Phoenix Comicon’s Latest Survey Making Folks Feel Uncomfortable
It is not uncommon for a convention to follow up with its fans by emailing them with information and announcements for their upcoming events. In fact, these emails are often met with praise because it allows the convention attendees to be in the know about what they care about or even get to participate in making the event better by offering their opinions in surveys. So then why did so many people feel so uncomfortable yesterday when they opened the latest survey from Phoenix Comicon?
The email started out harmless enough, a simple man by the name of Connor Leshner introducing himself and letting recipients know that Phoenix Comicon allowed him to reach out to their email list with his survey that asks questions regarding relationships in the convention community, often involving cosplayers. The questions start off casual enough asking about your past relationships. Some of the questions were even endearing, asking about how big of an impact cosplay had on your attraction to your partner.
And then the questions become a bit more…spicy.
Admittedly, I did blush when the question came across my screen and can now see why so many of my peers chatted it up on Facebook. Some readers even reached out to me to write about this survey because it was so out of the blue and asked so many intimate questions. However not all of the questions were about romantic or sexual relationships, some of them asked about your personal feelings regarding the fandom we know and love.
Even some questions got pretty deep in regards to relationships!
I had flash backs to my previous breakups and how I handled them in order to honestly respond to the questions. It was an interesting survey to say the least and am looking forward to checking out the results if they are released to the public. I am always curious about how others in the cosplay community view certain social customs such as buying costumes or dating another person in the community.
At the same time, I think it may have been a better idea to ask folks if they’d like to be asked questions about their personal life before sending an email to them from an email address that is supposed to only send information and updates regarding Phoenix Comicon. While I didn’t mind receiving and answering the survey and would be open to more, I know others complained that they feel as though their information is being used for purposes other than what they agreed to.
(3/3/2017 1:52pm AZ Time) Matthew Solberg, convention director for Phoenix Comicon gave his thoughts on the matter.
Matthew Solberg, Convention Director here. I made a mistake. I apologize for the survey sent yesterday and if you were upset, offended, or put off by it. I was trying to help a former long-time volunteer who is an ASU student with a research project. To my understanding, it is one of the first studies into cosplay behavior as it impacts social and romantic relationships. I rushed the decision without fully thinking through its implications and I rushed sending the webmail, as is evident by forgetting to remove the templates.
It was never, and will never be, my intent to subject minors to explicit material or to offend anyone.
While I still want to offer help to our friends and supporters whenever possible, I realize this was the wrong way to do it. I hope that you can forgive my mistake and trust that my intentions were not as they appeared.
I want to assure you that your email address was not distributed or sold to any third-party and no personal information was released. I will be much more careful in the future.
I’d like to say this was me trying to do a good deed that sadly backfired.