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Where are the Meadhall signups?
I am honestly confused here -- by all accounts, signups for the Queen's Meadhall (aka Bardic Champions, aka the Bardic Wiggly-Do) are currently very low. I don't quite understand why, and I'm concerned. This is looking to be a really good event -- lots of the best storytelling around all afternoon, a Royal Court (first one we've had in a while), a creative and tasty feast, and then some serious dancing.

I'd expected this event to get 150 people *easily*, so I'm surprised, and more than a little worried about the implications for the health of the Barony. Thoughts on why?

(And if you've been putting off getting a reservation, today's the last day to do so easily online -- I strongly recommend going and dealing with it ASAP.)

Update: Annnnnd now we're sold out, at least of the ACCEPS reservations. I'm curious how much of this happened today, as the result of the surge in awareness; unfortunately, it's hard to tell. Which kind of underscores the problem -- ACCEPS is a good effort, but if it's going to be as important as it's becoming, it needs a redesign in order to serve autocrats better...

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My only guesses are that it's outside the T system, and it's not a general-interest event, so some people might just be all, "Bardic, meh."

Quite possible -- there's been a lot of that trend, of people only going to specialty events if it is *their* specialty. But that's unfortunate in general (and bad for the health of the Barony if it's this extreme), and a bit surprising in this particular case: this is specifically the event where spectating is likely to be great...

I think a lot of folks will show up at the last minute, especially if they are coming from elsewhere in the kingdom. It can be a long drive in Winter, and many people wait to see what happens. The ACCEPS signups stop 3 weeks short of the event, and for many people they make up their mind in the last 2 weeks. I wouldn't be alarmed just yet, although more advertising wouldn't hurt.

The ACCEPS signups stop 3 weeks short of the event, and for many people they make up their mind in the last 2 weeks.

Absolutely. For events that aren't automatic (Champion's) and/or have logistics behind them (hotel rooms or whatnot), most people I know don't commit until the week before. If that.

Or maybe most of the people I hang out with are terrible noncommittal people, that could be it too. :)

It's the busy season: New Year's, Twelfth Night, Arisia, Birka, Bardic, Boskone, Intercon, Black Rose, Paxeast. Several of those can require major prep for the enthusiastic. Even going as a tourist, that's nine things in eleven weekends, which can be a bit much.

Edited at 2013-01-15 02:51 pm (UTC)

And many people will have expended travel time and energy on Christmas, which makes it 10 in 13.

I decided to attend this event (my first since Pennsic) specifically because it will be good for spectating and is less than an hour's drive for me. I hope the numbers pick up.

Slouching about watching performances is not my idea of a grand time, I'm afraid. And for that, I have the SuperBowl the next day. ;-) I need to be there for the dancing and want to be there for court, or else I might well skip the whole thing. I have yet to see a schedule for the day, which would help a lot in figuring out how to plan, including whether it makes more sense for me to go off-site to eat. So I haven't pre-reg'd.

I wonder if being the week after Birka is depressing attendance?

Probably at least somewhat the case, especially being near the tail of a big block of events, as herooftheage points out...

I think it's that people's brains are still in OMGCHRISTMASTHENBIRKA mode. I hadn't realized how close together they were until a meeting the other day.

(And for the record, just completed our pre-reg, and am once again bringing my parents, since they had such a lovely time at Thrown Weapons. So that's four more.)

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Some points:

Considering the Baronial bank account, why on earth do we care about whether or not it goes into the red? (It doesn't make me especially happy to bring college students, have them (or me) pay quite a lot for them, to find out the Barony has made a tidy profit that the Barony so doesn't need.

Back in The Day, "we" certainly did care about events not losing money....a bank account of 40$ won't back much.

It's three weeks early; few events draw comprehensive registration numbers that early, and we (me and a lot of others) love to sign-up after the last minute, if only we could.

It is a specialty event, advertised as a specialty event in the middle of a particularly busy season.

26,000$ in the bank and the Barony cares about losing 500? C'mon Carolingia, be nicer to your autocrats.

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So Mara pre-regged us a while ago, and we're going to the event. I'm likely to show up by court, since I want to see the Pelican ceremony. After that, I'm bangin' on a drum with the musicians. If it weren't for those two things, I don't know whether I'd go or not:

1) At an event styled "The Queen's Meadhall", I expect there to be, well, mead.
2) Also, a Norse feast, not a Roman one. And that's fully expecting Rufinia to do a bang-up job. But really, that has the feel of "we have this awesome hammer, so let's use it to bang on stuff".
3) Story-telling is very dicey. Great story-telling is great. Bad story-telling makes me want to rip my ears off to end the pain. And one is sort of trapped.
4) A cash bar is a draw? Yes, taverns, pubs, ale-houses, are all ancient and venerable period things. But having grown up in the era of BYOB, a blatantly modern bar, even one with decent beer, is the sort of thing that one can find better elsewhere. if this thing felt like a meadhall, it'd be great. That it won't, makes me feel a bit cheated.

