In amongst all of the discussion as to what to do about the Chengdu Hugo issue has been one suggestion that can actually be implemented, albeit over a number of years. That is decoupling Hugo Award Administration from the host Worldcon, so that the laws of the host country cannot interfere with the voting process.
I explained my ideas to Kevin, and he kindly drafted a resolution that could be put before the Business Meeting in Glasgow. You can see that here, but it is long and legalistic so I’ll describe the basic idea. (If you want a DOCX or RTF version, ask me.)
WSFS already has an organization called the Mark Protection Committee (MPC), which is responsible for maintaining the service marks that WSFS owns (in particular “Hugo Award” and the logo). I suggest renaming this the Independent Hugo Award Administration Committee (IHAAC) and giving it, rather than Worldcon, the job of administering the voting process. The IHAAC would recruit experienced administrators in much the same way that Worldcon does, but there would be a lot more consistency from year to year.
Worldcon would still have the option of staging a Hugo Award ceremony, and creating a distinctive trophy base, but equally it could decline to do that and pass the job back to the IHAAC.
Kevin and I cannot take this proposal forward ourselves. Kevin is a member of the MPC, and I effectively work for them in maintaining the WSFS websites, so we both have a vested interest. Our involvement could easily be portrayed as a power grab. But we are happy to provide help and advice to anyone who does want to take this forward at Glasgow.
It would also benefit from input from people who have good experience of Worldcon budgets. I don’t know how much running Hugo Administration costs, and the IHAAC would need a share of WSFS membership fees to cover that. Some of that should probably be paid well in advance, just in case the Worldcon later goes bankrupt. Input from people who understand international data sharing laws would also be useful.
There are also changes that might be needed to ensure broad support for the idea. For example, people might want the current MPC members to resign and stand for re-election because their role has changed. They might want IHAAC members to be elected by online ballot of the WSFS membership rather than at the Business Meeting. It might be easier for Worldcons if the IHAAC administered Site Selection as well, and so on. The current motion represents what we think are the minimum number of changes required.
Neither Kevin nor I are wedded to any particular version of this. We are simply putting it out there to help people get started on a change that at least some people appear to want.
Of course there will also be people who think that this will inevitably lead to WSFS being incorporated and having a board of directors. That is entirely possible, and I expect such people to oppose any change of this type. But I also think it is incumbent upon them to propose a better idea, or to explain to fandom why the current chaos is preferable to WSFS Inc..