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What Now?

For all of you who are sick of Puppygate... I am too, but there's still a few more things that I need to say. Another day, maybe, and I will move on to happier topics.

Yes, I know about Larry Correia's response to my earlier posts and I will reply to him here... but not just now. There's another topic I need to cover first, one that I have been leading up to all along -- what the hell do we do now?

Whether you think what the Sad Puppies did is right or wrong, it's done. The ballot is out. It is what it is. So the ball is in our court now. What to do?

(Here is where I will probably piss off everybody on the anti-slate of this mess. Sorry).

Over at Making Light, and on several other sites, various rules changes are being proposed to prevent this from happening ever again. There are so many different proposals they make my head spin. More nominating slots, less nominating slots, weighted voting, eliminating the supporting memberships, outlawing slates, limiting nominees to a single nomination, juried nominations... on and on and on. The worldcon business meeting is never exactly a funfest, but if the proponents of half these proposals show up at Sasquan, this year's will be a nightmare. And will probably still be going on when MidAmericon II convenes.

I am against all these proposals. If indeed I am at Spokane, and if I can get myself up in time for the business meeting, I will vote against every one of them.

Most of them, frankly, suck. And the mere fact that so many people are discussing them makes me think that the Puppies won. They started this whole thing by saying the Hugo Awards were rigged to exclude them. That is completely untrue, as I believe I demonstrated conclusively in my last post. So what is happening now? The people on MY SIDE, the trufans and SMOFs and good guys, are having an endless circle jerk trying to come up with a foolproof way to RIG THE HUGOS AND EXCLUDE THEM. God DAMN, people. You are proving them right.

I hate what the Puppies did. It was based on false premises, and though it was not illegal, it was mean-spirited and unsportsmanlike. So how about we do NOT prove them right by rigging the rules against Sad Puppies 4? How about we try to be better than that? There is nothing wrong with the Hugo rules. If we want to defeat the Puppies, all we need to do is outvote them. Get in our own nominations. This year, the Puppies emptied the kennels and got out their vote, and we didn't. Fandom danced the usual, "oh, too busy to nominate, I will just vote on the final ballot," and for that complacency, we got blindsided. We lost. They kicked our fannish asses, and now we have the ballot they gave us. If we don't want that to happen again, we need to get out our OWN vote.

But let's not give in to our worst impulses. I do not want to disenfranchise anyone. (Well, okay, maybe a few, rabies is dangerous). The fandom I joined in 1971, the fandom I love, is open and friendly and welcoming, and has room for every shade of political opinion and literary taste. Those are values worth defending, a culture worth fighting for.

Oh, and there's another (lesser, admittedly) reason not to change the Hugo rules. The Nebulas. I have been a SFWA member since 1972, and I swear, the organization spends half its time arguing about the Nebula rules, year after year, decade after decade. I have seen a dozen "reforms" in my tenure, all in the interests of making the voting "more fair," but no matter what rules we adopt, a couple years later the bitching starts and members start demanding we change them again. It's endless. We do NOT want to open that Pandora's Box at worldcon. Change the rules to deal with the Sad Puppies, and a year or two from now we'll be changing again. Aside from adding the occasional category, or splitting one, the Hugo Awards have operated more or less the same way for decades, and that stability is part of their prestige. Let's not mess with that.

Which brings me to another proposed countermeasure: the No Award strategy.

This comes in two flavors. The hardliners propose we vote NO AWARD for everything. Every category, even the ones where the Puppies have no nominees. No Hugo Awards at Sasquan, whatsoever. We'll show them. Rather than letting them move into our house, we will burn it to the ground. "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." It worked so well in Vietnam.
All I've got to say about this idea is, are you fucking crazy?

The other approach is less radical. Vote NO AWARD in all the categories that are All Puppy. In the others, chose between the nominees (there are a few) that did not appear on either the Sad Puppy or Rabid Puppy slate, and place all the rest, the SP/RP candidates, under No Award.