The first winter events I can remember going to were Valentine's Day events. They ran opposite Boskone, and were good enough that people left from Boskone to come to them, and then went back afterwards - indeed, they were set up to allow for that fairly easily, generally being in Cambridge someplace, with easy access to the T. They were themed, insofar as it didn't feel like a mish-mash of things all jammed together to fill out the day. This event feels like a fair bunch of disparate pieces got sewn together to make an event. I expect all the pieces to be decently good, but I do wonder what's supposed to be the draw for this particular collection together.

I would be there in a heartbeat, friend, but I have stopped playing until I have steady, dependable income once more. If I go to events at all, they are strictly local. It would not surprise me to hear that others who would normally go are saying the same thing.

The feast alone is worth the price of admission. Who doesn't like tasty food? Silly people. But yes, if people realize it's dinner and a show, maybe they'd be more likely to get off their butt and move on it.

Gotta say though, I've seen easier ecommerce systems, and I'm also used to many events where I can pay at the door (no feast at those though...) which is so much easier than this system. The last thing an ecommerce system should do is make people prefer to pay at the door....

Here's my thinking, as someone ambivalent but preregistered due to spouse. It combines a lot of other people's points, especially matildalucet and herooftheage.

Item one, of which there can be little dispute, the feast bids fair not-to-be-missed. It is one very solid point in favor of the event.

Item two, I'm not very big on the SCA's bardic tradition. Some "bards" are amazing authentic storytellers like Grim and Toki to whom I could listen forever. Some sing modern filk, which I enjoy but not at events. And some are just bad! And some of my musician friends whoe talents I respect enormously reject the label bard entirely, because they feel it is too SCAdian and wish to keep their music in the medieval rather than SCAdian tradition (okay, this is my understanding of their motives, I could be wrong).

Item three, location. I mostly use the T, but even when I don't, I live a pretty hyperlocal life. Walpole feels like a huge trek for me for a day thing. This has changed since I started in the SCA and considered 2hours daytrippable.

Coming at this from (essentially) outside the group

Here are things I look for, especially this close to the event, in official sources (eastkingdom.org, carolingia webpage).
1) there's no schedule. When do performances start? when is dayboard open? when is feast? when is court? Can't you even ballpark it? (SCA time happens, I know, especially with Royalty & performance combine. But still.)
2) there's no menu or even ideas for dayboard or feast. I know Aurelia posted something recently (and I know her) but if I'm not a friend of the cook or steward how do I know what's planned or why I should look forward to it?
3) nothing has been updated since November (on ek.org) or even longer (carolingia.net). There isn't any other place to look for info as far as I can see. I don't want to sign up for a mailing list to troll through archives to see if a schedule has been posted.

Peregrine is going because -- bardic. Before kids I might have gone along to hang out in a corner; now I'm not really willing to take the chance.

(Honestly I'm having the same problem with Boskone: there's one event I want to see if I can attend and even looking at the website, LJ, Twitter, and Progress Update I can't even get it down to which day much less an actual schedule.)

TL;DR: If I have to be part of the cool kids crowd to even know stuff's going on, I'm not going. Harsh, maybe, but there it is.

Re: Coming at this from (essentially) outside the group

THIS. And I'm responsible for others besides myself, so more info would be a good thing about now.

I missed the online feast registration because I was dithering. I basically wouldn't eat the second course, but that third course is so tempting! However I STILL don't know when I need to be where so I'm going to let it go. I did just do site fee online minutes ago because I'd never used ACCEPS and I could and I know I'll be there at some point. Neither the best nor the worst ecommerce experience I've had.

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I don't know how recently you've autocrated in Carolingia, but seriously, never underestimate people's ability and inclination to wait until the last possible nanosecond, and maybe even a touch after that if they think they can get away with it. That was one of the things I hated most about the whole process.

Add to that this is sandwiched in between Birka and K&Q Fencing. In particular, people who have to travel any significant distance to get to Birka probably cannot do it two weekends in a row. And Birka for many is one of those Do Not Miss events, I would even suggest that in the East it is THE Do Not Miss event, after Pennsic.

I don't know how recently you've autocrated in Carolingia, but seriously, never underestimate people's ability and inclination to wait until the last possible nanosecond, and maybe even a touch after that if they think they can get away with it. That was one of the things I hated most about the whole process.

The tendency's always been there, although it sounds like it's worse than it was in the soi-distant past.

If that's the fact on the ground, though, the question becomes what we do about it. Are there things we can do to improve planning and commitment? Should we have a mechanism whereby people can say "maybe" in a clear and consistent way? This may sound silly, but it's all about the statistics: if it turns out that a reasonably consistent fraction of maybes actually come, then that becomes a halfway-decent planning tool to make an educated guess about attendance. Are there requirements that we should be trying to feed up the chain, to help the Powers That Be understand what autocrats need from online registration tools?

And so on. I'm really just brainstorming here, but if the problem is real and making life hard for autocrats, we should think about whether there are ways we can make it suck less.

And yes, I agree that the long string of events in the season probably isn't helping. That, too, may be worth a little bit of statistical examination for future planning. The Autocrat's Roundtable is talking about possible event planning and reporting tools; I'm starting to wonder if we may find ourselves wanting the ability to perform statistical analyses across events. Wouldn't surprise me...

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