Some reflections on the current crop of complaints
Since I am once again on staff, I need to preface this post with the reminder that I am not speaking on behalf of Anime Detour, have no standing to do so, and if you think what I am about to say is in any way, shape, or form the official opinion of Anime Detour, you should set your computer on fire, because you are too dumb to be using the Internet. It's MY opinion and mine alone, okay?
Having said that, I do have some perspective on the complaints posted in the Anime Detour 20XX Facebook group lately, because I was in at the beginning of this thing. For those of you that don't know me, I was one of the founding members of Anime Twin Cities and served as its VP and Treasurer for the first few years before working as ATC's Secretary for a couple years before moving back to the Washington area in 2007. I was Vice-Chairman for the first convention in 2004, Chairman in 2005 and 2006, and Head of Registration in 2007. I've attended most of the following Detours as a regular otaku and sometimes as a volunteer, so I've seen most of the changes that have been made under my successors. Not gonna lie, I'm not happy about all those changes, because...well, I'll deal with that as we deal with the complaints.
Some of them are very familiar. People have complained about SecuritySafety since 2005: they didn't like Security's attitude, they didn't like being told what to do or being yelled at if they didn't listen and do what they were told the first time...yeah. There's nothing really new here, except for the unfortunate business with the cosplayer's weapon, and I would submit that was more a case of poor communication and bullheaded behavior on the part of one staff member than anything else. As Napoleon once said, "Never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence", and unfortunately, Safety has never (ever) had enough people to fill its shifts, and this means people operate without enough sleep, and as we all know, lack of sleep makes people stupid. Another factor here is that Safety, like Security before it, attracts the kind of people who like telling other people what to do. This is unfortunately a necessary thing; you can't staff Safety with introverts, you need people who will not hesitate to tell convention members that they need to go back to their rooms and sleep it off, they need to come up to Ops and get a ruling on whether their costume shows too much sideboob or cod, or to clear the halls because the paramedics are coming through. They don't always have the time to stop and explain these things, and naturally people get irritated. Welp. You can't please everyone, and I think you're a fool to try. Still, the change from a Security department running under our original unofficial motto of "Brutal honesty. Heavy on the brutal." to a kinder, gentler Safety department doesn't seem to have cut down on the complaints, though I think rinnytintinny and Matt have done their best to improve things in that department. I would encourage people to follow the Safety folks around sometime (especially on a Saturday night) and see what they put up with. It might damage your faith in your fellow otaku, it may damage your calm as well, but I think you'll have a better idea of the stresses involved. It's not as easy as it sometimes looks from the outside.
As for the other complaints, many of them revolve around the Size Issue, which is something that's been argued about in staff meetings since it became obvious we weren't going to implode and fail, and dejana made the most pertinent comment: if we move into the Convention Center, our expenses will increase hugely, and a lot of the stuff we currently do (a consuite, for example) is flat out not going to be possible, even if we could afford it.
The bottom line is that if you want the convention to change, you need to get involved. You don't have to be a staff member to show up at staff meetings and make the staff aware of how you feel about things. Show up and speak up. If you want to get involved in meta issues like policy (for example, the Size Issue) you do need to join staff so that you can become a board member or officer of ATC. But anyone can volunteer to do programming. Get some friends together, agree on a topic, and submit it to Programming.
I had a couple more paragraphs of stuff, but it's getting late in the morning and I have to sleep sometime. Many of the reasons things at Detour (and at ATC) are the way they are can be found in the following LJ posts, which are all public, and I hope you find them edifying.