Frequently Asked Questions
* What’s your contact information?
Email addresses are available at Contact Us for many areas of the convention.
Penguicon is a three-day event where we all learn from each other (as well as from our Guests of Honor) about hacking, building sci-fi universes, soldering, painting miniatures, gaming, coding, and more.
Our two pillars are Science Fiction and Open Source, but we cover as many diverse nerdy interests as possible. We have a con suite with free soda, coffee, munchies and other real food, which makes it easier on your budget. You can find nerdy T-shirts, books, and custom artwork and non-commodity crafts in our large and active community Maker Market.
Geek proms, masquerades, costume contests, and World of Warcraft-style questing? We’re all over it. Expert guests of honor in their field? Come to Penguicon to see them in panels, readings and performances.
At night, you can expect many suite parties with various nerdy themes, as well as late-night gaming and anime watching, with soda available in the con suite all night long.
To find out more, check out our About Penguicon page, or hear what our attendees had to say about Penguicon in 2014!
* Why is the convention called Penguicon?
One of our original co-founders says, “I had the name Penguicon, which could as easily come from Monty Python’s “and now it’s time for the Penguin on top of your television set to explode” as from Linux’s Tux mascot.” It’s supposed to represent our roots as both an open source software convention and a sci-fi con.
* I don’t know anyone at Penguicon. Do you have any suggestions for having a good time?
The best way to feel like you’re a part of the Penguicon family is to volunteer some of your time, either before the convention or during the con. Please join our Facebook group to keep abreast of social events throughout the year (open to all!), or email us about volunteering a few hours during the con. You might save some money on your membership, too. Check out what our attendees had to say about Penguicon!
* What kind of volunteering jobs do you have and how do I sign up?
We need planners and organizers all year round. If there are things about Penguicon you especially love, or want to see changed, or wish the convention provided, this is the way to get that to happen.
We need hands-on volunteers from the Thursday before the convention through the Monday after. Lots of this is set-up and teardown of various convention features, as well as staffing ongoing services like the ConSuite, the gaming area, Operations, and the registration tables.
Volunteering is the best known way to meet people, make friends, and integrate yourself into the fabric of the convention. If you already have a bunch of friends who come to Penguicon, think about volunteering as a group, chatting while you peel carrots or hand out registration packets.
We need you! For more information, please get involved!
“ConSuite” is a contraction of “convention hospitality suite.” Come join us for free food, drink and conversation in our ConSuite lounge.
Our Guests of Honor (or GoHs) are often authors, scientists, hackers, coders, game creators, musicians, and other luminaries who make the con exciting by giving us a chance to learn from the masters. Guests of Honor are given free travel, accommodations, and room and board. You’ll find profiles of them in the program book and they are featured in various panels and events throughout the weekend.
A featured guest is someone who is a standout in their area of knowledge who is invited to bring something special to Penguicon. Featured Guests receive a free membership, are listed in the program book, and are expected to contribute to the convention experience.
Anyone who presents programming at Penguicon is a panelist, and can can receive the panelist registration rate of $30 by either presenting at least 3 hours of programming or by submitting their presentation in advance to be shared with our community via a creative commons license.
A Goh Emeritus is a past Guest of Honor. We extend an invitation to our past GoHs each year, and they receive a free membership when they attend.
The short answer is that a SMOS gathering is a dinner or social event for members and staff of the con to get together, where we’ll probably talk about con-running (and other interests) in a casual environment. They often immediately follow a formal con committee meeting, but are intended for everyone, whether or not you come to the meeting.
The initials are a two-tier joke. “SMOF” events are well-known in the sci-fi con community as standing for “Secret Masters of Fandom” – a long-running joke. In the spirit of GNU (which stands for “GNU’s Not Unix”), we call it “Secret Masters of SMOS” – like GNU is actually unix, a SMOS is not secret, nor is it for masters. Please join us!
* What’s the weather like that time of year?
It seems unlikely there will be snow, but this is the midwest of the United States, and we can’t totally rule it out. Check out the average conditions for that time of year!
Consider bringing an umbrella, walking shoes, a sweater to throw on if you get cold while walking outside, a pair or two each of shorts and pants/skirts, your bathing suit (for the indoor pool), your warm socks, and a few things that can be layered, to take care of the in-between temperatures.
Check out the current weather!
* Do you have a harassment policy?
We do not accept harassment of any kind during Penguicon. Please see our Code of Conduct page for more information, and remember to contact Ops if you have any difficulty during the con.
* How do I register for the convention?
The easiest way to pre-register is to go to our Online Registration Form, paying via PayPal. PayPal is free, easy to use, and a safe way to make payments online. You can pay by credit card or bank transfer. If you don’t already have a PayPal account, you’ll find it simple and painless to set one up.
For further info on rates, see Penguicon’s registration page.
