This week’s reading.

We are planning two book clubs at Punctuation 2, where you can come along and discuss books with your fellow fans.

Our first book club will be All Systems Red, the first book in Martha Wells’ award-winning Murderbot Diaries series, and the second will be discussing the 2021 Hugo Short Fiction finalists, which are all available online (and listed below). Happy reading!

Merchandise.

A navy hoodie showing the Punctuation 2 key art, which has a nine-panel Zoom window with various fantastic or science fictional creatures. From left to right, top to bottom: an alien with colourful beard tentacles waving; a magician sitting too close to the camera so you can't see below their pink tinted spectacles, but you can see the entirety of their very colourful hat; a shark holding a martini glass against a tropical horizon with palm trees; a bear in a spacesuit floating near a planet and a moon with an air hose going off-screen; a mermaid with shells in her green hair, obscured by an orange octopus; seven furry Tribble-like creatures with three eyes each squished into the frame; something that looks like a cross between an elephant's trunk and a lizard's tail holding a mug with a red circle with an X in it; an orange cat grooming on a laptop keyboard; and a knight with a moustache who appears to have just put an arrow head through a scaly creature occluding his face in the frame.

We have started selling some merchandise, and if you hurry you might be able to get it before the convention! Click the following links to acquire all manner of excellent apparel featuring designs by Sue Mason and designed by the folks over at Stow Shirts.

(Please note that some items are shipped from the USA and so may incur large shipping costs and/or customs charges; unfortunately, we have no control over this. If you’re interested in a not-quite-a-pint glass, the Zazzle one will be cheaper from that perspective.)

The texts of Vortigern.

These are the documents that we’ll be using for the “How historians interpret text” workshop. You can either bookmark this page, or scroll down to download a Microsoft Word or PDF file containing the same sources.

Texts relating to Vortigern

Dr Kari Maund for Punctuation 2
1) Gildas, De Excidio et Conquesto Britanniae, On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain, mid 6th century C.E., provenance uncertain.

22. …a vague rumour suddenly flew to the ears of the people, that their old foes were rapidly approaching to destroy the whole country, and to take settle it from one end to the other, as they had done before. .. So they called a council to decide would be the best and most effective way to repel the violent and regular invasions by those people.

23. Then all the councillors, together with that proud tyrant [Lat: superbus tyrannus], the British king, were so blinded, that, to protect their country, they invited the fierce pagan Saxons (like wolves into a sheepfold) in to help fight against the Picts and the Scots, , thus sealing their own doom Nothing was ever so harmful or unlucky for to our country! How blind they were, how foolish and desperate! They invited the people they feared most to love alongside them. A host of cubs  flooded out of the den of this barbaric lioness, in three keels, as they call warships in their tongue. They [the Saxons] prophecies and omens from their soothsayer, that they would occupy the country to which they were sailing for 300 years, and would plunder and ravage it for 150 years, half of that time.. They first landed on the eastern side of the island, by the invitation of the unlucky king, and dug their claws in, apparently to fight in favour of the island, but more truly against it. Their mother-land, finding her first brood successful, sent a larger company of her wolfish offspring, who sailed across to  join themselves to their treacherous comrades. From that time the germ of iniquity and the root of contention planted their poison amongst us, as we deserved, and shot forth into leaves and branches. The barbarians who had come as soldiers into the island asked for provisions, pretending they were ready to face any danger for their hosts. They were given supplies and for a while this stopped their doggish mouths. But they complained that their monthly supplies weren’t sufficient, and exaggerated every argument, saying that unless they receive  lavish provisions,  they would break the treaty and plunder the whole island. In a short time, they followed  up their threats with deeds.

2) Historia Brittonum, The History of the Britons, early ninth century, composed somewhere in North West Wales (at that time the kingdom of Gwynedd).

