Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,

Hugo Awards: What's "Professional?"

The Hugo Awards Ballot doesn't have room to include the entire WSFS constitution, or all of Article 3, and therefore there are times when it might not be completely obvious what the terms on the ballot mean. I got tripped up by this myself when answering a query about what "professional" means, specifically when hearing discussion on The Coode Street Podcast about eligibility for Semiprozine. They thought that Locus wasn't eligible, but the list of qualifications for Semiprozine, read in isolation, suggested that it was.

Here's the rub, and it's new this year: "Professional" now has a technical definition. For the past several years, the implicit definition was "If the voter thinks it's professional, then it's professional." But as of this year (that is, adopted last year), the technical definition of "professional" for the purposes of the Hugo Awards is in section 3.2.11 of the 2012-13 WSFS Constitution:

3.2.11: A Professional Publication is one which meets at least one of the following two criteria:
(1) it provided at least a quarter the income of any one person or,
(2) was owned or published by any entity which provided at least a quarter the income of any of its staff and/or owner.
It's actually very significant that this definition is part of section 3.2, which is the list of general rules. That includes things about publication date, serial publication, works published in languages other than English, and so on. Anything in 3.2 applies to every category unless there's a specific rule in that category that takes precedence. This is important because the previous written definition of "professional" used to be inside of Best Editor (before we split the category and got rid of the wording about it). Even when it was there, you could made a good case that, being defined locally to only one category, the definition didn't apply to the other categories. You can't make that argument now: both "professional" (and by implication its opposite, "non-professional") are specifically defined for any category that requires that a work or person be "professional" or "non-professional."

Not every category is affected by this. The written-fiction, related-work, and dramatic-presentation categories have no requirement that a work be "professionally" published.

You can't fit the entire WSFS Constitution into the ballot. I do think, however, that it's possible that future Hugo Administrators might have to do some thinking about more explicitly referencing people to the full constitution from the ballot, because otherwise there's a very good chance that people will interpret each category in isolation without any consideration of the rest of the rules that apply to the ballot.
Tags: hugo awards, wsfs
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