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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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redmorlock
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:15 pm (UTC)
This is all very wise.

For me, at the top of the list of bad solutions to the problem is raising the price of supporting memberships. The Sad Puppies are right that there are elitists in our community, but if the Hugo is to continue to have any meaning at all, it has to represent the taste of the largest sub-group at WorldCon, not the richest.
cogitationitis
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC)
Actually, one of the solutions is to widen the pool of nominators. I have such a proposal posted on my LJ. Feeling shut out? Then let's be more inclusive.

However, like GRRM, I think this is temporary and we should do nothing. (Although, as I am not attending Worldcon, I can't do anything but shout from a distance.) And I do feel sorry for all the nominees, slated or not.

I do urge people to rank No Award on their ballot. First, last, in the middle--wherever you think it belongs.
vanyel42
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:20 pm (UTC)
Voting rules
I'm not sure that changing the rules is the answer, either. It doesn't make sense to outlaw slates, because people will just be sneakier about creating slates. And I'm sure that people have always recommended books for the Hugos or made eligibility lists, and I think that's just fine. At what point does a list of cool stuff you've read over the year become a slate? (Although, obviously, the Puppies did set out to create a slate, and possibly to break the Hugos). I don't know if the problem is the rules, although any award nomination system is going to be problematic in some way.

Perhaps things would have been different if more of the community had nominated, and I think in the future, more people will, instead of just voting on the final ballot.

I'm not a Worldcon member this year, so I don't have to make any tricky decisions about the No Award vote. I do think that voting No Award across the board delegitimizes the Hugos. Perhaps voting No Award for some categories will work as a protest, but if the Best Novel goes to No Award, I can't see that being good for the Hugos.

It saddens me that the Puppies have disrupted the Hugos, and it makes me angry, too. I don't think my vote for Best Novel has ever won a Hugo (although often my second choice has taken the title), but I never thought it was because people were trying to exclude me. We all have different tastes, and some ballots have been more to my liking than others. But to create a slate purposefully to destroy the Hugos and kick everyone else off the ballot...that's just mean spirited. It's like they wanted to ruin it for us all. If the Puppies really want to feel more included in fandom, pissing off the majority of fandom is not the way to do it. (But I doubt that the goal was to be included.)

I don't know if the Hugos can be fixed, after this.
Piet Nel
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:29 pm (UTC)
What now?
Two thoughts:

One: the Hugos are extremely vulnerable to this sort of thing because of the woefully low numbers of fans participating in the process. We have to find a way to increase the participation.

Two: Surely there is a fairly simple solution? A jury should be appointed to add up to three finalists to each category. The jury should be specifically mandated to improve the inclusiveness and merit of the ballot. Whatever the limitations of a jury system, the result is sure to be vastly better than what happened this year. At least the chances are 90% better that we'll all have something to vote for. Just to be clear: my proposal means that all the puppies would stay on the ballot - but at least there would be alternatives. And of course, this would alleviate the domination of any other slate that manages to pull the same stunt.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Re: What now?
I agree with your "One" and oppose your "Two."

lupinlover
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:31 pm (UTC)
Is there a website that summarizes all this? I've been reading your posts but I'm still not sure what's going on.
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:18 pm (UTC)
Sorry, no. You need to read a dozen websites to get the whole picture.

Maybe the best overview is at FILE 770.
PeterWendtWhere
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:44 pm (UTC)
"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."

So, there is a side; "MY SIDE, the trufans and SMOFs and good guys" which proves there is another side; the not-trufans?

You are correct that SP came out in numbers. The "other side" showed up. You're right that it was not a conspiracy, by any strict definition, that kept the bad-think "other-side" out as your side has no inclusion within your ranks of bad-think. That means the Hugos have been less than fully representative of SF/F, till now.

One piece of objective data has already been done to an extent; Amazon ratings as to the ballot this year versus past years. Care to take a gander? http://voxday.blogspot.com/2015/04/objectively-superior.html

It's done! It's game on! It's your side versus the "other-side". Years ago there was but one side, wasn't there? The all of and the best of SF/F? The puppies represent that. Your side does not. How do we know this? Because the puppies, the "other-side", the "that which was missing", are not welcome.

"God DAMN, people. You are proving them right."