31 Vortigern then reigned in Britain. In his time, he was under pressure, not only from the inroads of the Scots and Picts, but also from the Romans, and their apprehensions of Ambrosius. In the meantime, three vessels, exiled from Germany, arrived in Britain. They were commanded by Horsa and Hengist, brothers, and sons of Wihtgils… Vortigern received them as friends, and granted them the island which is in their language called Thanet, and, by the Britons, Ruym. Gratianus Aequantius at that time reigned in Rome. The Saxons were received by Vortigern, four hundred and forty-seven years after the passion of Christ. 

36. After the Saxons had lived on Thanet for some time, Vortigern promised to supply them with clothing and provisions, on condition they would engage to fight against the enemies of his country. But the barbarians grew more numerous, so that the Britons could no longer feed and clothe them, and when the Saxons, according to the promise they had received, claimed a supply of provisions and clothing, the Britons replied, “Your number is increased; we no longer need your help; you may, therefore, return home, for we can no longer support you.”…

37. But Hengist, both smart and cunning, realising that the king was powerless and the people indecisive and weak, replied to Vortigern, “We are, indeed, few in number; but if you allow it, we will send to our country for an more forces, with whom we will fight for you and your subjects.” Vortigern agreed to this proposal, so messengers were despatched overseas, and returned with sixteen vessels of picked warriors. They also brought with them the beautiful daughter of Hengist. And now the Saxon chief prepared an entertainment, to which he invited the king, his officers, and Ceretic, his interpreter, having previously told his daughter to serve them so profusely with wine and ale, that they would soon become drunk. This plan succeeded; and Vortigern, at the instigation of the devil, and enamoured with the beauty of the damsel, demanded her, through the medium of his interpreter, of the father, promising to give for her whatever he should ask….

38. Hengist, after this, said to Vortigern, “I will be both your father and your adviser; listen to my counsels, and you will have no reason to fear being conquered by any man or any nation whatever. My countrymen are strong, warlike, and robust: if you approve, I will send for my son and his cousin, both valiant men, who at my invitation will fight against the Scots, and you can give them the countries in the north, near the wall that is called Guaul.” [Probably the Antonine Wall.]   The king agreed, and Octha and Ebusa arrived with forty ships. In these they sailed round the country of the Picts, laid waste the Orkneys, and took possession of many regions, as far as the borders of the Picts.  

45. After this the barbarians returned in even greater numbers, for Vortigern was their friend, on account of his wife, and no-one dared to drive them out,  because it was God’s will that they occupied Britain, rather than on account of their strength…

After the death of Vortimer, Vortigern’s son, and the return of Hengist and his troops, they [the Saxons] held a council to come up with a wicked plan to trick Vortigern and his army. They sent envoys to his offering peace and a permanent friendship. Vortigern summoned his elders to discuss what to do and in the end, they decided to make peace. So the envoys returned and a meeting was held to confirm the treaty, both sides being without weapons.

46. However, Hengist ordered his men to hide their daggers in their shoes, under the soles of their feet, saying, “When I call out to you, saying “Saxons, draw your knives”, take out your daggers from your shoes, and attack them and hold firm. But don’t kill the king – keep him alive for the sake of my daughter, whom I wedded to him. It would be better to ransom him.” So the meeting gathered and the Saxons, speaking friendly words but hiding wolfish thoughts in their hearts sat down like allies, man next to man. Hengist called out as he had said, and the 300 leading men of King Vortigern were murdered, and the king himself seized and held prisoner. To ransom himself, he granted them Essex and Sussex, also Middlesex and other districts they chose.

47. Then St Germanus preached to Vortigern, seeking to convert him and get him to end an illicit relationship, but Vortigern fled to the territory of Gwerthyrnion and hid with his wives. Germanus and all the British clergy followed him and stayed for 40 days and nights preaching from a rock. Vortigern retreated in disgrace to his fortress in Dyfed, next to the Teifi. Germanus followed him again, and remained fasting with all the clergy for 3 days and nights to achieve his goal. On the 4th night around midnight, the entire fortress was destroyed by sudden fire, sent from heaven, and burned. Vortigern was burned along with all his companions and wives.

