Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Return of the One Vote Wonders

A while ago I wrote about "One Vote Wonders," that being people who, upon being informed that one member of WSFS had put that person on his/her Hugo Awards nominating ballot, started describing themselves as a "Hugo Award Nominee." Similarly, of late I've seen people who never made the final ballot, but were on the "They Also Ran" list of people who got at least 5% of the nominations in a category or were in the top fifteen places, being described as "Hugo Award Nominees." Now this is not how WSFS has used the term "Hugo Award Nominee" throughout the more than fifty years of the Award, but I've been told (including right on this LJ) that the "plain meaning" of the term "nominee" means that even one nomination makes you a "Hugo Award Nominee" and that I should stop being so mean to people who are only trying to promote the Hugo Awards by crowing about their nominations.

Well, of course, people plumping up being a "Hugo Award Nominee" really are hoping that what will rub off on them is any cachet from the previously-accepted meaning of the term, which is "one of the people on the final award ballot." That's wrong, but I also recognize that it's nearly impossible to prevent it. Oddly enough, the success we've had in promoting the Hugo Awards over the past few years is leading to this sort of thing, whereby people unaware of the Award's history and tradition have decided that the "plain meaning" of the term is what they're going to use, even though a one-vote wonder is meaningless. After all:

You can nominate yourself for a Hugo Award.

Anyone can join WSFS by purchasing at least a supporting membership in Worldcon. Any member can nominate anything/anyone s/he wants to nominate. So if you want to be a "Hugo Award Nominee" by the so-called "plain meaning" test, it will cost you merely $40 (GBP25 this year). And don't say, "But you shouldn't be allowed to nominate yourself," because down that path lies madness and excessively-active administrators who would have to start deciding whether a person's nominations were "proper" as opposed to "eligible." Given that there are already idiots people who claim that nominations have been discarded because the Administrator didn't like the nominees or the voters (an absurd claim that can't be backed up by any sort of proof at all), I don't want to give people any more ammunition to claim that Hugo Administrators are fudging results.

I've also had people saying that WSFS — which is to say the Mark Protection Committee — should go after people who make one-vote-wonder "nominee" claims. Nope. "Hugo Award Nominee" isn't a service mark. ("Hugo Award" is.) If we chase people who claim to have won the Award but who did not, that's one thing and unlikely to cause a problem. But when we tell one-vote wonders that they shouldn't be calling themselves "nominees," they cite the "plain meaning" and claim we're being mean. And it seems likely to me that pressing the issue would make WSFS look petty. Besides, cease and desist letters from our attorney are expensive. So we'd spend money and hurt our image that we've been working to improve.

So what to do? I've concluded that the best thing to do is to give in to the one-vote wonders, but to take all of the power out of their claim by no longer using "Hugo Award Nominee" to mean "Works or People appearing on the Final Award Ballot." The process has already started. This year's Worldcon, and TheHugoAwards.org have begun to call the works/people who appear on the ballot "finalists" rather than "nominees." That and the term "shortlisted" are less ambiguous, and the "plain meaning" argument can't be used by the one-vote wonders.

In effect, I'm acting like the members of the private club who had a member who was suspected of cheating at cards. Rather than going to the expense, bother, and embarrassment of expelling the member, everyone else resigned, formed a new club, and didn't invite the card cheat to join. He "won," but it was an empty prize. I suggest we do the same thing to people who have opted to hijack "Hugo Award Nominee." Let them have their "nominee" status, but invest the power in term "finalist" instead.
Tags: hugo award, wsfs
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