Spotters' guide

To avoid problems and keep both the suiters and spotters happy and safe.

Version September 2009 Written by: Rekel

Table of contents

Introduction

This whole document is written with two thoughts:
  1. Get and keep the spotting quality at a high level.
  2. Make sure both the suiters and the spotters have fun.
A lot of things are general since there are a lot of factors which result in a different approach, by understanding the basic idea (of spotting and how to handle) a spotter will be able to do what needs to be done. This just covers the basic idea, some locations have specific hazards and some suiters have specific needs. With new experiences and additional remarks the "Spotter Directions & F.A.Q." will be updated. Or if you have suggestions please give me a poke. And of course the spotters and suiters who added comments for improvements: Dizzle, Maruno, Murderwolf, Sithy

Differences between groups during a furwalk

There can be distinguished three groups during an average furwalk: Suiter, Spotter/Handler and Socialiser.

Suiter

No suiters, no furwalk. They have several limitations with the most important one: Vision. Depending on the suit it ranges from extreme bad to moderately bad. A spotter is a second pair of eyes for the suiter.

Spotter/Handler

Depending on the arrangements and location a spotter follows/assists one particular suiter or keeps an eye open in general. And warns for hazards and deals with hazards.

Socialisers

This is a group that should not be taken in account while planning, they do not have the intention to spot but to hang out with friends this is not a problem unless this keeps the spotters from spotting. Socialisers should not be granted free entrance to parks, since they are not necessary to get the event on the rails.

Main things a spotter should do

They must not be compromised in such extend that accidents could happen.

Steer the suiter away of high risk hazards.

Hazards that have a high change or cannot be judged must be avoided at all time. A few examples (for more see the "Hazards"-section):

Warn the suiter for potential hazards.

Hazards that can result in injury or damage must be pointed out to the suiter since because of their reduced vision they might not notice. A few examples (for more see the "Hazards"-section):

Remove and keep away annoying children.

Children that kick, pull, stomp, etcetera should be removed. However do not overreact when it is just lifting up the tail a bit to stroke (at first it might look the same as tail pulling).

Carry water or sports drink with you for the suiter(s).

And make sure it is ample for the situation: suiters do sweat a lot. Take extra with you if there is little wind or/and high temperatures. But do note that it the responsibility of the suiter to provide you with his water.

Have a slight idea...

...how to remove the head and unzip/unbutton the suit in case a suiter does pass out due of the heat or other sudden things. Since it is difficult to explain how this happens and it varies between suits, just ask and look how a fursuiter does it.

Not losing his/her suiter out of your view.

Do not get distracted to long by other things, since a suiter is depend on your view. Some suiters might feel the urge to run in a different away then the group is going.

Additional things a spotter can do

Besides the main things a spotter can do there are a few things that are appreciated if a spotter is able to do these things however they must never compromise the primary tasks.

Video or photo registration

Give memories of a furwalk a more permanent addition in the form of photos or videos. Before uploading pictures to a frequently visited websites by outsiders (other people then the ones that visited the event: like Furaffinity, deviantart) make sure that people who do not wear a fursuit do not mind being on those photos. Especially when you add their names.

Give Feedback

Relatively new suiters might find it handy if you give them feedback on how they act. Just ask if they are interested in this.

What the heck is this?

Have an answer ready to explain what the suiting is all about, but try avoid the word "furry" since a Google search has a significant chance on bad results. The basic thing to say that it is a hobby for the suiters and they like to entertain people.

Spotter equipment

Basic equipment

  1. Mobile phone with numbers of at least one other spotter who is at the same furwalk (and preferable at least one of the organisers).

Extra equipment

Not necessary but might come in handy.

First time spotting

Do not call yourself a spotter yet if you have no experience in spotting for people in suits with limited view (like cosplay-suits and fursuits) since planners of a furwalk depend heavily on the ratio spotters:suiters. Walk with a more experienced spotter (preferable one with more than 5 walks) so you can see how spotting is done. But do not walk only with one spotter but also walk with several others, every spotter does it a little bit different, some prefer a more handsome approach while others might prefer to use their voice. Talk with a fursuiter about spotting. Ask feedback about what he/she thought about your spotting.

Hazards

Hazards can be divided in three section: human, animal, non-living.

