help wanted: test commenting speed (again)

Hi all,

I am home today with a mildly sick kid (no worries, all will be well) and would like your help in testing the latest iteration in the ongoing saga of Con or Bust’s Commenting Times.

To wit: the post you are on right now is Con or Bust’s original site/main domain/etc. I would really love it if you could please post a comment here and take note of how long it took the comment to post. Hold that thought until step two.

(Feel free to be creative in your test comments, though remaining within the bounds of good taste. Favorite quotes? Song recommendations? Get your pet to walk across the keyboard? But “testing” is fine too, I’m just hoping for as many comments as possible.)

Then, leave a comment on our testing site, where there is also a very quick poll asking for your findings.

Thanks so much!


request assistance now through May 25!

Fans of color/non-white fans: now through May 25, 2017, you can request monetary assistance to attend any upcoming SFF con. To learn how to request assistance, see the Request Assistance page. For the most up-to-date list of cons to which specific assistance is available, see the Upcoming Cons page. (However, you’re not limited to requesting assistance for those cons; any upcoming SFF con is fine.)

Thanks, and please spread the word!


Auction interim report and reminder

Now that I’m back from work travel and have caught up on Con or Bust email:

I am pleased to report that the total pledged bids for Con or Bust’s auction total $10,589.00. I won’t know the full amount we raised during this period for a few weeks, because there may have been Giving Fund donations that weren’t for the auction, but I do know that there was another $800 in donations from before the auction even started. I will post updated numbers when I have them.

There are a handful of people who won and haven’t paid yet; if that’s you, please check out this post to claim your excellent winnings. (I will send emails later in the week, never fear, but it would a kindness if I didn’t have to.)

Thanks to everyone for their help and support!

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


the auction’s (mostly) over, now what?

If this post has published when scheduled, it is 4:01 p.m. Eastern and Con or Bust’s 2017 auction is now over, except for items with last-minute bids. This post addresses: (1) how to tell whether bidding on an item is over and if you won; (2) what to do after winning; (3) what to do if you offered an item for auction; and (4) what to do if you need help.

Is Bidding Over? Did I Win?

Bidding gets extended by last-minute bids, so here’s a refresher on whether the bidding on any specific item is over yet:

Was a valid bid on an item posted with a timestamp from 3:50 through 4:00 p.m. on May 7? A valid bid is higher than the last one.

  • No.
    • If the last valid bid on an item was timestamped 3:49 p.m. or earlier, then that bid is automatically the winner.
  • Yes.
    • If a valid bid was timestamped 3:50 p.m., 4:00 p.m., or any time in-between, then bidding on that item is automatically extended until 4:10 p.m.
    • Next, either:
      • no further bids are received timestamped on or before 4:10 p.m., and therefore bidding is over at 4:10 p.m. and the last high bid wins; or,
      • another valid bid is timestamped on or before 4:10 p.m., and bidding continues until 4:20 p.m. Repeat as necessary.

If an item’s bidding period has been extended by last-minute bids, the bidding period will automatically extend until no bids have been received during the last extension period, at which time bidding automatically closes. A moderator ruling is not required for bidding on an item to be extended.

Similarly, a moderator ruling is not required to determine if you’ve won: if you’re the last valid bid within the applicable time period, you’ve won. (I will be happy to confirm, however! Leave a comment on the auction item in question.)

I Won; What Do I Do Now?

Congratulations and thanks very much! Please pay for your winnings; you don’t need to wait for me to notify you that you’ve won. (However, if you can’t quite remember what you bid on, you can comment here using the same email address you would have used for bidding and I will email you when the spreadsheet is sorted out.)

When you pay, please provide the following information:

  • What item or items you are paying for (if you won multiple items, it’s preferable to pay for them all at once);
  • If your email address is different than the one you used to comment, what email address was on your comment; and
  • Your shipping address, if you’re having something shipped. Please note that PayPal no longer provides this information automatically.