That's less insane than the "No Award For Everything" idea, but only a little bit. Sorry, I will not sign on for this one either. For a whole bunch of reasons. For starts, the Puppies are already proclaiming that "No Award" equals victory for them (though sometimes it seems as though they believe anything that happens constitutes victory for them). Also, near as I can tell from reading the blogs, it appears that some of the Sad Puppy candidates never consented to joining their slate, and that none of the Rabid Puppies were ever asked if they wanted to be included (I am ninety per cent certain that none of the films or TV shows in the two Dramatic Presentations category were ever contacted). There are also a whole bunch of people -- all the editors except Vox Day, for starts -- who may or may not have been contacted. No one has said, no one talking about it, we just don't know.

Also... really, when you come down to it, this whole "were they contacted?" thing is a false issue. Torgensen says he contacted almost everyone, but missed a few. Some of his slate say no, they never heard from him... but does it really matter? I have been trying my damndest to get Alan Lee and John Howe nominated for Best Artist for years, and I never asked if I could. This year I wrote a long post about the brilliance of STATION ELEVEN and why it should be nominated in Best Novel, and I never contacted Emily St. John Mandel to ask if I could. I will not condemn Brad Torgensen for failing to do what I never do myself.

I do not believe in Guilt by Association, and that's what we'd be doing if we vote against every name on the Puppy slates simply because they are on the slate. That was a classic weapon of the McCarthy Era: first you blacklist the communists, then you blacklist the people who defend the communists and the companies that hire them, then you blacklist the people who defend the people on the blacklist, and on and on, in ever widening circles. No. I won't be part of that.

I have looked over the ballot, but I have not read all of it. Will I read all of it? Well, not every word.... but I will at least glance at every nomination. I know, from past experience, that there are some very talented writers on the list. There are also some very bad writers, and at least one whose picture probably appears next to MEDIOCRE in Websters. There are a lot of writers I have never read before, whose work I need to sample. Torgensen has claimed that the Sad Puppies slate is diverse, and a cursory glance at the names suggests he is not wrong.

I intend to consider every story and every finalist in every category, and vote for those that I think worthy of Hugos. I will vote NO AWARD, I promise you, but only where No Award is warranted. (Truth be told, I vote No Award every year in almost every category. Usually not in first, admittedly... but I don't just look at a category and rank them one to five in order of preference, I rank the ones I think rocket-worthy above No Award, and the ones I don't below).

This ballot is the worst I have ever seen, admittedly, and there are stories and writers on it who are not fit to polish a Hugo, much less win one. But there's good stuff as well, and talented writers whose work I have enjoyed, and I am not going to vote against them just because the Sad Puppies like them too.

As I get further into my reading, I will let you know my thoughts on what I've read. But that may be a long process, so be patient.

Honestly, I don't think any of the choices we have now are good ones. All roads seem to lead to perdition, but each of us will need to walk the one we think best. Meanwhile, I urge everyone who is reading this to go to the Sasquan website and join the convention. Attend if you can; if not, join as a Supporting member, just as the Puppies did. It is too late to nominate, but not too late to vote. The Puppies will be getting out their vote, you can be sure. We need to do the same, unless we care to see some poor guy hand Vox Day a rocket.

I wish I was more optimistic about how all this is going to turn out.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

(That's Yeats, not me. Just to be clear).

Comments

( 303 comments )
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jcast747
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:28 am (UTC)
I will say, however, as someone who has never been privy to the Hugo voting community [or these Machiavellian power plays inside of it], I am now, and that's only because of you and this blog, George. So, for what it's worth, hopefully your Livejournal posts have turned a slew of new people on to this neoconservative madhouse.
emp_sheeptopia
Apr. 11th, 2015 04:39 am (UTC)

I, for one, am now thinking of getting a membership.  Probably too late to vote this year (?? haven't looked that up), but next year...

