May 14th, 2011

Pensive Kevin

If You Mean It, Say It

On a mailing list about a different set of awards (not the Hugos), there are people making variations of arguments that were old when I was young. I have little patience for people who argue that because an award doesn't reflect their tastes, then the process must be broken. If you really mean, "I think my tastes are much more refined than those of the electorate in a popularly-voted award," then why not come out and say it? There's no crime in saying you think you have better taste than the voters. But claiming that it's a failure of process is whinging. Have the courage of your convictions rather than hiding behind "process."

And I'm apparently "unprofessioral" by calling whingers what they are.
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Hugo Trophy

Courage of My Convictions

I've voted in the Hugo Awards nearly every year since 1984. I've been on the Hugo Administration Subcommittee three times (1993, 1994, 2002). Sometimes the winners seem great to me. Sometimes I say, "What were the voters thinking?" And I'm prepared to say, "I didn't like that particular winner." That doesn't mean the process is broken, and I don't think I've ever taken any specific result as an excuse to claim that the entire process is broken and should be replaced with the Kevin Standlee Awards.

What I have done is participated in an ongoing debate about individual categories, sometimes helping draft wording for specific changes -- additions, revisions, or deletions. And I've made no secret of the fact that I think we currently charge too much to gain the franchise and that a Worldcon Supporting Membership of between $20 and $30 (rather than roughly twice that, which is what it is now) would be better for WSFS and the Hugo Awards. But that's not at all the same thing as saying the entire process is broken. And because I participate in the process, I think I have a lot more moral standing to express concerns about elements of it than do those who stand off and carp about the results while huddling behind a procedural shield.

Popular Ratification

Stirred by comments on the File 770 blog, I've drafted what I think is usable wording for replacing the current system of amending the WSFS Constitution (amendments must be first passed by one Worldcon's Business Meeting, then ratified by the subsequent Worldcon's Business Meeting) with a system I call "Popular Ratification," requiring amendments to be ratified by ballot vote, not by a subsequent Business Meeting.

Instead of being debated for ratification by the subsequent year's Business Meeting, the subsequent Worldcon would be obliged to conduct an election (like they currently do for Site Selection), with all members of that Worldcon who are eligible to cast a site selection ballot eligible to vote. This would be a straight Yes/No ratification vote, conducted by mail and at the convention. If there are more Yes votes than No votes, the amendment is ratified and takes effect at the end of the ratifying Worldcon (or as specified in the amendment).

Unlike Site Selection, there would be no charge to vote, because you wouldn't have to buy an Advance Supporting Membership in Worldcon N+2. The reason I would state the voting eligibility to be "whoever is eligible to cast a Site Selection ballot" is that Worldcons have leeway as to whom to give voting rights, and I don't want to interfere with that.

I am not actually submitting this amendment. I am proposing wording for the benefit of anyone who is interested in proposing it.

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Again, I'm not actually proposing this constitutional amendment, even though I'm inclined to favor it. I'm putting it out for discussion and potential improvement of wording, and for use by any member of the next Worldcon who might decide to take on the Business Meeting and try to convince them to reduce their own influence and authority over the WSFS Constitution. I didn't say it would be easy.

Update, 15 May, 10:45: Based on comment from davidshallcross below, modified the distribution of the results to make it the responsibility of the Worldcon after the one at which the ratification election is held, and to specify that the results be distributed with the WSFS rules.