Smoke Filled Rooms

Many thanks to all of you who joined us for the live blogging of the Hugo ceremony on Sunday night. It was a blast to do. Kevin, Mur and Mary were fabulous. We all had a lot of fun. Sadly it won’t happen again, at least not in that form. I have been banned from doing it.

Surprised? I was. Kevin and I spend a lot of time talking about how open and democratic WSFS is. Anyone who goes to Worldcon can attend the Business Meeting and have their say in how the Hugos are run. But there are still little committees where acts of political skulduggery can take place.

The Hugo Awards website, where Sunday’s coverage took place, is run by a body called the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee (HAMC). It is something that Kevin helped set up several years ago. I’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes, including creating and maintaining the website.

The HAMC is managed by another WSFS committee, the Mark Protection Committee (MPC). They are the people responsible for looking after the various service marks that WSFS owns, so it makes sense that they should also oversee how the Hugos are marketed. However, some members of the MPC have always been opposed to the existence of the HAMC, and they have a long track record of trying to obstruct what it does.

In 2008 I was all ready to start work on upgrading the Worldcon and WSFS web sites as I had done for the Hugos. I wasn’t able to attend the MPC meeting, and when Kevin got back from it I was surprised to discover that I had been relieved of responsibility for the job. Someone else had been taken on to do the work. As it happens, that someone is rather better qualified to build web sites than I am, and the lack of action over the past two years is mainly due to his life going through some major changes. But even so, had I been given the job it would have been done by Montreal.

In 2009 Kevin and I managed a contest to design a logo for the Hugos. I was delighted to see the logo being used all over this year’s award ceremony, and even in newspaper articles about the awards. But at the end of the Montreal Worldcon a meeting of the MPC effectively forbade us from attempting to register the logo as a service mark. Apparently it was not necessary, and would be a waste of the MPC’s money. This year Kevin (by way of the HAMC’s report to the MPC and thus to WSFS) put a motion before the Business Meeting suggesting that we register the logo. It passed easily, and none of the MPC members who spoke so forcefully against registering it in Montreal was prepared to put that position forward in a public meeting.

This year once again I missed the MPC meeting. (I was recording an interview for Salon Futura). When I finally caught up with Kevin I discovered that the MPC had adopted a new rule forbidding any member of the HAMC from being on the Hugo ballot. Any member who wanted to remain eligible for a Hugo next year had to resign immediately.

I thought about this for all of about two seconds. I have no idea what Neil plans to do with Clarkesworld from now on, and I certainly have enough Hugos. But I would love to see Salon Futura on the ballot. What’s more, I would love to see Kevin get a nomination. He’s my business manager, fulling the same role that Kirsten Gong-Wong has for Locus. But there’s no way he was going to abandon the HAMC, so if we do get a nomination next year his name won’t be included. I, on the other hand, am staying in the Hugo race, because I have other fine staff who also deserve nominations and I want to see that happen. Accordingly I have resigned from the HAMC and won’t be allowed access to the Hugo Awards website in the future.

The official reason for the new rule is that anyone who is on the HAMC could potentially abuse their position to campaign for a Hugo for themselves. I can see how one might do that, and I have made a point of trying to avoid it. If you look at the Hugo website you won’t see much mention of me there. I certainly don’t sign any posts I write. Kevin’s name is much more prominent than mine.

The live reporting of the ceremony is a bit different. In previous years I have done that through my own websites because key staff on the current Worldcon have been actively hostile to the HAMC. This year was different, but even so we didn’t announce the coverage until we had been given express permission to do it by both Vincent Docherty, the Hugo Administrator, and Kathryn Daugherty, the ceremony director. Aussiecon 4 co-chair Perry Middlemiss came to see what we were up to during rehearsals, so he knew we were doing it too.

The thing about the live reporting is that it ought to be on the Hugo website, or that of the current Worldcon. The results should be presented to the world through official channels. It is actually of far more benefit to me to do it through my own websites, because then I get the traffic. If someone else wants to do it for the official Hugo website next year I’ll be delighted. After all, I won’t even be in Reno, so it will be hard for me. But that does mean someone else has to be prepared to do the work.