N.B. St Germanus was a bishop of Auxerre in the 5th century, and in around 429 C.E. travelled to Britain to combat the Pelagian heresy. By the 9th century he was particularly venerated in the Welsh kingdom of Powys. The Life of St Germanus, written around 480, has him defeating the Picts and Saxons somewhere in Britain. Tradition holds this was near Yr Wyddgrug (Mold), which alternated as a possession of Powys and of neighbouring Gwynedd. The Life does not mention Vortigern. Germanus is also associated in Historia Brittonum with Cadell Ddyrnllug, an early king of Powys.

3) Croes Elisedd, an inscribed monument dating to around 855. It stands on an artificial mound of a much earlier period (perhaps Bronze Age), and near the later abbey of Valle Crucis, near Llangollen.

† Concenn son of Cattell, Cattell son of Brochmail, Brochmail son of Eliseg, Eliseg son of Guoillauc.

† And that Concenn, great-grandson of Eliseg, erected this stone for his great-grandfather Eliseg.

† The same Eliseg, who joined together the inheritance of Powys . . . throughout nine (years?) out of the power of the Angles with his sword and with fire.

† Whosoever shall read this hand-inscribed stone, let him give a blessing on the soul of Eliseg.

† This is that Concenn who captured with his hand eleven hundred acres [4.5 km²] which used to belong to his kingdom of Powys . . . and which . . . . . . the mountain

[the column is broken here. One line, possibly more, lost] 

. . . the monarchy . . Maximus. . . of Britain . . . Concenn, Pascent, Maun, Annan.

† Britu son of Vortigern, whom Germanus blessed, and whom Sevira bore to him, daughter of Maximus the king, who killed the king of the Romans.

† Conmarch painted this writing at the request of king Concenn.

† The blessing of the Lord be upon Concenn and upon his entire household, and upon the entire region of Powys until the Day of Judgement.

4) The A-text of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (compiled in the later 9th century under Alfred the Great, though using some earlier materials).

A.D. 455. This year Hengest and Horsa fought with Wurtgern the king on the spot that is called Aylesford. His brother Horsa being there slain, Hengest afterwards took to the kingdom with his son Esc.

5) The A-text of the Annales Cambriae (The Annals of Wales), compiled around 950.

[854] an. Cyngan, king of Powys, died in Rome.

6) Asser’s Life of King Alfred, 893 C.E., written in the circle of the court of Alfred.

At this time, and for some time before, all the territories in South Wales belonged to King Alfred…Hyfaidd, with all of the kingdom of Dyfed, had submitted to Alfred because of the force of the 6 sons of Rhodri Mawr… Similarly, Elise ap Tewdwr, king of Brycheiniog, driven by the might of the sons of Rhodri also sought the lordship of Alfred.

Achau Brenhinoedd a Thywysogion Cymru (pedigrees of the Welsh Kings and Princes) extant in several late mediaeval manuscripts.

The mother of Merfyn Frych [‘Freckled’], father of Rhodri Mawr: Nest daughter of Cadell ap Brochfael ab Elise ap Cyllau ap Beli ab Eiludd ap Selyf Saryffgadau [Battle Serpent] ap Cynan Garwyn [place name] ap Brochfael Ysgithrawg [‘Tusked’] ap Cyngen Clodrydd [‘Renowned’]  ap Cadell Dyrnllwg [‘Gleaming Hilt’]  ap Pasgen ap Brydw ap Rhuddfedel Frych ap Cyndeyrn ap Gwrtheyrn Gwrtheneu [‘the Thin’].

Download the texts.

Tastings at Punctuation 2.

Beer tasting.

Are you into beer? Did you enjoy the beer tasting we held at Punctuation or the beer tasting held at ConFusion? We are taking a leaf from ConFusion’s book and running a more guided beer tasting, with the tasting being led by the fine folks at Unity Brewing Co.

A colourful grid showing the six beers we're organising for Punctuation 2: Thinking with Portals (a collab with Elusive), Prinzen, College Street Pale, Conflux, Preserva #2, and Backyard Banquet.
The Punctuation 2 box from Unity Brewing Co.

