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Hackers sure love their cons.  And their mini-cons within cons.  So much so, that the term “con” became impossibly over-used in the very early 21st century.  The lockpicking gathering at DEFCON and elsewhere wasn’t the “Lockpick Village” yet, it was LP-CON.  Getting your hair clipped by the badasses in a corner at the 303 party?  That’s “Mohawk Con” you’ve just attended.  Joining a bunch of folk together for sashimi and nigiri and maki? “When and where is SushiCon?” you would ask GM1. (Or SmooshiCon, heh, if you were in D.C. in early February)

OK, so, truth be told… some of these events were not “cons” in any real sense.  They didn’t charge for admission, they didn’t have badges, and –perhaps most of all– they didn’t run concurrent to an entire other con’s duration.

This may be one of the biggest questions and concerns that arise every time someone advances the idea for something “new” at DEFCON or any of the other important hacker events around the country and around the world.  Is this new idea something that will add to the overall energy and vibrance of the event?  Or will it dilute the energy and ultimately pull people in other directions as opposed to bringing them together?

Many times, the strongest and most passionate voices on topics such as this speak out when the “new idea” pertains to people who don’t feel central to the hacker world.  Groups who either perceive themselves to be not a good fit for DEFCON / ShmooCon / HOPE / etc and their friends/family/parents will sometimes suggest a side event in order to bolster inclusion or otherwise “ease” people’s access to this scene.  Instead of being met with support in all instances, however, there are many times when criticism and perhaps even outright derision have ensued.

While I find myself having difficulty nailing down the right words to express all of my views on this topic, I feel it’s an important area of discussion.  A number of us have diligently been kicking this topic around on Twitter, but being limited to 140 characters and spread across a number of time zones hasn’t led to the deepest and most meaningful dialog.  So I’m just going to lay down my beliefs here for a bit and then let others chime in…


Side Event vs Side Track vs Off-Site vs Brief Gathering

Perhaps the most substantial way in which people planning a new event can disagree (both with each other and also with the existing community) can bear on the duration and location of their NewIdea-Con.  Best tip from me?  If you can’t deeply justify a reason for pulling people and energy away from the main con, err on the side of “nearby” and “brief”

Many things that have been dubbed with the suffix “-Con” are little more than meetups, frankly.  Two great examples are QueerCon & DEAF CON.  QueerCon has historically been a party that takes place one evening, and it was at the DEFCON hotel as frequently as it has been offsite.  DEAF CON, the Deaf and HoH hacker meetup, takes place chiefly in the chillout area on one or two afternoons for an hour or so.  Similar events (without the name “con” attached) are the Military Veterans’ Meetup and the Podcasters’ Meetup.

In all of these cases, there has been utterly no avenue to criticize the organizers for “pulling folk away from the main conference” substantially.  And yet, while the “meetup” segments themselves are just an hour or two, in many ways these side events reward the participants for the whole main con itself.  They do so by enriching those people’s overall con experience (as in, these participants spend 90% or more of their time at the main event, not a side event) and helping them make new connections while still attending and experiencing much of the rest of the main con.

Happenings and gatherings that have attracted greater criticism, however, tend to be ones which are of longer duration or appear to be exclusive in some manner.  Two examples here are DEFCON Kids (now sometimes known as ROOTZ) and various Wives / Significant Others tracks.

DEFCON Kids was proposed as a means to offer greater options for inclusion of teens and even younger folk at DEFCON who might not otherwise be allowed to wander around by their parents.  Almost immediately, however, the DC Forums lit up with a cacophony of protest and howls of criticism by old-timers, even while others spoke up defending the idea.

“There are already plenty of things for kids to do at DEFCON!” said those of us who organize events suitable for all-ages.

“But I don’t want my kids seeing drunks puking and waving dicks around!” replied concerned parents.

“If we start to make DEFCON sanitized for the kids, then pretty soon I won’t be able to smoke and curse even!” responded the most bacchanal among us.

“Look, this is happening.  Get on board with it because we’re trying it out!” said DT, preventing further roadblocks.