The puppies have taken to the field and aren't leaving. So, what's ya gonna do, all you good-think trufans? You have two choices. Doesn't matter which. Change the rules? That's laughable. The puppies have already won.
talvinm
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:47 pm (UTC)
The debates are about how (and if) the rules should be changed going forward. The real issue at contention is, "What ARE the Hugos, really?"

Are they an award that belongs to all of fandom? To WorldCon? To "old-style" fandom? To "new-style" fandom? To those of a particular political bent? Do the publishers, authors, and other creators get a say in them? These are the arguments I see being tossed around in all this.

Before any rules are discussed--the current ones or hypothetical new ones--the Hugos need...call it a "mission statement". Some sort of consensus needs to be found and written down for "This is what the Hugos ARE."

THEN...worry about the rules, and how/whether they support that mission.

Note I am not saying this will be easy. There seem to be many definitions flying around out there, and that's part of the problem.
kevin_standlee
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:01 pm (UTC)
The Hugo Awards belong to the members of the World Science Fiction Society. The Attending members get to make the rules. The Supporting members get limited participation rights. The Hugo Award is what the members of WSFS, acting collectively, want to honor.

They are not the Award for Anyone Who Has Consumed Pop Culture SF/F Genre Entertainment of Any Sort Anywhere, and they shouldn't try to be.

Anyone who thinks there should be an award given by "anyone who has read SF/F fiction, seen a movie or TV show, or looked at anything that had SF/F content in it anywhere in the World" should consider trying to set up such an award. Nobody stopping you. But trying to remake the Hugo Award in that way is unlikely to get any traction with the Attending members, and all changes to the basic rules need to start with convincing them, not just spending a relatively small amount of money and pounding on a keyboard.
(no subject) - talvinm - Apr. 10th, 2015 11:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
mb_s
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:54 pm (UTC)
On exclusion
You wrote: "are having an endless circle jerk trying to come up with a foolproof way to RIG THE HUGOS AND EXCLUDE THEM"

That... that isn't actually what I'm seeing going on, over at Making Light or elsewhere. They are having an endless circle jerk, yes, but to come up with a way to include everyone without over-including anyone; trying in the most democratic sense to ensure that everyone's nominations can be represented without anyone's being over-represented due to better strategy or campaigning. To ensure that the wishes of the entire electorate, not only part of it, are expressed. To, in effect, give the puppies what they state they want, actually.

More votes simply won't work against coordinated "political party" tactics. 1000 voters spreading their votes in a bell curve over 35 works will rarely (the work has to be as widely acclaimed as Ancillary Sword or The Goblin Emperor, in other words) be able to place a nominee ahead of 200 voters concentrating all their votes on 5. It's math.

I don't want to see the 1000 have *all* the say, either. The 200 are fandom, too. I don't want them excluded.

Right now, the problem is, the 200 are attempting to control all of fandom, in terms of nominations. And this year? This year, they did the job to the tune of disenfranchising nearly everyone else.

Edited at 2015-04-10 02:56 pm (UTC)
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:21 pm (UTC)
Re: On exclusion
Yes, and I think what the Sad Puppies did was an outrage.

But weighted voting? Some votes count more than others?

This solution is worse than the disease.

One person. One vote.
Re: On exclusion - macd21 - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On exclusion - Alvaro Garces - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: On exclusion - jamesonquinn - Apr. 11th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
mb_s
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
On Guilt by Association
Since I treaded somewhat close to this in an earlier post, again, I'd like to clarify: it is not the politics or statements of the puppies that are the core objection, when it comes to those who have been associated with them on SP3. Openly stating ones opinions and inviting support, free speech, more power to you.

It is the (apparent) *misrepresentation* of that, in effect fraudulently using people without their knowledge as to how their inclusion in the slate would be marketed. Withholding strategy from the troops you employ may be solid strategy for war, but it's rarely good for the troops when they meet the meat-grinder. And this is hardly war. Lying by omission to authors in order to get them to support you is highly dubious.

Having one public face say "this is about getting good adventure work back on the ballot, this year we mean it, no hatemongering, no politics stuff!" but another, more hidden face of your movement saying "OK, now what we're really trying to do here is save our culture from reverse racism, let's go seek support from hate groups, etc." It smells of using people.
alexbrault
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:08 pm (UTC)
Why should the reasoning matter? When you boil it down, all Sad Puppy ultimately is is people saying "I don't like the usual nominations, but since this is a public forum, here are my suggestions for works I think should be rewarded." Whether they dislike the nominations because there's too much alien or too little alien, because it's too hard or too soft, because there's too much diversity or a left-wing bias doesn't matter. And whatever the reason, whether their assessment of it is correct or completely off does not matter. What matters is that people have put works they like under consideration, and the reasonable thing to do in this situation is look at them and judge them on their own merit
idemandjustice
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:04 pm (UTC)
Respectfully, the reasoning matters. If you have to ignore aspects of something in order for it to be OK, then I think that's a sign that it is not OK. The whole picture needs to be looked at.
ChurchHTucker
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:10 pm (UTC)
Runoff Voting
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 proposal is actually to leave the SP/RP off the ballot altogether, since if even if they're ranked under No Award they may be counted (due to the Australian Ballot system.)

There's a variation that proposes ranking any SP/RP candidate that one feels was there without their knowledge under No Award, thus signifying that one would prefer no award but would rather the Ignorant Puppy win if one has to.

I mention this because Torgersen has made the same mistake (although I'm suspicious of whether it was in his case) in describing this option, and I don't want people to think they're doing one thing and then doing another.
bacaninho
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
Nobody is Talking, Everyone is Shouting Past Each Other
I have followed this controversy over the past several years, and it has evolved year to year. The first two years, to use a crude analogy, were Larry Correia and a few associates throwing rocks at the more militant liberal faction of WorldCon in order to get them to have a freakout moment. He succeeded. Marvelously. The reaction—from last year—when he and other undesirables got on the ballot proved his point that there was a significant contingent in fandom who would consider the author (and the authors politics/beliefs) first, and then, maybe, the story the author wrote. His contention was that he, VD, et al, would be vilified, smeared, and not considered for the quality of their works—by a certain, vocal contingent that happens to have quite a bit of influence in the WorldCon community.

This happened. It's kind of hard to deny.

Again, carefully read what I just wrote. I did not say that *all* of WorldCon treated the SP2 crowd that way or that *nobody* read what they wrote or that *nobody* evaluated it fairly. All that SP2 was intended to do was to show that a certain faction of WorldCon would behave very badly, which they did. They're doing it again this year as Mr. Martin has more or less stated.

Back to dialogue. Like the original post states, there has been an overabundance of stratagems discussed, especially at Making Light, regarding how to prevent SP4, SP5, etc. from having an impact on the Hugos. Reading through them, they all seem to have the underlying assumption that the SP crowd has an end goal of destroying the award. They also assume that the SP crowd fully intends to keep playing the same game ad nauseum in order to become the taste makers of Hugodom, the deciders of what is award worthy, the kings of everything.

The problem is, if you actually read what they are writing, and take it at face value, that's not what they want at all. They are trying to get rid of taste-making altogether. If I understand it correctly, they are trying to suck in enough fans so that no small, insular group of any kind can dominate the taste-making of what is nominally the best science fiction and fantasy award.

Agreed, they are doing this most likely because they don't like the current flavor—that's their motive, but don't confuse it with their end goal. It also explains how SP3 was different this year. The end goal was not to make certain people have a freak out moment. It was headed by an idealist, Brad Torgerson, who wanted to get more people involved so that authors who had usually been ignored would have a chance of making the ballot. He wanted more varieties of flavor (to continue the tired metaphor I started above).

Now, the above is not an assumption that taste-making in WorldCon is happening via secret conspiracy. I'm not going there. I will say that WorldCon most likely has a certain saturation level of reader/nominator who prefers books of a certain type and political bent, but I really doubt there is lockstep leftist conspiracy for domination. Saturation /= conspiracy.

I think, above all, the SP folks really, really don't want to be ignored and shut out. Doing so is just going to toss more gasoline on the fire, and then, should the ignoring, maligning, and shutting out continue, then, and only then, will WorldCon keep seeing SP4, SP5, SP6 etc. Treating them badly just makes them angrier and makes more of them get involved.

All of which brings me full circle to the missing element of dialogue and open discussion. There are saboteurs on both sides here who don't want a middle ground, but there are also folks who just want the Hugo to mean something. Talking to them (no ignoring, maligning, or dismissing), debating with them (constructively), and otherwise seeking what is best for science fiction and fantasy is (IMHO) the best way to go forward. Larry et al have admitted that what they did was not the perfect solution to the perceived problem. I don't think they even dreamed of sweeping ballots and they are in part victims of their own success. Regardless, this year, SP could not be ignored because it was way. too. effective. Do you really think next year will be different?