That, I suspect, is the main issue. Some of this is undoubtedly pure spite. One or two people on the MPC, having seen me win a third Hugo, will have been determined to do something to try to hurt me. But far more important than that, by removing me (and trying to remove Kevin as well), the MPC was trying to get rid of the people who actually do the work, and bring the process of marketing the Hugos to a grinding halt. They are doing this because they are strongly opposed to encouraging anyone other than Worldcon regulars from voting.

Personally I’m not too annoyed about this. I have Wizard’s Tower and Salon Futura to run. Having less WSFS work to do will be a good thing. As a WSFS member, however, I am furious. I want to see the process of marketing the Hugos go forward, not be hamstrung by a small group of selfish, elitist conservatives operating behind the scenes in little-known committees.

Kevin needs help. If you have experience in maintaining a WordPress web site and have no ambitions to win a Hugo he’d probably be delighted to hear from you. Ditto if you have experience of actual marketing. And if you can’t do any of these things, but think that what has been done here is wrong, please say so in the comments. If we want to convince people that WSFS is a fair and open organization, we have to put a stop to this sort of thing.

Kevin talks about another piece of skulduggery on his LJ.

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53 Responses to Smoke Filled Rooms

  1. It seems to me that the MPC have taken a perfectly reasonable concept – that people shouldn’t be able to use MPC or HAMC membership as a platform to promote their own Hugo ambitions – and adopted a “King Herod-style” solution. One that is probably unnecessary given the strong cultural bias against self-promotion in Hugoland. Also one that is unconstitutional – the “conflict of interest” clause in 3.12 of the Hugo Rules only bars the Worldcon committee members, not those of the MPC or sub-committees. If the MPC feel this needs extending, that’s the Business Meeting’s decision, not theirs. But, for you, just removing yourself from the situation is an entirely ethical and reasonable decision.

    Has the time come for the HAMC to be de-coupled from MPC and report to/be elected by the Business Meeting directly? There is always going to be potential tension between the MPC, whose ultimate remit is to prevent people doing things (prevent *other people* misusing the service marks) and the HAMC, who are there to do things (promote the service marks *on behalf of WSFS*). I know the history and cultural bias against creating a large WSFS bureaucracy, which I share. But, if anything, two separate, single-purpose, committees reporting direct to the Business Meeting is simpler than the current multi-tier structure.

    Also – I’m assuming that any withdrawal on your part only relates to the official Hugo Awards website? As I understand it, Science Fiction Awards Watch is a separate, personal project. And one I personally value highly. If nothing else, it helps remind me that fandom as a whole is a bigger entity than just the Anglophone parts that I (and, let’s be honest, the Hugos) tend to focus on.

    • Cheryl says:

      Correct: SF Awards Watch is a private project, and I will be continuing it.

    • I think decoupling the committees is a good idea. I’m planning to be in Reno, and to attend the Business Meeting there.

      I think that getting broader participation in the Hugos is a worthy goal. I further think that even if you don’t want “outsiders” voting, there is still a need to market the Hugos, since so many Worldcon members don’t participate in them.

    • Twilight says:

      So – for the old-timers that never got into the WSFS political issues among us (so sorta newbies :>) – what’s involved in suggesting a de-coupling of two committees that seem, on the surface at least, to have opposing mandates?

      • Someone makes a motion at the Main Business Meeting suggesting it, someone seconds the motion, then there’s debate and then a vote on the motion. I’m not sure if this would be subject to the rule about having to be passed at two consecutive Worldcons before taking effect.

        Ideally, if you know you want to introduce the motion ahead of time, someone contacts the person in charge of the business meetings for that Worldcon to put it on the agenda that’s usually published before the convention.

        • Twilight says:

          Pretty straight forward Robert’s Rules – thanks!

        • Checking the WSFS Constitution (as one does…) I notice the HAMC isn’t mentioned explicitly, but presumably derives its authority from the Business Meeting resolution(s) setting it up as a sub-committee of the MPC. Given that it is (to my mind) a clearly successful experiment, maybe the time has come to add it to the Constitution proper, as an equal to the MPC. I know that, in the past, Kevin has volunteered to draft WSFS constitutional amendments for people (even for things he personally has disagreed with). But, if he feels estopped from being too active on this, I could have a go at drafting something, based on the existing MPC clauses? (I once redrafted a whole students’ union set of standing orders, but that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…)

          • The Business Meeting could create HAMC as a special committee, subject to year-to-year renewal, by resolution. To make it a standing committee of equal stature to the MPC would, as you note, require a constitutional amendment (and be thus subject to ratification and take two years).

