Table of contents
- About this report - how to read this report
- The programme - data - comments - response
- The venue - data - comments - response
- Food and drink - data - comments - response
- Equality and inclusion - fandom - welcome - age - ethnicity / race - disability - gender, sexuality, trans status - children - cost
- Other feedback - communication - comparison to 2013
- Survey design - comments - response
About this report
To make Nine Worlds 2015 a more enjoyable, inclusive and welcoming event, we think it's important to listen to what people are saying about their experiences. This report collates and responds to feedback on Nine Worlds 2014, and forms part of our planning for future events. It's also a good starting point for people wanting to find out more about the event, and for placing individual experiences in a wider context. It's worth noting that quotes used in the report are a representative sample only – a full recounting of what everyone wrote would take 60 pages for the survey feedback alone.
How to read this report
The entire report is one webpage. You can read from beginning to end by scrolling down, or use the links above to find specific parts. There are three elements to each section of the report:
- Data - We asked people to rate their experience on a scale from very negative to very positive, and summarised the results as a chart. In each chart, 0% means that everyone answered 'very negative', 33% means that the average response was 'somewhat negative', 66% means that the average response was 'somewhat positive' and 100% means that everyone answered 'very positive'.
- Comments - A selection of survey comments. These are meant to act as a cross-section of the complete set of comments, which extend to more than 60 pages. The data sections are often substantially more positive than the comments. We believe this is because the 2014 survey's design encouraged people to use the text fields to expand on problems and issues they had.
- Response - The organisers' response to the feedback we've received in this area. What our understanding of the feedback is, what issues and causes we've identified, what we're planning to do about it.
For more information about the survey's design and the methodology, there's a technical section at the end of the report.
Feedback about the programme
We asked two sets of questions about the programme at Nine Worlds. The first set was about the programme's overall organisation and running:
The second set was about individual content areas of the programme:
General comments on programme
Generally very good, it might an idea to have whiteboards or noticeboards available next time?
seemed a shame that several tracks only ran one day
The noise issue from the room next to the social gaming track meant it was impossible for me to attend these panels as someone with a hearing disability, and I had to leave one because it was so physically painful
is there some way to make sure that attendees at 18+ panels are 18+. Just asking them seems risky and more difficult for security at the door. Maybe wristbands that can't be removed for 18+ attendees?
Better communication to the hotel next time and make sure drop in spaces are open from the very start of the day (this would have been more than fine for our purposes)
As a pro author, I was hoping to be offered more appropriate panel invitations - I shall be more focused in my communications next year!
Exemplary in almost all respects - just a few niggles. Bijou Bar wasn't a great venue for RPGs, however the Storygasm people made the best of it.
Fantastic convention, looking to go again next year
I love being at Nine Worlds.
We could have done with an open quiet area, to rest between sessions without flitting lonelyly between benches.
I thought that sessions such as [an 18+ session] were inappropriate and unsuitable for this event.
Some of the best panels I have ever experienced.
Some of the early Friday sessions went off subject for large portions of the panel and also some of the panelist had limited knowledge of the subject.
Everything feels very 101; I'm sure this is great for welcoming new people to the discussions, but I would like more substance.
Most of the sessions were great.
Content was good at all I attended
The sessions I attended were all great and very wll organised, and the speakers were all very friendly and willing to discuss the topics further after the session was due.
Moderation was on the whole very good, and I think the guidelines are a great idea.
We were mostly happy with the moderation, but one or two panels weren't quite as well moderated.
I think it might be helpful next year to have a bit more guidance for panelists around how to use the microphones (I spent both my panels worried that I was inaudible) and also things like how long before the panel to meet up and whether/how to get in contact with other panelists beforehand. (The latter might be something track heads might need to organise.)
Moderators occasionally did not follow the guidelines, leading to one incident I witnessed of misgendering which upset the attendee.
One of the moderators had difficulty dealing with an audience member who would dominate discussion at the end, and regularly raise points mid talk.
Some sessions that I attended were better moderated than others. But generally very good
Both the room sizes and moderation were much improved from last year; there were a couple of sessions that risked degenerating into just rec lists, but the moderators steered the conversation to more substantial topics.
presenters should have been made to use mics. Many didn't and were inaudible. Very tough on those at the back and with hearing issues.
I liked the non-gendered selection of audience members to speak by moderators
You only notice moderation when its intrusive to discussion. There was some of this in a few sessions, but on the whole things were excellent handled. A few times the topic appeared to be a bit beyond the guests, but that can be dependent on your knowledge approaching it.
Choice of sessions
Absolutely brilliant programme, just wish I had more time to go to everything.
Really interesting collection of tracks, always something interesting during the day.
The diversity and content of the programme was very impressive. so much so that i will be coming back next year
Great to have so much choice, but tricky to make one and to find time to eat. Things running late is frustrating when tough session choices made.
My main suggestion would that it would be nice to have a bit more "unscheduled" activity. Like, access to boardgames or similar. Felt a bit like find from panel to panel with little in between. (Not that the panels were a hardship!)
Match of room size and session popularity
Room size/popularity match was a huge problem in 2013, this year it was perfect!
Some panels had way too few chairs.
Geek Feminism track was put in a tiny room and every session I went to was wildly oversubscribed. Doors shut, many people turned away.
Rooms generally matched content, though the more popular sessions like the mummies lecture could have had more suitable rooms.
There were still a few sessions with fairly popular guests that needed a bigger room, but again it was leaps and bounds beyond last year.
I think it's often hard to predict which sessions will be very popular, but certainly Only a Moment should have been in a room with more chairs.
Length of sessions
My attention span sometimes wasn't up to the length of the sessions, but I didn't feel pressured to stay in anything longer than I wanted which was lovely
Some sessions were very rushed, maybe having some longer ones would be useful.
The session length was perfect.
For some longer sessions a couple of minutes break might have been nice. Generally excellent though
Gaps between sessions
A slightly longer gap between sessions in the middle of the day to forage would be useful
There were occasions when I would have liked slightly longer between sessions, however I know this would probably have meant less of them, and I'd prefer a shorter break and the range of sessions.
Timing was rather tight, especially when sessions run over
The gaps between items was a great idea!!!
There was insufficient time to eat between sessions, and I didn't want to miss any sessions.
I never felt too rushed to get to the next thing (way better than last year!)
Gaps between sessions were fine but would be nicer if there was a bit longer for lunch and dinner scheduled in.
I love the gaps between sessions. Made eating and socialising much easier!
Schedule planning support
Cancellations/time shifts were very poorly communicated.
Loved the scheduling app!
The online schedule was terrible this year - session schedules were not updated with changes. Lanyrd was SO much better in 2013
The only problem with scheduling was in publicising changes to schedules and venues - there were often groups of confused attendees haunting the halls when this happened.
Bad hotel wi-fi coverage meant that online schedule planning was often unavailable
Had issues with mobile session planner on chromium browsers on my phone. Fortunetely firefox worked.
the online schedule was useful, but would be better if all events were clearly updated when moved or cancelled: some either disappeared mysteriously (instead of saying cancelled) or didn't get updated.
live updates to web programme were invaluable
App/web page was bloody brilliant.
The schedule app was really useful.
Planning app was brilliant.
Please coudl i ask, woudl it be possibel to produce the track listings on an A3 1 grid format? even if this is only emialed out, i was having a lot of trouble navigating the grid spread over multiple pages (dyslexia has its downsides).
Schedule information and session descriptions
It'd be more helpful in the lengthy descriptions of sessions to have them more closely grouped by day (or even morning/afternoon) rather than having to flick between timetable and session descriptions. Seriosuly though, what was in the book was pretty bloody impressive.
Would have been helpful if workshop sessions were clearly marked as such (e.g. in the Creative Writing track). Some sessions could have done with more content warnings - e.g. long unmoderated audience discussions of [rape and related topics] in [a guest]'s talk. The LGBTQIA track did an excellent job with content warnings - other tracks should follow their example.