You can order the box of Punctuation 2 beers for £30, and you get Thinking with Portals (a collab with Elusive), Prinzen, College Street Pale, Conflux, Preserva #2, and Backyard Banquet. This is a real range of styles so there should be something for everyone, and shipping is free (but note that if you add things onto your order, you will need to pay shipping of £6). Unity are an up-and-coming brewery local to John, so he’s particularly excited to be doing this.

Cheese tasting.

The cheese tasting is being masterminded by Ang (who ran the tasting at Punctuation 1) and will be held on the Saturday night of the convention. In the same vein as with the beer tasting we’re plumping for a slightly more structured event with a platter of recommended cheeses from Liverpool Cheese Company.

A wooden cheese platter on which rest five cheeses: Berkswell Ewe, Rosary Goat, Mrs Bell’s Blue, Ribblesdale Smoked Goat, and Yorkshire Manchego. A pack of fig, honey, and extra virgin olive oil crackers rounds out the scene.
The box we’ve chosen from Liverpool Cheese Company.

If you’d like to join the cheese tasting, you can order the tasting array we’ll be exploring, featuring Berkswell Ewe, Rosary Goat, Mrs Bell’s Blue, Ribblesdale Smoked Goat, and Yorkshire Manchego, which costs £32 plus £3 delivery. When you order, let them know that it’s for the tasting on 19 June, and ask them to deliver no earlier than 14 June to make sure you have nice fresh cheeses on the night.

All the cheeses are vegetarian, but if you’re vegan or you’d just rather pick different cheeses, please feel free to do so and come along anyway.

Gin tasting.

The gin tasting was suggested by Anna and is the third tasting we’re having at Punctuation 2. It’s the first tasting of the convention chronologically, occurring on the Friday night after the opening ceremony, and we’re going to be using Ginsanity to get our gin on.

A box of four taster gins plus an "about your gin" leaflet and a Scottish flag in the lower-left corner.
The Flowers of Scotland from Ginsanity.

The gin tasting will be a tasting box called “Flowers of Scotland” – you can either buy a box which just contains the four gins (£19.99), or you can buy a set which comes with various bonuses including a guide on how to taste gin (£34.99). Delivery in either case is £4.99.

We’re really looking forward to the different tastings at the convention and we hope you are too!

Punctuation 2 is go.

We are pleased to announce that memberships to Punctuation 2 are now on sale! We wanted to answer a few key questions in this blog post, both for people who attended Punctuation 1 and people who are new to this series of conventions.

Convinced by this post? Join Punctuation 2 today! (This link will take you to our page at conreg.org, this is expected behaviour.)

When is it?

18–20 June 2021 (the last weekend before lockdown eases in the UK).

How much does it cost?

Attending membership is £5. If you feel you can’t afford that, choose the free membership rate. If you want to pay more to support Punctuation, choose the £10 membership rate. All the memberships are exactly the same in all other respects.

What platforms will you be using?

We’ll be using a mixture of Discord and Zoom, like we did at Punctuation 1, but we’re considering varying some of the format with regards to how we deliver programme items. If you would like to tell us about how you attend online events to help us make this decision, please fill in our non-binding advisory referendum.

How can I volunteer to be involved?

If you’re keen to get involved with Punctuation 2, we’re keen to hear from you. Please fill in our programme and volunteer survey and let us know how you’d like to help, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Who’s running the convention?

You mean, except for the myriad of volunteers who are going to click the link in the previous paragraph?

Punctuation 1 was headed by Liz Batty, John Coxon, Steve Davies, and Alison Scott, but for Punctuation 2 we’re adding some people to our illustrious team! Well-known to fans of OctothorpeClaire Brialey (of Croydon) joins the team and bring a lot of expertise and “doing things in the right order”. James Shields is handling our con registration system this time around, which will be much smoother than the one for Punctuation 1. We are very grateful to all of them for joining the team.

Once, it was all fields around ’ere.

This website was originally for the convention Punctuation 1, which was run on 13–15 November 2020 by a crew of motley people. Most of the content on this website didn’t need much tweaking to make it suitable for Punctuation 2 and future events, but a couple of bits that did need to be archived/deleted were the programme, and the about page, both of which were quite specific to the first convention.

