WSFS is not FIFA

One of the plus points of Puppygate is that we’ve had a brief respite from people yelling about how the Evil Right Wing Hugo Committee is fixing the awards to favor right-wing authors. Thankfully people have realized that VD does not run WSFS.

Nevertheless, there are an awful lot of new people taking note of what happens in WSFS these years, and most of them seem to assume that it is run by a shadowy cabal of well-paid administrators who control everything that happens at Worldcon. I mean, VD says it is so, so it must be true, right?

Well no. There is no Hugo Committee, just a bunch of people who count the votes and who change each year. There is no WSFS Board, everything is decided by popular vote at the Business Meeting. Anyone can propose business to be discussed, and this year it seems like everyone is doing so.

The agenda for this year’s Business Meeting is filling up fast. Motions are being posted to the Sasquan website as they are submitted. You can find them here. Each of these proposals has been submitted by an independent group of people. None of them are “official”.

Nevertheless, last night on Twitter I found people complaining that the Evil WSFS People were using Puppygate as an excuse to oppress short fiction writers.

What has actually happened is that a group of individual fans have proposed the creation of a new Hugo category, the Saga, which will be for extended series of books. This would be for things like a multi-volume story such as A Song of Ice and Fire, an open-ended series such as Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books, and indeed The Culture were Iain still writing books. The idea is that the Saga will be newly eligible each time a new volume is published.

The idea has some merit, in that books of this type tend to do poorly in Best Novel. However, the originators of the motion have also proposed to delete the Novelette category so as not to increase the total number of categories.

Whether you think that is a good idea or not is debatable. As Kevin notes here, the removal of Novelette can be debated separately. There’s no need for it to be passed in order to create the Saga category.

However, getting rid of Novelette is not an official WSFS policy. It was not put forward by the WSFS Board because there is no WSFS Board. If there was, I can assure you that the proposal would not get submitted until the last minute. I’ve attended the National Union of Students conference so I have seen political skulduggery close up (and I see from this year’s goings on that the National Organisation of Labour Students is just as vile as it was when I was a student). Proposed changes to the WSFS Constitution are posted to the Worldcon website to warn people that the proposal has been made, allow people to debate the issue beforehand, and give those affected by any chances a chance to organize a defense.

Update: By the way, if you are interested in the merits, or lack thereof, of the Saga proposal, John Scalzi has a debate going.

15 thoughts on “WSFS is not FIFA

  1. I did ask one person on Twitter what ‘WSFS’ was doing or not doing that justified the accusation of ‘burying’ a ‘plan’.

  2. I really wish you would not confirm the perception of SMOF*s being arseholes by dismissing the criticism of internet fandom by using Beale to dismiss criticism.
    You look like a right-wing bastard when you do this. Mostly because you ignore reality for some delusional version of it, just like Beale and his ilk does.

    You, and several other SMOFs, seem to welcome Beale & Co’s bullshit, as you use it to dismiss criticism of the conservatism, and insualarism of Worldcon.
    It’s time to stop claiming the Hugos are an SFF award, and admit it is a convention award. And promote it as such.
    There are far too many people in SFF who have a blind spot when it comes to Worldcon. (And I am sorry to have to say this, but you are one of them Cheryl. you are part of the chorus of those that demean SFF fans that do not see Worldcon as “the pinnacle” of fandom. It isn’t And anyone who think it is is stuck in the past.)

    Right now, Beale is Worldcon’s best friend. People flock to it to combat him. -That people who associate themselves with Worldcon use that as “proof” that Worldcon is getting more popular is pretty messed up.

    *And, no, that is not an “ironic” designation. The reaction to Paul Cornell’s jokes showed that to anyone with half a brain.
    I also know you have some problems with SMOFs. But in relation to this, you are part and parcel of their agenda.

    1. Wait, what?

      That’s some agenda you’re packing there, Weirdmage. I read Cheryl’s post as a way of increasing transparency about how Worldcon does things, how to change things about Worldcon in way (making proposals at the Business Meeting) which is dramatically more effective than making blog comments. So, if you don’t like how Worldcon is run, make a proposal, shop it around and then file it for proposal at the BM. Then, come to the BM, argue for it and perhaps the change you seek will come about.

      I realize that making off-target criticisms on a blog is a lot easier than all that, but frankly, Worldcon is not going to change based on what is written here.