I would have found it a little easier to use the timetables at the back of the "book of everything" if the time axis had been consistently scaled, and if it had been aligned across pages.
I am a very organised person so being able to create my own schedule online and then print it out was just awesome.
A few of the streams had evocative but not very informative descriptions, particularly the All The Books stream - we had no idea what sone of the panels were about, which meant that when there's so much choice available we might have missed out on something we would have enjoyed.
It would also help to be clearer on the difference between a panel where the audience sits and watches versus a group discussion in the room where the panel are experts.
General comments on programme tracks
What's not to like?!
Could somebody give mods and track runners on ALL tracks a LGBTQAI and Race/Culture primer they have to follow. So people know what gender identity and gender expression are, and other things I probably don't know much about. Maybe some stuff on disability and neurodiversity too. Most mods and track runners were fine and I never came across one who messed up on purpose but it seems like it'd be useful for mods/track runners of non-related tracks/etc to have.
Unfortunately most of these were of little interest to me, and I am no longer sure what intersection of geekdom I really belong in. I am obviously not as right-on and hand-knitted as you cater for, but I'm out of place at a mainstream media con. Alas!
It was awesome! So many things I only regret not having time to attend to them all!
the tracks were mostly awesome.
Too much fandom stuff, not enough science and astronomy.
The one thing that was really missing was a boardgames room. They're my favourite way to meet new people, and with impromptu games you've brought along, it's easier to always end up playing with the same old social circle. I wouldn't mind helping to organise one if that was the issue.
All the astronomy things were on Friday so I had less incentive to return Saturday or Sunday.
Can't judge the tracks I didn't attend, but I loved all the ones I did!
I loved the lgbtqia track, bifrost, haberdashery collective and knitting. Most things I went to were great.
Personally not a big fan of the very strong tracks, like to cross the streams a bit more.
The choice of tracks was overwhelming, astonishing and made sure there was never any time to be bored.
Lots of these tracks I didn't even go to but I am convinced they were superb, I had a great time and everyone was lovely and I'm telling everyone I know to come next year.
Really enjoyed the Future Tech track (went to 5-6 talks), books, food and comics
I have to admit there was so much going on I only dipped into a few things.
Was only there on Saturday so didn't get the chance to experience content across all tracks but the things I went to were excellent.
Such awesome. Many choice. So fun.
One or two of the tracks ([one] in particular) seemed muddled, ill-prepared and like the content had been thrown together. I liked the scope of the tracks, though, and think things could be vastly improved from a little more preparation and support for people new to organising a session.
Amazing selection as ever - had at least 2 things that were interesting in every slot. Keep up the great work!
Far too many of the panels consisted of people that all agreed with each other resulting in a lack of interesting debate but rather a sequence of people saying the same thing in a different way.
I spent most of my time in Geek Feminism, Race & Culture and LGBTQIA+, all of which had consistently excellent talks. The talks on other tracks I went to (several Academia, one Skeptics, one Ships/Clocks/Stars, one All The Books) were also very good.
More Food and Tech talks, please!
Sadly there wasn't enough time to get to something from every track, but I love that all these tracks were there.
Quality of sessions varied, some people are better speakers than others.
Comments on the mix of tracks and individual sessions
Trackwise, I know some people have suggested a Star Trek track for next year and I'd love to see that! I also think it might be fun to have a misc. track for things that don't fit elsewhere (a Bujold panel got mentioned quite a lot). The way I'd imagine this working would be that people who wanted to run panels would gather panelists and pitch their session to the track head. The track head would then be responsible for choosing which sessions would run and for suggesting people with similar ideas merge them, and redirecting panels that might fit better with other tracks. That way there'd be scope for panels on fandoms too small to support their own track, and for more general genre/trope panels that don't fall under the umbrella of feminism, LGBTQAI, Race&Culture etc. Kind of like some of the ones on the All of the Books track, but not just about books!
A dedicated room for board gaming would be awesome next year.
Would like con-long drop-in crafting room/place to go and knit with like-minded folk in gaps between other things
I missed the RPG and table top gaming tracks a lot this year! Could we have them back please.
I enjoyed the limited amount of Anime/Manga and MLP based sessions and would like to see more next year, perhaps within a dedicated animation track. I would also be willing to run some sessions in such a track myself, if I knew where to volunteer my services.
Really needed more board games/table-top gaming; Jim Butcher's dresden would be another suggestion...
enjoyed all the sessions I went to, but I wanted to make a specific mention of two people: Lauren O'Farrell, who spoke both about her own work and in the Political Needlepoints session, and was a warm and engaging speaker with so many interesting things to say. I left both her sessions really impressed and inspired. And Jaime, the track organiser for A Song of Ice and Fire, for the brilliant session on the portrayal of sex workers in the books. her speakers had some fascinating insights and the session was run very matter-of-factly, with none of the sensationalism that might have accompanied a similar talk at a different event.
I really missed the board gaming track from last year.
I've missed the awesome Harry Potter track from last year a bit, but the offer this year was amazing!
The data shows that attendees were, by a large majority, very happy with almost every aspect of the running and content of the programme. The error margins and general positivity of response make it difficult to single out individual tracks.
It looks as if the vendor options were slightly less popular than other areas. This is to some extent understandable and structurally unavoidable - residential high-content conventions don't easily mix with the kind of high-traffic expos that are required to make it worthwhile for large numbers of vendors to attend, and hotel convention venues in the UK lack the kind of space that would be needed. We're open to suggestions on how to improve on this, but we suspect one solution might be to better communicate what can be offered at this kind of event so that it comes closer to meeting people's expectations. The 2015 event will have a one day crafts market rather than a full time vendors room, and while that will likely have some impact on expectations it is not our preferred long term solution.
The least happy element of programme feedback was match of room sizes and session. We very much recognise this issue, which was also prevalent in the convention's first year and is something that conventions generally often struggle with. We're currently limited both in our ability to predict which sessions will require larger rooms, and to meet those requirements when we do identify them. One way of tackling this is to offer all tracks the ability to move sessions they expect to be popular to a larger space. While we offered this last time, we're going to encourage track organisers to think more carefully about this ahead of the 2015 event. In addition, we need to improve our management of rooms that do fill up, as it can become actively unpleasant for people trying to squeeze in or waiting in hope of entering a room that is already at capacity.
A lot of respondents gave specific suggestions in their feedback. While we can't respond to everything individually, we have made our organisers aware of individual feedback that affects their planning, and have some immediate responses to suggestions included above:
- 18+ sessions - We don't regard adult content as intrinsically unsuited to Nine Worlds, hence the existence of 18+ sessions. However, in accordance with our anti-harassment policy there are strict limits on explicit discussion unless clearly flagged beforehand and required by the topic at hand. While we have guidance on checking that attendees at these sessions are adults, this is not something we think requires blanket proof of age from all attendees.
- Moderation issues - We heard about the moderator misgendering at the time, and are sorry that it happened. We sent guidance to moderators on this and several other matters prior to the event, but did not run training sessions as it would be incredibly difficult to do that for hundreds of individuals all arriving and leaving at different times throughout the convention. It appears that most people were very happy with moderation overall, but we will work on the issues that were raised.
- Scheduling app - We're likely using the same app again this year as last, but will look at improving its instructions, our communication by other means, and providing large format schedules.
- Track suggestions - Several new tracks have been announced, and we're running at least one full time games room this year.
Feedback about the venue
This explored people's feelings about where Nine Worlds 2014 was held: how easy it was to get there, how well it worked as a convention venue, what it was like for socialising, and related issues.
General comments on the venue
It's a great venue
only issue was shared lighting controls and volume issues running the fanvids
The hotel itself was nice.
The venue itself was gorgeous, fanciest loos I've been to in a while.
the "luxury" carpets made it very difficult to use a wheelchair
It was good :)
I had no problems with the venue, and it was perfectly pleasant.
I'm not really a bar person, so those never entirely work for me.
Totally unsuitable - a real pain to get to and too expensive to stay for the vast majority of people. Loud, crowded and labyrinthine.
