by Allison Pang
Think we're covering most of the basics this week, but a few additional thoughts on the cosplay side of things:
1) Ask permission before taking pictures. This applies less to writing cons and more to the fantasy/anime sorts, but cosplay can be a very personal thing to a lot of people. Even though they're on display, they may not want their picture taken, but even so, it's just good manners. (And most are perfectly willing to strike a pose, so just ask! And if they say no? Be gracious and move on. They don't owe you an explanation.)
2) Touching. I shouldn't even have to say this, but costumed or not, do not touch people on purpose without permission. >_< Even aside from potential sexual harassment issues and personal space boundaries, costumes can be delicate - the last thing you want to do is accidentally "glomp" someone's hard work into pieces.
3) Hygiene. Again speaking from experience at some of the busier, larger cons - by the third day of camping out on the hotel room floor without a shower, you are going to stink. Please do everyone a favor and bathe regularly.
4) Be nice. When it comes to cosplay, everyone is in different stages of creative development. You'll see amazing costumes and starter costumes. All are equally valid form of fandom expression. Even if you think someone's costume sucks, keep it to yourself. Do NOT tell someone they are too fat, too thin, the wrong race/gender/whatever. Again, I shouldn't have to say it, but there it is. Fandoms are for EVERYONE.
5) Speak up. Because harassment is sometimes prevalent at these sorts of events, if someone makes you uncomfortable with what they're doing/saying/etc - tell them to back off. Costumes can often be on the skimpier side, which some people take as an invitation to be mouth-breathing troglodytes. Women in particular are socially trained to "be polite" and not to "rock the boat." Don't do this. Find out what the event's harassment policies are before you attend and determine what your safety limits are and what you need to do to make sure they're met. And on the other side, if you see someone clearly making someone else uncomfortable, say something. Ask them if they're all right, find con security, tell the troll to pound sand - basically be a decent human being.
In the end, though convention etiquette really comes down to that. It's a few days of fun, sure...but that doesn't mean you get to leave all sense of propriety at the door of the hotel, either.