As to the saboteurs, I really don't know what to do about them. They are the devil in the details.

Edited at 2015-04-10 03:30 pm (UTC)
scott4567
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
One man one vote
This isn't about sci-fi, or fantasy, or even excellence in literature. It's about bullies. These guys used the rules to in effect "Bully" their way into the Hugos. Everybody knows this. Nobody likes it. I gotta go with George on this. Letting these guys essentially set the agenda when they have no real standing is just wrong. But changing the rules to exclude them only gives them more ammunition. They may enjoy a nomination, but it's up to the rest of the community to send them a message about bullying your way to a Hugo. One man one vote. Rally!!
Alvaro Garces
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC)
Re: One man one vote
Changing the nomination system for a fairer voting system is not changing the rules to exclude them. It's the opposite: give them a fair representation in the ballot according to how many of them are voting, and give them what they want by not allowing different coordinated groups to game the system as happened in the 2014 Hugos. Both puppies and individual voters would be better off with a reasonable voting system. And it would still be one person one vote.
guessingo
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:46 pm (UTC)
olive branch to them...
I think we should condemn all the outlets calling them all racists and sexists. There are 2 separate groups. Larry and Brad are not racists. The other guy... (don't want to give him a plug) clearly is racist. I think we need to separate the 2 groups. I think this is more of an enemy of my enemy is my friend kind of thing.

I believe virtually everyone in SFF going is friends with Brandon Sanderson. He has been friends with them before any of them were published. I think all these outlets publishing ridiculous stories about them being racists is just fueling the flame. Its also garbage. One of their big complaints for a while has been that the rest of the community is silent when they are slandered.

My patience with them ended when I saw that none of them plan to go to Worldcon. I believe Brad is getting called up to by the military this summer, so he can't go. Larry is going to Dragoncon instead. If he doesn't want to go to Worldcon why do this? John C Wright has 6 nominations. I know this is an expensive trip, but if he could at all afford it he owes it to the organizers to attend.

I think the response should be

1. condemn people who call them racists and sexists. They nominated what they like. Its obnoxious, but not racist.

2. Go to worldcon if you want our respect. If you think Worldcon is a narrow group of SF fandom (it is), then expand it by going. Larry publishes in Urban Fantasy. I rarely see Urban Fantasy do well in Hugo balloting. The only way to expand that is to go to Worldcon and encourage his urban fantasy fans to follow.

3. Remind Larry/Brad, etc... that there is now a harassment policy. If anyone makes their life miserable report them and get them tossed out. Adults can get along.

4. Change the Hugo nomination rules to allow more nominees. If we let in everything that gets 5% of the vote(maybe lower in down list balloting ), it opens up nominations. There are hundreds of books published a year and nominees get very small numbers of votes. It makes sense to allow more items on the ballot. This is also fan friendly. We get reading material in voter packets. People will be more likely to spend $40 if there is more reading material. Having more things in the voter packet could greatly increase the number of people voting. I really liked getting all 14 Wheel of Time novels last year in one place for $40.
bronn_stone
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:57 pm (UTC)
I don't know the ratio of attending vs. non-attending voters in past Hugo contests, but it seemed to me that in the past those who had attended (either that Con or the previous) were the passionate folks who voted and decided.

If that has changed (as I suspect it has), I see no reason to make it easy on them. Cease to give the huge discount for Supporting Memberships that vote. If the price for a voting, Supporting Membership is near the price of attending, perhaps the SP will actually attend and learn that their views ARE welcome, even if not always shared.

At the worst, the Con will be made better by their money.
bran_dawri
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC)
What now?
OK, first off, I came across this whole controversy a few days ago, and it has been somewhat on my mind as a lifelong science fiction and fantasy fan.
Although I am not involved in the whole Hugo nominations or voting process, I do look more favourably when deciding what book to buy next on books with the Hugo Award winner stamp on them, as by and large it certainly does indicate quality work, if not always a fun ride. Regardless, not having the awards be hijacked by whatever agenda is a good thing.