Heh, ok… so virtually none of the conversation went like that, really.  I’m over-generalizing a LOT and using much hyperbole.  But to hear people recount the arguments made by others you’d think that some of the above sentiments were truly being expressed.

I can only speak for my personal experience, so here it is…

I run the Lockpick Village with the rest of the TOOOL staff at events like DEFCON.  We, too, were sometimes the subject of concern that “we occupy a lot of space and take up loads of people’s time” etc etc.  We have generally countered the strongest criticism by pointing out that there aren’t hard time requirements for participation in our area and that folk can wander in and out virtually whenever without missing out on anything here or at the rest of the main con.  Also, we repeatedly resist offers of greater space and chances to extend our operating hours, in order to encourage people to NOT sit with us the whole weekend.

Now, when DEFCON Kids was created, Nico and her staff (side note – i adore Nico and think she’s great.  Her daughter, CyFi, kicks ass and their motivation for all this was good and came with the best of intentions) they approached us and said, “Can you send one of your people our way and give a lockpicking talk in our side track room?”

My reply was, “Well, instead of me pulling one of my staff members, having someone lumbering all the way down there with a ton of gear, etc… why don’t the kids come to OUR area, the Lockpick Village, and we’ll have a very specific talk set up for them, etc?”  In my view, offering a limited and watered-down version of our topic to a limited group of kids in a small, side room was not likely as rewarding (to either them or to my people) than it would be to just have them all mingle with the rest of us in the Lockpicking area itself.  Indeed, TOOOL loves family participation.

Ultimately, of course, DEFCON Kids (a.k.a. DEFCON ROOTZ) has become established and they staunchly wanted to have all their learning and work take place in their own room. TOOOL does send someone (often me, actually) to their track and give a brief talk.  We try to just be so engaging and interesting that we manage to get some of the kids and their families to leave their limited area and join us in the Lockpick Village later.

But can you see from this story why some of the “established” events and organizers and participants feel that new ideas have as much potential siphon off energy from the main con as they might bring new energy to it?


Wives and Significant Others

So now yet again we have an issue coming to the surface in the way it tends to pop up from time to time.  For just about as long as I have ever been coming to cons in a substantial way (since around 2000) there have been folk offering up suggestions for a “girlfriends” event, or a “lost souls lunch”, or some other type of support/camaraderie network for people whose significant others are hackers, but who don’t feel like hackers themselves.

The main problems with these kinds of plans often fall into the following (admittedly broad) categories, which I’ll express with quotes (hypothetical and paraphrasing, these are not anyone’s specific words)…

“If you don’t want to be at the con, then why are you there?  If our community isn’t interesting enough for you, then just don’t attend.”

“Instead of having a side event which might pull your husband/boyfriend aside, why not just join us at the main event to keep the energy up there?”

“I am NOT here with a boyfriend/husband/etc.  I am a technically-capable and competent woman and if your event takes place I really don’t feel like being asked all the time if i’m here for the ‘wives group’ or anything like that!”

Again, these are almost caricatures of the real words that are offered, but the themes are valid in many ways.  And it’s these themes I’d hope for us to explore, perhaps in the comments below (because that’s always a good idea)… i’ve got some spam filtering and moderation enabled, but i’ll do my best to see the discussion isn’t limited if it happens here.  I’ll be hiking Diamond Head today, but should have GSM coverage.


My Suggestions

If the potential organizers of this new event are serious about improving things for the community and making things good for as many people as possible, let me offer the following suggestions…

1. Brief is better – at least in the first year, try to gear whatever you are creating as a “meetup” and not a side track or long-duration activity.  The closer it is the the main conference, the better.  Off-site events smack of “we aren’t interested in your community and don’t want to really ‘be here’ but we’ll make due in order to ‘be around you’ while you ‘do your geeky things’ at this con”

2. Technical and not Social – want hackers to take your new side event seriously?  gear and frame it as “outsiders who want to learn more and become more interested in geeky topics” and not “easing our outsider experience by bringing more ‘mainstream’ topics into the hacker con” … in the past, this suggestion has been met with the reply, “I don’t want to learn anything new, and I don’t care about this geeky stuff.  I’m just here to make sure my man behaves.”  If that’s your feeling, we have little to discuss.