            If anyone wants to undertake any of the things discussed here, contact me directly and I’ll help you craft the wording.

      • What others have said here is pretty much correct. Officially, the MPC set up the HAMC at the direction of the Business Meeting. (The actual resolution is in the 2006 WSFS Business Meeting Minutes. I think it would be in order for the Business Meeting to pass a resolution simultaneously discharging the HAMC from MPC control and re-chartering it as a committee reporting directly to the Business Meeting. That’s a resolution and (a) could be handled at the Preliminary Business Meeting (Thursday at Reno) and (b) would not be subject to re-ratification the following year because it’s a resolution.

        This, by the way, is one of the reasons the Preliminary Business Meeting is important. It is commonly overlooked because most people only care about the debate on constitutional amendments, but since the PBM handles nominations to the Mark Protection Committee, all non-constitutional resolutions, the Business Meeting Standing Rules, and can also kill constitutional amendments without debate, it’s important for anyone prepared to work at WSFS politics to show up for it. Otherwise, you may find that the item on which you planned to speak was already disposed of before you showed up on the third day of the convention.

  2. kate says:

    While I understand your withdrawl on moral and ethical grounds, I’m curious, wouldn’t it only actually be necessary to withdraw after a nomination, since until then it would only be a potential nomination and impossible to be asked to leave on the grounds of something that only might happen?

    • Cheryl says:

      Kate: No, the rule says that anyone who agrees to serve on the committee must decline a nomination if they receive one. It was written that way very deliberately, because the whole objective of it was to force me off the committee.

  3. Bob says:

    As I have said elsewhere, more or less, I am extremely sorry that those who actively want to kill the Hugo awards and make them irrelevant have pulled stunts like this.

  4. knabria says:

    I’m curious if there is any mechanism by which a current MPC member may be removed from office, if allegations of misconduct or having taken actions against WSFS interests can be proven. It would seem to be an equal concern to have MPC members use any personal grudges they may have to craft rules against individual publishers, authors, artists, or fans they dislike. Particulary, if the intent is to manipulate voting and make the Hugo Awards biased.

    • Cheryl says:

      The only body that can remove someone from the MPC is the Business Meeting. That won’t meet again until Reno. There’s a reason why this skulduggery always happens during the final MPC meeting of the convention.

      Having said that, most MPC members are on fixed terms, and three of them will be up for re-election in Reno.

    • As Cheryl says, the MPC’s membership is managed by the WSFS Business Meeting. It consists of nine elected members with staggered three-year terms. (I, for instance, was re-elected to a new three-year term last weekend.) Elected members thus can’t be touched between Worldcons. It’s unclear how one might remove an elected MPC member from office, but of course you can always elect someone else the next time the person’s term comes up. (That is why I made an issue of this.) Besides the nine elected members, there are a variable number of appointees from any future and the past two year’s seated Worldcons and NASFiCs. At the moment, that’s five people, and their appointees serve “at the pleasure of the appointing committee,” so there are often different people in place from year to year. Those appointees can be changed by the convention that appointed them.

    • I’ll further note that if you actually asked the people who submitted the new policy, they would vociferously deny that it was a policy directed at a single person, since it doesn’t actually name any individuals. At least one of them grew very agitated at me when I pointed out that it was a policy written in general terms that in practice would only affect a single individual.

      • knabria says:

        I am surprised that there’s no method to remove an MPC member in cases of misconduct. I thought defining the term would be the problem. Misusing the MPC to settle a personal grievance would be difficult to prove. Still, will it be possible to determine which individual(s) were involved in submitting the new policy from reading the minutes of the MPC meeting? I’m assuming that MPC meetings are closed to non-members. If the individual(s) responsible become known, there is at least the option to not re-elect them

        • I’m assuming that MPC meetings are closed to non-members.

          No. MPC meetings are open to all members of WSFS. They’re supposed to be published in the program schedule, although that didn’t happen this year. We did, however, manage to get the notice of the meeting that happened on Monday morning published in the con newsletter.

          There will be full-blown minutes once I have an opportunity to write them (I was acting Secretary for this meeting only) and once the MPC approves them. I anticipate hammering on them to approve the minutes sooner, rather than later. That doesn’t mean they’ll actually do it, of course. I’m only one-fifteenth of the committee.

