Through stories online and (unfortunately) personal experience, I have decided to draft a short guide on con etiquette that I hope will help people in understanding what is and is not acceptable behavior at conventions, which will help prevent injury to congoers (it’s happened), offense, and getting kicked out.
1. Please do not glomp cosplayers (or even non-cosplayers). It HURTS and could ruin their costume! You also don’t know what kind of medical condition they have, so doing so could cause them a LOT of pain! For example, one cosplayer was afraid of attending conventions alone because she has brittle bones; one glomp could cause a break. Another was a pregnant woman who spoke of actually being tackled to the ground, which ended up resulting in a miscarriage.
I have also been personally groped at by another cosplayer. I have claustrophobia, so having someone grabbing all around me, up in my personal space, makes me very, very uncomfortable. Had her friend not pulled her off, I would have had an anxiety attack.
Instead of glomping them, ask them politely for a hug. If permission is granted, hug them gently enough not to break their costume or hurt them. If they decline, a simple compliment will suffice to show them how much you like who they’re cosplaying as.
This especially goes for CHILDREN COSPLAYERS. We know they’re cute, but think of it like seeing a child out at the mall or the store. You wouldn’t run up and grab them because it’s rude and downright creepy. Ask their parent or guardian if it would be alright for a hug and/or picture. Otherwise, hands off the children.
2. Ask politely for pictures, and don’t be creepy about it.
I know this seems silly, but there are people out there who will take candid shots of girls in skirts. This sort of thing is NOT okay and can be considered harassment/stalking.
If you want a photograph with somebody, ask permission to touch them. Some people are less okay than others with having people randomly throw their arms around them, and you might restore a little bit of faith to a cosplayer by showing them respect.
3. A cosplayer is not their character. If someone is cosplaying someone you don’t like, this does NOT give you permission to attack them. These people are REAL PEOPLE and doing so will be the same as attacking someone on the street. You can get kicked out of the convention, and they can press charges if they deem necessary.
Instead of channeling your hatred into violence or mean words, try bonding with them over a common fandom. You know at that point, at least, you have something in common, and it would be a good step to a more positive encounter. You may even make a new friend over it!
4. Country flags are not capes, and wearing them as such is considered incredibly disrespectful. In most countries, wearing a flag as an article of clothing and/or letting it touch the ground is considered insulting. Please think of our friends from other countries, and respect their flags. Remember, just because a character does something in a cartoon doesn’t make it acceptable or polite to do it in real life.
5. On that note, just because your character does/says certain things does not make it okay to do in public. The most obvious is Karkat cosplayers screaming the “f” word in public. If you would not do/say it out of costume or in front of your parents/grandparents, don’t do it at a convention. There are children present at these functions, and it is best to act like an adult and set a good example for them.
6. Hands off other peoples’ props. This seems like it should go without saying, but there have been instances I have seen where people have actually run off with a friend’s prop or grabbed it and started playing with it, resulting in a break. Props can take a very, very long time to make and most tend to be fairly fragile. If a cosplayer says you can handle it, handle it with care. You wouldn’t want your props broken, so don’t do it to someone else.
7. If something about someone’s costume is inaccurate or poorly made, do not berate them for it. I’m not really going to elaborate on this, since it’s a fairly straightfoward guideline.
8. Do not throw objects at other cosplayers. I am going to give a specific fandom for this one.
HOMESTUCK FANS. Do not throw buckets at Karkats (or other characters). This falls under the you can hurt someone tidbit. This means even plush buckets, or any sort of projectile, soft or not.
Not everyone shares the same sense of “lolithrewsomethingatyou” humor, so err on the side of caution and don’t throw things.
Like most of the other things, this can get you thrown out of cons and have charges pressed for assault anyway.
9. Personal hygiene is a must. Being at a convention can result in a lot of dirt and sweat accumulated over the day. Be mindful of other congoers and PLEASE BATHE. This goes double for people who like to hug cosplayers, as nothing is more of a turn-off for a convention than someone getting their stink all over your costume. Don’t forget to also use deodorant. It really does make a big difference between smelling squeaky clean and smelling like con-funk.
10. Cosplayers, you are representing your fandom. If you do something stupid, it won’t be you doing it, but “that fandom.” Set a good example.
11. Have fun! Just because there are things you shouldn’t do doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy yourself at the convention. Attend panels and meetups. Make new friends. Go watch the masquerade. There’s so much you can do at a con without ruining the enjoyment for others or yourself. c: