February 3rd, 2018


Frequently Answered Questions at WSFS

As part of the WSFS Web Site Team, it falls to me to answer most of the questions posted to the info@ and contact forms at WSFS.org, Worldcon.org, NASFiC.org, and TheHugoAwards.org. Flat-out spam including "pay us money to boost your search rankings" and "let's trade links" gets deleted. But we do seem to get a lot of inquiries that fall into the categories below. I've grown sufficiently tired of answering them that I just updated the contact page at WSFS.org in an attempt to discourage people from wasting their time and ours.

  • You can't join WSFS directly. For some reason, we've been getting a lot of queries lately in the form of "How do I join your organization?" The answer is, "You can't; you have to join the current Worldcon." I've updated the site's front page to explicitly call out the Membership/How To Join page, which explains this further.

  • You do not need to be a member of WSFS to be nominated for, shortlisted for, or to win a Hugo Award. I am not sure how this got started, but we have seen a few recent messages whose senders think that they have to be WSFS members in order to win the Hugo Award, which of course is not true and never has been. A variation of this has been that they think that if they join WSFS, they can "nominate" their works, which they seem to think puts them on the ballot. To be as generous as I can be with this misconception, they may be confusing WSFS with SFWA. There certainly seems to be a group of people who are convinced that WSFS, the World Science Fiction Society, is the same entity as SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Some of these people are misinformed, while others, even when they have the difference pointed out to them, persist in thinking the two organizations are the same. Somehow having three letters in common (not even in same order) makes the groups identical.

  • WSFS is not your publicity agent. We will not send out announcements about your book or event to our members. Even if we wanted to do so, there's no mechanism for it. WSFS doesn't have access to the membership lists of the individual Worldcons. Each Worldcon is a legally separate entity. The legal requirements of some of the countries that have hosted Worldcons sometimes makes it complicated to share data between Worldcon committees even for purposes explicitly defined in the WSFS Constitution, let alone to spam our members with advertising. (This has been a significant challenge in getting Hugo Award nominations open this year. The data sharing among three Worldcon committees from three separate countries, each with different data-protection requirements, is non-trivial. And no matter what you think, local law is superior to the organization's bylaws.)

  • WSFS don't sell advertising. We don't sell advertising space on the WSFS web sites, nor do we "trade links." Worldcons do sell advertising, but you have to contact them directly.

I don't know if this will actually cut down on the number of questions of this sort, because I have some suspicion that some of these queries are actually bots, but at least for good-faith queries from people who actually read, it might make a difference.