I posted a lengthy twitter thread to the effect of what I'm writing here -- this is, of course, the appropriate place for feedback, so thank you for directing folks here.
As I'm sure you're hearing from a lot of folks right now -- this process is a disaster. It was bad last year, when (according to an official response on facebook) the demand was in exponential excess of what was anticipated. This year, we were told that there would be no changes to the process besides increasing CPU power. We are now seeing a repeat of last year's catastrophe. A lot of people feel, rightly or not, that the management does not care. In the words of the exhibits director (linked above), "Too much demand is, in some ways, a good problem to have." While I appreciate his transparency on the many conflicts of interest that alternative signup methods can produce -- and sympathize with the difficult position he is in -- the current approach is not acceptable. While high demand is surely a good problem for management, it is not for the artists, and management's solution cannot be to throw up their hands just because nothing makes everyone happy.
I'm sure the stress is as high on AB's end as it is on the artists', and all of us want a solution. My three cents:
1) Above all else -- it is absolutely essential that the site flooding be brought under control. It is hard to understand why so much logistical effort gets put yearly into AB's own servers, only to fall short over and over again, when third-party options are available. AB is not the only anime convention whose tables sell out in under 1 minute, but it is the only one known for such prolonged and unresolved congestion. Whatever else happens -- a long-term solution for this problem must be found. Eventbrite and Google forms are both excellent options that have been suggested by others.
2) The current system is, in point of fact, a lottery system. It is random which of the 600+ people who camp out for signups will be able to load the page and submit without hitting an error message, within the first 30 seconds. The only difference is that this lottery system involves hours of stress and frustration. High demand is a reality; so is the fact that the majority of standard applicants will not get a table, and some people will feel that is unfair no matter what. But if the principle of FCFS is to offer priority those applicants with the highest initiative -- with the assumption that this more dedicated pool will be of higher quality -- the current system is not doing that. It is, in effect, a lottery system with a short entrance window. Before they went full jury, Project A-Kon's lottery system had its signup open for just a 24-hour period. This could be a model for an AB standard lottery.
3) A fully juried show is an option worth serious consideration. I've heard it said -- both by Christian Daly in the above thread and by management in person at last year's show -- that the basis for maintaining FCFS is that in past surveys, artists didn't have any strong alternative preference. I strongly believe you would see different opinions if you surveyed today, as so much has changed in just the last 3 years. Posts in the above thread make good argument for the versatility and fairness of the jury model.
We want the new AA management to succeed, but a few spokes on the wheel are indeed broken, and are past due for fixing. We appreciate your transparency; we want to work with you and make this process better for everyone. Thanks.
Anime would be nothing without art. This forum is here for artists to discuss the art show and artists' alley.
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