      1. That was a point in the discussion a few years ago. I do not have $1,000 to go to Worldcon. And even if I had that kind of money, I would not use it to go to a convention where people who associate with it have made it perfectly clear that they see me as “unworthy” of even taking me seriously. (Yep, I had a pile-on from “Worldcon people” some years ago, not a single person told anyone off for attacking me.)

        There was a discussion about whether an award that demands you use that kind of money each year can be inclusive some years ago. Pointing out that that kind of money being necessary excludes a LOT of people was dismissed then. -I hope you understand that demanding people use all, or even more than, their entertainment/book-buying budget to go to one convention to be considered a real SFF fan (not saying that is your opinion, but I have seen it too often to not see it as a real thing) is something that feels like a dismissal of their fandom to many people.

        Just to make it perfectly clear. I am not a puppy supporter. I think the puppies are despicable arseholes, and I actually think it speaks badly about the US SFF community that they do not thell them all to F-Off!

        Oh, and about Worldcon. I do not actually want to have any power when it comes to Worldcon. But like I said, I think it’s time to acknowledge that the Hugo Award is a convention award, and that the “World” in Worldcon has about the same meaning as the “World” in the World Series of Baseball.

          1. (See also my other answer to you.)
            One thing is adopting a “learn, do, teach” approach to volunteers.
            It means that no-one will be allowed to serve for more than three years. The first year they are learning under someone else, the second year they are doing things on their own, and the third year they teach someone (reverse role of yesr one).
            That will get rid of people having a “special position” in fandom because they have the money to be able to volunteer every year. (Not saying that is why people volunteer, but from the outside that is something that is a barrier to inclusion)

            And as I suggested some years ago. Get a Hugo/Wroldcon forum up and running, where rule changes, and ideas, can be discussed on a year-round basis. End the business meeting, stop demanding people pay to go to Worldcon to influence rules governing the Hugos. (I also suggested the Hugo Awards disassociate from Worldcon to continue being relevant to newer fans, but the reactions to that suggested Worldcon goers doesn’t understand the consept of the Hugo Awards having nothing to do with Worldcon for most people who have heard of the awards, so I’ll drop that as I am not fond of being attacked online)

            I am aware of the suggestion that rules changes be voted for online, like the awards. Not sure where that stands now, since it has understandably been ignored in all the puppy related controversies.

        1. And by the way, you are henceforth banned from posting here. I have no intention of wasting any more time on abusive, intolerant shitbags like you.

    2. I suppose I could go through the long list of the things that I have done over the years to try to make Worldcon more accessible to people, and how hard I had to fight for that, but I’m pretty sure you would dismiss it all as lies. In any case, I have mostly given up doing it. I have given up because of arrogant, entitled arseholes like you. Fuck off.

  3. I actually think it speaks badly about the US SFF community that they do not thell them all to F-Off!

    How? Are you saying that you want the Worldcon to pick and choose individual members’ ballots and decide to throw individual ballots away because the Worldcon doesn’t like those members’ votes? In other words, how do you expect the Worldcon to decide who to allow and not allow to be members of the community?

    1. I think you actually are the right person to answer a question I have about this year’s final ballot. I asked elsewhere if it was possible to release the nomination numbers (the one usually realeased after the award ceremony) at once. The written rules only talks about the latest time the voting numbers have to be released. -So, it seems to me that it would have been very useful for the debate to release the nominating numbers at the same time as the final ballot this year.

      Without having access to those nominating numbers, and anonymised ballots, it looks like there has been slate voting, and that is what the debate is about (for most people at least).
      I’m aware that slate voting is legal, by the written rules.
      But I think that is a problem, that there is unwritten “rules” that are unknown to internet fandom. (I will take this opportunity to thank you for (helping to) ass a sentence about moving to other categories after my criticism of the last double Tennant special being given a short form Hugo.)
      And that is my answer to your other question to me too, If Worldcon is going to embrace online fandom, then everything has to be available online. Basically, if it isn’t on the Hugo Awards/Worldcon websitre, then it did not happen, or at least it should have no bearing on anything.

  4. Hummmmmm.

    The post does look a lot like a backhanded way of almost “quietly” getting rid of a problem…… It’s the sort of thing a politican would do….