  5. V says:

    This makes me angry. I wish I had the cycles free to help with coverage, or would be able to be in Reno. I applaud all of your efforts, so many of them against a prevailing wind of methane.

    I’ll signal boost the need for a new coverage person on FB.

  6. Twilight says:

    Pardon my lack of understanding, but you said I have been banned from doing it.. I’m not clear, was that a separate ruling the MPC made or is that an extension of forcing you from the HAMC?

    • Cheryl says:

      Well I’m no longer allowed to access the Hugos website, so I can’t put anything up there. Furthermore doing that coverage is the only part of my work on the HAMC that is at all public. I’ve made a point of trying to keep my name off that, even down to when we were doing the logo contest insisting that responses to inquiries went out under Kevin’s name. The live coverage is the only thing that the MPC can reasonably object to.

      Of course you will note that the live coverage only happened after all of the voting on this year’s Hugos had finished, so how I can have used it to my advantage is a mystery to me. But there you go. Some people will go to any lengths to “prove” that I won my Hugos “unfairly”. They are not exactly happy with Neil Clarke either after he scuppered their attempts to kill off the Semiprozine category.

  7. Peter McClean says:

    Cheryl, I don’t know anyone else who has done more than you to market the Hugos, encourage participation, and bring a piece of the live action of the hugos to those who can’t attend WorldCon.

    I’m saddened to think this type of thing can happen. It leaves me disheartened that an event such as WorldCon that brings great pleasure to thousands of people, can be manipulated by a would-be elite.

    You know you have my support, whatever use that might be.

    Keep well!

  8. It’s worth checking with the Reno committee what plans they have for online coverage of the Hugos in any case. I know committee members have used Ustream as part of promoting their bid, so at the very least they are aware of the technology.

    The big benefit of getting the committee involved, if they are willing, is that they *may* be able to get a better quality (e.g. fixed line) internet connection for the coverage than relying on hotel/con centre wifi. Based on my own trials and tribulations at other cons, I suspect this, as much as problems at Ustream’s end, was behind the issues that Kevin manfully struggled with on Sunday.

    In an ideal world, online coverage of the Hugos (video if possible, Cover-It-Live text as a fall-back) would become “one of the things that a Worldcon is expected to do” going forwards. If not, well, it’s a natural thing for the HAMC (even minus its most active member to date) to pick up for them.

    • Cheryl says:

      Kevin and I did actually talk to Patty Wells yesterday, but as she’s on vacation here as well we decided not to burden her with such issues at this point.

      You are quite right about UStream being the problem. However, even good quality video and a good connection probably won’t beat text for speed. If you only do video it will be well behind people tweeting from the audience. Also it is not interactive the way Cover-It-Live is.

  9. Gaspode says:

    Not sure what sort of stuff Kevin needs doing on the website but I can probably help. May want to talk off line. Not sure we are going to get to Bristol this year (though we had a blast last year) but we have Novacon, Olympus2012 comittee meetings and Reet has 2014 stuff all in consecutive weekends oct/nov so its might be a toughy.

    G.

  10. Stu Segal says:

    Cheryl – first of all, this is a shame. Second, not a surprise.

    As to the coverage of the Renovation Hugo Ceremony . . . . both Stephen and I will be in Reno next year, perhaps we can help. I will contact you and Kevin directly.

    ps: The Hugo Breakfast was a great success – I have been so slammed since returning home that I have not had a chance to properly thank you, Kevin and Vincent. In the next few days I will formally, and will report on the breakfast.

  11. PurpleRanger says:

    It seems to me that there are some members of the MPC who are long overdue for being replaced.

    • Cheryl says:

      MPC members are generally re-elected on the nod each year. Even when people try to run against them, the Business Meeting strongly favors incumbents. As you say, that may have to change.

  12. Jo Phan says:

    One or two people on the MPC, having seen me win a third Hugo, will have been determined to do something to try to hurt me. But far more important than that, by removing me (and trying to remove Kevin as well), the MPC was trying to get rid of the people who actually do the work, and bring the process of marketing the Hugos to a grinding halt. They are doing this because they are strongly opposed to encouraging anyone other than Worldcon regulars from voting.

    How many people are on the MPC? Was the final vote a squeaker? Seems odd that only one or two people could have enlisted others in some sort of personal vendetta. Also, does getting rid of you and/or Kevin kill the Hugo Marketing subcommittee too?