If you’d like to check out any of the pages from Punctuation, click the links below:

If you’d like to read up about Punctuation 2, then check out our news post about the sequel convention!

Feedback on Punctuation.

Hi everyone! John here. After holding Punctuation we emailed our members to ask what they’d thought of the convention, and I’ve collated the results. In the post below, I’ll go through relevant pieces of feedback and pull out quotes from returned evaluations, but first, let’s talk methodology.

We posed several questions which we asked people to answer on a scale of 1–5, where 1 was ghastly and 5 was brilliant. We got 41 responses, which is ~20% of the total membership of 200. From the responses I can calculate the average score for each question on a scale of 1–5 (which is the blue bars, below) and I can also calculate the standard error on the mean (which is the orange line on each bar, and which can be ignored if you’re not particularly statistically inclined).

I’ll go through the different aspects of the convention below, outline what worked, and what we would look at changing next time. A note before I dive in: I’m making the assumption, here, that the returns we receive are representative of the convention. This assumption may be faulty, but unfortunately, I have no way to test this, and so it’s the best assumption I have!

Joining in the fun.

We asked three questions about joining the convention:

  1. How easy did you find it to join Punctuation on the website? (4.0)
  2. How easy did you find it to pay for a membership? (4.3)
  3. How much did you feel that the convention was value for money? (4.9)

Encouragingly, the response to all three of these questions was, on average, high, and there were no key issues highlighted in the quantitative feedback from people who answered them with a rating of 3 or less, so we can’t take much in terms of notes for next time from the feedback here. One thing we are aware of from committee discussions is that the WordPress payment portal is designed on the assumption that you’re supporting a blog, not joining an event, so we are conscious that there is room for improvement with how we do this in future.

Discord.

Of the 41 returned surveys, 39 people said they used Discord during the convention. We asked six questions about Discord:

  1. How easy did you find it to join the Discord? (4.2)
  2. How well did we communicate that pre-con planning was occurring on Discord? (3.6)
  3. How easy did you find Discord to use after a week or so of using it? (4.1)
  4. How useful did you find “tables” in Discord? (2.6)
  5. How did you find #help-desk, #newsletter, and other help channels? (4.2)
  6. What did you think of our moderators and listener facilities? (4.0)

Questions 1, 3, and 5 have high ratings, which is encouraging as it is those questions that relate to how easy Discord was to use and how well we did at putting people at their ease with it. There were a minority of members for whom this wasn’t true; looking at the quantitative feedback from those who responded with a 3 or less to these questions, two quotes jump out. One person said “I didn’t find the Discord interface even slightly intuitive, even after you’d given me some help to sign up…” and another said “Not a fan of Discord, so I did feel it was over used.” However, there was generally little complaint about Discord’s ease of use.

In terms of our communication about Discord, we score less well (3.6). This is a definite area for improvement; we realised in the run-up to Punctuation that not everyone had realised that they could interact on Discord straight away. One respondent criticised our programming, saying “…[panels] felt exactly like a bunch of friends who decided that x was a cool thing to talk about. Which is fine but led to insular, unstructured panels, and one that often didn’t contain any diversity of approach that stretched the topics…”; one area for improvement will be making sure that more members are aware that they can impact programme by suggesting items on Discord before the convention. Another person wrote, “In retrospect I really wanted something like a PR#1 as soon as I’d joined, with all sorts of detail about what you were doing and how I could/should now interact with that as a member.” This is a good point, and something that we can take on board to help make it easier to get involved. However, those members who did take part in Discord pre-con found it useful; one respondent said “The advance planning and communication on Discord worked very well.”

The “tables” we set up in Discord were the least popular part of the convention (2.6) according to our 41 respondents, and as such, we would probably not bring them back at the next convention.

Finally, on the topic of moderators and listeners, we scored highly (4.0). The only comment we received on this was from a moderator, who said, “I felt Discord Moderator was a bit of a non-job, although it did at least mean I got involved in Discord conversations in rooms I wouldn’t otherwise have visited. Combine it with first-line #help-desk in future?” This is an excellent suggestion, and reworking the volunteer roles that require people to be on-shift so that volunteers don’t feel extraneous will be something we look at in future.