Overall the social spaces and session spaces were adequate. There were a few instances where demand was judged poorly or times when the social spaces became a little overwhelmed, but overall was good
Appreciated the car parking discount - thank you :)
I'm "very unhappy" with certain things relating to the hotel. First, they've charged me twice over for my stay. (Attempt to extract a refund are underway.) Secondly, I have never before – well, except at last year's Nine Worlds – had so much trouble with my room key repeatedly ceasing to work for no apparent reason.
Endless having to have the room keys reprogrammed at the front desk!
Some spaces in the venue were very very cold (airconditioning)
Overall, though, the venue was good. Much prefer having it all in one place.
I have run 3 cons in that hotel myself, so I guess I am biased.
Overall though preferred the Radisson to last year's venue - felt much easier to get between sessions
The Radisson's spaces were smaller than those in last year's hotel, and it felt that everyone was separated (not a lot of 'flow' to the space). Also, so many weird staircases!
Bedroom was nice though, and convention discount price was good value.
I thought the Renaissance (Nine Worlds 2013) benefitted from the big open-plan lobby - there's no similar space at the Radisson and the con felt kinda empty a lot of the time
The Radisson was a really nice venue, and easy to get to (once you'd got to Heathrow)
It was too hot
Loved the kids space.
Please could you put a reliable taxi number in the brochure too? A man on the reception was relucant to give me a number ' not hotel policy' (which turned out not to work anyway) and they also didn't offer to call me a taxi which suprised me- not great customer service for a lone woman! My hotel sorted it when I rang them.
Getting to the venue
Getting to the Radisson is easy enough, just long and tediuous.
The only problem I had getting to the venue was that the Heathrow trains don't let you use your Oyster card, which is frankly bollocks but is also something you can't do anything about!
Good instructions for getting to the hotel, especially actually mentioning the free buses from Heathrow
The location at Heathrow doesn't seem like a very good judgement. Didn't meet a single person the whole time who thought it was a good place to have it - although loads came in from out of town, all had come by train or flown into other airports.
Location was okay but still a bit of a nightmare to get to.
Understand why the con is there, but the Radisson is a pain to get to from Central London!
Travelling out to Heathrow is always annoying, but it was manageable, and better than a more expensive central venue.
They closed ALL the bridges over the Thames on the Sunday - not your fault but *please*!
Heathrow is a real pain to get to from the other side of London. 90min-2 hour commute at either end of the day went fun. I'd definitely prefer a mote central location. (Though the building was lovely)
Finding your way around the venue
Some of the session rooms were quite distant, so signage might be helpful.
Venue was a tad difficult to navigate, but very cool!
The Raddison layout is odd but the map and signposting were good.
The signposting was excellent!
The main lifts at the Radisson are a complete joke, both in size and the random nature of stopping and going up or down. We had a pram and were quite dependent on them, which meant some very long waits on occasion getting from our room on floor 2. More signage directing people to the stairs and requesting people use them would have helped.
Definitely a boon having the map on the inside cover of the programme, where it was easy to find quickly.
Social spaces at the venue
I feel like there needed to be a more general open social area with no specific purpose, like the bar/lobby of the Renaissance in 2013.
The social spaces could have improved, at least having areas where you didn't feel you had to buy something to sit.
a "village green" style social area with game tables, perhaps access to dealers room, inclusion of the "market" etc.. would create a more organic area to congregate in..
The massive landings on the 3rd floor were great social spaces.
The only good social space was the upstairs atrium, but it still wasn't easy to mingle and meet new people.
The social space in the atrium was great - cool, sunny and quiet.
I would have liked a bigger social area that was designated as such - a bit like LonCon3's Fan Village (but smaller, obviously!) where you could go and decompress or enthuse to others about all the IDEAS! that the sessions had just put into your brain, or to continue the conversation, etc. A proper dedicated 24/7 gaming (board/card) room would have been nice.
Session spaces at the venue
Session spaces were alright although they had an optimistic view of how wide the average geek bum is!!
Generally the session spaces were good, except for the DW/Whedon room where the noise from the other room leaked through.
Only suggestions are maybe a camera in the bigger demo sessions so close-up work could be projected onto a screen if possible
Radisson must have been trying to save on the air conditioning bill, it was very hot in some session rooms (had to leave cheese and cheese evening due to the temperature, not the cheesy writing...)
Some sessions had many people sitting on the floor, when there was plenty of room for extra seats to be added
Noise levels in the venue
Would be super helpful to ensure doors closed at session starts to avoid noisy echoes from marble corridors, as well, and maybe some thought to not placing loud, boisterous panels right next door to quiet ones...!
The atrium area was quite loud. I ended up using the film festival room as a quiet room, but I think a deviated quiet room, set up on a similar way (cushions, comfortable temperature, decent wifi) would be really helpful.
The only thing I could say is that in Saturday night the noise level of one the parties was so high I had trouble to sleep - but, hey, I'm not complaining! I wish I could be there (was too tried, alas... :(
Noise from other sessions were often a major issue in the rooms with temp partition walls.
Terrible noise pollution/bleedthrough. Hard to hear a lot of speakers.
Some noisy sessions were next to some quiet ones - especially the 'subdivided' rooms. Not horrendous but mildly irritating.
Maybe next time you could not schedule social gaming at the same time as a panel as it made it difficult to hear the audience/panelists.
Quiet space was useful but sound leaked from corridor next to it.
Sometimes the noise in the foyer was a bit much but that's kind of to be expected and there were quieter places to go.
The sound in the evening discos was too loud. The bifrost was bearable and not too bad though left ears ringing didn't mind too much. But the Highlander vs Flash Gordon one was so so loud.
Wifi and mobile signal
no WI-FI for 3 hours friday night and 2 hours saturday morning
Also I could not get the wi fi to work at all but the mobile signal was good.
Hotel is awful for mobile signal, and the wifi seemed to be struggling to cope in the middle of the day, resulting in being unable to reconnect after leaving the venue and coming back.
Though it did eventually get fixed the wifi signal playing up was a sure sign that whoever was in charge didn't organise it for that many people to start with.
Mobile signal wasn't great. Having wifi was very useful.
I don't think the WiFi was ready for so many geeks! It dropped a couple of times, but overall the venue was fine for me. My only concern would be if it will be big enough next time, as I hope the con grows.
Wifi struggled to cope with so many net savvy peeps in one place, not Nine Worlds fault or the venue's.
Venue feedback was more mixed than the programme's. Attendees were on average more happy than unhappy with all aspects of the venue, but the wifi and mobile signal was a close run thing, and social space and noise levels were both 'somewhat' happy.
In responding to venue feedback, it's important to acknowledge that some of the issues that affect people's experiences are beyond our control, and beyond the powers of the venue to address as well. Where this is the case, our available course is to be as clear as possible in setting people's expectations so they can plan accordingly.
Some identified issues and our responses to them follow:
- Mobile signal and wifi were difficult or impossible to access for large parts of the convention. Our tech team has looked into this, and we don't think there's a good solution that is within the budget of either the hotel or Nine Worlds for this year's event. A wifi network capable of withstanding the attentions of 1,500 bandwidth-hungry attendees would cost a lot of money, and short of placing mobile masts inside the building, there's not much way of changing the building's fabric and structure to help mobile signals penetrate better. We know of events (e.g. emfCamp) that have created their own high capacity wifi networks and internet connections for the weekend, but this is less achievable in our context.
- Temperature was too hot and too cold for roughly equal numbers of attendees, and we're unsure whether the cause was changing temperatures across the venue or differing experiences of the same temperature. During the convention, we made hotel staff aware when there were complaints about temperature, and it may be worth us taking along a thermometer this time.
- Getting to the venue was its most positive aspect. Two thirds of attendees are from outside London. The hotel's position off the M25 makes it more accessible than most inner London locations for private transport, and Heathrow itself has regular coach services to most parts of the UK in addition to rail, bus and underground services. It is, however, very time consuming for most London residents to visit the site each day rather than getting a room, which we believe may have worsened the experience for people who chose to do this. Travel issues should be slightly lessened this year as there are no major road or London Underground closures due on the weekend of Nine Worlds.