    Yipee we have a great new category for big famous books to keep the fans happy (oh… did I mention we are quietly going to get rid of the “dodgy” category that has lots of problems at the same time)..

    There should be link at all between the two.
    Surely there should be some vote to say do we keep the amount of categories at X or can we expand them.
    If the vote is that they are kept at X, then you need to be open and honest and say we then want to remove Y category if people vote for it, and then we have this choice of replacements which shall we go for.

    Basically if you want to get rid of something don’t “semi hide it” in news-speak saying “hey kids we have a great new category so you can vote for Martin.”

    It smacks of sneaking. What the voters are doing is wrong. But sneakily trying to remote a category doesn’t work either.
    Stand up and be proud and say we don’t tolerate this “cheating” and if you don’t stop we will just dump your category if that’s what you want.

    The only trouble is this will just not work, as what is to stop the same people all voting for a full length book instead of a short book. I’m sorry it just doesn’t make sense.

    1. While I can see that this might look like some sort of sneaky play to people unfamiliar with the WSFS Business Meeting, I assure you that, knowing the individuals involved, no slight-of-hand was intended. The proposal was in my opinion a political compromise. What you may not understand is that, particularly among regular participants in WSFS politics, there is a strong undercurrent of feeling that we have too many categories as it is; that adding more categories dilutes the value of the existing categories; and that category creep lengthens the Hugo Ceremony unnecessarily. This is not necessarily a majority view, but it is the opinion of at least a strong and vocal minority. There have actually been attempts to constitutionally cap the total number of categories, putting significant additional procedural barriers in the way of adding categories above a certain count (the specific number has been debated but the concept is clear). No such proposal has yet been able to get past the Business Meeting.

      There is nothing sacred about having four written fiction categories. There have been between one and four written-fiction categories since the Awards were created back in 1953. The current situation stabilized around 1970, but there are a number of people who have been pretty vocal in complaining that the novelette/novella division is completely artificial and shouldn’t be there at all.

      In light of this history, it appears to me that in order to get sufficient support for adding a written-fiction category, supporters needed to find a way to remove a category as well.

      Note that in my role as WSFS Business Meeting Chairman, I asked the proponents of the proposal to set it up as two separate clauses so that the motion to Divide the Question (consider the two clauses as independent proposals) would be procedurally easy; that is, I wanted them to put a “cut here” line on the proposal. I expected the meeting to separate the proposals. As of today (and the situation appears to be quite fluid) the proponents appear to be planning to withdraw the proposal as written (which they can do up until the submission deadline) and to re-submit either one or both halves of the proposal separately.

    2. Kevin is being diplomatic. He has to be. As Chair of the Business Meeting he has to maintain strict neutrality. I am under no such restrictions.

      I quite understand why you find the proposal sneaky. It is, sadly, exactly the sort of thing I would expect from Mr. Yalow who, we should not forget, was also one of the leaders for the Scrap Semiprozine campaign.

      But, as I explained above, the Saga proposal is not, in any way, put forward by WSFS, or sanctioned by WSFS. It appears on the Business Meeting Agenda because WSFS is obliged to include any business put forward by legitimate members of the organization. The Saga proposal was put forward by private individuals who may or may not have the best interests of WSFS at heart.

      There are better ways to doing something about the Puppies. Last I looked there were two other motions already on the agenda. More may get added by the time the convention starts.

      1. Also, not everything on the agenda is directly related to Puppygate. I expected The Five-Percent Solution to be on the agenda this year no matter what, and the increased coverage of the Business Meeting, with more and more people realizing that “ordinary people” (i.e. not members of a shadowy cabal or Board of Directors) could propose things, may result in a number of unrelated proposals showing up on the Agenda this year. That’s another reason for me doing “load leveling” by trying to put off votes on things specifically reacting to this year’s controversy (as opposed to being long-simmering issues like the 5% rule) until Sunday’s meeting, when we’ll have the results of this year’s Awards in front of us. Although I do in fact spend a really significant proportion of my Worldcon time with WSFS business (and it’s worse this year), I would like to have some time to do other things. Like eat meals, maybe.

        In any event, if we can spread the work out over four meetings instead of three, we will probably be able to stay within schedule, which will make Programming (and the panelists and the people wanting to attend the panels in room 300B at 1300 Thursday-Saturday) much happier with us.

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