Outrage Season

We have finally got the nomination statistics for the 2023 Hugos, and understandably there is a great deal of concern being expressed. Some very strange things have gone on. Believe me, I’m not happy either.

Fairly inevitably there are plenty of people who know little about how WSFS works who assume that there must be some overriding authority who could, and should, have prevented Chengdu from doing what they have done. Kevin and I try to explain, but often we are met with incredulity because it seems crazy that any organisation would work that way. I’m not happy about how WSFS works either.

What does confuse me, however, is the way that people assume utter idiocy by those involved as the only explanation. For example, Kevin and I have been beset by demands that it is our duty to find out what happened. Do people really think that we don’t want to know? And haven’t asked? I guess they do.

Stupidity is also being ascribed to the Chengdu committee. If I wanted to fix the results of the Hugos, there are two ways I would go about it. The first is that I would put out an entirely falsified set of nomination statistics. After all, the ballots will have been destroyed by now. How would anyone know that they were false?

The other option is to simply not issue the nomination statistics at all. Sure, they are supposed to, but there is no effective comeback if you don’t do it, and the outrage at them not doing so is likely to be far less than what is happening right now.

Instead they have chosen to put out a set of nomination statistics that makes it very clear that shenanigans have taken place. Maybe we should be thinking about why they did that.

10 thoughts on “Outrage Season

  1. Heck me, how frustrating that sometimes the only thing you can do is say whatever is actually in your power to say.

  2. So who *is* responsible?
    I am one of those people who do not understand the byzantine intricacies of the rules because I have not ever been to a Worldcon and may never. But I started participating in the voting process a few years ago, and my nominating ballot was fucked with in an unacceptable way here. So I’m pissed, and I’d like answers along with everyone else. Is Dave McCarty not someone to hold accountable (with whatever mechanisms can be drummed up out of a clearly unaccountable non-system?) Was he not the “Hugo administrator” flown in to give the process some credibility amidst sharp skepticism from Western Hugo voters?

    The answer can’t be “there is literally no recourse, we will have to accept fuckery done by people who campaigned locally to wrest the Hugos over to Chengdu.” If that’s the case, why bother participating in voting, or paying attention to winners, or reading from Hugo ballots in the future? It compromises not just this one year.

    1. You are conflating “being responsible” with “being held to account”. Dave McCarty and the Chinese members of the 2023 Hugo Administration Committee are absolutely responsible for the mess that they have made. The important question is, “can we do anything about it?”

      And sadly the answer is probably “no”. WSFS has always operated on the assumption that people would do the right thing. There is no mechanism for punishing anyone who doesn’t, save for a metaphorical slap on the wrists from the Business Meeting.

      In the past there has been no appetite for changing this, paritially because the people who run Worldcons don’t want anyone holding them to account, and partly because fandom has had a deep seated horror of giving WSFS any sort of actual authority. That may change now.

      1. The members of the 2023 Hugo Administration Committee and Dave McCarty can be removed and banned from all future administration duties by resolution at the next Worldcon Business meeting.

        Accountability is possible, even though fixing what happened in 2023 isn’t.

        1. I’m not sure what you mean by “removed”, and the BM can’t prevent future Worldcon committees from hiring McCarty & Co if they decide to do so. But you can certainly pass a motion to ban them.

        2. You can’t remove a previous Worldcon’s members; that would require a time machine. That Worldcon is in the past. At this time, there is no Permanent Hugo Award Subcommittee.

          You could prohibit anyone from being involved with administering the Hugo Awards in the future, but you can’t do it in a single year by a single vote at an single Worldcon, because the only way you can bind future Worldcons is by amending the Constitution. You’d have to pass a Constitutional amendment (two years required) naming specific individuals and prohibiting them from ever having anything to do with administration of the Hugo Awards.

          If this is something you want to propose to the 2024 WSFS Business Meeting and you want me to put it into the proper form for consideration, let me know and I will write it up for you.

    2. Given that people have to pay some kind of fee to be able to vote for the Hugos surely there is at least recourse for the fee to be refunded for the service, your vote/nomination being counted in a fair competition, not being provided. And if the organisers knew in advance there would be shenanigans before taking peoples money, wouldn’t that be fraud?

      1. The organisers are in China. Getting the money back from them seems unlikely. Especially as they seem to believe that what they did was necessary to comply with Chinese law.

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