- Lifts are always challenging, as their capacity at most hotels is not meant to cover for a large conference with everyone changing room at once. We provided guidance to attendees about using stairs when possible, and about giving preference to people with mobility needs or other access issues. We also leave a long gap between sessions to lessen the strain.
- Social spaces were the source of several suggestions, mainly around improving the availability of seated areas or spaces suitable for board games. In response, we're designating one half of the Commonwealth ball room as a social / gaming space this year.
- Sound leakage between adjoining session rooms is difficult to avoid without a major reduction in the variety and quantity of content on offer, but was worsened by incorrect setup of the partition walls, which left gaps for the sound to get through. We intend to make sure they do it right this time, and noisier sessions will be pushed to rooms with better sound proofing where possible.
- Noise levels in discos and performances were occasionally too loud for some. In particular, Rhapsody's performance at the Flash Gordon / Highlander ball was very loud indeed. Our techs say that they asked Rhapsody's sound engineer to turn it down, without much effect. That situation won't reoccur this time.
Nine Worlds 2015 is taking place at the same venue. While it's imperfect in some ways, we think it's still the best venue that fits with our size, business approach and event type. We are committed to remaining in the London area, but we're actively looking at where to locate in the longer term, and will have more news on that later in 2015.
Feedback about food and drink
Serving pace in the bars was poor and the staff indifferent unless engaged with almost ebullient charm.
Surrounding area (particularly The Pheasant) gave some solid options, but in-venue was incredibly expensive and of variable quality (in particular the coffee at sessions & breakfast was awful)
Not enough vegetarian options for the £10 meals in the hotel restaurant
Hotel staff incompetent, made unnecessary comments about dietary requirements, food underwhelming, prices obscene. The McDonald's was better in every way!
The food and drinks were all massively overpriced - nearly £2 for a can of coke for example. The food itself was nice enough, but the staff varied between clueless, incompetent or just uninterested.
MEGA SLOW service in the bar downstairs, and they cranked the price for tea between Friday and Saturday. The sandwich stand was a lifesaver but it looked like they were very understocked and had poor variety.
Drinks were insane. £6.80 for a 330ml bottle? Got drunk in the room before going to the evening events...
Breakfast was great but the rest sucked.
it's Heathrow - the drinks and food is unreasonably expensive for most people. on the Sunday morning con guests were refused entry to trunk and those with dietary reqs couldn't get breakfast.
Food was decent and generously portioned. Probably a bit expensive for some con-goers. Not enough staff in the bar when con-goers were looking to refuel!
Some gluten/wheat free options would have been nice.
The bar was perpetually understaffed, varying between zero and one bartender at busy times
Some staff seemed to find serving "weirdos" beneath their dignity. Some were simply wonderful.
It is a hotel, but the prices for what I would call "basics" (i.e. bowl of chips, ham sandwich etc) were quite steep. Also the automatic addition of a gratuity to what is supposed to be a voluntary gratuity is a little underhanded. On the other hand, the food itself was of a high quality, the nine-worlds menu was very nice, so I see it a little as "swings and roundabouts". thank you for the food guide it meant we could find more reasonably priced food outside the venue in the evening so we could vary our diet a little. The Radisson staff were amazingly helpful and polite.
The discount on drinks didn't seem to be applied consistently, and they always added a "service charge" for ordering at the bar! Also the atrium bar prices were more than downstairs despite having cheaper brands of drinks
This was a big improvement on vegan provision from last year, so well done on that. Though I didn't really like the hotel's food, they had a few vegan options and took off unwanted ingredients when asked. The nearby italian was good value and had tasty vegan options, but was closed in the day. The nearby pub had no vegan food at all. The hotel bars were inconsistent in having soy milk, so I sometimes had to go to another part of the hotel to get soy milk. Still, this is an improvement on last year.
The supplying of free water is important and wonderful. Food was better than last year but lack of options still quite sad.
Excellent notes in the programme about special requirements, which made up for the hotel restaurant staff being unable to cope with a request for vegan food.
It did take a while to get served at the bar. Staff were always pleasant and friendly. The drinks seemed very expensive, even for London. Food was expensive, but not outrageously so. The food options seemed a lot better than last year.
I found the staff were always helpful when asked, although not always cheerful (though it was mostly one member of staff in the trunk who may have been having a bad day. in general I was happy with the service). One thing I would say is after having made a wonderful effort to give people the opportunity to choose not to interact with others (tags etc) on the first day we were pushed towards the big tables and we had to make it very clear on the second day that we wanted a table for two before the staff would seat us. in general though a great improvement on last year
The Radisson is a lovely space. The ability to sit and jot down some thoughts between panels and meet people over a meal (the special menu) was great.
Food and drink were the least popular elements of the survey, and the only topic with a question in which more respondents were unhappy than happy. Among attendees who had been present at the first Nine Worlds, there was recognition that food and drink options had improved. However, this does not excuse the experience of many attendees. The comments above are a relatively small selection of the many, many experiences shared by respondents.
As with other venue-related feedback, this can be difficult for us to address. Our hotel liaison worked to reach mutually agreeable deals with the host hotel on food and drink last year, but the final decision on pricing, range of food and drink, and service and capacity levels belonged to the hotel. Many of the things attendees are asking of us are things we asked for last year, and are asking for again this time round.
Looking at some of the specific issues raised, here are our hotel liaison's requests (*not* agreed plans) for 2015:
- Breakfasts were generally popular, although the sheer number of people resulted in attendees being moved to Newbury with a narrower selection and worse accessibility.
- Lunch options at the venue last year were limited, mainly involving sandwiches from the lobby cafe which could get long queues. This year, our liaison says 'I'll ask again that the Indian Restaurant be used as a sandwich eatery during lunch, with fixed prices on sandwiches, jacket potatoes and pizza. This will take the pressure off the lobby cafe. I asked this last year, and they refused.'
- Dinner options for the 2014 Nine Worlds menu were limited as a requirement of getting a set price. Our liaison responds 'I'll ask to keep the Nine Worlds fixed price menu from last year (at £10), but ask that they run two menus, one for Thursday and Friday, one for Saturday and Sunday to provide variety. Last year we had three meaty choices on the menu, plus one vegetarian. I'll ask this year that both menus include two vegetarian options, and either an additional vegan option, or an alternative on one of the veggie options to make it vegan on demand.'
- Snacks: 'The lobby cafe is open late on Friday and Saturday evenings offering sandwiches, jacket potatoes and pizza. I asked them to serve snacks upstairs during the parties last year. We should advertise more heavily that the Lobby Cafe is staying open late for us, and that room service will deliver anywhere.'
- Drinks: 'We've got drink prices fixed at 20% off, with no tip, at the con bar. I'll ask that these prices be respected at the Bijou bar as well. That gives us the a cost of £3.85 for a bottle of beer or cider (like Meantime Pale Ale or Magners). I will ask if they are willing to stock additional drinks, and if so, I'll ask for suggestions (maybe a poll) and give the hotel our top three requests.
'I'll ask for a fixed price for tea/coffee at the con bar and the Bijou bar. We had a fixed price for soda at the Lobby Cafe of £1.50 per can, and I'll ask that be extended to the con bar and the Bijou bar.'
Our view is that a wide range of options, cheap prices, and suitable capacity would be profitable for the host venue and enjoyable for attendees. We will continue to advocate for these, and will give clearer guidance on what food and drink will be available from which locations at which times beforehand. We would advise that attendees read our guidance on food and drink both outside and inside the venue before coming to the event, and plan accordingly. Longer term, people's feedback will play into our decisions on where to host future events.
Feedback about equality and inclusion
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to:
As in all sections, the scores are derived from our survey responses, in this case choosing between 'very excluded', 'somewhat excluded', 'somewhat included', and 'very included'. These are turned into a percentage where 100% means that every respondent to a question said they felt 'very included', and 0% means every respondent said they felt 'very excluded'.