- Penguicon has never distributed private information about our attendees or guests to third parties.
- Penguicon has no intention of distributing private information about our attendees or guests to third parties.
For more information, please contact the Penguicon Board of Directors.
* Why should I register in advance?
Because it is cheaper, and because it makes the check-in process easier.
* How will I know if my registration has been processed?
If you paid via PayPal, you’ll get an email confirmation. If you’re worried, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Can I find out if I registered six months ago?
If you’re uncertain, email us at email@example.com.
Yes, you can register at the door on your arrival at Penguicon. For rates, see the Penguicon registration page. If you haven’t sent in your registration information and payment by our final pre-registration deadline, you’ll have to register at the door. We accept cash, checks, MasterCard and Visa.
Up until the deadline, we accept payment via PayPal. Please do not send cash.
At the door, we accept payment via US bank check, US travelers’ check, US currency, MasterCard, and Visa.
We do not accept foreign checks or currency. If you live outside the US and want to register in advance, PayPal is the best option.
* Do you accept advance registrations between the pre-reg deadline and the con?
No. We use that time to match our list of registrants with program participants and to prepare registration materials for the people who met the deadline.
* If I can not attend, can I transfer my membership or get a refund?
If you cannot attend, you can transfer your membership to someone else. The best approach is to give that person a signed letter about the transfer, and also to let us know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t transfer your membership to another person, please contact email@example.com with your circumstances, which we will handle on a case-by-case basis.
* What’s the convention space like?
The Westin in Southfield is spacious and modern, with its own movie screen. We colonize the entire convention facility that weekend, including the pool, hot tub, workout room, restaurant, and bar. The staff of the hotel is professional, friendly and helpful.
* How early should I reserve my hotel room?
We recommend that you reserve a room as far in advance as possible, as the convention hotel does fill up rapidly. Full information about registering at Penguicon’s hotel, The Westin in Southfield, can be found on our Hotel page.
* What should I do if the convention hotels say they have no more rooms available?
Do keep checking with the Westin periodically, as last-minute cancellations sometimes occur. Our Hotel Liason will announce when the room sells out via our Facebook page and mailing list – until that point, you should call the hotel directly if their website says it is sold out for the weekend. Don’t forget to say you are with Penguicon!
* How close are the overflow hotels?
If overflow hotels are needed, that can be found on the hotel page. In previous years, our overflow hotel shared a parking lot with the Westin.
* Is there a way to find a roommate or a ride?
We have a mailing list which you can use to find roommates and rides to and from Penguicon. Penguicon takes no responsibility for agreements made between individuals who contact one another and does not vouch for anyone who posts to our social media.
Please click on the map on our hotel page to get directions.
Our 2016 hotel is:
The Westin Southfield
1500 Town Center
Southfield, Michigan 48075
* What topics do Penguicon events cover?
Our pillars are Open Source and Science Fiction, but we accept a wide range of events of interest to nerds, geeks, and fans. We are particularly excited about events related to this year’s theme – Artificial Intelligence and Intelligent Agents.
Check out our programming from 2015 for examples.
Our official tracks for 2016 are:
- Action Adventure
- After Dark
* What is the format for presentations and events?
We have events in a variety of formats. Most of our events are presentations, panel discussions, workshops, Birds of a Feather (unmoderated discussions), or other interactive activities. We welcome your unique format ideas!
Time slots are 50 minutes long. Most events take place during one time slot, though we can accommodate some events that require additional time.
* What resources are available for presenters?
If requested before Penguicon, we will do our best to provide presenters with video projectors and sound equipment. Wifi is available throughout the event facility. Please plan to provide your own computer, adapters, power strips, and any additional special equipment you require.
* Where does Penguicon get all its event ideas?
Track heads, guests of honor and panelists contribute ideas for paneling throughout the year. Additionally, Penguicon members make suggestions that our track heads then try to make happen.
If you have a suggestion for something you’d like to see happen at Penguicon (that you aren’t running), please submit your event suggestion before February 1st, 2016.
If you want to submit a proposal for an event you’d like to be on, submit your event proposal before February 1st, 2016.
* Is it too late to suggest an event on my favorite topic?
We would love for you to submit your event proposal to us. If you have contacted other panelists, please include those. As a community-run convention, this comes together only because we all participate!
NOTE: Programming stops taking suggestions for the year on February 1st.
* What kind of credentials do I need to get on programming?
We accept panels from people of all experience levels. The only qualification is that you’re really interested in the topic and able to hold the audience’s attention for an hour. The programming team will choose panels and panelists based on a number of factors – if your panel wasn’t approved this year, please try another panel idea or try next year!
* How do I sign up to be on an event?
If the panel is already confirmed for this year, please contact our head of programming at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a suggestion for something you’d like to see happen at Penguicon (that you aren’t running), please submit your event suggestion before February 1st.