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dothraki
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:32 am (UTC)
This whole thing is awkward and upsetting to me. The only reason I even heard of WorldCon and started attending is because of my tangential relation to your work. I'm still basically an outsider. I haven't heard of anything on this year's Hugo ballot, Sad Puppy or otherwise. I've made a lot of good friends since I started going to WorldCon and other conventions, though—friends who've been a part of either a specific or broad fandom for years. Many are writers—some of them may end up in the 6-15 slots on this year's Hugo ballot. Since I'm going to be at WorldCon, I feel a responsibility to vote, but I'm not even sure what to do about it. I don't have time to read a lot of stuff. I feel like I'll be upsetting someone by either voting for something, voting for no award, or not voting at all, which leaves me wondering what to do. My first WorldCon was 2011 in Reno. My first book came out last year; my next one is coming out this year. It just feels like the whole thing is snakebit—like this was a bad time to find sff. I wish I could ignore all the hubbub, but even that is making a choice.

As an outsider, though, I've seen that there's a lot of heartache going around—from well-known authors to little-known authors to fans, from all over every spectrum—and I just want to say that my heart goes out to you. I don't see how any of this gets better before it gets worse. :(
(Deleted comment)
ethangorham
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:38 am (UTC)
Hugo rules
The only thing Worldcon/Hugos need to do as far as rule/category changes go is to announce a slate of awards called the OGUHs (named for sounding like 'Oh God' and after the great and honorable Bizarro) whose purpose is to recognize the worst or most mediocre in Science Fiction/Fantasy every year. Kinda like the Razzies to the Oscars. Instead of a shiny HUGO rocket, their award can be a crashed ACME one (the inside can be filled with Booze for the "winners" to celebrate). Categories can include almost anything and don't have to be entirely disparaging or mean, like 'Worst Use Of Grammar', 'Worst Fandom Moment' (which the bitching about the release date of The Winds Of Winter would face little competition for), 'Worst Excuse for Science Fiction', or 'The Story SO Implausible (Impossible?) It Should've Been Fantasy' award.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Hugo rules
I hope you are joking.

That would be gasoline on the fire.
Re: Hugo rules - scottedelman - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hugo rules - Brad Handley - Apr. 16th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hugo rules - cogitationitis - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
flake_sake
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:40 am (UTC)
I tend to agree with you that the rules are actually fine. It is the turn out that needs to be changed.

I know what a Hugo is since I am twelve, when I first saw it on a Roger Zelazny book. It has been a quality guide for me ever since and I was delighted by the recent years nominations, particularly "Among Others", which I might have overlooked otherwise.

Thing is, I also took the Hugo and the quality and originality it guaranteed for granted. I never really thought about attenting WorldCon as it was usually too far away from me to come and I did not really consider a supporting membership up to now. But I realized now that if I want SciFi fandom to remain a creative, open, original and multi opinioned society I have to add my voice and not just leave the field to those with political motivations. I want to see a Hugo on a books cover and buy it, without having to look if it was before or after 2015.

So I got a supporting membership, maybe others will too and if so, maybe Worldcon at least will turn to be the winner of this, which in my opinion would be the best case scenario.
catastronauts
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:52 am (UTC)
No Award
If anything, this debacle has hurt the writers the most, in my opinion. I have heard many arguments for the "No Award" reaction straight across the slate(s), but something felt wrong about it.

For the most part, I don't know which nominees on the slate are active Puppy folks, or if they knew they were being slated, or if they knew what that meant. I do know that as a voter, I have a choice:

1. I can apply the same scorched earth tactics that I felt the SPs did in creating and pushing that slate.

or

2. I can thoughtfully consider the nominees, vote my conscience, and reward writing that I think is deserving. I like the notion of awarding "rocket-worthy" writing. I admit, my standards are pretty high. That won't change. I don't need Torgersen's permission to do this, nor do I need Day's or anyone else's.