I've not delved into the whole cesspit of back-and-forths (I do have to work for a living), but a few thoughts and ideas sprung to my mind that I felt I needed to share.
First, the whole idea behind the Sad Puppies organisation -regardless of the actual veracity of their claims- seems to me to be very much a "Pot, meet Kettle" situation. Also, "two wrongs don't make a right", and a whole host of other platitudes spring to mind.

On what's next: Apparently a lot of people are wanting to change to voting/nominating rules for the Hugo's by making them stricter to exclude shenaningans like the Sad Puppies initiative. However, I agree with your assessment that this would not only prove the Sad Puppies right, it would diminish the Hugo Awards as a whole.
As an aside, they are obviously right about at least one thing: the current voting system is open to abuse.
The solution, then, seems obvious to me: Go the other way. Throw the whole nomination process wide open. Let everyone who wants to throw forward their nominations do so. For free. It will at the very least silence any possible claim of a clique of whatever denomination controlling the nominations, and (more importantly) give a whole lot more credence to the Hugo's claim of being the award decided by the fans.
By all means, reserve voting for the actual awards for people who pay their $40 and/or attend the actual convention. Or don't, as the con organisers see fit. But let who gets nominated be decided by all science fiction fans from across the world.
Because there are a lot of fans across the world who can't afford to purchase a plane ticket to the US for a convention. And $40, just to be able to help someone else win a prize, seems... excessive, to say the least.
This is the age of the Internet. Make use of it.

Anyway, I've rambled on more than long enough. If someone else has already come up with the idea, then that's fine. Otherwise, feel free to bring it to the attention of whoever can do more with it than spend an idle few hours thinking about a problem. That's assuming someone thinks it's a good idea, of course.

Regards,
Frank
tersa
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC)
I've only been following the tempest via your blog, but this post? This post got me up to comment to applaud it.

I only hope your voice of moderation resonates when the final decisions are made.
bran_dawri
Apr. 11th, 2015 01:07 pm (UTC)
Cheers for that, although I don't think common sense should deserve an applause ;-) .
thomdeleon
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:17 pm (UTC)
This is the worst ballot you've ever seen? Really? When John Scalzi has been nominated over nine times in the past ten years, which is only two times more than Arthur C. Clarke was nominated over his entire lifetime? When that book series of sophomoric essays, "Chicks Dig Time Lords/Comics/etc" has been nominated over five times consecutively? When Terry Pratchett himself has NEVER been nominated for a Hugo?

I never really followed the Hugos until this and like you said, the genie's out of the bottle. What worth is the Hugos when one of the greatest writers of our time, Pratchett, is never recognized for his work while a mediocre nobody like Scalzi is nominated over and over again?
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
Terry Pratchett was nominated for a Hugo, but declined the nomination. That was his right. Some people do that. Neil Gaiman has won a bunch of Hugos, but also declined several nominations.

There are more categories now, and more chances to be nominated for something. Did you look at the chart I linked to in my Where's the Beef? post. Some greats of the past did their best work before there were Hugos, of course they do not have a lot of nominations. Clarke was nominated plenty.

You should know your facts before you sound off.
(no subject) - idemandjustice - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dirkdada - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Pratchett and the Hugos - Loren Schmidt - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - langkard - Apr. 10th, 2015 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
davidlang
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
re: "were they contacted"
If you had to contact the creator of a work before recommending it to someone else (and what is telling people that a work deserves a Hugo other than recommending it to others?), the creators of popular works would be so busy approving recommendations that they would never get anything more written, and nobody would ever be heard of because the hassle of getting approval would block 99% of recommendations.
TimBartik
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:34 pm (UTC)
Nomination rules
I disagree with your position that changing the nomination rules necessarily means trying to exclude anyone.

It is quite clear that the current nomination rules give enormous power to any group that can create a slate. Under current nomination rules, if about 15% of the nominators are slate voters, they can shut out the other 85% of nominators, who scatter their nominations across a wide range of works. So, slate voting increases the power of your individual vote by a factor of certainly over 6, and maybe by a factor of over 10.

Therefore, in the absence of rule changes, as you noted in an earlier post, it seems quite likely that the SP slate will give rise to other slates. The likely outcome is that whoever puts together the largest slate voting bloc will totally control the nominations, excluding all other voters. This is not necessarily in the interests of anyone, including at least a substantial portion of the SP voting bloc, as I think their preferred works will lose out in the long-term. It means that the nominating power will essentially go to whichever group puts together the slate that is the largest, even if they are a minority of nominators.

