April 12th, 2015


On Popular Ratification

I wrote a long reply to this comment on a previous entry and then LJ ate it, so I decided to write it as a main entry instead.

Impartial WSFS Business Meeting Chairman hat off. I am a co-author of the proposal, will be recusing myself when it comes up because I want to speak to the motion, and cannot be considered unbiased.

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We'll see if the members of this year's Business Meeting are prepared to ratify a proposal that would put the final say in the ratification of constitutional amendments in the hands of a majority of the entire membership who exercise their voting rights.
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Changing the Hugo Electorate: The Spectrum of Changes

Attempting to restore relatively impartial WSFS Business Meeting Chair hat. I'm human, and if I'm on anyone's "side" in the ongoing saga of Puppygate, it is The Hugo Awards' side, attempting to work against anything that I see that harms the Awards, or if there are nothing but bad choices, to minimize the harm if possible.

Over at Making Light (which I know immediately brands me as an Evil Social Justice Warrior interesting in killing baby dogs and Enslaving All of Fandom, but I can't stop other people from hallucinating) is a fascinating discussion about voting systems with guest poster Bruce Schneier. Right up front are the two main points, which I find quite compelling (emphasis mine):

  1. I think the best choice would be to do nothing. It’s not at all obvious that this is anything other than a temporary aberration, and that any fixes won’t be subject to a different set of abuses and need to be fixed again. I think the worst situation would be a series of rule changes in a continuous effort to stave off different abuses. I don’t think highly of a bureaucracy that tinkers with election rules until it gets the results it wants.

  2. If we choose to ignore (1), the second-best choice is to modify the electorate. The problem isn’t the rules of the vote; the problem is that a voting bloc was able to recruit voters from outside the usual community. Trying to fix that problem by changing the voting rules is very difficult, and will have all sorts of unintended consequences.

(Note that "do nothing" above means "don't fiddle with the rules; let the members vote using the existing system as it's written." It most definitely does not mean "throw away your final Hugo ballot.")

There are many, many proposals being tossed around. As of the time I write this, the only one that's been officially submitted is the "4/6" proposal that reduces nominations to 4 per category per member and increases the number of finalists in each category to 6. Note that any variation on this can be and if I can manage it will be dealt with as amendments to the numbers currently penciled in as 4 and 6. This post is not about procedural changes like this. What I want to discuss here, in response to a question received in e-mail, is changing the electorate, albeit by changing who can vote.

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There is nothing procedurally wrong with any of these proposals. They all have supporters, and only a fully-realized orderly debate and fair vote of the attending members of WSFS who participate can resolve what is at its heart a subjective opinion. I will remind people of what I wrote a couple of days ago about "fairness" and "winning" not being synonyms. I can guarantee that I'll try to give you a fair process. I can't guarantee that you'll get your way, and I can guarantee that there will be many people who do not get their way.