Human

Animal

Animals can never (and with never I really mean never) be predicted. However some indicators can be interpreted as an indicator to steer clear of them.
Playfull biting and jumping but not all dogs do it playfull. Playfull biting and jumping but not all dogs do it playfull.

Non-living

How do you guide a suiter?

This depends from suiter to suiter. A general dividing can be made in suiters with near zero vision straight ahead and bad ~ average vision. However it depends on the individual suiters and the environment how much and what kind of assistance he/she wants. Some suiters have bad vision but have a lot of experience and are able to go around without a lot of guidance while others have good vision but have other problems: ASK and observe them and the environment to meet their specific requirements.

Warn a suiter

This all depends on prior arrangements but in case none are made a good technique is the following: Depending on the hazard it might be required to step in.

Suiters with near zero vision straight ahead.

Depending on the suiter he/she may prefer one of these methods (many other methods are possible):

Suiters with bad ~ average vision.

Depending on the suiter he/she may prefer one of these methods (many other methods are possible):

Communication with a suiter

Suiters with good vision...

...do not exist! They all have less vision then you.
Your vision.Garrodor's visionDizzle's vision The view with one blink of a single eye: You, Garrodor, Dizzle.

Spotting styles

These styles only apply to groups and only reflect basic ideas and exact execution depends on organiser (individual styles depend on how to warn a certain suiter).

Loose

Small "enclosed" area with good overview, spotters do not walk after a certain (group of) suiter(s). Spotters and socialisers are more of the same level. Suiters remain within a specific area like a market or a field.

Spotting

Keep an eye out for trouble, if a certain area has a more risky hazard make sure a spotter is near this hazard. If children surround a spotter get closer and in case of trouble take actions.

I lost my suiter

You do not follow a particular suiter except if he/she requested for a personal spotter (in case of bad vision for example). Just walk around and ask if spotters or suiters saw the suiter.

Tight

One spotter on one particular suiter. Completely arranged and no space to swap, the spotter is responsible for what happens to the suiter at all time. Preferable at busy places.

Spotting

Your assigned to one suiter and will spend most of your time keeping an eye out for him/her, however you also keep an eye on other suiters to see if they do not experience problems that her/his spotter cannot solve alone or that his/her spotter shows he/she is incapable of proper spotting.

I lost my suiter

This should not happen since your main task was spotting for him/her. depending on the area where you suit talk/call to other spotters if they saw your suiter. If you are still unable to locate your suiter contact the organiser(s) and tell them when you saw them the last time. Further actions depend on area.

Few spotters on a significant larger group

This asks for good spotters and suiters who are not fully depend on spotters and an area with not too many children.

Spotting

Leader and sweeper are two roles that must be filled. The leader guides the suiters, while the sweeper collects the suiters that stay behind. It is preferred to have more than one sweeper since leaving one behind without any support is out of the question and you might miss one suiter.

I lost a suiter

Two options: Move back with the whole group or hold the group together while a spotter goes back.

City Centre

Larger chance on trouble makers so a larger spotter group is preferred and at least one on one.

Spotting

It is preferred to have one spotter assigned to each suiter and have the others as back-up (or switching).

I lost a suiter

Ask the other spotters. If you cannot locate him contact the organiser. Further actions depend on him (possible actions include: Move back with the whole group or hold the group together while one or more spotters walk back (check alleys).)

F.A.Q.

The suiter I follow is boring and barely moves can I leave him alone?

NO! Even considering this is almost a fail. This categories of suiters are either near complete blind or also beginners. It might be better to consider if you want to apply for spotting the next furwalk.

I lost my fursuiter?

This is to be honest one of the most stupid things that can happen in general. Since it all depends on the spotting style of the whole group: see "Spotting styles"

I am spotting for two fursuits at the same time but one stays behind all the time, what to do?

Instruct the faster suiter to stay behind the other suiter. Or make them more interact with each other so they have a clue where the other is.

A (small group of) fursuiter(s) choose(s) an alternate path, should I follow him or note him that the others go in a different direction?

This depends on prior arrangements (Does the group wants to stay together? Is there a certain destination?). However you might want to inform the suiter/group about the different direction but in all cases follow the suiter/group. It might be a good idea to inform the organiser(s) that they take a different route and you follow them.