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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).


Apr. 10th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
The proposals I've seen have been about blocking the ability to capture all nominees in a category via slates, not about the Puppies in particular.

To be very clear: yes, I'm against the Puppies; between white supremacists like Vox Day and rabid homophobes who think I shouldn't exist like John C. Wright, I'd be lying to pretend otherwise.

But with regard to rules changes, I am only willing to consider changes that work against slates in general, and not one that targets these jerks specifically. And so far, that's what I've seen. But I have not been researching them comprehensively; it's far too early for that.

Otherwise without rules changes, it's slates vs. slates as far as the eye can see. Parties form because they work. A slate of 10% got all nominations in most literary categories. That will not go unanswered - either by rules changes to reduce the power of slates, or by opposition parties. And that's just all there is to that.

I know which poison I'd prefer.

Edited at 2015-04-10 05:44 am (UTC)
Apr. 10th, 2015 10:18 am (UTC)
Word. The nomination process needs to be made more democratic, not to keep the Puppies out, but to get better proportional representation on the ballots. It's the same basic principal as the reason we rank works on the ballot instead of just ticking our first choice. A more proportional nomination process should improve the quality of the final ballot even in the absence of this sort of obvious bloc voting. Yay democracy!
Apr. 10th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Nobody's trying to block the Puppies with rules changes. Well, hardly anyone.

The changes being debated fall into at least this set of categories:

1. Make slate voting less effective by giving people greater visiblity into the nomination pool. (not well liked, but would work -- and in an informal way is pretty much the only way to fight the puppies on equal terms next year without using the same basic tactic).

2. Block slate voting by detecting slates and discounting them (this has been proposed, but frankly it's both very unpopular and entirely impractical).

3. Lower the power of slates by making one ballot not having the ability to influence all nomination slots equally (this is the vast bulk of the proposals -- weighted ovting, slates, STV -- it would also partially deal with persistent issues with the nominations being dominated by the fad of the day).

4. Lower the power of slates to block nominations by automatically enlarging the ballot such that (statistically) all major constitencies get their nominations in. (this is somewhat popular, and is also included in some other proposals to a lesser degree, but if taken to extremes would put too many things on the ballot.)

5. Negative nominations (nominate 5 things you want to see on the ballot, and 5 things you want -not- to see on the ballot). This one is probably the only one that's really directly targeting campaigning--and in particular, targets organized campaigns by letting ire at campaigning take effect during nominations rather than before it. It's also almost certainly the worst idea suggested aside from 6, because of how much it -embraces- gaming the awards and voting your prejudices. Additionally, it doesn't solve any problems except for organized campaigns from a dedicated minority.

6. Limiting the nomination/voting pool to go to a jury/worldcon attendees/whatever. This has generally been dismissed when it was brought up (except as a nuclear "what if Gamergate wants to hand us a pile of cash to own the awards" option, and for good reason, it would more or less destroy the Hugos--and possibly Worldcon--forever.

Edited at 2015-04-10 07:12 pm (UTC)
Apr. 10th, 2015 11:30 am (UTC)
don't quite agree
I'm replying to Solarbird, because my point relates, but this is mostly directed towards GRRM. When I say "you", that's who I'm talking to.

I am barely a fan, and certainly no trufan. I'm here because of my interest in voting, not because of the art I like. (Though I must admit, I am a bit starstruck about whom I'm adressing; I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy.) I don't presume to tell anyone what to do with their community's award.

But I honestly think you've mischaracterized the voting reform proposals. The point of most of them—the ones that have any chance of becoming consensus—is not to punish or exclude the puppies. It's not even to punish or exclude slate voters, as Solarbird claims. It's to give everyone a fair share, based on their share of the electorate. That seems to me a laudible goal; one that is worthwhile regardless of the puppies, but becomes particularly salient as a response to them.

As a voting theorist, I can see several such proposals that are good, and one that is best in terms of solving the problem at hand. I'll talk about that one: using reweighted approval voting (RAV) to determine nominations.

RAV is called "reweighted" because that's a step in the process, but looking at the process as a whole, all votes have equal weight and equal ability to determine the nominees. It does not require voters to meticulously rank-order anything, or to have read everything that anybody else might nominate. It is just a better way to count the ballots, but the ballots can stay the same. This is not a radical change. And making this one change in response to a bona fide crisis absolutely does not doom the Hugos to an eternity of rules changes and ballot envelope color sub-subcommittees.

I understand that other people don't enjoy discussing voting systems as I do; that when I see "fun puzzles that are also one of the few reasons I still hope that the world can be a better place", they see "ick, politics". I hope you can see my point of view, too. I don't know the history of Nebula rule changes, but I'm sure that among the changes there have been well-reasoned improvements, and among the motivations for those changes there have been sensibly-cautious good intentions. I know what the road to hell is paved with, but that's because they can make pretty good paving stones. Nebula history aside, with the Hugos there is actually something broken right now, and the reasonable thing to do is to listen to the Cassandras who got it right, among whom I'm sure there are people who are combine voting geekery with trufandom.

In summary: all I'm asking you to do with the reform proposals is the same as what you'll do with the nominees. Some of the proposals deserve to be below "No Award", I mean, "No Change". But I think a few of them are better than that, and one of them is best. Please, keep an open mind, and decide for yourself.
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: don't quite agree
"To give everyone a fair share based on their share of the electorate."

I don't know what that means. The way I see it, if 2000 people vote, my "fair share" of 1 of 2000. I am one person with one vote. Everyone should be one person with one vote.

