11 NOVEMBER 2015
In addition to the usual pre-Pre-registration turmoil, we've been given a lot to think about since yesterday. 3 main changes seem to be stirring up the SDCC citizenry:
1) the RFID badges
2) the badges being mailed out to the buyer only
3) the price increase
Here's what I feel about the increase: nothing. I know some of you are on a tight budget and if this is going to rock your world, I am genuinely sorry. But it's a difference of what, $5 a day? And that's a small increase considering that CCI keeps expanding with new spaces at other facilities, they're continually trying to improve things for us (I know it doesn't always seem like it but they are) and we're now getting RFID badges. I remember when the whole show cost under $100. Things change. And it's not like CCI is lining their pockets; they've always been vociferous about trying to keep the Con affordable for everyone.
If you've never been to an event that uses this type of badge, it's just a way of electronically storing data within your badge, like microchipping your cat or dog. No, it doesn't mean that CCI will be tracking your movements through the Con, recording your panel attendance and embarrassing failure at Star Trek trivia. Many events that do track entry and exit separate your personal data (name, address, etc) from your demographic data (gender, age) simply to better understand attendee preferences.
If you're a privacy advocate and general watcher of Big Data culture, you might be annoyed that SDCC has gone this route. But I'm guessing most of us are thinking about scalpers. Is there really anything to stop them from moving into Open Reg en masse, equipped with an army of fake Member IDs and laptops, then selling those badges off at sky-high prices?
We know CCI has some kind of black ops team that cracks down on fraud, but I'm sure they'll be taking additional measures to prevent scalping. Mailing badges out at the last minute? Well, it can't be too last minute, because they're aware that many of us will then be mailing those badges a second time to the people we bought for. And there's nothing to stop scalpers from targeting San Diego locals who don't need a hotel room reservation.
Will they check IDs? They already do but on a very limited basis; they might go through a Hall H line, say, and randomly check IDs while people are waiting (they can bring up the data from the badge with the right gizmo) and hope the threat of permanent banishment is enough to stop people from buying fake badges. (Though I don't think any threat will stop that.)
So that's a bit of a question mark right now. Pre-reg is somewhat more secure; every Member ID eligible is tied to a specific individual who attended the show. But Open Registration is a different story.
AKA "Advance Fulfillment." I'm still all about this, though the weird twist CCI threw at us has dimmed my ardor slightly. Whoever buys the badges during Pre-reg will have all 3 (or however many they bought) mailed to them. And since Comic-Con is a world where people who've never met correspond daily and trust each other with their money and SDCC futures, that means many of us will either be receiving and mailing out badges to people we've never met, or trusting them to do the same.
Yes, it's weird. Yes, it would be easier if CCI would just mail each badge to the physical address associated with that Member ID. Probably some of you would prefer to go back to the old way of picking them up onsite. (Though let's admit that eliminating Town & Country & its parking situation is a nice bonus.)
But I don't think anyone should be too skittish about this. The person paying still takes the lion's share of the risk. If your buyer never mails out your badge? You can contact CCI and have that badge turned inactive, and pick up a new one at the Con. On the whole, though, you are entrusting this other person to mail your badge properly - get the address right, buy the right postage, etc. Again, it adds another layer of anxiety to the whole process.
Hopefully the changes haven't unsettled everyone too much. Personally I'm more worried about a system glitch than any of the above. That said, today and tomorrow are opportune times to talk to people in your buying group and see how everyone feels about the changes. Maybe someone doesn't want to be responsible for mailing out badges; maybe you have international people who won't be able to mail them out; maybe your lineup will change slightly because someone no longer wants their badges in the hands of a stranger.
In the meantime, think positive thoughts about Saturday. I'll post more tips on Pre-reg later.