The changes in nominating rules that have been discussed are quite diverse. But if nominating rules are designed that (1) are neutral, in the sense that they discourage ALL slates, regardless of who makes them, and (2) try to encourage diversity in what is nominated, it seems to me that this is preferable to having slates and counter-slates.

For example, one simple alternative that has been discussed is saying: once your nominations in a category have succeeded in placing two works on the ballot, your further nominations are disregarded. This reduces the power of slates, and encourages diversity in nominations. There are more complicated nomination systems that accomplish the same goal, of both discouraging slate domination of all the nominees, while encouraging diversity,.

I also think we should at least consider moral suasion, although perhaps my faith in such a measure is naive. It might be useful to consider asking nominators to certify, on their honor, that they have read the works they have nominated. No attempt would be made to verify this statement. But we are simply telling people that the norm is: don't nominate a work you have not read.

Edited at 2015-04-10 04:36 pm (UTC)
grrm
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Nomination rules
I still say it's spinach, and I still say the hell with it.

If I have five novels I want to nominate, I don't want three disallowed because two of my noms have made the ballot.

And all of this is excessively complicated.
Re: Nomination rules - mb_s - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nomination rules - darthsappho - Apr. 10th, 2015 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nomination rules - TimBartik - Apr. 11th, 2015 02:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nomination rules - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 05:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nomination rules - TimBartik - Apr. 11th, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Nomination rules - jamesonquinn - Apr. 11th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
joshmst
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:38 pm (UTC)
Some good observations...
I think you hit on some really good points. Don't punish the people on the slate. Look at their works in a vacuum and see how they compare. Since this began, I thought the idea of punishing the writers on their slate was the wrong one. It is a pretty diverse group of people that Puppies are supporting.

It is also too early to start panicking about how "slates will ruin the Hugos" from here on out. As a long time SFF reader, I rarely cared about any of the awards (have been a die-hard reader since 1983). I was more curious about the content and plots of the books, and I had my bevy of favorite authors from the day (Silverberg, Herbert, Card, Anthony, Le Guin, and McCaffery). We certainly saw the status quo being overturned this year, but I do not necessarily think it is bad.

This is honestly the first time I have ever actually paid attention to the Hugos. Before now it was just a foil embossed part of a book cover to me. Perhaps over the past two decades the awards have lost their luster to those who do not attend Worldcon or other fandoms. Whether you agree with the Puppies or find them loathsome, we have to admit that they have raised awareness of the awards and have produced more press coverage and interest than we perhaps have ever seen? Any organization will probably be energized by a renewed interest from people who typically would not care. While we may see more Puppies sign up, we will also see a reaction from those that oppose them. I do not think the Puppies will take over the award process, nor will they cause the entire award process to be boiled down to slates.

I believe things will even out. I also think that the discussion about the process has been good all around. More interest, more voices, and certainly an outlet for people who have felt disenfranchised by the pretty small and traditional group who take the time to fill out nominations and winners. Now that group has suddenly widened, and by looking at the reactions... it has certainly energized the people who support the Hugos.

So go out and vote for the people and works that you like. I think in the end we will see a nice balance of winners from both the slate and from without. In the end, it will be growth... even though it may be unpleasant for some.
ksavagexxx
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:39 pm (UTC)
I am with you, there should be no knee-jerk reaction
Once again, thank you for taking time to post this. I don't want to see the Hugo nominating process changed to exclude people. Al-Qaeda and their like panicked Americans into giving up civil liberties. I don't want to see that pattern repeated.
masterthief
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:05 pm (UTC)
The danger of "making the personal political" is that it makes the political personal.

Unfortunately, once any community forgets this, game theory takes over, and TIT-FOR-TAT is a cruel mistress.
John Brown
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
Some numbers and predictions.

From the Hugo site, we learn there were a total of 2,122 nominating ballots. We also learn the numbers of people who voted in each category and what it took to become a finalist.

From the Long List of Worldcons and the wiki List of Worldcons, we learn that the average number of attendees is around 4,600 and the average number of memberships is about 5,950.

Scan the list of ballots, entries, and minimum votes in the range for finalists below.

