These are questions that the person running registration might need to know the answers to, but that probably do not need to be explicitly pushed out to the members on a FAQ page or anything like that (although if they're curious, they can certainly read this).
- 1 "I'm a pro, how do I register?"
- 2 Canadians don't have to pay up front?
- 3 How do I do transfers?
- 4 Can someone upgrade a supporting membership before the con?
- 5 What if someone wants a student/child day membership?
- 6 Do I let someone upgrade from a supporting membership to a day membership?
- 7 What about upgrading (at the door) from supporting to student or child?
- 8 What if someone wants to pre-register for a day membership?
- 9 How do I know that someone taking the student rate is really under 21?
- 10 What do I do when someone asks for a "kid-in-tow" badge?
- 11 What if someone says they are a student but isn't under 21?
- 12 What do I do with ambiguously bad e-mail addresses?
- 13 What former GoHs get free memberships?
"I'm a pro, how do I register?"
You may get asked this. Here's a canned answer:
"Minicon does not have special registration for professionals. Please register by mail or on the web using the ordinary system."
Optional elaboration: "Minicon is an all-volunteer organization that keeps costs down and fosters a sense of community by treating everyone equally. Even the people doing the most work on the convention pay full price for their registrations. Besides the issue of equality, it is sometimes not obvious who is a professional and who is not; we prefer to avoid this can of worms. The only exception to our everyone-pays policy is current and former Guests of Honor, and occasionally other current invited Special Guests/Honored Guests/etc."
The optional elaboration might should be edited for tact depending on who you are sending it to.
Canadians don't have to pay up front?
We used to have a policy that Canadians who wanted to preregister could declare that they were doing so without actually paying, and then pay the prereg rate current when they made that declaration when they arrived at the door. (Matt speaking) the origins of this are murky to me, but I have been passively discouraging it since M45 pre-reg opened since it has recently been used by a very small number of people (less than 5) and is a complication I'd rather avoid. By "passively discouraging" I mean that it is not offered as an option anywhere, but I haven't actually told anyone they can't do it.
No one has asked to do it for Minicon 45. Nevertheless, someone might ask. I think the correct approach is to actively discourage by querying them about why they are unable to pay now, but will be able to later. If they have a genuine reason, let them do it.
How do I do transfers?
(Matt speaking) I simply change the name and contact information in the database for the affected record, and make a note in the comments field saying who used to own this registration.
Can someone upgrade a supporting membership before the con?
Sure, why not. We don't publish a rate for this. A reasonable thing to do would be to charge them the difference of the current rate and the supporting rate.
What if someone wants a student/child day membership?
We don't offer such a rate. These memberships are already very cheap compared to the adult ones in order to make them affordable for young people (the student rate) and young people's parents (the child rate). (That's true as of Minicon 45. If they aren't now, you should lobby to change that.) Students and children can take the usual day rate if that is cheaper than a full membership for them.
Do I let someone upgrade from a supporting membership to a day membership?
The precedent is yes. We don't publish a rate for this rare case, but at least at Minicon 43 and 44 Carol invented a reasonable rate on the spot. A decent formula is (cost of at-the-door day membership) - (cost of supporting membership) - $5. This way they effectively get $5 off for having payed in early.
What about upgrading (at the door) from supporting to student or child?
We don't publish rates for these either, since very few people use supporting memberships. Again, make up a reasonable rate that ends up costing in total more than preregistering straight and less than at-the-door. Currently (M45), there's no difference in price for pre-reg and door for children, so I suppose that means you just charge the difference between supporting and attending.
What if someone wants to pre-register for a day membership?
We don't allow this. In fact, we want to actively discourage this by making the full pre-reg rate and the day rate (at least for Saturday) similar. This way you can say "You can't prereg for just a day. But the prereg rate for the whole weekend is [the same|only $5 more] than the Saturday-only rate."
How do I know that someone taking the student rate is really under 21?
You don't. Don't worry about it. If they're way too old, we'll catch them at the door. If they're only a bit too old, then just let them get away with it. As long as they don't cause other trouble, we'd rather they came (and paid) than not. Eventually, they'll migrate into the first category.
What do I do when someone asks for a "kid-in-tow" badge?
Minicon doesn't differentiate between kids watched by their parents and kids not watched by their parents. We just do it by age. If the parent's motivation is to get contact information printed on their child's badge, put said information into the badge name field.
What if someone says they are a student but isn't under 21?
This rate is named "student" because we didn't like "youth" or anything else that we could brainstorm. It's really just an age range. The idea of having the cutoff be 21 is that people start costing the con more when they can drink beer in the bar. (This is not to say that the difference between the adult and the student rate is supposed to reflect the cost of beer. It's mainly supposed to encourage young people to join the community.)
What do I do with ambiguously bad e-mail addresses?
Sometimes we send out mass e-mails. Naturally, we get lots of bounces back. Some of these clearly state that the account we're trying to send to doesn't exist. Lots of them are vague, some intentionally so because they think we're spammers. For a sense of scale, we got 645 bounces from the Minicon 45 PR1 mailing, only 350 of which were clearly indicative of a bad address.
In the first case, we mark the address bad in the database. What about the second? I've (Matt here) been taking the approach that if it seems reasonably likely that the address is good and that we were blocked due to the method of sending, or that there was a transient error of some sort, that I don't mark the address bad. Probably lots of them are bad and will fail again later. But some are not bad and might be useful when the person needs to be mailed individually for some reason. A more sophisticated system might track the number of successes and failures over time. I don't have the energy to create such a thing.
What former GoHs get free memberships?
Any former Guest of Honor has a free lifetime membership to Minicon. This does not include people billed as "honored guest", which is a category specifically invented to allow us to treat people like Guests of Honor (maybe Guests of Honor, Second Class, to be a bit crass about it), but not give them lifetime memberships.
There is a complication regarding group Guests of honor. If a past guest of honor was a group of people, they do or do not have lifetime memberships as arranged at the time. This has only happened three times: PFRC at Minicon 20 (no lifetime memberships -- well established from several sources), The White Women at Minicon 20 (situation unknown), and The Bhigg House at Minicon 30 (no lifetime memberships according to Dave Clement). For the White Women or any future cases, if it turns out that the issue was not discussed or no one remembers, we'll give them a free membership.
Sometimes someone was billed as a Guest of Honor, but then was not present at the convention. Whether these people have lifetime memberships is a judgment call. If we continued to bill them as a "Guest of Honor in absentia" or something like that and continued to showcase their work, probably yes.
The registration database, as of 2011, could generate a complete list of former Guests of Honor who qualify for lifetime memberships, notwithstanding the uncertainties listed above.