A name badge or nametag is the insignia issued by a con which (1) indicates you are a member and (2) tells other members who you are. Many fans save them as souvenirs.
A surprising number of conventions produce badges which fail at one or the other of these tasks, most commonly by neglecting to put the member's name on the badge or by putting it in tiny type, so that others can learn a stranger's name only by means of quite inappropriate familiarity.
Among experienced conrunners, it's generally agreed that the member's name should be in at least 24-point type.
The recent practice by some cons of issuing long lanyards for the badges rather than pins or clips also contributes to the readability problem, as the badges either flip over so the names aren't visible, or hang at a height that can make someone misconstrue where another fan's interest lies. (If it seems as if other people are staring at your potbelly or your breasts, try tying a knot in the lanyard to cinch your badge up higher.)
Another good reason for large, readable names on prominently worn badges is so that, 50 years later, fanhistorians peering at unlabeled photos of the event can figure out who was who.
Many cons put useful information on the back of the badge, such as program participants' schedules and the real names of people who prefer their nicknames to be on the front.
Badges in Fanhistory
In the early days, con badges tended to be simple pieces of paper inserted into a plastic holder, but more recently, they have become laminated, full-color pieces of art. This transition began at MidAmeriCon, whose organizers feared that that they’re then unheard-of high-at-the-door membership fee ($50!) might lead to forgeries.
Conventions also once commonly printed members' hometowns on their badges, which was a useful conversation starter, and often led to meetings of fans from the same area previously unknown to each other. For example, such meetings led to the founding of the Stilyagi Air Corps. However, this practice has, regrettably, become controversial, due to some congoers' privacy concerns.
Fanartists used to make custom badges for their friends (or for sale), which the recipients wore at numerous cons. These served for identification purposes, though not for admission.
The popular catchphrase, "Badges? We don't need no stinking badges" comes from the 1974 film Blazing Saddles, and is in turn a misquote from the 1948 film Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which had it as “Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!”
- “Feeling Badgered? Membership Badge Issues and Fannish Community Spirit” by Kevin Standlee inArgentus 6.
- “A Tale of Three Nametags” by John D. Berry, October 4, 2019.
- “Badges” by Steve Davies.
- British Convention Name Badges at EFanzines.
See also: Badge Name.
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