3. Remove Gender and Identity from the Theme – oh dear GOD please if you take away nothing else from this post, take this away.  It is almost always a fucking disaster anytime anyone attempts to create something “for the women” or, even worse, “for girlfriends”… it is patronizing, it is exclusionary (in name if not actually in theme), and it creates no end of goddamn headaches for the wonderful and talented women who are 100% part of the hacker world.  Whether you think it’s fair or right or anything of the sort, the moment that you have a “Wives” or “Ladies” or “Hack my Vagina” event at a con, then a whole litany of people (many of them ignorant or socially backward or just plain foolish) will start to see every female at the main con as “probably here for that side event for girls.”

Is this unfair?  Is it a shame that your new event can get undermined by idiocy and ignorance that isn’t even your own doing?  Yes.  yes, it is.  And that doesn’t make it any less true or real.

And this isn’t even getting into the fact that many significant others and “noob” family members of hackers aren’t female, or married, or easily tagged by so many of the labels that these new events often have.  PLEASE stay away from ANY language that applies to a specific family structure or life arrangement (assuming people to be married, hetero, with kids, etc) or any language that is specific to one sex or gender (since our community is astonishingly terrific about making all sexes and genders and identities — which are all different things, if you are not aware — feel welcome) as this opens you up instantly and needlessly to criticism of many kinds.  There are many women and men who attend together with their significant others, both of whom are hackers.  There are guys who are there with techy and hacker women, frankly, when they themselves aren’t 100% in the scene.  And, being hackers, there are plenty of people who just don’t easily fit into any category or group or role and limiting language will lead to more division, not inclusion.


I think that making the hacker world more accessible and open to new people is a good thing.  Historically, ours has been the community where outsiders can always find a home, can find companionship, can find support, and can even sometimes find the family that they never had elsewhere.

Taking steps to help our biological and social families become more tied to our hacker and technical families does not stem from bad intention.  As long as you name yourself and gear yourself and frame yourself as inclusive and you stay away from anything that could lead to criticisms of (a) siphoning off energy from the main event or (b) being just for “women” or “wives” then there’s going to be much we can discuss and I hope many drinks can be shared… with lots of new people who want to be a bigger part of our world.



  1. very well written 🙂

  2. The reason I love the Lockpick Village is that, in a very short period of time, I could have something hackerish that was all my own, that I was better at than my husband. I would never catch up to him in the hacking/security department, nor am I particularly interested to at this stage in my life (in the mid-90’s I eyed The Happy Hacker, but didn’t want to fall afoul of the law). So I spend most of my time at Defcon picking, and the rest socializing and going to some of the evening events like Hacker Jeopardy.

    However, I would like to see more hands-on workshops that I could participate in at a n00b level, that allowed me to produce something that I could be proud of. So many of the contests, etc., are geared towards folks who are at the top of their game (or fancy themselves to be so, at least), not people (of all genders) who might enjoy a little hacking and coding if only we could find an entry point.

  3. Actually, that gives me an idea. Why not have a “Newbie Challenge” and have a variety of booths/settings with instruction, practice, and challenges that folks can complete at various levels to redeem for tokens to add to their badges? I’d totally spend my con time completing these kinds of “quests” if they were appropriate to my ability level.

  4. A “newbie track” is a good idea. Indeed, the “rookie track” at bsides is a similar thing to encourage new speakers to present, so I can’t see why something at a con geared towards new hackers/attendees would be an issue for anyone.

    It is certainly an interesting debate. UK cons aren’t as evolved as this yet, to my mind, and other events I attend like LockCon have no side tracks at all – it is all locks, all day and night and day until you sleep briefly before waking up to locks. So pretty focused, & if you don’t like locks, you are in the wrong place.

