February 24th, 2015

Hugo Sign

Getting New Categories Added to the Hugo Awards

As it usual around this time of year, I'm seeing people calling for "the Hugo Committee" to add more categories to the Hugo Awards. The most-common calls I'm seeing this year are for Best Anthology (there is IMO no category at all in which fiction anthologies are eligible, including Best Related Work, and I'd disqualify a fiction anthology if it had the votes to make the ballot if I were the Administrator, which I'm not) and Best Video Game (Personally I think games should be nominated in Best Related Work).

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The Worldcon Business Meeting is a "Town Meeting" of Worldcon attendees, but its procedures are deliberately designed to resist change. In particular, the requirement that changes adopted at one Worldcon must be ratified at the following one is designed to prevent people from "packing" a single meeting with single-issue voters. It appears unlikely that people would be able to retain sufficient passion in this short-attention-span era to not only flood one Worldcon Business Meeting, but two in a row; furthermore, flooding one year's meeting with a narrow focus group is likely to prompt a counter-reaction the following year, as people who don't usually attend but who keep an ear open to what's happening would show up the following year for the ratification debates. Finally, the change up for ratification this year (to require anything that gets through the ratification stage to be submitted to the members of the following Worldcon for a final ratification vote) further makes the change process deliberately slow and not susceptible to narrow focus groups.

What I'm saying here is that any change attempts need to work broadly and to persuade people who may not be part of your own narrow interest that it's worth making the change. Business Meeting voters aren't going to reject any change just because it's a new idea, but they need to be shown, not told, that the idea is a good one and isn't going to saddle the World Science Fiction Society with a category that only a ten or fifteen people actually care about.

I'm not saying not to try. After all, I've been standing before the meeting since 1984 and have authored and argued many proposals, some of them quite substantial. (The current Standing Rules of the Business Meeting are my work, based on a revision of earlier works.) I am saying not to expect your fellow members to roll over and vote for your proposal based solely upon your assertion that You Are Self-Evidently Right.