Finally, I'd just like to say that even though I'm vehemently against what the SPs have done, I read about some members receiving threats. Please, folks, don't do that. Nobody deserves that--regardless what "side" you are on. It's shameful.
macd21
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:08 am (UTC)
Yet if the nominations system is not changed to somehow break the power of slates, then the Hugos will lose all meaning. Simply 'getting out the vote' isn't enough - in order to counter the Sad Puppies, a counter-slate will have to be formed. Result: instead of voting for the best work, we'll be voting for political positions.

As for No Award, it is in my opinion a much better option than voting for this year's work. How many great novels were excluded from the Hugos this year, not because they weren't worthy, but because they didn't get past the Hugo's new guard dogs, who get to pick and choose what gets nominated?

Until some method is found to get rid of the dogs, the Hugos are a farce. Voting just provides legitimacy to what they have done.
hippoiathanatoi
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:09 am (UTC)
Two points, George:

The fact that the Puppies will declare "No Award" a victory should not influence anyone's vote. You can't let the awards, and the way the awards work, and even specific ballot options (whether it's a particular author's book or No Award) be controlled by any particular group of people.


And in "Blogging for Rockets", you wrote the following:

"Just as happened with the "let me tell you about my eligible works," the rest of the field is going to need to field slates of their own in self-defense.

I don't look forward to that. It cheapens the Hugos."

There. Full stop. If it cheapens the Hugo, you actually should support proposals to minimize the power of slates without unduly impacting the intended spirit of the awards. Individual campaigns are one thing, have been around from the start more or less as you've noted, but competing slates are going to be a race to the bottom, the devolution of the Hugos into a collection of political parties rather than a collection of fans.

A move against slates is not a move against the works the Puppies believe need to be better represented. It merely means they need to become part of the Worldcon process: attending and sitting on panels, hawking books in the dealer's room, attending business meetings, throwing parties, and in the process let fellow fans start to understand why the works they love are works that they too can love.





asombreroman
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
Mr or Ms,

They have.

Please read attended; sitting on panels is a different thing entirely. Here, straight from the horse's mouth, which, I'm sure, is a process that was repeated by many people within the slate:

http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/04/09/a-response-to-george-r-r-martin-from-the-author-who-started-sad-puppies/#comments

And an amazing lady who supports the Sad Puppy efforts on her experiences in conferences and other meetings within the hobby:

http://accordingtohoyt.com/2015/03/31/the-scarlet-letters/

What happened with the Sad Puppies is the inclusion of more people supporting the conference itself, if not outright attending. How is this bad?


(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
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lose lose - unsunghero007 - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: lose lose - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 09:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
ponderable
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:24 am (UTC)
be strong
My heart goes out to all whose souls are torn by this fray.
Justina LA Robson
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:54 am (UTC)
How to be Optimistic about it
Thank you for writing about this. I feel better having read your response to the situation with its calm, thoughtful reaction, having spent a few days wading through other more volatile places.

My initial reaction was that the voting system should be changed to avoid hijack efforts, although on further examination as you say - there are two reasons not to bother changing the format. First of all it signals that fans can't be trusted to be decent human beings any more, which is completely the opposite message to the one required and second it risks the sanity of hundreds as they try to invent an incorruptible system. I don't know if anyone proposed a system specifically to exclude certain groups or not; if they did, shame on them. Fandom was one of those places where it seemed like the Bill of Rights really did operate as intended, at least in my idealistic take on it when I met up with it in the early 1990s.

I'm writing here to add my few pence on a note that I hope may give some cause for positive reflection. This has done a lot to highlight the history and legacy of both the Hugos and fandom, even if that has come about in a depressing and negative way. That legacy is a noble one, full of good intentions and humane kindnesses, as well as the odd slip up: we're only human, but fans have always been pretty good humans collectively. We don't always make it but we work hard at it. This Hugo slate is bringing out the worst even in good people, sadly, but it's also lighting a fire under those of us, like me, who've sat about in comfortable complacency thinking that things were mostly OK.

