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Convention
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Convention

Generally, convention means coming together. Sometimes it means physically coming together, as a group of people meeting in one place, and sometimes it means agreeing on rules and customs. In the latter sense, a convention may be explicitly legislated, as the rule to drive on the right side of the road in some countries, and sometimes it may hardly even be spoken, as the convention in many societies that when strangers are introduced, they shake hands.

Meeting

Generally, a convention is a gathering of individuals who meet at a pre-arranged place and time in order to discuss or engage in some common interest. The most common conventions are based upon fandom, industry, and profession. Fan conventions usually feature sales, people dressed up as their favorite characters, and guest celebrities. Trade conventions typically focus on a particular industry or industry segment, and feature keynote speakers, vendor displays, and other information and activities of interest to the event organizers and attendees. Professional conventions focus on issues of concern to the profession and advancements in the profession. Such conventions are generally organized by societies dedicated to promotion of the topic of interest. Conventions also exist for various hobbies, such as gaming or model railroads.

In the technical sense, a convention is a meeting of delegates or representatives. Often times organizations which are made up of smaller units, chapters, or lodges, such as labor unions, honorary societies, and fraternities and sororities, meet as a whole in convention by sending delegates of the units to deliberate on the organization's common issues. This also applies to a political convention, though in modern times the common issues are limited to selecting a party candidate or party chairman. In this technical sense, a congress, when it consists of representatives, is a convention. The British House of Commons is a convention, as are most other houses of a modern representative legislature. The National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from September 20, 1792 to October 26, 1795.

Many sovereign states have provisions for conventions besides their permanent legislature. The Constitution of the United States of America has a provision for the calling of a Constitutional Convention, whereby delegates of the states are summoned to a special meeting to amend or draft the constitution. This process has never occurred, save for the orignal drafting of the constitution, although it almost happened in several cases. The US Constitution also has provisions for constitutional amendments to be approved by state conventions of the people. This occurred to ratify the original constitution and to adopt the twenty-first amendment, which ended prohibition.

Con is a common slang for convention as in DEF CON a hacker gathering like Hackers on Planet earth.

Shared rule or custom

A convention is a rule or a selection from among two or more alternatives, where the rule or alternative is agreed upon among participants. Often the word refers to unwritten customs shared throughout a community. For instance, it is conventional in many societies that strangers being introduced shake hands. Some conventions are explicitly legislated; for example, it is conventional in America and Germany is that motorists drive on the right side of the road, whereas in England and Barbados they drive on the left. The extent to which justice is conventional (as opposed to natural or objective) is historically an important debate among philosophers.

In every field of art, science, or other human endeavor, there are conventions that may simply be expectations (strangers being introduced shake hands, paintings are rectangular) or stock devices (a comedy ends with a marriage, but a cowboy film can end with the hero riding off into the sunset). There are generic conventions that are tied very closely to a particular artisitc genre - and may even help to define what it is.

In governments, convention is a set of unwritten rules which the participants in the government are expected to follow. These rules can be ignored only if justification is clear, or can be provided. Otherwise, consequences are sure to follow. Consequences may include ignoring some other convention that has until now been followed. According to the traditional doctrine (Dicey), conventions cannot be enforced in courts, because they are non-legal sets of rules. Convention is particularly important in the United Kingdom and former British colonies such as Canada and Australia where many of the rules of government are unwritten. An example of conventions being broken is the Australian Constitutional Crisis of 1975.