  5. This is fantastically written. I’m so glad you took the time to write all this out. I agree with your opinions stated here. It is hard to get the correct point across in 140 characters. I’m also incredibly grateful that I have the opportunity to hear these opinions and have this discussion prior to fully establishing our organization so that I can iron out kinks early and not look like a jackass (although, in some peoples opinion, that may have already happened).

    The following is for the generally population, not just deviantollam.

    First off, let me state that Hack3rWives is an Organization (started by two WIVES of HACKERS…hence the name) that intends to accumulate and distribute information about infosec, cons, and the tech world in general, in order to know more about the community of our significant others.

    My husband spends 70-99% of his waking time nearly every single day (yes, even weekends) on his phone or computer. He works in the infosec world, he has side gigs, he has an entire network of friends that I have never met. He is more than happy to share his community with me, but I feel in over my head whenever he is tell me a story about so-and-so or some 0day that I hadn’t heard about yet. I could spend an inordinate amount of time on twitter and still not know much of what is relevant to his experience because I have SO MUCH to sift through. I could attend cons with him but I don’t want to be a tag-along – those are his time with his buds! Who wants their significant other joined at the hip? I’d like to have a little more knowledge so that I could attend a con and not feel totally lost…and useless.

    Our organization intends to provide more information with less scrolling (we have yet to launch, but envision a future website plug here). We will be releasing a newsletter with info about some of the cool shit that happened at the cons that have happened recently and what we can expect at the next few. Yes, this information all exists somewhere else; yes, this idea is not new; yes, it feels exclusive because we’re not submerging ourselves in the community, but here’s the thing – I’m NOT a hacker. I don’t know all the slang or the jargon. I have a hard time reading lots of news articles geared toward the infosec community because I’m not a member of it, nor do I expect to be accepted as one.

    If I attended a con I would absolutely attend talks that I thought I could understand. I would love to learn more and hope to have that opportunity. I am thrilled about the prospect of entering Lockpick Village (and yes, I’ve been practicing) but not all of the booths/events at a con are intended for everyone – and that’s ok!

    Everyone has their own niche. Everyone has their own interests. While I want to know more about my husband’s world, I don’t anticipate that everyone will accept me as a part of it BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL I’M DOING. My brain doesn’t think in 1’s and 0’s (like my husband likes to say about his). If we did run an event/track/meetup/subcon it wouldn’t be for the hackers or the professionals. It would be for the n00bs, for the friends, for the spouses, for the kids, for the parents – for the people who are on the fringe of the community, but aren’t exactly in it.

    Yes, our name has WIVES in it. If the word spouses didn’t sound so uptight I would use that, but I don’t like that word for some reason. So sue me. (Ok, please don’t sue me because you will just be wasting everyone’s time – I’m not worth much). I eat at places called 5 GUYS Burgers and Fries and Dutch BROTHERS and Red LOBSTER although I am neither a guy, or a brother, or a lobster.

    You (and those who agree) do have a valid point though – not everyone supporter is a wife. I did not mean to offend the (incredibly awesome) women of the infosec community. It would be extremely depressing if EVERY hacker was a male. We all know that isn’t the case. For that reason, henceforth I will use the term #Spacker (spouse of hacker) instead of #Hackerwife. If anyone has a better suggestion that #Spacker please let me know. I can’t come up with anything better at the moment.

    In conclusion:
    1. I do not intend to detract from any con (should we choose to have a meet-up/track/subcon, which I hope we do eventually). I do plan to attend cons in the future. Sorry if I ask a dumb question but I am genuinely curious and hope that the infosec community is as welcoming as everyone claims. I don’t plan on trying to make cons more “kid friendly” or “wife/husband friendly” and if you are only interested in our organization to spy on your significant other then you are in the wrong place. That’s what Facebook is for.
    2. I am not a misogynist. I don’t believe that all supporters are “wives.” I am all for gender/age/race/species equality…ok maybe not species – go mammals! The state of equality in infosec or society as a whole is a completely separate topic that I will not touch on here (you can email me if you’re curious on my views), but I love all strangers equally. Once I get to know you, I base my opinion of you on your actions. That should be the case with everyone by now, but sadly it isn’t. That’s not my war (at the moment).
    3. I don’t intend to offend anyone, but if what we do offends you then you don’t have to participate! We will not be picketing cons. We won’t be shoving anything down anyone’s throat. Frankly, we’ll probably be much less annoying than most of the vendors (although we won’t be bringing cash to the table, so I imagine vendors would be easier to stomach). I don’t plan to change your con/community/life, only to bring more understanding to the people important to you – is that really so harmful?

