Yesterday in my post on the Hugos Jim Hines asked whether it wasn’t the case that Kevin has said he would decline being a finalist if he were voted in the top five. He and I have been talking about it, and this is how I understand the situation.
First up there have apparently been suggestions that the WSFS Business meeting be nominated for Dramatic Presentation: Long Form. I think that’s a bit silly myself, but if it did make the top five then Kevin would have to talk to the other people responsible for the production. I’m not sure if declining is something he could do by himself.
With regard to the possibility of being a Fan Writer finalist, the charge that is likely to be leveled is that his position as Business Meeting Chair, and Chair of the Mark Protection Committee, give him an unfair advantage over other potential nominees.
Certainly, when I got slung off the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, the impression I was given was that it was felt I had abused my position to unfairly win Hugos, despite the fact that most of my work was behind the scenes rather than public-facing like Kevin’s.
My view on this is that it is one thing to have a high position and get nominated for something else (in my case being on the staff of Clarkesworld). It is quite another to have a high position and get nominated for doing that job. In my case, if my WSFS job was getting me votes for my Clarkesworld work, that could be construed as unfair. (I think it is silly to suggest that it was, and the Business Meeting agreed, but that’s not relevant here.) In Kevin’s case the job and the work are the same thing. So yes, having the job makes him noticed, but he’s being nominated for doing the job. That seems entirely reasonable to me.
Of course it is not my decision. I’m not party to a lot of the behind the scenes wrangling that goes on, and if Kevin thinks that the work he does for WSFS might be imperiled by his accepting a Hugo finalist place then I will wholeheartedly support him in turning it down.
But I still have him on my ballot. Yes, it might be a wasted vote, but I think he did a great job last year (yes, I am very biased) and I think that fandom should tell him so.