I was very disappointed in the handling of panel compensation. I was on two panels this year and was shocked to be told Sunday that, because I had pre-registered for the convention, I was not eligible to get a free badge, or rather in this case get refunded for my previous registration.
This is something I have never had a problem with in the past. I was told that this was put into place some time ago but wasn't enforced until last year; a year I was unable to attend due to the change of weekends. Evidently it is expected that the head panelist will inform all the co-panelists of this policy, and should they fail to do this then the co-panelists are just out of luck and the cost of a badge. Obviously I wouldn't be here complaining about it had I simply been informed of this by the friend who registered the panel and not gotten a badge, but I got burned by it, so I feel the need to explain why I feel this policy is absurd.
Perhaps someone more involved with forming the policy can explain the logic behind it, but I simply see no logic behind it. The only argument I could come up with to be made id that it is just easier, but that breaks down pretty fast given the how it was explained to me the policy covers instances of rejected panels. To ensure a rejected panel doesn't cost applicants an opportunity to pre-register at a cheaper rate, or to register at all, you permit rejected applicants to pre-register after the fact at whatever the rate was at the time of submission. That is at least as difficult and annoying as simply providing refunds at the con for panelists who pre-registered, and almost certainly more so. Even if that weren't the case though, sparing minor overhead is a pretty crappy reason to use a policy you know is likely to screw someone for doing something perfectly natural and reasonable to make sure they have a badge for the con.
Secondly, logic aside, I find it sad that your strictest requirement on comp badge control has absolutely nothing to do with your panel. I went to a panel that was cancelled because the panelist didn't show up, one of my roommates had that happen with at least one other panel, and I remember before the second one that I was a panelist for on the weekend hearing from the staff member of that room that the people running the "Everything Pokemon" panel were friends of his he threw up there because the real panelists didn't show up and the room was full so he didn't want to have to tell them it was cancelled.
Now I obviously don't know for sure what happened to those panelists, but it is completely plausible that they picked up their free badges and bailed on their panels because nothing, except maybe being blacklisted from applying so they can do it again in the future, was in their way to stop them. Or perhaps they drank too much and stayed up too late the previous night and just didn't feel like going. I find it disheartening that, despite the fact I showed up early with at least one other of my fellow panelists for both and did exactly what I was supposed to for the weekend, I got told "too bad" while plenty of others may have screwed the con over and made a lot of attendees quite upset in the process, but still get a comp badge.
Finally, I might add while I am at it as well that we do change up who is on our panels from time, taking breaks from it, or if someone can't make a particular con, or whatever. It is to my distinct advantage if it turns out I will not be be doing the panel at a particular convention to pre-register for the best rate possible, and this policy prevents that. I do recognize, however, that this particular preference is beyond standard accommodation and more on us to decide as soon as possible who's going to be on the panel. The other two points are very valid, however.
To be clear, I realize that the rule of common law applies here, and that either the applying panelist should have either been better about mentioning it to me or I should have just read them myself. That being said though, just because it is "the policy" doesn't mean it is a good one. This is a pretty easy mistake to make, especially under the circumstances of which I ran into it. (being refunded two years ago -> Not being able to attend last year -> Running Panel this year) Somehow I doubt I'm the only one who has been burned by it the last year or two, and again, I find it absurd that the biggest gotcha in the panelist policy is an arbitrary comp-trap for pre-registering, rather than something to prevent people from getting a free badge and skipping out on their panels. That shows a bit of a lack of caring toward panel content to me.
BTW, I was a co-panelist on both Gundam Experience panels. I have done both it and other panels at ACen before without having any problems with badge comp, which is frankly why I didn't feel the need to review the panelist page; Its not like I hadn't done this before, and most of what it says is pretty universal to both other cons and common sense anyhow. Guess I'll have to make sure I don't do that with ACen again, but regardless of what odd things may or may not get added to the panelist policy later, I strongly urge the programming department to consider changing this one. Go after the people who flake on their panels, not those of us who's only sin is committing to go to the convention with or without a panel to run.
Lastly, I would like to express my appreciation to how this was handled at Panel Ops when this all came to fruition at the con. I believe Jared was the guys name, and while I was obviously not happy with what he was telling me, he was very professional about it and appreciated it.
tldr; It is really dumb that you are not eligible for panel comp just for pre-registering when you don't even seem to have anything in the way of stopping people from taking a badge and running. You should change that. =P
This post has been edited by Mr. Robot: 24 May 2013 - 09:03 PM