I think anyone who’s been to a panel at a con in the past few years will appreciate Mark Evanier’s remarks on opening the floor to questions.
An open mike at a public event has increasingly become a magnet for people who should not be allowed near open mikes at public events. Audiences have begun to dread that portion of the program and to regard it as the signal that the event they came to see has come to an end. Thereafter, they can either leave (many do at that point) or sit there and cringe as control passes from the person they wanted to hear and goes to some stranger who, but for this opportunity, would never be speaking in front of a real audience and/or to someone of importance.
He goes on to mention the warning signs, like “On behalf of everyone here…” The people who, instead of just asking a question, need to turn it into the longest. public. statement. of. support. evar, as they pontificate about how this show changed their life, or that show inspired their writing, and can you please answer this stats question about my home-made Star Trek Role-Playing game after I read you a poem I wrote aaaaaall by myself?
No, really. I am not making this up.
As an example, at the Serenity panel at the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con, one “fan” took the floor to make a long rambling comment on behalf of fans who lived in Norway, London, England (“Both London and England?” “He’s got multiple personality disorder.”) etc. and explained that they thought Joss Whedon was “the best thing to happen to television since aerosol cheese.” Then he asked some question about the end of Angel and how they should handle some issue with the RPG. Joss tactfully handed it off to another panelist rather than tell the guy flat-out that it was a dumb (or at least inappropriate) question. (We’ve collected some more quotes from that panel.)
But this sort of thing happens all the time.