One week from today, voting closes on the fabulous Hugo Awards. They’ll be handed out at Worldcon 75, being held in Helsinki, Finland, on August 12th, 2017.
The ballot this year is remarkably puppy free; that doesn’t mean there aren’t any puppy noms on the final ballot, but there aren’t any puppy-dominated categories as there have been in years past. It’s taken four-five years now, but WSFS (that’s the World Science Fiction Society, of which anyone who has joined this year’s con, or next year’s con, is a member. That’s right, Worldcon attendees and supporters, you’re all members of a WORLD society, not just a science fiction convention), in its slow, sometimes frustrating yet inexorable manner, has responded to the assault on the awards effectively.
In fact, there’s only one more step (well, two if you add in my suggestion that follows) required for forever ending puppy sadness: the ratification of 3SV.
Step 1: Ratification of Three Stage Voting.
While this will turn Hugo Awards voting into a three stage, as opposed to a two stage process, and doing so will add more work for administrators and shorten the time frames for each stage a bit, the advantages FAR outweigh this.
3SV, as it has come to be known, will allow all of the voters to take an advance look at what will be on the final ballot, and then vote again on whether or not they BELONG on the final ballot. Finalists that receive above a certain number of “not on my Hugo Awards Final Ballot” will be removed and replaced by the next most eligible nominee(s).
For a thorough analysis of 3SV and its impact on the awards check out this article on RocketStackRank. There may be a bit much for you there if you aren’t a fan of voting systems, so skip on down to the final section where recommendations are made.
In order to go into effect, this change to the voting system (3SV) must be ratified at this year’s WSFS Business Meeting. Amazing Stories strongly urges the Business Meeting’s attendees to vote IN FAVOR of ratification.
Step 2: proposal to annotate Hugo Award nominees and finalists that were gamed onto the ballot by slate voting
We can’t take the Hugo Rocket’s that have already been awarded away, but we CAN do something about the historical record.
At a future WSFS Business Meeting, I shall propose that the official historical record of Hugo Award nominees, finalists and winners be annotated with notes explaining that certain works and individuals were gamed onto the ballot; that their presence denied more worthy works of their place and that WSFS collectively and individually on the part of its members does not approve of such practices and spent four years modifying the voting rules to prevent such things from happening in the future.
Further, that such annotation must accompany any official presentation of the awards.
Further, that an official statement explaining the goals of the award, including a prohibition on slate voting, deliberately gaming the award and/or any other actions not within the spirit of the award, are unacceptable to the membership.
When someone reads the Wikipedia entry for The Hugo Awards 25 years from now, they should be able to do so in a fully informed manner.
Other award news of note: The Dragon Awards, the puppy’s second class attempt at replacing the Hugo Awards with something less meaningful, opened for nominations yesterday.
Unlike the Hugo’s the Dragon’s are open to anyone. The promoters seem to think that hyping the fact that these awards do not require anyone to “pay anything to vote” must be a strong selling point, when what they are really saying is that the awards can be easily gamed (and especially so bo those already prepared to do so).
During their inaugural year, the Dragons were touted as a “people’s choice award”; the organizer’s promised full disclosure of the vote afterwards. What we got instead was a desultory award ceremony hardly attended by anyone and, despite numerous calls for the voting data over the past year, no such information has been forthcoming.
This strongly suggests that the voting data would reveal one or two scenarios: either the numbers voting were so low that acknowledging that fact might negatively impact voting this year – or – that it is is painfully obvious that the winners were the result of organized slate voting. Since there are no rules to prevent such, it is entirely likely that the same thing will happen again, making the votes by anyone not in the slate cabal entirely pointless.
Please note that those two conclusions are NOT mutually exclusive.
Anyone ought to be able to create whatever award they want to; doing so should not be at the expense of other awards and the organizers are obligated to conduct their proceedings in an open and transparent way – at least if they want voters to trust that process, and certainly if they want their award to grow into something respectable. Everyone loves a winner. Everyone also reviles a cheater.