This section has added complexity, as many of the responses need to be broken down further. The questions do not by themselves distinguish between people of groups or identities that could alter their experience of the question. For example, many respondents to the gender question are men, many to the trans question are cis, many to the sexuality question are heterosexual. In particular, note the breakdowns for age, ethnicity, disability status, gender, trans status, and sexuality rather than the overall figure. Those breakdowns are included in the following sections.
General comments on inclusivity
I also never felt shamed for my body type.
Easily the most welcoming and thoughtyfully organised event I have ever been to. I especially liked the coloured tokens to show if we were ok to chat and gender neutral facilities. The welcoming sessions were a great idea too.
Loved 2013 when it felt decidedly non standard con. This year has reverted to standard con feel, and all the more disappointing for that - but then 2013 was a hard act to follow.
its an awesome event. I praised highly this last year and will again this year. As a straight white middle class fully able male I fit in everywhere on appearances, but the open and loving atmosphere is good for the hidden parts (highly introvert/autistic side) I will add here, as I can't see other space, shame there was no Brony track. not just because I am a Brony, but it was a fun room last year. felt that was a little !missing this year and needs to be watched to make sure the con doesn't just become too serious (doesn't have to be Brony, but a chill out area with music/games etc would be good)
But, like, I'm white/cis/abled so *obviously* I felt included on those fronts...
Brilliant work! I'd heard many bad things about conventions and equality and so had avoided in the past. Your making inclusivity the top priority was wonderful, and heartening.
Nine world's inclusivity is its main strength to me.
Nine worlds is usually really good with these things relative to other cons, at least from the point of view of a white genderqueer bi person. But it seems like the inclusivity and diversity is rather weaker on some tracks, and I notice this despite mostly avoiding tracks where I suspect the panelists will be less aware of things. If the race and culture and LGBTQIA+ tracks could give out some basic information on what not to do, and how to avoid being exclusive or alienating audience members or co-panelists to all of the other moderators and panelists, that might be a way of spreading around the knowledge. (Also geek feminism too, and the disability track if that exists next year.) It would only solve some of the problems, but would be a start.
The atmosphere was great. I wish life was always like that!
Some things said about Nine Worlds have more than a hint of Guardian-columist-identity-politics-warrior-masquerading-as-social-justice-activist about them. Fortunately this doesn't seem to have compromised the event.
Felt like most inclusive event I'd ever been to.
Overall, huge congratulations on again the most inclusive Con of them all, and one that is leading the way for other COns to follow (and they ARE beginning to notice the great work you are doing). I am a big fan of 9 Worlds -- my comments, where grouchy-sounding are really intended to help fine-tune your event, so please do not take them too hard...I attend a lot of professional conferences in my job and so am judging by high standards :)
I feel like I wrote nothing but nitpicks!! I want to say how much fun I had, how much fun my friend had (it was her first con). Nine Worlds has gone from strength to strength, and I can't wait for 2015.
I found the convention as a whole to be accepting of all races, genders and sexuality, keep up the good work :)
Being a con that is inclusive/respects anxiety and autism issues is great, I suffer anxiety and while I didn't wear a red clip throughout the weekend, I did occasionally use it as required. However I also felt like the emphasis on being careful of others social limitations did at times in itself become socially limiting, as discussions on our outside panels etc were stopped or stilted due to concerns of causing offence or unknown triggers. It is a difficult line to walk, I do not envy you and still think you do it better than any other con.
Comments on badges
Disappointed with the communication preference badges - I chose blue because I thought it meant 'it's okay to talk to me' but was disgusted to find that a label of 'shy' had been retroactively imposed on me, which I hadn't agreed to when I put it on. The red and yellow badges didn't have a reason attached to them, so I don't see why the blue badge did. Also I didn't really understand the difference between red and yellow badges and didn't think it was made clear.
the badges about pronouns were a great touch - as were the signs advising that "not all impairments are visible".
I really liked the communication preference chips, but I don't think the absence of one should be assumed to be the same as wearing a blue one: I think the absence of a chip should indicate something like "I'm not actively looking to meet new people, but I'm happy to talk to them!". I think it would also have been good to have information about the no-photos lanyard and who the priority seating was for more prominently displayed - possibly reminder signs up like for the communication chips?
I really liked the pronouns badges and the communication tags, but the note that advised only to take one if you really needed them (as numbers were limited) was problematic.
Extra love for the cosplay tokens system, it was the loveliest.
It seemed confusing that the Gollancz lanyards were yellow, when I understood yellow lanyards to mean don't photograph.
Response on badges
In general, attendees appreciated the availability of pronoun badges, communication clips, cosplay tokens, and no-photo lanyards. The communication clips suffered from miscommunication in a couple of instances, for which we apologise. We will be making all of these available again this year, in greater numbers, and with clearer communication about their meaning.
I was vaguely worried beforehand that I had to like everything, even though I don't watch Doctor Who, but found my niche fast.
Most of my fandoms/interests were represented, however I would be very happy to see anime represented more in future. Also I'm repeating myself but I'd like table top gaming and rpgs back please! It was great to know you could always go catch a game in free time or in the evening as a lovely social activity.
I feel there could have been more coverage of more 'mainstream' fandoms or interests with the slant that the fest gives.
[From a non-attendee] Nine Worlds pitches itself as encapsulating all aspects of "geek" culture. In fact it appears to have a strong bias towards the noninteractive, with "fandoms" and community/culture topics (important as they are) seeming to overshadow actual play of roleplaying games and video games.
There's a really good range of tracks, but I'd enjoy more focused discussion of particular book series (say, Vorkosigan Saga, Toby Daye), I missed the Harry Potter track from last year, and I think a Star Trek track would be good!
It would be awesome to get at least some vague idea of each year's tracks up and proposed by the time you're selling tickets.
Response on fandom inclusion
This reprises the choice of sessions / choice of tracks questions earlier in the survey, but asking in a different way does lead to some new responses. Note also the breakdown of fandom inclusion by gender, sexuality and trans status later in the survey. Support for actual playing of games remained high this time round, and we have a dedicated games room team this year to support this. Anime and Star Trek will also be represented in 2015. Regarding the split between 'mainstream' and more esoteric fandoms, we try to cover many, many fandoms, and arguably that very breadth of content can lead to some of the more traditional 'headline' elements being submerged in the wider flow. The point about track information releasing late is valid - the vast majority of ticket holders buy before we release the names of this year's tracks, let alone the guests or actual content. This is a function of our current organising approach, and while we're reviewing this and looking to tighten up, it's unlikely we'll know all of our tracks a year in advance for some time.
Your Nine Worlds welcome / befriending events
Nine Worlds was one of the two most welcoming cons I have ever attended (the other being GeekGirlCon in Seattle)
Much easier to join conversations and make friends than other cons I've been to.
It's a very inclusive conference and that remains one of it's strong points. I would have liked more effort to mingle - perhaps introduce a mingling token, like you did with the cosplay tokens (which were awesome!)
I spoke to a couple of people in the three days: no one spoke to me
The new person greaters were a great idea!
The noob meet-up was not very well presented in the bar - a few specially marked tables would have helped get everyone together. Anothetr couple of volunteers on hand would have given everyone a better chance to get to know each other.
The volunteers/staff and all the speakers could not have done more to make us feel included.
The greeters and the welcome sessions were viewed positively, and we'll be continuing with them this year.
We asked people their age in years. To maintain privacy and show overall patterns, we've summarised age by decade as follows:
We also asked people how included or excluded by Nine Worlds they felt with regard to their age. Broken down by age group, the inclusion scores are as follows:
Comments on age inclusion
As the average age was young - no bad thing - I felt slightly uneasy being an old git, but that prob says more about me than 9W!
Though I felt included I did feel the con was aimed at a younger demographic and there certainly did not seem to be any 55+ around that I could see.
Nine Worlds is quite ageist, I didn't always feel welcome or safe as an obviously older person, rather it was "what are you doing here? This is my space".