    I’m also a little confused about the “encouraging anyone other than Worldcon regulars from voting” part. Aren’t the Hugos given by Worldcon members? Why would they want to try to discourage Worldcon members from voting?

  13. How many people are on the MPC?

    There are currently 14 positions on the MPC: 9 members elected by the WSFS business Meeting, 2 appointed by the two seated Worldcons, 2 appointed by the previous two Worldcons; and (currently) 1 appointed by the one NASFiC in that same four-year period. That means the quorum for holding a meeting is eight members. Ten MPC members were in Australia, and we finally got nine in one room on Monday.

    Was the final vote a squeaker?

    The vote was indeed close, as it came down to electing the MPC’s Chair, who appoints other committees. Ben Yalow was elected over me by a vote of 5-3, with one member (the new appointee from Chicon V, who had not been advised of the political meat grinder into which she was being thrown and decided to not vote) abstaining.

    Also, does getting rid of you and/or Kevin kill the Hugo Marketing subcommittee too?

    It doesn’t get rid of it, but it tears the guts out of it and makes it but a shadow of its former self by removing or depowering the people who were actually accomplishing anything. The MPC continued the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, but they did so under such terms that Cheryl couldn’t possibly accept re-appointment, although technically they offered it to her. I’ve been re-appointed, and accepted, although I’m not happy about it and consider the MPC’s actions to be an attempt to repudiate everything that we’ve accomplished these past several years, and that the five members who voted that way are ignoring the will of the electorate as expressed by a vote of the Business Meeting. Oh, don’t get me wrong: they had the right to vote that way. I just think they don’t think the voters are very important. To be as fair as I can be, I spoke to at least one MPC member who did not vote with me on this and he seemed completely flummoxed by this; he’d been so busy with his own at-con job that he’d ignored everything else. To this extent, I failed to do my own job by individually lobbying him and Chicon 7’s management to get votes to go my way. It would have only needed to swing two votes to go the other way, after all. But it doesn’t help that the MPC has some of the most reactionary and conservative people in WSFS serving on it, and that faction includes the people most likely to be actually able to afford to make the trip to Australia.

    Why would they want to try to discourage Worldcon members from voting?

    Because only the “right sort of fans” should actually vote. They don’t mind lots of Worldcon members voting, as long as they’re Worldcon members who vote they way they do.

  14. Jo Phan says:

    The vote was indeed close, as it came down to electing the MPC’s Chair, who appoints other committees. Ben Yalow was elected over me by a vote of 5-3

    Oh, 5 votes? I thought when I read the earlier post about it being a personal grudge that there were fewer people and it would be something like 3 – 2.

    But it doesn’t help that the MPC has some of the most reactionary and conservative people in WSFS serving on it

    No offense but when I read language like that I start to wonder who it is that has the grudge!

    It doesn’t get rid of it, but it tears the guts out of it and makes it but a shadow of its former self by removing or depowering the people who were actually accomplishing anything.

    Does this mean that you know the people who will be serving on it if you and Cheryl don’t and that none of them are capable of accomplishing anything except you and Cheryl?

    Because only the “right sort of fans” should actually vote. They don’t mind lots of Worldcon members voting, as long as they’re Worldcon members who vote they way they do.

    Could you explain this a little more? I haven’t really seen any lobbying at the Worldcons I’ve been to that urged anyone to vote a certain way.

    • Have you actually attended any WSFS Business Meetings? Occasionally, some of them will slip up and let people know how they really feel. I think that’s why they dislike having recordings of the meetings available.

      And of course nobody would be so crass as to lobby individuals to vote a certain way. What they prefer would be to not encourage new voters; that makes their votes more valuable and keeps the voting down to just themselves and a few of their friends.

    • Regarding the new members of the HAMC: There’s a difference between capable and willing. Lots of people are capable of doing the work, but relatively few are actually willing to do it. WSFS committees are loaded with people who talk a lot and don’t accomplish anything.

      • Jo Phan says:

        I’ve been re-appointed, and accepted, although I’m not happy about it and consider the MPC’s actions to be an attempt to repudiate everything that we’ve accomplished these past several years, and that the five members who voted that way are ignoring the will of the electorate as expressed by a vote of the Business Meeting.