    I would love to hear more from anyone who agrees/disagrees/has questions/wants an autograph. @Hack3rWives or

  6. Wasn’t there a newbie challenge at Derbycon or Defcon last year? I remember trying to get a Beltface to enter.

    On the post… It was well done. I agree with much of what was said.

    From a very specific use case, the spouses group in question wasn’t planning a track yet (although they have ambitions for that in the future to be fair)… They are currently just trying to establish a website and group. In the future, I think they’ll do meetups, etc. like you suggested.

    For the record, my wife is not involved in the group. But since the first time they really publicly started to promote themselves was at CircleCityCon, I just wanted to make sure the facts were out there.

    So two wives of heavily involved community members started the group. It stemmed from the wives hearing about their husbands going to cons with zero notice… Like Hey I’ll be at Shmoocon tomorrow. So they thought at first just to have a reference site telling other spouses/SO when DNS were. Then they started talking and sharing stories about all the travel their husbands did and it evolved and grew.

    On a side note, CircleCity was held on a bad weekend, Fathers Day weekend. We tried to encourage families to come to the event by offering family tickets (2 adults & up to 3 kids for $200, all in the same house). The group offered to do some arts and crafts projects with the kids who came on Sunday. They had wanted to put out flyers… Since I had an extra vendor table available, I offered them that to promote ther group and the crafts projects. And that’s how they did their first event.

    So just wanted to share the whole story of this particular group. I know it’s not as relevant to the post but I wanted to let everyone know the context of their group.

    I actually don’t mind some of the side events as I think they make a con richer. But I do agree that holding it onsite is a much better idea… Like hackerspace or LPV rather than offsite… The only exception being a meetup like a lunch or dinner. Ultimately, the organizers are going to make the decisions they feel are best for their con and those potential attendees will vote with their wallets/attendance.

  7. First of all, thank you Deviant for that post, it was pretty amazing and yet again it reminds me of how absolutely beautiful of a person you are. Thank you for seeing all sides and beginning the actual discussion.

    Yes, I thought that the “Hack3rWives” twitter name was initially a joke, so I truly didn’t mean any offense by the ‘trolling’ comment any more than I would for any of the other MANY trolls around. The timing of the account in parallel with all of the ‘Women’s initiatives’ events lately was just unfortunate.

    As to not go down the rabbit holes that the insane twitter events went I am going to be brief about my beliefs (and I deleted my part of the twitter convo as I realize that the person with whom the 140 character conversation was with was as far from the indented audience as possible).

    Conferences / Time Management / Partner Involvement
    To all involved, you don’t have to be at every conference under the sun – realize your priorities and adjust accordingly. Talk with your partner and understand their needs and if there is any compromise for mutual involvement/participation (BSides are great events to bring people who are new to the conference environments and want to meet some birds of a feather).

    Tag Alongs / Specifically Females not involved at all in InfoSec
    As a female, I especially try to talk to other females when I see them at events. I want them to feel welcomed into the community, and definitely want to know them and what brought them there. In fact, I have a few ‘wives’ of people in the community that I love to death, but they are also ones that started going to lock pick village, and other things to learn more.