The problem here is that the Sad Puppies broke that down. Bloc voting means one person had two hundred votes, effectively.
Re: don't quite agree - ethereal235 - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: don't quite agree - mneme - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: don't quite agree - jamesonquinn - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: don't quite agree - hereville - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: don't quite agree - hereville - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: don't quite agree - bdfinst - Apr. 11th, 2015 12:43 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 12:58 pm (UTC)
Excuse me, miss,

You call John C. Right a 'homophobe'. Where did you get this from?

In the age of the internet, unfortunately, many people are called many unjust things by the media and the other people in opposition. Like horrible Words of Condemnation, for their double-plus ungood speak.

You see what I mean? Perhaps take a step back to be reasonable about this, and contemplate the merits of both sides of the arguments.

Vox Day is in a completely different business than the Sad Puppies, who are, absolutely, more reasonable.

Edited at 2015-04-10 12:59 pm (UTC)
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Hi.
It's "Wright," not Right.

And I suspect she 'got it' from one of his many blog posts.
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Hi.
As George correctly guessed, I got it from his blog. Here is one example, one that I pointed to in today's post about this mess.

I've also been involved in discussions... not so much with him, as he determinedly ignored any reply I made to any of his comments, but around him. It's no secret; he seems rather proud.
Apr. 10th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Hi.
He's the guy who wrote a blog post accusing the Legend of Korra writers of "placing an ad for a sexual aberration" and "perverting their story telling skills to the cause of propaganda and political correctness" for daring to include a lesbian relationship in their show, right? I don't think there's any real question about his homophobia.
Re: Hi. - akiko - Apr. 11th, 2015 08:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 01:47 pm (UTC)
Seconded. Slate voting indicates that the Hugo nomination process is broken (or at least is easily breakable). Fixing the process to guard against slates is not the same as guarding against "the wrong people".
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC)
I won't vote for Vox Day or JCW because I don't know the quality of their work, but, I'd vote for Heinlein's "Stranger In A Strange Land" and "Starship Troopers" despite what some people would call its problematic content. I'd also vote for Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead" in a /heartbeat/ because I know they're good works, despite my revulsion at his personal politics.

Are you judging the quality of the work, or the person writing it?

If you're doing the latter, you're simply proving the point the Sad Puppies are trying to make.
(no subject) - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 02:38 pm (UTC)
The rules can't be changed for next year, so slates (or another year of mostly SP nominees) are essentially a given.

Slates are essentially parties in the political sense.

Folks become deeply attached to their parties, remarkably quickly. "Us vs. them" is powerful.

So while I too would prefer a general anti-slate solution, it is going to run into folks from multiple angles defending *their* slate.

I am not optimistic.
(no subject) - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evilrooster - Apr. 11th, 2015 10:02 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 03:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, the main proposals I have seen being discussed are all around making sure no slate can unfairly amplify the power of a small set of slate voters and drown out the rest of the nominators.
Apr. 10th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
by calling vox day a white supremacist and john c wright a homophobe you're already lying.
by doing this you're proving them right that the people that oppose them will says anything to smear and defame them.
you should choose your words more carefully.
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 10th, 2015 04:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 05:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - debtwo - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
I'm vaguely surprised that got unscreened - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
This Distinction Doesn't Fly - jimhenley - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - thewrittenpath - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - jimhenley - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - grrm - Apr. 10th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 10:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 11th, 2015 10:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 06:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - renepavan - Apr. 11th, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: This Distinction Doesn't Fly - ihatenamessono - Apr. 11th, 2015 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Why is this a thing - Katryna Wade - Apr. 17th, 2015 12:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Alexander Pendergrass - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 11th, 2015 10:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Alexander Pendergrass - Apr. 11th, 2015 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yamamanama - Apr. 10th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ihatenamessono - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - solarbird - Apr. 10th, 2015 08:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Belief - asombreroman - Apr. 11th, 2015 01:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Belief - grrm - Apr. 11th, 2015 04:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Belief - solarbird - Apr. 11th, 2015 06:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 10th, 2015 08:21 pm (UTC)
Seen from the outside...
The easiest answer to the nomination/bloc voting problem seems to be to simply no longer use the internet for the nomination and voting process.

Let the attendants at World con 2016 who have bought a certain class of ticket or better nominate and the equivalent attendants of World Con 2017 vote for the shortlist "winners" and the final recipient.

That should at least reduce the chances of any sniping out of the shadows and if the majority AT the WorldCon votes for a nominee it should be justified as winner as it looks like it would represent the majority of the slice of fandom that makes up the worldcon.

Sending in 40 Quid to be allowed to vote online is a small hurdle, Spending three days amongst people you do not really like just to one up them? Seems like much more of a sacrifice and unlikely to happen.
If they visit the con for the same reason as the other visitors, to mingle, to have fun, to get to know new people and interesting stuff they might not have heard of otherwise... their voice deserves to be heard. But making it anonymous and only depending on a relatively small contribution seems to make it too easy.

Of course there probably also should be a deliberation if maybe "silent" members from the voting contingent should also mean "empty" ballot slots... if there are five slots to fill and 20 percent (or forty or sixty or eighty) of the supporting members do not give in a nomination of their own why should there be five nominees? (Just an unrelated thought caused by reading so often "i did not vote for editor because i did not know how to judge that category" over the last two days)
In my eyes that would be an incentive for the "inactive" people to maybe give a nomination of their own if else their silence means having less ballot options.

Sadly i have no real stakes in this. I live in Germany and can only dream of flying to the states for "just" a Scifi Con and as i read little contemporary fiction i never bothered to acquire a supporting membership on my own as i won't ever know all five nominees and hardly can give an educated vote or even a justified nomination for "all published works in the last year". So it's not "my" Hugos although i've got all respect for the past winners and many nominees. Still i've looked through a lot of these discussions here and on the other side and this seems just so blatantly logical to me i did not want to keep it for myself. That and i love to talk too much.


George R.R. Martin
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