        Hadn’t realized that the Business Meeting had featured a specific vote on this subject. I missed it in the agenda that was posted, I guess.

        • Well in advance of A4, I published a statement about my candidacy for re-election that openly declared that I considered my election to be a referendum on how WSFS wanted to proceed, basically saying that if you wanted more of what’s come before, then vote for me, but if you don’t want that, then elect someone else. I also gave a speech before the Main Business Meeting saying approximately the same thing. (My speech starts at about 3:40 in that recording.) The Business Meeting overwhelmingly re-elected me on the first ballot (I haven’t seen the specific numbers yet, but that’s what one of the tellers told me), and I take this as an endorsement of my position. The MPC (many of whom weren’t even present at that meeting, it appears) ignored this. Two of the three people who voted against me are up for re-election next year. I suggest that perhaps the electorate should be reminded that they’re being ignored the next time those people have to stand for their own seats. But it’s difficult, as the Business Meeting has shown a tendency to not pay attention to these elections. I was criticized (from the chair, and IMO improperly so) for daring to make election statements about the MPC. Well, darn it, how else are the members of WSFS supposed to know what’s going on in a committee that has significant decision-making authority regarding WSFS’s intellectual property?

          • Jo Phan says:

            Well in advance of A4, I published a statement about my candidacy for re-election that openly declared that I considered my election to be a referendum on how WSFS wanted to proceed, basically saying that if you wanted more of what’s come before, then vote for me, but if you don’t want that, then elect someone else.

            I haven’t been to many business meetings but I don’t remember that candidates for the MPC were elected based on any platform but just on their willingness to serve. (And I seem to recall something about geographic representation too.) Sorry, I wasn’t at the BM this year so I might be wrong about how it worked.

            Is there no separate provision for a referendum on policy where people would have clearly been voting on that rather than just voting for someone they knew would do work? (You did say elsewhere that it’s hard to find people who are willing to serve.)

            Well, darn it, how else are the members of WSFS supposed to know what’s going on in a committee that has significant decision-making authority regarding WSFS’s intellectual property?

            I must admit I don’t know the inner workings but does the committee have to report back to the membership or the board or something about what it does?

          • There’s no more reply-nesting room, so I’m replying at a lower level.

            It’s unusual for MPC members to make speeches about their candidacy, but then again, the Business Meeting has generally paid no attention to the MPC. That’s too bad, really, because they should be doing so.

            Yes, the MPC produces reports. As far as I can tell, almost nobody bothers reading them. Then many of them get outraged when an MPC leader (like me at times) starts to actually do things that are foreshadowed in reports.

            What’s got me angry is that I was accused of acting without sanction of the WSFS by stealth, so I went to the voters and said, “Elect me and you get this,” whereupon the people who accused me of such stealth tactics did exactly the same thing they accused me of doing. It shows to me that to them, “democracy” only matters when the electorate agrees with them, and it’s something to be ignored when it’s inconvenient for them.

  15. Jo Phan says:

    Occasionally, some of them will slip up and let people know how they really feel.

    Wow! What kinds of things have been said?

    I think that’s why they dislike having recordings of the meetings available.

    ??? I thought recordings were available, and that minutes were posted?

    What they prefer would be to not encourage new voters; that makes their votes more valuable and keeps the voting down to just themselves and a few of their friends.

    Sorry, still confused: the Worldcons I’ve been a member of have sent out ballots and reminders to nominate and vote. I haven’t seen anything trying to urge people *not* to vote. What things have they done to discourage Worldcon members from nominating and voting?

    • Recordings are available, at least for the past few years, but these same people objected to having recordings made when we started doing them, and even today, the standing rules permit the members to order recording to be stopped.

      Minutes don’t generally record what people said. Minutes are meant to be a recording of what is done, not what is said.

      Yes, Worldcons send out ballots. What many people wish is that we would stop promoting this availability and letting people know that they actually can vote, and they particularly dislike anything that might reduce the cost of a supporting membership, making it easier to vote. You can see this in the debate this year on decoupling the voting cost from the initial attending membership cost, which I believe would have the effect of lowering supporting membership cost: a number of the people who argued against the proposal did so precisely because they don’t want the price of a supporting membership to go down because it would encourage more people to vote.

