What happened yesterday

4 MARCH 2012

Apparently I spoke too soon when I said yesterday went somewhat smoothly.  The system didn't crash, true, but some other glitches were widespread and easily preventable. People are pissed because once again, Comic Con overlooked some simple errors that cost people their badges.

According to K-Squared, one major issue is that CCI used a third-party tracking service for the link. While CCI built the new system to ensure the server could handle the load of people, the tracking service could not and got overloaded. That's why the link wasn't working. This happened to me; I had two laptops on the job and one browser (IE8) stalled out repeatedly and didn't connect until I entered the queue at almost 20000. It didn't matter because my other laptop (using a Chrome browser) connected much faster. But other people obviously weren't that lucky.

What this probably means is that people working in big groups, who had everyone trying to access the waiting room at the same, probably had a better degree of success in getting their badges, since only one of them needed to get in. Hence the four-day badges disappearing so incredibly fast and CCI's predicted 40,000 cut-off for selling out as being way, way off. Which is why people are complaining about the 6-badge rule as well today, saying 4 would have been a more reasonable limit.

Another issue was an apparent problem for people with spaces or punctuation in their last name. The system didn't work for them either and plenty of people couldn't access the system at all. Their Member ID and surname - as listed in Comic Con's email - would not let them enter the system.

It's easy to shrug this off if you got your badge, but the whole thing smacks of CCI's pervasive refusal to hire smart help with the right skill set. This isn't cutting-edge technology required here. Every year CCI gets egg on their face as their limited systems fail in simple, predictable ways.

But in the end, none of this means more people would have gotten badges yesterday - in the end, the same finite number were handed out. Their errors just rigged everyone's chances in uneven ways. When I was out last night, I met two people going to Comic Con for the first time and they were euphoric; they'd gotten right into the system and gotten Preview Night badges. It was kind of odd, listening to them, when some of my die-hard Comic Con veteran friends didn't get badges at all. It made me realize that I was wrong yesterday when I said the Con was survival of the fittest. It's really become a lottery.

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