December 28th, 2015

Hugo Logo

Hugo Nominating Figures

This will get lost in the Facebook reply where I posted it originally, so I'm putting it here.

The late George Flynn published in 1995 (and subsequently updated through 1999) Hugo Voting: Let’s Look at the Record (Again), an exhaustive compilation of the number of Hugo Award nominating and final ballots cast in the years 1971-1999. Regrettably, nobody has continued that table as far as I know, and surprisingly, the figures we have on hand, including a number of Hugo Administrator reports, don't include the nominating and final-ballot counts. (Some of them only include the counts per category, which doesn't tell us how many total ballots were cast.)

There are claims that "Puppygate" is the only reason Hugo nominating and voting numbers are on the rise, and that prior to the arrival of the Puppies (apparently in 2013), only a couple hundred people were nominating. Well, it's true that interest in the Hugo Awards reached something of a nadir in 2006, when, despite being one of the larger Worldcons (Anaheim), only around 500 people nominated. The following year, WSFS (through the Mark Protection Committee) set up what is now known as the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee and established the Hugo Awards web site. I've gone back through what figures I can find and accumulated below the number of nominations per year from 2005 through 2015.

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There's no doubt that Puppygate caused a big spike in participation (and it will be a huge spike in 2016, I expect, given all of the people who joined after the nominations were announced last year and who are all eligible to nominate this year); however, we were seeing a slow, steady increase from 2008 (the first year after we established the Marketing committee) through 2012, amounting to a cumulative 225% rise in participation (admittedly from a small base), and I'm fairly confident that the trend would have continued with or without the participation of any particular partisan group.