Interactivity.

We asked questions about the interactive aspects of the convention, which were:

  1. How much did you enjoy your virtual con badge? (3.3)
  2. How much did you enjoy the treasure hunt? (2.8)
  3. How easy did you find it to participate in interactive programme items on Zoom? (4.0)
  4. How interactive did you find the convention? (4.2)

Questions 1 and 2 both receive medium scores. Only one person mentioned con badges in their response, and said they were “more effort than they are worth”. On the treasure hunt, at least one member specifically called it out as one of the highlights of the convention, and one person who gave it a low rating wrote, “I scored the treasure hunt low because I don’t know what I was doing wrong but I failed to find any of it”, indicating that there might be technological barriers we hadn’t considered. In general, though, both aspects of the convention were well-received.

In terms of how easy it was to take part in interactive programme items on Zoom, and how interactive people felt the convention was overall, we score highly (4.0 and 4.2). This is gratifying as interactivity was one of the key aims of the convention, and the results show that we do very well here overall. One respondent wrote that it was “[the b]est effort so far at making the on line interactive.”

Programme.

  1. How easy did you find it to use the programme? (4.2)
  2. How easy did you find it to find links to programme items? (4.3)
  3. How much did you enjoy the panel items? (4.1)
  4. How easy did you find it to chat on YouTube or Discord during panel items? (3.6)

In general, the programme was well-received, with high ratings. There was one criticism of the panels (quoted above), but generally relatively little criticism.

We ranked less well in terms of the split across platforms. One person wrote, “…having two streams for questions/discussion on the YouTube events was very disorienting. PICK ONE for goodness sake, so the conversation is happening in one place.” Another person wrote, “Spreading it across 3 services was… awkward. I realise the limitations of any single service possibly preclude anything much else, though.” This latter point is a key limitation, and one which is difficult to circumvent. Additionally, there were a number of people who agreed that the chat should either be solely on YouTube or solely Discord, but those people did not agree on which service should be abandoned. A key takeaway is that if possible, we need to implement technology that allows comments to be crossposted between the two, but this may be wishful thinking.

Social spaces.

37 respondents indicated they used Zoom over the weekend, and we asked three questions about social spaces:

  1. How easy did you find it to find links to social spaces (including the Space Bar)? (3.7)
  2. How much did you enjoy the social spaces? (3.8)
  3. How much did you like the Zoom-breakout-rooms model we adopted for the Space Bar? (3.9)

We received medium rankings on these questions. We were aware from at-con feedback that the Space Bar was not sufficiently well-advertised, and this is something that we need to handle better at the next Punctuation. We got several pieces of constructive criticism on Zoom. Some people mentioned that the Space Bar was occasionally too empty. One member wrote, “For a convention that was supposed to be focusing on the social space, it felt particularly un-social to me. Possibly because the bar was supposedly open all the time, but actually not inhabited” – the last point was also echoed by other members. This may be something we can address at the next convention by holding interactive programme items in the Space Bar, rather than in their own Zoom accounts.

Another criticism of Zoom concerned the breakout room model. One member mentioned the “The eternal question of how to manage the size of breakout rooms in Zoom – I’d have liked to join a room with fewer peopl[e] on occasion, but there usually wasn’t one.” Another wrote, “If you are going to have party rooms entered from a central room, th[e]n that room has to have one host who explains what to do, not four people chatting.” We may need to look at how we structure breakout rooms, and how we handle the host role, at the next convention.

Volunteer ratings.

  1. How did you find Streamyard as a panellist? (4.5)
  2. How did you find Streamyard as a moderator/wrangler? (4.5)
  3. How did you find Zoom as a panellist? (4.8)
  4. How did you find Zoom as a moderator/wrangler? (4.0)

These returns are from much smaller numbers of respondents (3–6), but they indicate that people in general found the technology we used relatively easy to use. Zoom was more popular with panellists than Streamyard, which might be because more people had used Zoom than had used Streamyard prior to the convention. Zoom was less popular with moderators and wranglers than Streamyard, which is probably because Streamyard is built for this and Zoom is sometimes a little obtuse when it comes to being the event coordinator.