    Scaring Snowflakes
    Believe it or not, but some women in InfoSec actually view going to these events as some of the few moments that they get where they are not the ‘oddball’ or ‘weird girl’. This is where our family is, so the idea of a group talking about how ‘rough’ it is to be involved with us is a bit intimidating. Some of us have lost relationships since we are too ‘strange’ or ‘not a normal girl/guy’. Be gentle with us (by us, I mean men, women, lobsters in info sec)

    The KIDS
    I don’t really want to get into this. Your miles may vary, and that’s fine. PERSONALLY, I wouldn’t bring kids to certain events as I don’t believe that they would benefit enough to balance out the possible exposure. There are great events directed for kids these days (Like ROOTZ and HacKid Conference to name two), I wish there were these things in my day (where’s my walker?).

    *I also believe that there shouldn’t be any other @AlineaBaby ’s (

  8. Before anyone gets carried away, we do not have the same husband. We are two women married to two different men who are both Hackers (our husbands are the professional hackers). We met through our husbands and their schedules in the Con scene at a Con that has “Family” in the title.
    I can only begin to express my dismay at the response we’ve received on Twitter in the past few days from some who know so little about who we are, where we come from, our objective, etc. Although one of us has not been immersed in the tech world, the other (me) has been and I loved it so very much! The best job I ever had was in a NOC solving problems by making things do what they were not designed to do for clients. The instant gratification from the client, my superiors and the sales people was so gratifying for me! In that way, I very much understand why many of you not only work full time jobs, you continue after hours with White Papers, POCs, Con Talk submissions, on Skype with people all over the country and the world to accomplish what you know can be done for the betterment of the industry. I fell into the category that way myself. I was a workaholic and thrived on using my brain to try things and bend things and the rules. It, for me, was exhilarating when it finally came together and worked!!! I met my husband at this job. He’d been doing all this for at least 15 years longer than I had, was much farther up in the company. When it came out that he and I were dating though, the company made it clear that one of us had to go.
    Five years later, at the bottom of a very small world, my husband took three of our kids and me to a Con… All of the sudden, my world was big again! I had friends all over the country! I was listening to them talk about their work and using my brain to whiteboard with some of them and others just became close friends! Let me be clear, there were issues that prevented me from working after I left the NOC job, and I adore running my household to allow my husband to do all the things he wants to do and can do with his work that pays him a check, and his work that pays him in peer respect and controversy! I love my role being at home with our many, many children; always there to get them off and on a bus, talk to a church elder about them or a school official. I *lovelovelove* being a wife and mother! After making friends though at the con, talking to them on daily and weekly basis, knowing who they were, their family and professional triumphs and struggles, it didn’t take long for me to see that a lot of us are having similar issues.
    In the InfoSec industry I have seen over and over when a similar issue is affecting many, you all put your heads together, ask each other questions, fix it together. Sometimes the hot issue is Malware, so you go to the Malware person you respect most. If it was a KaliLinux question I bet you all have someone that jumped to the forefront of your mind to ask. Google doesn’t answer everything all the time. Are you being exclusive by only going to the Malware person? Or is that just common sense? There are things that, as women running a household, many times in the absence of our husbands for their travel, work, Con, whatever schedules, we would like to talk about and ask each other. For instance: (Hypothetically) “My husband has been out of town now for a long time and I am trying to potty train my first boy. I’ve read all the books, Googled, and am looking for anyone with experience please…” OR “I have Midterms this week and I won’t be able to cook my regular healthy meals for myself and three kids every night; Any simple suggestions for casseroles or something I could freeze?” While a man/husband may have the same questions or similar, and while we are never going to turn away anyone who wants to join or use us for a resource, it has been, in our research, the women who are interested in these issues. In fact, any men joining us in any way would be awesome to have around for things like the potty training question! 🙂 Mostly, it is two Wives who can see our husbands faces over the cell phone when we call them with questions or complaints like those above while they are at a Con, on location for work, whatever/wherever, that reads loud and clear: Honey, WTH do you want ME to do about any of THIS from HERE RIGHT NOW?!?
    I hope you are all smiling and thinking “Yup, been there…” and while I can understand your frustration when that happens, we Wives have our own frustration at the response! Now, think of a world where there were a group of people who could help each other, advise, console, pep talk each other…
    We are a dedicated group of women who, for whatever reason, have decided we want to support our husbands from home. We want them on the computer everyday learning, conversing, LOLing, thinking. We want this for all those who consider themselves Hackers. I want it for my husband because: it makes him happy, it’s who he is, it’s who I love, it pays our bills, allows us to have an amazing life! I want to be a #HW because I want to support my husband in every way. That makes *me* happy! Not everything is for everybody. Does that really deserve the word “exclusive” though? Maybe… We are exclusively supporters of the Hackers in our lives and we want to be the best at it.
    Finally, Women are Hackers Too! We know that! And we did Father’s Day stuff for kids during the closing ceremony slot, not taking up any Track rooms during Circle City in an effort to allow the Hacker, male or female, to be involved in the Con without taking away from a national holiday important to so many! Not every Con has a place for these things. It is our hope to only go where it is appropriate, where we may be invited. Living and learning will be part of the process and *constructive* criticism is always welcome. All others need not apply.

