DashCon, which is a convention in Schaumburg, Illinois that "aims to be the largest gathering of Tumblr users to date" is taking place this weekend. It is a first year convention, so people expected things to be a bit rough. It is also, however, apparently turning into a "complete disaster".
The main complaint seems to be that the convention suddenly claimed on the first night (11 July 2014) that they needed to raise an additional $17,000 by 10 PM CST that night in order to continue on with the weekend, as the hotel was charging them last minute unexpected fees. DashCon organizers claimed that the convention would be kicked out of the hotel if the money was not raised and paid in short order. Many people suspected this to be a scam, for various reasons, including the fact that when others contacted the Renaissance Hotel, management claimed they were doing no such thing. The money was successfully raised, but there has been no confirmation that it went to the hotel, or anywhere except the organizer's pockets.
Update: This post previously linked to what is now confirmed to be a parody site that claimed DashCon's raised $17,000 was going towards the 2015 convention. This was not accurate. Of note, DashCon's official website, Facebook page, Tumblr page, and Twitter feed all do not address the controversy. One of the organizer's personal blogs (linked to from the DashCon website) does quote the now deleted DashCon Tumblr post begging for the additional $17,000.
Other items of note include the main guests of honor, Welcome to Night Vale, cancelling their appearance because the organizers of the convention failed to pay them. Guests who bought reserved seating for this event were offered a free raffle ticket and "an extra hour in the ball pit". This was the ball pit:
Other guests were also not paid as agreed, causing several to withdraw from the convention. The lack of payment to the guests was particularly outrageous after the last minute fundraiser of $17,000 from attendees.
This being a convention aimed at Tumblr users, who are by nature avid bloggers, unhappy attendees are taking their complaints and using their followers to spread their message of discontent far and wide. Even people who did not attend are spreading the message that this is a convention to be avoided. People who were involved in the planning stage are writing long manifestos about how this was a disaster that could have easily been foreseen, due to awful planning and sketchy details.
Some cooler heads are reminding readers that first year conventions are always a gamble, but that if a first year convention is a disaster of this magnitude, it is probably not worth going back in subsequent years.
In the end, though, DashCon is going to be most memorable for how quickly news of a fandom disaster can spread. Though DashCon expected 3,000-7,000 attendees, reports from on the ground estimate only about 500-1,000 people showed up. Yet look how quickly news of poor planning, possible fundraising scams, and inept staff have spread. When your audience is avid internet users, the margin for error is low. The three-day convention is not even over, and it's already notorious in the Tumblr circles it hopes to draw from for attendees in future years.
As one Tumblr user put it,
what's funny is this is the first time I have ever felt this united with the entirety of tumblr
for once, finally, we all agree on something: that dashcon sucks ass.
Good luck next year, guys.