If you want to submit a proposal for an event you’d like to be on, submit your event proposal before February 1st.
* If my event is accepted, what should I expect?
Get excited! Presenting at Penguicon is awesome! Expect to hear from us more often as the event approaches. Please add email@example.com to your email address book to make sure you don’t miss any of our communications. We may also contact you if we feel material changes are necessary for your event. If your event is a panel, we may add panelists. We reserve the right to edit event titles and descriptions to better represent events to our attendees.
* Do you provide reimbursement for expenses?
We provide reimbursement for expenses directly related to presenting a Penguicon event. For example, materials for a workshop or food for tastings. If you will have expenses you would like to have reimbursed, please make arrangements in advance with your track head.
As a not-for-profit, volunteer-run event, we are not able to reimburse presenters’ travel expenses, such as air fare, hotel, or gas costs.
* Will I get a confirmation that my event was accepted?
We will do a preliminary review as the deadline approaches. We intend to notify everyone within three weeks after the deadline. If you haven’t heard from us by February 22nd, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many reasons we might not select a panel this year, including space restrictions and too many panels on the same topic – please try contributing other ideas!
* Can I get reminders and find out about late-breaking news?
You can sign up for our mailing list, or join us on our Facebook group. We also can be found on twitter.
The Masquerade is a costume competition and showcase – come in your finest cosplay for applause and prizes. Our Guests of Honor frequently serve as judges.
Our Geek Prom is a prom experience for the nerdy set. Wear your fancy clothes and dance with us!
* Does Penguicon have an official charity?
Penguicon chooses a charity each year, and accepts donations during the convention. We have made a difference with a number of organizations. For 2015, our official charity was E-Nable the Future. If you have a suggestion for our charity, please send it to email@example.com!
As Penguicon is tailored for adults, while we do not exclude children, we also do not have childcare available at Penguicon. You are responsible for your children, and please keep in mind that other adults will not manage your child.
* Does Penguicon provide programming for children?
Penguicon is intended to be a convention for adults – while we don’t exclude children, we also do not provide programming tailored to them. We do not charge for children under 12 for this reason.
We provide “After Dark” events that are intended for adults, typically scheduled after 10 pm – please keep this in mind if you’re thinking of letting your children roam the halls in the evening.
Our community has many makers and inventors, and we’ve asked them to set up tables in our Maker Market, to provide a chance for our attendees to buy art, crafts, and electrics projects from their own community during the convention weekend. Makers are selected based on quality, variety, type of merchandise, relevance to the Penguicon concepts (Open Source and SF or general fandom), and whatever adds the most to the Penguicon experience.
This year, we are not accepting resale vendors.
Please see our Get Involved page for more details on this year’s Maker Market!
* How do I get a table in the Maker Market?
Please fill out our Maker Market Application Form no later than February 2nd, 2016, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on our wait list.
* When do you start asking for vendor applications for the Maker Market?
We generally start asking for dealers to turn in an application some time in July or August, and make our jury selection in February.
* How can I find out about the availability of tables in the Maker Market?
You can contact the Maker Market liaison at email@example.com.
* What kinds of makers are you looking for?
We like a wide variety of makers. Please keep in mind what our guests will love, and remember that we are not accepting resale vendors this year, with the exception of a bookseller and limited electronics. Along with typical sci-fi and fantasy related vendors, we also are interested in vendors of steampunk gear, portable technology, or pro-hackerspace vendors with soldering equipment and the like.
* Where is the Dealer Room / Artist Alley?
This year, the Maker Market will take the place of both the Dealer Room and the Artist Alley, and will be in both of those areas for 2015. Please let us know what you think of this change via our feedback page so that we can evaluate whether to keep the Maker Market in 2016.
PARTIES AND FLYERS
Yes, we love room parties, and have designated party floors for this purpose. Please follow the instructions on our hotel page in order to be assigned a party floor room. If you are not on the designated party floors, you must follow all normal noise regulations for the hotel. The hotel has every right to boot loud parties from non-party floors.
* How can I get a suite for my party?
To request a party suite Please follow the instructions on our hotel page.
There are a limited number of party rooms available each night on the designated party floor. Theme parties are welcomed but not guaranteed if space becomes limited – please contact our hotel liason if you have any questions.
The party host is responsible for providing snacks and beverages and for cleaning up. All parties announced through flyers, the program book or the forums must be open to all members of the convention without charge (though you may accept contributions to cover costs, if you wish).
* Who do I contact about sending books or other freebies to the convention?
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* I’d like to send flyers to be put on a public flyer table.
We accept flyers for other conventions, user groups, and events that are non-profit, science/sci-fi or technological in nature. Please contact us at email@example.com – we’d love to do a flyer exchange!
We would recommend sending no more than 200 items to go on the freebie tables — even though Penguicon is a 1300+ person convention, not everyone will pick up your particular item.