All the qualities you mention as precious within the community of fans are very precious and they are STILL THERE. I anticipate that in among the flame wars and the panicky, ill-considered defenses there will be sleepers who awake and spend their money to join the Worldcon, this year and all the years after, to let their considered votes expand and strengthen the diversity and validity of the Hugos. Worldcon's membership will grow and its coffers expand somewhat. I did think it was broken, like you, but it ain't over until the fat lady sings. That lady ain't even on the stage yet.

Just bought my membership. Preparing to read it all (yeah, not every page, I'm not a martyr).

best wishes to you all, and to everyone involved.

"O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you." (Eliot)
OR
Get off your ass and live for something, you're a long time dead, dude.
Alvaro Garces
Apr. 10th, 2015 09:19 am (UTC)
Please, give the proposed rules changes a fair hearing
About No Award: I couldn't agree more with you. These are the nominees that have been voted according to the rules. Some of them are very fine candidates for the Hugo, and many have nothing to do with the current political polarization. Those of us who do not want the Hugos to be a political war should give them a fair chance, regardless of what we think of the SP campaign.

Regarding changes to the voting rules: I really wish you would reconsider. I think you have misunderstood the purpose of the rule changes that are being proposed. They are not rules designed to shut out voters we dislike. They are designed to reduce the power of voting blocs, while still giving them a fair representation.

The Sad Puppies are basically a political party in an election where there are no other political parties. They have about 10% of voters but they all vote for the same list, while the rest of voters are dispersed. Under the current system, a 10% voting-block basically gets to determine almost all of the nominees, if the rest of voters are dispersed.

Now, this is a relatively large voting bloc. They are a strong voice in fandom, and they deserve to be heard and be given a fair representation of their tastes. But they are not the only ones who deserve to be heard. The other 90% of voters also deserve a chance to see their tastes represented. The current nomination system is completely vulnerable to bloc voting, not only by the Sad Puppies, but also by other special interest groups with common concerns. Actually, the Sad Puppies campaign could be a good thing, because it's so blatant that it has made it plain for everyone how vulnerable the system is. It allows us to set a fairer voting system for the nominations. A system that won't shut out a voting bloc like the Puppies, but that will give them fair representation without sweeping 100% of the nominees. Those systems exist and are being proposed. We should all think about it seriously.

Consider the alternatives if we do not change the rules for the nomination vote:
a) The rules are not changed but the Sad Puppies and everyone else decide not to employ bloc-voting. Hopefully everyone will keep taking part in the process but in an individual manner. My favorite alternative, but let's be honest, do you see it happening, once it has been shown what a well-organized minority can achieve with a voting bloc?
b) The rules are not changed, the Sad Puppies keep up their campaign and no other political parties are organized. In this case the Sad Puppies will sweep the nominations year after year. 90% of voters will feel disenfranchised and eventually give up on the Hugos. The Hugos become irrelevant.
c) The rules are not changed, the Sad Puppies keep up their campaign and one or more other political parties are organized. The Hugos become an election between rival political parties. The Hugos become irrelevant.

In your first post you wrote that you feared the Hugos had been broken. What has been shown to be broken are not the Hugos, but the voting rules for the nomination. There are extremely good alternatives that will give fair representation to voting blocs while not shutting out everyone else. Please, take the time to learn about them. The Hugos will be richer, more diverse and more open to all the different voices within the fandom.
shade_of_cliche
Apr. 10th, 2015 09:34 am (UTC)
Never in my life have I been so disappointed by so many people I respect in so short a time. The spite and the rancor directed at the Sad Puppies by those who would consider themselves the "good guys," and the frenzy to make sure they can't be part of the equation ever again just proves to me that they weren't wrong. They may be a dozen other awful, ugly things, but they weren't wrong.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:04 pm (UTC)
They were wrong. Have you read my last post? I proved it.
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the_corbie
Apr. 10th, 2015 09:35 am (UTC)
Personally, and I know it sounds like a bit of a copout, but I think it's too soon to be talking about rules changes. I would wait and see how this plays out.

Yes, I know the Puppies have been at this for three years now, but this is the first time they've had such a notable success. In previous years, the impact hasn't been anything like this. This is a new scenario.