  9. Well written opinion as usual Dev. Nice to see debate and discussion encouraged beyond 140 chars.

    I was one of the major detractors for Defcon kids/Rootz when it was first proposed. My comments are all over the DC forums. I was concerned it would take away from my experience via closing events for ‘kids time’ or an expectation to self censor. After year one, I was surprised at the result. Having a separate space for the kids gave them an area to learn and not compete with the adults (My concern had only been the other way around). Parents knew that if you are bringing your kids to the greater Defcon floor, you know what to expect and I assume you have warned your kid. I had no fights for resources with the kids and in general, did’nt notice a change in my con experience. As one of the bigger opponents, I had to say, mea culpa. I was wrong.

    All that said, ROOTZ/Kids was about doing the same thing as the rest of con (more kid friendly though). It wasn’t an arts and crafts ‘babysitting’ event to keep them out of the parents hair while this hit the rest of con. Parents had to be present and helping teach their spawn. Overall, I noticed no downside and an upside for the kids. Everyone won.

    I was not a part of any of the original twitter discussion, so I may be out of some context here, but the gist seems to be an event highlighting the exclusion of partners, rather than trying for inclusion.

    The Defcon rule I follow is: “Ignorance is corrected, stupidity is punished.”

    It is alright to not know something. Admit you do, you will be informed and things can continue. The stupidity is when you don’t admit you dont know something (or worse think you know everything) and you get called on it. That also applies to not having at least a cursory curiosity to learning something new.

    Common Gallant/Goofus example:

    Gallant: you are in a discussion with others when the topic changes to a protocol you have not heard of. You ask “sorry, I’m not familiar with that” to which a reasonable attendee would reply “Oh, it’s like this, or does XYZ”. You are now able to participate more fully in the conversation and learn more.

    Goofus: you are in a discussion with others when the topic changes to a protocol you have not heard of. You say “I know all about that, I practically wrote it” to which your conversation partner is revealed to be the person who actually wrote it and you look like a fool. (this has happened many times!)

    I guess my point would be not one of condemnation of any partners meetup or event, but it’s focus should not be on the exclusion, but one to find ways for more inclusion in *CON.

    A common thing in some comments was ‘I dont know what my SO is saying half the time about these cons”. Well, how can an event such as this help those people understand and therefore be able to participate more with their SO’s? If you were not wanting to try and have a shared interest with your SO and you are sitting around bored, why come? Obviously not everyone is like that, but there are some.

    Looking at the discussion, I see this are more a part of the ‘newbies at con’ debate that has been raging since time immemorial. People who are interested in attending but feel ‘outsider’,’unworthy’, ‘intimidated’, etc, and how to get them to become welcome and to contribute however they can. Separating out SO’s and partners seems to be counter to that and making yourselves feel ‘outsider’,’unworthy’, ‘intimidated’, etc, rather than empowering those people to take advantage of the con to learn, interact and find some way to contribute.

    I’ve met so many people over the years. Everyone had something to bring to the table, it was just a matter of finding what that was and encouraging them to not be afraid to show it.

    tl;dr, Dont label and isolate yourselves, find ways to integrate and take advantage of the Con.

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