If you have a PayPal account and would like 100% of your auction payment to go directly to Con or Bust, please use the below button (which is a link to the PayPal Giving Fund). (Edit: it appears this may not work outside the US; my apologies, this is outside my control.)

If you use the above button, you must then forward your acknowledgment email only to with the information requested above. (Please do not send money directly to that address!) The Giving Fund doesn’t allow you to leave notes with your donation and doesn’t notify us immediately that your donation has been made.

If you need to use a credit card rather than a PayPal account, you can also use PayPal to make a one-time donation; your donation will be reduced by a PayPal fee (a lower charity rate of 2.2% + $0.30).

If you’re donating using the above button, please click “Add special instructions to the seller” (below the donation amount) and include the information requested above.

Once I’ve matched up your donation with your winnings on the spreadsheet, you’ll get two emails from a thank-you receipt for your records, and an email putting you and your seller in touch. Please check your spam folders for these emails! (I will do these as quickly as I can, but judging by past experience, there will be dozens tonight alone, and I do have a family and a day job. I promise I will do my very best to be quick and accurate.)

You can also mail a check, but please contact me at before doing so.

I Offered Something for Auction, Now What?

Thank you for offering something! If your auction item sold, you’ll get two emails from a thank-you receipt for your records, and an email putting you and your winner in touch. Then make whatever arrangements are necessary!

Finally, I mention this only because some people have asked if they could do it in past years: if bidding was vigorous, you may, where practical and in your sole discretion, offer additional items to people with the high losing bids or who got their bids in late. But that would be an entirely optional exercise of extreme generosity on your part—which means, bidders, don’t importune or I will frown disapprovingly at you over the Internet.

I Need Help!

Comment here or email It is very important to me that everyone who participates in the auction be satisfied that they were treated fairly, and I want to hear about any concerns or problems, at any time.

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


auction bidding ends today, Sun. May 7, at 4pm Eastern!

Dear all,

Bidding on Con or Bust’s annual auction ends today, Sunday May 7, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, except for those items with last-minute bids, where bidding is automatically extended (details). I have just updated the auction index (Google Docs), and Friday’s post of auction highlights remains available for your perusal.

I will be updating the auction index next around 2:45-ish Eastern, and will do my best to keep up with it in real-time until the end of bidding. Let me know if you have questions.

Thanks, and please spread the word!

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


Con or Bust Newsletter for May 5, 2017

[Crossposted from Tinyletter. Get future newsletters delivered to your inbox by subscribing.]

Dear all,

Welcome back to the Con or Bust newsletter, which, approximately twice a month, updates you on Con or Bust events and deadlines and brings you news related to diversity in SFF fandom (scholarships, workshops, calls for submissions, awards, and the like). Your email address will always be kept private and you can unsubscribe at any time, at the bottom of the email.

Con or Bust News

Upcoming Deadlines

Upcoming Conventions

The following cons donated memberships to Con or Bust (or, occasionally, an individual donated memberships), and are happening now or soon, in case you’re looking for last-minute plans. Unless otherwise noted, memberships are notavailable to these cons.

  • MISTI-Con, May 18-22, 2017, Laconia, NH, USA.
  • WisCon, May 26-29, 2017, Madison, WI, USA.

Here is the full list of conventions to which memberships are available, and here is how to request a membership.

Fandom News

  • The Institute of American Indian Arts’ (IAIA) Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing is offering the first annual Sherman Alexie Scholarship to a student who applies and enrolls in the IAIA MFA program. All applicants to the Institute of American Indian Arts’ Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing who are enrolled members of a Native American tribe or First Nation are eligible. The deadline is Friday, May 26, 2017, at 5 pm.

And finally, here is a lovely picture of rainbow fluorite.

Thanks for reading! See you in a couple of weeks.

Kate Nepveu


auction highlights

The auction is over in less than two days, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on Sunday May 7 (details), and I come bearing an updated auction index (Google Docs) and some idiosyncratic highlights for your admiration and, perhaps, bidding.

