February 3rd, 2015

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Hugo Category Hijacking

Up-Front Disclaimer: I am not one of the 2015 Hugo Award Administrators. I will not be ruling on the eligibility of any works for the 2015 Hugo Awards. I am not on the 2015 Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee. I do not have any insider information on opinions of any of the members of the 2015 Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee. On the matters addressed in this article I do not speak for the 2015 Hugo Awards Administration Subcommittee, the 2015 Worldcon, the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee, the World Science Fiction Society, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, or any other entity other than myself personally.

There are people who feel very strongly that a given thing should win a Hugo Award. That's good because it means the work that many people have done to promote the award means something. It's bad when they try to shoe-horn things into a category where they don't belong — particularly when there isn't a category into which a given work actually falls, but they insist that There Must Be A Way.

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I admit that there is no clear-cut ruling from a Hugo Administrator on this. That's because Administrators generally won't rule prospectively on such things and will wait until a work gets enough nominations to make the shortlist. However, what prompts me to write this article is people who are calling for people to nominate Women Destroy... and "dare" the Administrator to disqualify them. There is IMO an implication here that a social media campaign can force Hugo Awards Administrators to do their bidding and could overturn an administrator decision that goes against them simply by screaming on the internet.

Those people who want there to be a Best Anthology Hugo Award should be campaigning to get WSFS to add such a category, coming to the WSFS Business Meeting, and proposing those changes. I'll help them write the proposal. But simply posting on Twitter that they should hijack an existing category because a work they like Really Deserves a Hugo Award is not such a good thing.

Let me put this another way: If a work that is mainly a fiction anthology that also has some nonfiction works published in it forces its way into Best Related Work solely due to online campaigning, particularly if the Administrator disqualifies it and then reverses the decision due to a social media campaign, I expect that there will be a WSFS Constitutional amendment introduced this year that says, in effect, "That was the wrong decision, and future Administrators should not make that decision again." It would not be the first time that the WSFS Business Meeting has implicitly criticized a past Administrator's decisions, including ones I co-authored. I could be wrong about this. I just think it a likely possibility based on my experience of watching how the Business Meeting behaves on things like this.