Key takeaways.

  1. In general, people liked the convention!
  2. We need to communicate better before the con, especially to encourage people to join the planning efforts beforehand.
  3. Volunteer roles could be streamlined.
  4. Con badges were not popular enough to offset the large amount of effort they represented.
  5. If possible, having panel comments crosspost to Discord and YouTube would address criticism around the ease of following discussions about panels.

Financial report.

Now that Punctuation’s payments have all gone through, we can do the end-of-convention financial report. Stripe, our payment processor, keeps some payments for up to 60 days to hedge against us needing to issue refunds etc., so our last payment was received in mid-January.

Income.

As plotted in the figure below (left), we took a total of £985 in GBP, £940 of which came from WordPress/Stripe directly and the rest of which came through bank transfers made directly to our Transferwise account. We also took A$20 which is not shown.

Our income and outgoings, split by source. Only GBP monies are shown; we also took A$20.

Outgoings.

Our total outgoings were £307.51, and the reasons for that expenditure are also shown above (right). By far our largest expenditure was payment processing, accounting for 40% of our spending. Part of this is because WordPress charges more than Stripe would on their own on the version of their payment plan we were using, which was our second smallest expenditure: £36 covering our domain name and hosting for the year.

Our second largest expenditure was PollEverywhere, which we used for some programme items on Zoom; these items were well-received and among the more interactive programming available at Punctuation. However, they were a relatively small percentage of the programme which cost £60 to run, as opposed to the sum total of the rest of the programme which cost £80 to run through Zoom and Streamyard. Given the large surplus we made while charging a relatively small amount, this is probably not a problem.

The spend on Discord Nitro was £8. This let us have better audio quality in our voice chats, and let us have 100 custom emoji instead of 50. However, given that the voice chats were the part of the convention ranked the least useful by our members in the after-con evaluation, and we only used 35 custom emoji, this £8 may not have been worth spending. On the other hand, we derived significantly more value from Discord than the £8 we spent, so giving them some contribution seems appropriate.

All in all, however, we were able to deliver a good convention for a relatively small amount of money, and easily covered our costs by charging a small amount compared to other online conventions. In our post-con evaluation, members clearly indicated that they felt the convention was excellent value for money, and we had income which was roughly triple what we needed to cover our costs. We will be able to consider alternative pricing models for any follow-up convention we run.

Remaining monies.

We have £676.53 and A$20 remaining in our Transferwise account. Of the money in GBP, half will be kept for potential running of Punctuation 2. The other half will be disbursed to the four convention charities, and this will occur according to the numbers of votes in the Discord server at the end of the convention. The totals are as follows:

If we don’t run a follow-up convention by mid-2022, the remaining monies will be disbursed to the above charities in the same ratios.

Preparing for the convention.

We are running some programme items at Punctuation which will require some forward thinking from members, and this post is to let you start getting your ducks in a row.

There are multiple things happening next weekend which require you to eat and drink, and some which involve culture. If you are interested in any of the following, remember to order or plan to obtain the various components necessary.

Reading.

  • The Dawnhounds: if you’re interested in participating in a book group about this, read the book in advance; it won the Sir Julius Vogel Award so CoNZealand members may already have a copy.

Drinking.

  • Beer tasting: you want to get something local, something Belgian, something dark, and something connected to SFF or fandom.
  • Vauxhall: bring something…strange. (And alcoholic.)
  • Wine tasting: bring some wine!

Eating.

  • Cheese tasting: click here to read about the cheese tasting format.
  • Breakfast: on Saturday at 10am we’ll be having breakfast together! Bring breakfast, and argue about mushrooms.
  • Elevenses: on Sunday at 11am we’ll be having a spot of elevenses.
  • Takeout: on Sunday night during the dead dog, bring assorted takeaways and show them off in the virtual feast!
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