(Disclaimer: I’m pretty darn tired, and thus, for instance, only caught that I’d written “terrible” instead of “terrific” right before I hit post. So please leave questions in the comments if I’ve managed to miss any other amazingly meaning-altering typos.)

Let’s start with the items have no bids at all right now, and therefore are solid bargains:

  • Pablo Defendini is offering a portfolio review, specifically of illustration, graphic design, or digital product design work. Pablo has a ton of experience and this is a terrific opportunity.
  • A Kickstarter Exclusive Collector’s Edition Variant of the first issue of the comic Vampire Hunter D: Message from Mars, along a print of the cover art, stickers, pins, and mini-prints. These were all exclusively offered during the Kickstarter.
  • Michael J. Martinez is offering signed copies of his novels MJ-12: Inception and MJ-12: Shadows. The latter isn’t due out until September, so you can get a head start on this series about “Cold War spies with superpowers.”
  • Elsa Sjunneson-Henry is offering a disability sensitivity read of a novella or novel. Elsa is a writer, editor, historian and theatre professional, who’s also written and taught extensively on disabled representation in fiction (bio and links), and thus is extremely well-qualified for the offered sensitivity read!
  • Here’s a cool bit of fandom history: The Silver Eel, a one-shot fanzine devoted to Fritz Leiber and Harry Otto Fischer’s Lankhmar stories. It includes an interview with Leiber, an essay by Fischer, and other essays and art.
  • And here’s a limited edition lithograph celebrating The War of the Worlds and H.G. Wells, signed by the artist. Check out the pictures, even if you’re out of wall space, because it’s a great piece of art.

And now for items that have bids, but that I think deserve some attention anyway, for various reason:

I will be updating the bidding spreadsheet throughout the weekend (mostly likely Saturday night, Sunday morning, and during Sunday afternoon). Please check that you’re subscribed to any auctions you’re interested in by heading to that auction and, if necessary, clicking on “subscribe without commenting.” Comment if you have any questions, and please spread the word!

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


auction index updated

As of last night, Con or Bust’s auction index (Google Docs) has been updated with current high bids and number of bids. Check it out for overlooked auctions & cool stuff!

As the footer to this post says, bidding will end this coming Sunday, May 7. I will make a post highlighting stuff that I think is cool soon, but I’m typing this when literally blurry-eyed with fatigue, so it will have to wait. Feel free to comment here with stuff you admire but are outbid on!

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


a poll on auction commenting response times

Dear all,

I would like your feedback on how fast comments to Con or Bust’s website are publishing for you. On my end, despite substantial efforts at optimization, it still takes a considerable amount of time after I hit “submit” to have the comment load. I’m very grateful to everyone who’s commented so far! But I worry that this will be a serious problem when we get to the last days and hours of the auction.

There is one more thing I haven’t tried yet, which is upgrading our server temporarily. But before I do that, I’d like to hear how the commenting response times have been for you—maybe I’m just stunningly unlucky in when I comment.

Therefore, here is a link to an extremely short SurveyMonkey poll. It will close tomorrow, Sunday April 30, at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Feel free to leave a test comment on this post before taking the poll, in case you haven’t commented yet (or recently) and are thinking you might depending on how bidding goes!

Finally, if you are a WordPress guru and would like to volunteer an hour or so of time to chat about what I’ve already done and see if I’ve overlooked something (I’ve worked really hard on this, but I am not remotely an expert), please email me.

Thanks, and please spread the word!

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.


reminder: auction items are intended for personal use

Dear all,

Just a quick reminder that, as it says on the auction page,

publishers, authors, and other donors have generally donated books and other items on the understanding that they will be bid on by fans for their personal use, and not by resellers. Please respect this so that people will feel comfortable continuing to donate to the auction.

That’s not to say that if, for instance, a few years from now you are moving and need to reduce the size of your library, you can’t include your Con or Bust winnings in the stack of books you bring to any local used bookstore that still exists; but please go into bidding with your personal use and enjoyment as the goal.

Thanks very much for your understanding, and let me know if you have any questions.

Bidding is now CLOSED on all items. Here's what to do next.