directors.

Do the other members of the Board share this anti-American sentiment? Could this be clarified? I have seen that American visitors to EF are no insignificant number, based on the nosecount page.

Honestly, think for yourself for a moment, check past cons' photos for with how many Americans EF staffers hang out, and the American cons' photos for how many EF staffers are there… do you really still believe something like that would be true?  m(
« Last Edit: 10.06.2015, 01:28:53 by Runo »
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