Age demographic felt predominantly 25-35ish; felt a bit old at 45. Great friendly atmosphere though - my fault;
I've just ticked "very included" for pretty much everything - because I generally felt very included despite having "privilege yahtzee". I did feel slightly old, but that was a _good thing_. I'm used to feeling young at cons despite being in my late 30s! At every other con, I feel too YOUNG, so this was a nice change...
Organiser response on on age inclusion
We grouped the individual ages by decade to preserve privacy and identify wider patterns. With 40% of respondents in their thirties and 30% in their twenties, there's a clear prevalence in representation of those age groups at the convention. We don't regard greater prevalence of some age groups as being intrinsically undesirable. However, it's important that everyone who does attend is made to feel welcome and included regardless of age.
Unfortunately, the number of respondents in less prevalent age groups drops off so rapidly that their inclusion scores aren't statistically significant. The feedback comments back up the contention that some older attendees felt excluded or out of place by reason of their age, while some were more ambivalent about the preponderance of younger attendees. It's not clear to us how much this is due to lower visibility of older attendees, how much to the convention's content and presentation, and how much to exclusionary behaviour by younger attendees. We're continuing to monitor and consider how best to respond to this issue, and would welcome suggestions on improving our inclusivity to people of all ages.
Inclusion of younger people with regard to their age was not captured by this question in any way, owing to a lack of direct responses by people in younger age groups. Child-friendly content is dealt with elsewhere in the report.
Ethnicity / race inclusion
The survey asked respondents to identify their ethnicity by ONS super-category. Subcategories were not requested as the likely number of respondents would not have given statistically significant results at that level. However, an option to self-identify was also included. The resulting ethnic representation was as follows, with super-categories marked by a *:
Per ONS super-category, this is how included people from different ethnicities felt with regard to their ethnicity:
It's worth noting that this chart has a very high margin of error, statistically speaking, as the number of respondents from ethnicities other than 'white' and 'mixed / multiple ethnic groups' was below normal thresholds for statistically significant results. However, we wanted to represent this feedback regardless, as it would be unfair to ignore views from groups that were too small.
Comments on race and ethnicity inclusion
ethnicity is a strange one. It wasn't necessarily anything the organisers could have done. Everyone was very friendly but certain panels/people made me feel an 'other'. it wasn't deliberate but maybe track organisers could be reminded with their use of language and 'whiteknighting'. Being expected to have an [opinion on something] because of my ethnicity was also annoying (only happened once)
It was so great talking about being a black woman gamer and seeing people nod when I pointed out all the problems of representation that I face. It's a really lefty, feminist/social justice crowd and it was awesome.
Race and Culture and LGBTQAI tracks were great, but thinking about those issues would have improved the other tracks immeasurably.
Also I would have liked to have seen more P.O.C. on the panels, any of the panels.
I also saw several cases where POC experiences were ignored or dismissed. (Disclaimer: I am a white person.)
it might be nice to have one or more panels in future that were only open to people of colour. There was concern about how that might conflict with Nineworlds' inclusive policy. As a white person, I would have absolutely no objection to PoC only panels.
[From the programme feedback:] Incredibly racist [track] "diversity" talk -- they screwed this up last year too by shouting at [someone]
[From external feedback:] A panelist called me a "troll" for speaking up about cultural appropriation. Only POC on panels were in race/ethnicity track
We moved a comment from elsewhere in the survey to this section, and included another that was shared online, as they captured particularly strong experiences that we wanted to ensure were included.
Organiser response on race and ethnicity inclusion
A note on terminology: we used the ONS ethnic super-categories for monitoring purposes and refer to ethnicities accordingly in that context. In the context of representation of different groups, we also use 'person of colour'. We're aware that not all people agree with this language, but it appears to be the most widely accepted at present. This response was written by a white British person, who would welcome corrections or further comments.
The 2011 UK census listed the following proportions of the population of England and Wales under the available ethnic super-categories: White (86.0%), Mixed / Multiple ethnic groups (2.2%), Asian / Asian British (7.5%), Black / African / Caribbean / Black British (3.3%), Other (1.0%). Our own survey showed these as, roughly: left blank (6%), White (85%), Mixed / Multiple ethnic groups (5%), Asian / Asian British (1%), Black / African / Caribbean / Black British (2%), Other (1%). At first glance, the proportion of white attendees might look like good news for racial diversity and inclusion at Nine Worlds. However, there are confounding factors: the likely prevalence of white attendees among the 6% left blank, the third of our attendee base coming from London (where only 60% of residents identified as white in the last census), and the higher proportion of non-white ethnicities among younger age groups in the UK. When these are taken into account, the picture looks rather less rosy.
Bearing in mind that the numbers involved leave a wide margin for error, the most under-represented ethnic super-category is without doubt Asian / Asian British. The number of people identifying with this category was seven times lower than prevalence in the wider population. Black / African / Caribben / Black British attendees were also substantially less numerous than in the wider population. Interestingly, people from Mixed / Multiple ethnic groups attended at more than twice the national population prevalence.
Regarding the comments about offensive content, we have received no formal complaints about racism at Nine Worlds. But then, we've received almost no formal complaints about anything at Nine Worlds. In our view, a small number of panels fell foul of the basic 'nothing about us without us' rule of discussing marginalised groups, and some of them took being called on it as an insult rather than a fair challenge. While there are arguments that organisers tried their best to get appropriate ethnic representation and in some cases only failed at the last minute, it was a mistake to set up panels where representation was fragile in the first place. This is something we can and will improve on, and an area where we've failed to provide enough guidance to and oversight of track organisers. We also need to improve on people's knowledge of and confidence in using formal complaint mechanisms.
As a side note, we also heard that people of colour on one panel were being coded as white by attendees and challenged on that basis. We would urge everyone to be careful about assuming race or ethnicity of other attendees.
We're still exploring what this means, and how to improve the event's attractiveness to and inclusion of under-represented groups. Despite the issues raised, plus the less tangible but more pervasive micro-aggressions and othering mentioned in the feedback comments, inclusion scores were still more positive than negative in every ONS super-category. Part of our approach to maximal inclusion has to involve tackling the negative experiences that make people of colour feel excluded, but part of it must therefore also lie in making the event more attractive in the first place. An obvious starting point is increasing representation among organisers and speakers, and relatedly doing rather more to try and measure this. We've also been partnering with Con or Bust to make attendance more affordable, and are looking at locating more centrally as a way of lowering indirect barriers to engagement. We will hopefully be able to discuss progress on these actions in future reports.
The survey asked respondents to identify if they were disabled. There is potential for error here as a number of people did not complete this section, meaning that 'not identified disabled' is not the same thing as 'not disabled'. However, the results were as follows:
Per disability status, this is how included respondents felt with regard to their disability status:
Comments on disability inclusion
A disability track would be a great addition.
Thank you for the reserved seating that was particularity useful for me as i have wlakign difficulties
I have an invisible disability - chronic pain in my joints particularly my shoulders which affects how long I can stand and my endurance. I'm young and female and often get glares on eg public transport for sitting in the disabled seats, and often hurt myself trying to pretend to be able bodied just to avoid the condemnation. I was so, so touched when people would give up their chairs for me no questions asked at sessions where they were short, and at the signs that reminded people not all disability is visible. I still didn't feel able to sit in the 'priority seating' - silly I know - due to my hang ups over being told off for that sort of thing in the past, though I don't really know what could be done about that!
I have ASD and I thought that if anything, ASD-related discussion were allowed to dominate a bit more than they really should have at times.
I felt mostly that people were really understanding about my disability, but the venue was tricky.
Glad to see the ramps in the Atrium, but hotel still has access issues.