When we know what happens in the actual vote, the WSFS members will be in a better place to understand what happened this year and what changes might be needed, or (hopefully) not needed. It will also take some of the heat out of the situation. I won't be at WorldCon this year, but I hope this doesn't turn the business meeting into a shitshow. WSFS can't change the rules right away, anyway. And more perspective would benefit the discussion.

As for whether people should vote No Award on principle, selectively or across the board, my own thoughts (http://the-corbie.livejournal.com/321045.html) echo yours. Vote on the merits (or otherwise) of the candidates, separate from their inclusion on a slate. Anything else would be damaging the awards, not the Puppies.
hippoiathanatoi
Apr. 10th, 2015 11:23 am (UTC)
My understanding is that this year may see the ratification of a proposal to extend the consideration process from two business meetings to three business meetings. If that passes, then I wonder if it wouldn't mean that any other proposals passed forward won't potentially be ratified before an additional two meetings?

In which case, this is absolutely the right time to start looking at it.

But I still say it's worth looking at it now even if current proposals are grandfathered in. I personally find it hard to imagine that with an SP4 already in the works, with VD's huge success surely emboldening him to a new RP slate as well, with others seeing those successes and creating their own slates (either to counter them or simply to push works they themselves would prefer and which they feel are marginalized) that the slates will simply disappear and we'll go back to how things were without any rules modifications.

Edited at 2015-04-10 11:24 am (UTC)
(no subject) - the_corbie - Apr. 10th, 2015 11:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - hippoiathanatoi - Apr. 10th, 2015 12:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asombreroman - Apr. 10th, 2015 01:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
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qdefenestration
Apr. 10th, 2015 10:46 am (UTC)
you've said repeatedly that the issue is simply that these people aren't worldcon fans, they aren't people who've shown up and seen the amazing community there, sat down and had a beer with someone and argued about Heinlein etc etc. And you've mentioned that the whole Worlcon supporter thing was in response to baby Worldcons not having enough money to survive.

So why not just either only let actual attendees vote/nominate, or else make non-attendees' votes count much less? There's no need to tinker with the rules endlessly, because if the puppies then *do* actually show up, they'll no longer (at least according to your thought) Be puppies
sue_bursztynski
Apr. 11th, 2015 07:44 am (UTC)
Why not make it only for attendees? Because most people can't be there, that's why. Most Worldcons are held in the US. Not everyone lives there. Even those who do live there can't always afford an attending membership. The membership rates are expensive and then there is the travel and accommodation. I've been lucky enough to attend three Worldcons, because they were in Melbourne where I live. Even then I only stayed at the hotel once and that was because I was running the children's program and had to be there early.

I'm not a supporting member this year, but if I was I would be furious to be disenfranchised just to avoid a possible slate.
Maxence Fernandes
Apr. 10th, 2015 11:04 am (UTC)
The other side
This a very interesting matter. But my point of view is biaised, where can I find a counter argument please ?
can't agree with you if I don't here from the other side.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: The other side
My position is actually a fairly centrist one.

If you want the Sad Puppy side, read Larry Correia's blog MONSTER HUNTER NATION and Brad Torgersen's blog. For the Rapid Puppies, you would need to find Vox Day's site, VOX POPULI.

For those to the other side of me, MAKING LIGHT and TOR.COM.

FILE 770 has balanced coverage.
alvekatt
Apr. 10th, 2015 11:23 am (UTC)
I see your point
While I see your point, I do feel that people should be allowed to vote no award in protest without getting flack over it. I would put the limit at shaming people who don't do it.

I realize the sad puppies consider it a victory if no award pushes them out, but I can't help but feel that people that are generally the target of abuse, and those that support them, from the people that nominated this slate should have the right to protest it in any way they can. This might label me as an SJW, but I suspect that when it all comes down to it working against abuse in any way we can is more important than what happens to the Hugo.

https://xkcd.com/1357/
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