I see a large number of entries for every category. For example, 587 novels were nominated. We also see that it only took 256 votes to make that finalist list. The average was 351 votes.

If we assume only SP and RP voted for the novels on their slates, that means there were around 1,500 other non-SP and non-RP people out there diluting their votes between 580 or so other novels.

I believe that SP will probably change into something like the Locus recommendation list in the future. I don't think RP will. But that means RP on its own will probably not have enough votes to accomplish anything like what's happened this year.

But let's say that SP doesn't change. Or let's say that the traditional Worldcon fans don't want to risk being blindsided again. What will they do if they don't change the Worldcon rules?

The various non-SP groups (and there has always been and will be groups, as George said) will get together well before the nomination deadline, submit their 300-500 novels, and have a Hugo primary. And then they'll go to the official nominations with a much-winnowed field.

In one way, this might actually improve the award because it will extend the period that people review and discuss various books.

It will also start the campaigning much earlier (sorry, George).

Best Novel
(1827 nominating ballots, 587 entries, range 256-387)

Best Novella
(1083 nominating ballots, 201 entries, range 145-338)

Best Novelette
(1031 nominating ballots, 314 entries, range 165-267)

Best Short Story
(1174 nominating ballots, 728 entries, range 151-230)

Best Related Work
(1150 nominating ballots, 346 entries, range 206-273)

Best Graphic Story
(785 nominating ballots, 325 entries, range 60-201)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
(1285 nominating ballots, 189 entries, range 204-769)

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
(938 nominating ballots, 470 entries, range 71-170)

Best Editor, Short Form
(870 nominating ballots, 187 entries, range 162-279)

Best Editor, Long Form
(712 nominating ballots, 124 entries, range 166-368)

Best Professional Artist
(753 nominating ballots, 300 entries, range 136-188)

Best Semiprozine
(660 nominating ballots, 100 entries, range 94-229)

Best Fanzine
(576 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 68-208)

Best Fancast
(668 nominating ballots, 162 entries, range 69-179)

Best Fan Writer
(777 nominating ballots, 265 entries, range 129-201)

Best Fan Artist
(296 nominating ballots, 198 entries, range 23-48)

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
(851 nominating ballots, 220 entries, range 106-229)
riverpa
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:20 pm (UTC)
I don't want to keep anyone from participating
But I do want to make it harder to game the process, or lessen the impact of slate voting if it happens again. I would rather that this not escalate into multiple blocs creating multiple slates, which is what I think will happen if we do not do something.

I think that some of the solutions that are being discussed may reduce the impact, making bloc voting less effective and thus less attractive. It would be easier to evaluate their relative effectiveness if we had the entire nomination record, but we will not have that until after the Hugos are awarded.

Since our approval process takes two years, I would prefer to get some proposal at least preliminarily approved so that it could be ratified in 2016. Maybe even get a couple potential anti-gaming rules approved, and ratify the most effective one in 2016.

I am not happy that we need to pass a by-law to reduce manipulation of the nomination process, but we can't put the cat back in the bag. So I think at least we ought to make the attempt to keep the awards tamper free.

ciaran_laval
Apr. 10th, 2015 05:29 pm (UTC)
I don't see the point in banning slates. People will find ways around that with blog posts, forum posts, shared ideas. There's no way to stop people from saying they think a certain story is worthy of a Hugo.

The worst thing that can happen here is for people to fall into the trap being set. If people go down the No Award route, the Hugo awards become a farce. Tit for tat tactics will bring the house down far quicker than anything the Puppies are doing.

There are things that can be done in terms of registration deadlines to try and avoid flashmobs arriving. There are things that can be done regarding a terms of service that states anyone found to be trying to undermine the awards can be expelled. However that wouldn't apply to a slate as they are not currently against the rules.

The slate itself isn't really the issue, it's people blindly voting for something and that's something that's far harder to fix as how do you prove whether someone is familiar with the work they are nominating?

The old saying of two wrongs don't make a right is applicable here. Voting ethically, rather than politically, undermines the campaigning Puppies. Some of the work on the list may be an undiscovered gem, other items may be awful, but vote on that basis, not on the basis of not liking how people got there.
randwolf
Apr. 11th, 2015 02:08 am (UTC)
You haven't explained what to do if people vote no award because they don't like most of the slate
Which, believe me, is pretty likely; there's some pretty awful stuff in there.
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