  16. Jo Phan says:

    Yes, Worldcons send out ballots. What many people wish is that we would stop promoting this availability and letting people know that they actually can vote, and they particularly dislike anything that might reduce the cost of a supporting membership, making it easier to vote. You can see this in the debate this year on decoupling the voting cost from the initial attending membership cost, which I believe would have the effect of lowering supporting membership cost: a number of the people who argued against the proposal did so precisely because they don’t want the price of a supporting membership to go down because it would encourage more people to vote.

    Wow, have people actually given this as a reason? I thought I’d heard that the cost thing was because of Worldcon expenses. I have heard some people say that the Hugos shouldn’t be a popular vote but rather a vote of actual Worldcon members, which I must admit I thought was in line with the purpose and history of the awards, but I hadn’t heard anything about people actually wanting to discourage Worldcon members themselves from voting.

    • As an example of a speech against making the cost of joining Worldcon as a supporting membership more affordable, see the Main Business Meeting recording at about 26:45.

    • Kendall says:

      Jo wrote, “I have heard some people say that the Hugos shouldn’t be a popular vote but rather a vote of actual Worldcon members, which I must admit I thought was in line with the purpose and history of the awards, but I hadn’t heard anything about people actually wanting to discourage Worldcon members themselves from voting.”

      Um, sorry, but what you wrote makes no sense to me. It is a popular vote, whether the # of people voting is large or small.

      Also, what does “actual Worldcon member” mean?! The only people who can vote are members of WSFS–that is, members of the Worldcon–whether attending or supporting. They’re all the same, for the purposes of Hugo voting (and nominating, though the pool there is simply larger since it includes members of the previous Worldcon)….

      • Jo Phan says:

        Um, sorry, but what you wrote makes no sense to me. It is a popular vote, whether the # of people voting is large or small.

        Also, what does “actual Worldcon member” mean?! The only people who can vote are members of WSFS–that is, members of the Worldcon–whether attending or supporting. They’re all the same, for the purposes of Hugo voting (and nominating, though the pool there is simply larger since it includes members of the previous Worldcon)….”

        What I meant was that when I started looking into this, it seemed like some of the people were arguing that the awards should be more of a general popular vote and voting should be open to everyone. That seemed like why they were trying to lower the supporting membership fee, so that it became more of a Hugo voting fee and people could buy one just to vote for the awards and so the voters wouldn’t really be connected to the worldcon very much. Or at least that’s what it seemed like to me.

        • Cheryl says:

          So what you are arguing, then, is that Hugo voting should not be a fan-voted award, but an award voted on only by that segment of the fan population that can afford thousands of dollars to attend Worldcon every year, right? And that you have no interest in extending the Worldcon community by reaching out to people interested in its most high profile aspect — the Hugos — but rather want to keep the community small, exclusive, and limited to people like you.

        • Kendall says:

          But anyone can pay for supporting membership and vote, now. The exact price is kinda irrelevant as far as that goes, IMHO, which is why what you say doesn’t really make sense to me.

          It’s not as if supporting membership is super-expensive, for someone with a day job. And since it’s a once a year kinda thing, if you make very little money, you could still scrimp and save for it, if it were that important to you. So it’s not an exclusive right; anyone can join WSFS and vote and that’s it, if they really want to, as long as they want to do it and can pony up the fee.

          I see nothing wrong with supporting membership rates going down, BTW. 😉

          • Stu Segal says:

            I think there should be a “nominal” fee for what I would call a “Voting” membership, and a more substantial fee for an “Attending” membership.

            What disturbs me more is the archaic method of running the business of the WSFS – requiring anyone who wants to vote on business to be at the meetings. Therefore requiring all voters to travel to the Worldcon, and thereby guaranteeing a vote to the wealthy, and excluding the less affluent except when a Worldcon is within their geographic reach.

            In a world where we can vote for important things (like Hugo Awards) and transact our banking business over the internet, there’s absolutely no reason that the voting for WSFS business issues can’t be conducted over the internet, so ALL voting members could have their voices heard.

            Yes, it would take enough coordination to have the agenda completed beforehand, and the questions defined beforehand, but this is what EVERY shareholder owned corporation on the planet does annually – and if they can all do it, so can we.

            Until voting access is opened to all, the elitist few will rule the WSFS.

            ps: I have attended 10 of the last 11 Worldcons, so my comment is not the “sour grapes” of someone who cannot attend. My comment is the result of attending business meetings and seeing the will of the membership NOT being done.

