October 14th, 2009


Lowering Worldcon Voting Cost

Several things have come up on The List That Shall Not Be Named Because It's Secret but that I think are interesting. Here's the first of them. I intend to write about at least one more of the subjects later, but I have other things I must do today and probably won't get to it until at least tomorrow.

Currently, when you cast a site selection ballot for Worldcon, you must pay what is technically known as an Advance Supporting Membership Fee (but what almost everyone calls the "Voting Fee"). That makes you a member of the Worldcon two years hence and allows you to vote on where it will be held. If you vote, you automatically get a supporting membership in that Worldcon. (That's why it's called an Advance Supporting Membership.) You also get the right to convert that supporting membership into an attending membership for not more than twice the amount you paid to vote for at least 90 days after the election. (In other words, voting purchases an option on an attending membership.) I'm going to use "ASM" to mean "Advance Supporting Membership (Voting) Fee" hereafter.

Collapse )I propose that we eliminate the price cap tying the ASM fee to the initial cost of a Worldcon attending membership. Let Worldcon committees charge anything they want for their attending memberships, regardless of whether the person voted or not. (You'd still want to specify that supporting members of any stripe get credit for whatever they'd already paid when they upgraded to attending, I guess.) Then start pressuring bidding committees to lower the ASM and pledge lower supporting membership costs -- say in the $20-$40 range. Criticize committees that won't commit to such a cost. We currently apply such moral suasion to get bids to agree to participate in Pass-Along Funds; why couldn't we do the same to pester them into offering more-affordable supporting memberships?

I suggest that the target cost of a supporting membership should be approximately the cost of a new SF/F hardcover book -- not much more, and probably not much less, either. I think this would prevent causal ballot-box stuffing (the usual bugaboo raised when anyone wants to lower membership cost) while not scaring off so many people as the current cost of around $50 does.