Social breakfast not great for ASD
For the reasons discussed above, the precise percentage of people who identified as disabled at Nine Worlds is uncertain, although it is likely above 11%. This compares with disabled prevalence of 15-19% in the working age population, where age is a confounding factor due to the disproportionate age representation of attendees. People who identified as disabled felt mostly included with regard to their disability status, although probably slightly less so than people who did not identify as disabled. The badge feedback is discussed elsewhere, and also seemed positive overall. We are running more content focused on disability this year. We agree that the venue has some access issues, which are discussed in the venue section of feedback, and these will feed into future decision-making about venue location. Enforced socialisation at breakfast is to some extent an unavoidable consequence of the number of people taking breakfast in a short time period and the overall capacity of the hotel, although we do our best to offer e.g. quiet rooms and communication clips in mitigation. We have a new access co-ordinator for 2015, Jane, who would be happy to receive further feedback, suggestions and requests at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gender, sexuality, trans status inclusion
Respondents were given a selection of tick boxes and a free text box to identify by. All of the free text responses were unique, except for 'Asexual'. The results were as follows:
We asked about people's experience of their inclusion with regard to gender, trans status and sexuality as separate questions, and have presented a breakdown of results for each, split by gender / sexuality / trans status. This gives somewhat more involved results than other sections, as there are numerous interacting responses. We haven't calculated figures for the intersection of statuses and identities, partly for reasons of privacy, partly because the numbers involved would preclude meaningful analysis. We've also calculated inclusion rating for fandom or geek interests broken down by gender / sexuality / trans status, just out of interest.
- We may be able to put together further results if you have specific requests, but breaking down the entire survey by these statuses would entail a lot of work and would damage individual privacy.
- The trans status inclusion question initially absent, but was added a few minutes after initial publication of the survey in response to the suggestion of someone completing it. This will have reduced the number of responses on trans status by one or two results, but should not have a major impact on the overall direction of the results.
- In all of the charts, 'Other – Asexual' has been split out from 'Other – Various' as the number of people identifying as asexual reached a level of some statistical significance. Individual question averages are not included as the same people can be counted multiple times.
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to your gender:
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to your trans status:
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to your sexuality:
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to your particular fandom or geek interests:
Comments on gender, sexuality, trans status inclusion
I'm white, cis able-bodied female so I can't give you much inclusion data for other things, but for gender I felt that in the panels and talks I went to, the positive lack of sexism and inclusion and respect for female voices in my fandoms (which are quite male-dominated - video games and comics) was an immense relief and a really encouraging experience.
The pronoun badges are a great idea. There needs to be much more of them, though - I know several trans women who were unable to get one, as they ran out of 'she' very early on. Having them reserved for trans people would not be a solution - it marks out trans people and without a critical mass of people wearing them nobody looks for them. I also appreciated the communication preference clips. The moderation guidelines on not gendering audience members etc. was really useful, but somewhat patchily followed. Especially in the sessions which were not formal panels [...] the presenters appeared to have no idea of several of the guidelines. I was happy to see straight white cis men as the minority in all of the panels I attended.
The provision of gender neutral toilets was absolutely fantastic and removed almost all of the stress I associate with being out in public. Thank you!
This felt like a safe space to be genderqueer and visibly femme - a unique occasion in my life so far.
I answered the trans part though I'm not trans because my partner was mis gendered both by hotel staff and by another guest. I don't know if there is anything you can do about the staff but could you maybe include some information about gender and a 101 of Things Not To Say If You Think Someone Is Trans so people don't make those mistakes?
I felt very included by Nine Worlds Geek Fest and I love how inclusive you are being however as a male writer I did find myself a part of the only demographic that is openly mocked and ended up attending different panels to avoid that.
Admittedly, as a white cis able-bodied man, I wouldn't have felt too out-of-place at most conventions, but Nine Worlds was incredibly welcoming not just to me but to my friends, many of whom are trans and/or queer.
I felt my presence as a woman was welcomed, and although there was the odd man in the occasional session drowning out women's voices, for the most part mods were excellent in handling that.
Elsewhere in this section, we've tried to compare prevalence of identities at Nine Worlds with their prevalence in the wider population. Unfortunately, the proportion of gender and sexual minorities in the wider population cannot be accurately ascertained as results vary significantly according to methodology. Even so, the prevalence of many GSM identities at Nine Worlds was in many cases an order of magnitude higher than most estimates of prevalence in the general population. Additionally, there were twice as many women as men. This puts us in the unusual position of having heterosexual cis men as, relative to their presence in the wider population, possibly the most scarce attendee group with regard to gender / sexuality / trans status. To be very clear, we don't think that this makes them in any way a marginalised group within the context of the convention, given their wider culture visibility and privilege and their still-high prevalence in absolute numerical terms. We do think that it highlights the high proportion of women and gender and sexual minorities in our attendee base. We also don't regard this split as in any way a bad thing, although we worry that maintaining and building on the current levels of visibility and inclusion will become more challenging if the make-up of the attendee base changes over time.
Digging further into people's experiences, there was no statistically significant difference in feelings of inclusion between different groups - everyone felt very included regardless of gender, sexuality or trans status. On a qualitative level however, feedback does point to a number of individual experiences of exclusionary behaviour, e.g. misgendering, men talking over women. We shared guidance with moderators and speakers about not gendering attendees, ensuring everyone got a chance to speak, and appropriate behaviour generally, but these were not shared with attendees as standard. There's a suggestion elsewhere in the report that we should provide guidance more generally around race, gender and other inclusion issues to all attendees, and it's something we're considering. In the meantime, we've put clearer guidance in this year's convention booklet, and will be working to ensure all moderators and speakers are made fully aware of our expectations on their behaviour. Also, with regard to the badge feedback, there will be substantially more pronoun badges this year.
On a personal level, we're extremely happy that so many people feel comfortable in being themselves at Nine Worlds.
Parents and children inclusion
There was no inclusion question asking whether people felt included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to their parental responsibility. However, there was a question asking whether people had childcare responsibilities. The results were as follows:
It would be possible to calculate an average of other inclusion scores across the section for those with and without parental status, but we have not done this as there are too many confounding factors. Our apologies for the lack of a proper parental inclusion question this time round - we will include this in next year's feedback form. In the meantime, the nearest proxy is the happiness score for the 'Kids programme' track:
Comments on parent & child inclusion
[This refers to the lack of a parental inclusion question] Also, status as a parent should be listed above.
There were comments on the quality of the kids programme and the venue's suitability for children in other sections of the survey, but no other comments in the inclusion section. We believe this is largely the result of our failure to properly solicit feedback about parent/child inclusion, which we apologise for and will aim to rectify in future feedback. In addition to the 5% figure for attendees with childcare responsibilities, our own ticket sales show that only a very small proportion of 2014 ticket buyers bought tickets for children aged 5-15. Although there weren't any specific comments about this in feedback, we're considering reducing the relative cost of child tickets in future years to improve affordability.
From feedback elsewhere, it's apparent that the children's play area, children's art and drama track, and child-friendly sessions across the rest of the convention were seen as well-liked and useful last year, and we will continue them this year. There were no comments about the provision of childcare through Event Childcare. We're continuing that as well this year. If you have any questions about children's facilities at Nine Worlds, contact us by Twitter or Facebook, or get in touch with our kids co-ordinator Helena by email.
Did you feel included or excluded by Nine Worlds with regard to the cost of attendance:
Comments on affordability inclusion
Membership is expensive
The whole thing was great, honestly, though I did find it a little expensive. Between the hotel, tickets, travel to London and the massively overpriced food and drink in the hotel, it added up to quite a lot. I know these things are generally unavoidable, especially with it being based in London, but it still stung a bit.
Hey, it can ALWAYS be better value for money :) Not that I don't think it is...but cheaper is always better :)
the cost of attendance was not so much an issue as the cost of being in the Radisson for a weekend.
The event ticket prices were amazing value, but the hotel's location meant there wasn't really any budget accomodation nearby, so I stayed on site, which was more expensive than I had hoped, even with a room share.
Very well priced for what you got.
Cost of attending on your own is quite expensive, as single occupancy hotel room is about the same price as double occupancy.