          • Stu: Despite the way that Cheryl and I were treated, I would say that there is still value in having primary legislation debated and argued in person. I would not replace the Business Meeting entirely; however, I think it would be in the Society’s best interest to replace the current ratification process with what I’ve called “Popular Ratification.” Instead of constitutional amendments being voted at the following year’s Business Meeting, they would be subjected to a ballot vote of all of the following year’s members. Such an election could be held in parallel with the Site Selection, although you wouldn’t have to pay a fee because you aren’t joining the two-years-hence Worldcon. Voting would be open through the third day of the Worldcon and the results announced at the Site Selection Business Meeting. This system is analogous to those states where constitutional amendments must originate in the legislature, but must be ratified by a vote of the people.

        • Kendall says:

          P.S. “Connected to Worldcon” is so very relative that it doesn’t seem meaningful to me. Some people who attend do just one thing (e.g., Gaming Room) and obviously aren’t connected to much. I only feel the most superficial connection to 99.9% of Worldcon members since I don’t know them. Some people might not attend but may feel very connected to the SF community and/or connect online with the community despite not making it to Worldcons. (shrug)

          Fortunately, there’s no requirement for connection, attendance, etc. 🙂

          Anyway–not trying to pick on you. Obviously we have different philosophies.

  17. Jo Phan says:

    so I went to the voters and said, “Elect me and you get this,” whereupon the people who accused me of such stealth tactics did exactly the same thing they accused me of doing. It shows to me that to them, “democracy” only matters when the electorate agrees with them, and it’s something to be ignored when it’s inconvenient for them.

    But as I said before, do you have any way to be sure that people elected you based on some policy rather than just for someone who would do the work? I’m sure the people who voted know how much time and effort you put in. If all the elections in the past were just for people to serve, I’m not sure that your declaring that it was a policy vote means that it actually was.

    If you want to know for sure the opinions of majority on this issue and to prove it to other people, wouldn’t it be better to have a vote on the issue rather than a rather fuzzy result from a candidate’s election? Or maybe that’s not possible with the BM rules.

    As I said, I’m not familiar with all the issues or exactly how the BM works. However, it seems to me that if there was a 5-3 vote in the committee, and if the MPC produces reports that the whole membership has access to and can presumably comment on, and if there was an open vote about things like the voting fees and other stuff by the members at the BM, that there has been a democratic process at work.

    Based on what you’ve said here, it sounds to me like you’re saying that you feel that you’re swimming upstream and that people who are voting against you are ignoring democracy and are reactionary, and that if you and Cheryl aren’t on the subcommittee it won’t do the things you want. If there really is all this opposition to the things you want to do, have you considered that you might be misunderstanding what people really want and substituting your own judgment about what they *should* want? Just a thought.

    • Yes, it is possible that I am wrong, but I don’t think so. If I say, “If you don’t think I’m the right person for this job, then don’t vote for me,” that’s about as clear as I can make it. Yes, it would have been possible to try and give more explicit policy guidance to the MPC by resolution, and I’m considering introducing such resolutions next year.

      What I think some people want is for the work to happen but not by the people who have been doing the work.

      Based on my experience, I don’t expect the things I want to happen will happen unless I’m there doing it. Without me doing it, nothing will happen. Over a decade of WSFS politics has shown that this is what happens. I have seen nothing to show me otherwise.

      As I’ve now been banished from all leadership positions, I’m now “in opposition,” and I’m going to stop being proactive, because the policy established by the MPC doesn’t want proactive. It wants inactive. I’m going to give them a little of that and see how they (and the people who elect them) like it.

      Frankly, I think most of the attendees of the Business Meeting are completely unaware of what’s been going on behind the scenes, and that there are are a small number of people who are now in leadership positions who want to keep it that way because it suits their goals.

  18. Kendall says:

    This REALLY sucks big time! Cheryl and Kevin, you’ve done great jobs, and it’s shameful that a few pathetic control freaks would stand in your way and effectively force Cheryl out. It’s sad that anyone would be against live coverage. The Hugos mean more when more people are aware of them; it is only good for the results to come instantly and via official channels. SIGH.

    As much as Kevin says the BM attendees don’t realize what’s going on, and I can believe that . . . it’s obvious that the larger electorate–WSFS members–are no doubt even more clueless. (I’m one of those clueless members.)

    Kendall

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