A Harsh Reality we’ve all experienced, and unfortunately rears its ugly head in fandom as it does in life.


There's no catch-all to detect it, but we can apply our knowledge, gut instincts, and reasonable judgement in situations to help determine if something is an act of deception (ie.with intent to deceive), or if it's a mistake made in good faith.


Two key elements that emphasize the red flags of deception in fandom:

  1. Repetitive use, and,

  2. Reactions when deception is caught.


1. Repetitive use of deception:

Repetitive use of deception in fandom has taken many forms, such as repeatedly denying provable facts like false claims of legal representation (2015), sponsorship (2018), or denying event cancellation by venue (2019) in social media postings.


Unfortunately there are those in fandom who seek to obtain or retain positions where they can victimize others for their own gain. For example in 2015 an event organizer obtained public funding to run an event - in reality that event was a vector to engage in fraudulent financial benefits again and again, such as falsified financial expenses and undeclared/under-reported revenue. The operation was notorious enough for elected city officials to get involved and seek the termination of its public funding and facility access.


Patterns and choices are NOT mistakes.


It's a reasonable expectation that mistakes are going to be made, it's equally responsible to expect people to learn from those mistakes and at least seek to avoid repeating in the future.


A deceiver's excuse that nobody is perfect and people make mistakes is a disconcerting and very dishonest minimization tactic when they continue to engage in blatantly deceptive and other wrongful acts. Once again, patterns and choices are NOT mistakes.


If deception leads to destruction, self-deception leads to self-destruction. This has regretably been proven to be true in very stark and even tragic outcomes, arguaby all preventable if people would be honest with each other - and most importantly themselves.


2. Reactions when deception is caught:


Let's be honest with ourselves here, who hasn't lied, ever?


Ah hah, I don't see any hands up in the air.


We can list an almost infinite catalogue of situations when we've thought it be a good idea to do so. But as reasonable adults we would like to think we know the difference between right and wrong and try to act upon it in good faith, and hopefully resolve not to repeat.


And then there are those who have chosen to react poorly when their deceptions are caught.


Repetitive deception, denial, minimization, dismissal, personal attacks/hostility, questionable social media content, threats/manipulation, pushing boundaries, and ultimately silence are red flags to observe and use to respond accordingly.


Disappointingly, instead of owning up to unacceptable actions, some organizers and events have employed the above tactics - usually in response to their own wrongdoing. For example, creating social media posts spewing hateful and provably false personal attacks is obviously not an appropriate response to being asked questions regarding financial statements.


On another note, deception in fandom can take on the form of false advertising and fraudulent use of Intellectual Property (IP), please be wary of organizations that try to justify this. Just some examples:


- In 2017, a convention reused a photo of actors in a staged real steel swordfight without permission to advertise 'Larp in the Park' (Please don't larp with live steel).


- In 2018, a convention falsely claimed to be sponsored by multiple production companies, including the wrongful use of IP in advertising and social media.


- In 2019, a convention advertised the sale of another company's IP in a very offensive format.


- In 2023, a convention used a 2017 photo of someone's intricate cosplay to advertise a cosplay contest - a contest that person never participated in.


This page is running long, to that end let's leave it at saying trust your gut instincts - if something smells like shit, you might be close to stepping in it (unless you have already).