Costwise, the tickets are a bargain. I'd happily pay more. I found the hotel extremely expensive though, and the deals for Nine Worlds attendees weren't great - I don't think the wording was clear, as what I thought a good value price for the weekend was an excessive price for one night. I'll pay much more attention next time.
[From a non-attendee] Also, the cost is incredibly high, which I assume is mostly the venue? (This may be unavoidable, but I thought it worth mentioning since it's the main reason I was unable to attend.)
I would not have been able to attend if I wasn't a panellist, though I recognise that it is FAR more reasonably priced than most cons!
I think for a 3 day event, the price is quite reasonable (the hotel room price, not so much though).
I think the cost might become an issue as it increases over the years.
Everything was great. I did have to borrow money to afford the ticket + hotel + travel though.
The cost is very reasonable for a residential con. I think you've pitched it just right.
Ticket = brilliant value for money considering the range of things to do. Would have loved to stay at the venue too but £160 a night was two much, if you could negotiate better family rates there or nearby that would be awesome.
Event was fantastic - but bar and food prices too high and Radisson Blu was beyond our price range. Working classes excluded by cost!
While there was general recognition that what Nine Worlds provides is good value for money, there was a split between people who liked the hotel and those who found it and other local accommodation options very expensive. As background, we estimate that for a single, non-sharing attendee to stay from Thursday until Sunday, the Nine Worlds ticket price makes up a quarter of their total cost, before food, drink and travel are factored in. We don't have an immediate solution for this. There are limits to our negotiating power with the current venue, and alternate, London-based venues that offer free conference facilities for over 1,500 people and can put them all up are extremely limited. We generally pay ticket and accommodation costs for full time volunteers and organisers, which offers one avenue for people wanting to experience the event on a budget, but that can only apply to a very limited number of attendees, as would any kind of helping hand fund. A more thorough solution would involve either setting up some kind of cheap accommodation and transport route elsewhere, or moving to a venue with a wider range of accommodation options. We're exploring both of these, but can't promise that a solution is there to be found. We could also try to find a way of offering differentiated ticket, such that people with more money could be incentivised to buy more expensive tickets. This is something else we're considering, but we're very wary of introducing different 'classes' of attendee.
We initially intended to include questions about our communications, customer service, and general non-convention experience, e.g. purchasing, registration, mailouts, ease of finding what you needed etc. This didn't make it in due to time and space constraints. We're aware of a number of issues around email response times, oversight of individual mailboxes, difficulty of transferring tickets, difficulty of re-accessing ticket purchase information through the website, and late publication of convention details including guests and tracks.
Comparisons to 2013
The 2013 survey was non-numeric and thus the Likert scores cannot be reasonably compared. Attendees occasionally drew direct comparisons, some of which are included in the comments elsewhere in the survey. Common themes in these are that the event was run more professionally and smoothly, and that many of the problematic issues had significantly improved, specifically availability of food and drink, programme guidance, signage and directions. However, there were occasional concerns that the event was becoming more generic or losing something 'special', and that the Radisson's atrium was less sociable than that of the Renaissance. There was also annoyance at the lack of dedicated gaming space.
As organisers, our experience was that the second Nine Worlds was generally better organised than the first, partly because of lessons learned in the first year, partly because it had a much longer lead time instead of launching via Kickstarter six months before the event's due date.
From the survey, the vast majority of people appear to have had a very good Nine Worlds experience, which marries with the informal feedback we received. At both events, there were a small minority who did not enjoy or feel part of the event. While this is to some extent unavoidable in any large social situation, part of the point of getting feedback is understanding why this might be the case and how we can maximise people's enjoyment of the event.
220 responses were used in compiling the results of the survey. We were hoping to mine blog posts, emails and the like for further responses, but did not have capacity to take this on in addition to the survey. The 220 responses were the result of cleaning up 237 submissions received from the feedback form to remove duplicates and merge split submissions. The form was released on 26th August 2014 and closed on 5th September 2014, and was advertised through our mailing list, and on Facebook and Twitter:
- To maintain respondent anonymity, the original response data is not included in this report.
- Instead, we present collated information and representative comments taken from the feedback form.
- A screenshot of the survey form and its accompanying instructions is available as an image attachment.
- The numeric data used in building the charts is available as a Google sheet.
- There is a document which lists identified sources of error and what we did to correct them.
- The selection of survey questions builds on themes identified in last year's feedback report, which used free answer text boxes with sentiment analysis.
- Many questions used a forced Likert scale, with the option to not reply if the responder didn't have a view or didn't wish to answer. In the statistical analysis, we've made the slightly dubious assumption that these can be represented by equidistant numerical values in order to derive an 'average' response.
- We then made the even more dubious assumption that the formula sqrt((1300-n)/1299)*0.98*sqrt(1/n) can be used to derive a margin of error for each mean Likert score. We're open to suggestions on improving this, but the intention was to make the direction and reliability of sentiments as visible as possible, rather than guaranteeing 95% confidence. In particular, there may be issues with not using a t-score calculation for low sample size results in the inclusion section.
Last year, the survey was designed to elicit both positive and negative text responses. This year, a lot of responders used the 'tell us more' text fields to expand on particular negative issues they encountered. This led to a disconnect between the often-positive feedback figures and the comments, which are more negative. This is reinforced by the tendency of people to write something along the lines of 'Everything was great except for the following..', which yields one uncategorisable positive comment and a list of negative comments covering several categories. Of the 220 survey responders, 186 identified as attendees, 45 as speakers or performers, 24 as volunteers or organisers, and 2 as non-attendees. 1 responder did not select any response to the question about the nature of their attendance. Based on their text field responses, we counted them as an attendee. The questionnaire was designed and the report compiled by Daniel Johnston, one of the core organisers of Nine Worlds, with input from the Nine Worlds organising team and from Dan Cyren Karlsson.
Feedback on survey design
A number of people commented on the survey design:
See every Somewhat Happy above? That is really a "Neither Happy or Unhappy", but you did not give that option.
Again N/A option would be good for this survey.
Yo, You need a "trans status" box
The "Survey design notes" box covers up the right side of the survey questions on my browser (Safari 5.1.10 on Mac OS X 10.6.8). This makes it difficult to complete the survey.
OK. Nobody can get to everything. This is good. I've cheated. If it's very unhappy it didn't tickle my fancy. Anything else I went to at least one of. Or would have liked to!
You should include an N/A option for those of us who didn't expereince soem of the above.
NB. only attended Books/Creative Writing/Film tracks so entered 'Somewhat Happy' for everything else -- your survey needs a 'Did Not Attend' option; also, whilst we are on the subject, this is the 2nd time I have tried to fill in this comments section and the box is really REALLY awkward to type into and check back over your statement (YOU try it and see!); if you accidentally hit the X everything you have typed is instantly deleted -- BOO!
The most common issue was the lack of a middle option or a 'no opinion' option in the Likert scale questions. The survey instructions asked people to ignore questions they had no views on, but this was occasionally missed. There were also some user interface issues that stymied a few respondents.
During analysis, we also ran into issues with the measurement of parent/child inclusion, and the proportion of people with disabilities, owing to errors in survey design.
From an organiser perspective, there were operational issues that make the current feedback approach unsustainable. In the first year, an external professional carried out the work, under a somewhat different survey approach. The amount of work proved onerous, hence taking a Likert scale approach with small text boxes in the second year. There was no word limit on the the text boxes, however, and people contributed more than 60 A4 pages of text feedback that required breaking down into around 60 subject areas. The amount of work involved was outside our budget and the capacity of external workers, so one of our organisers had to volunteer full time for several weeks, analysing and summarising the results. The delay in producing final feedback also makes it less valuable, as some of our 2015 plans had to go ahead without taking account of the survey feedback.
While we remain committed to understanding and responding to the experiences of attendees, the survey in its present form is unrepeatable. We're open to suggestions at email@example.com, with current options for 2015 feedback including:
- Hiring an external survey professional to design and analyse the feedback survey. We have a strong preference for feedback to be handled out-of-house.
- Reducing, removing, or automating handling of free text feedback.