April 7th, 2020

Hugo Logo

Hugo Finalist Announcement Day

CoNZealand announced this year's Hugo/Lodestar/Astounding/Retro-Hugo Award Finalists. That meant it was my responsibility to get the finalists pages online and announced at the Hugo Awards web site, and I did get the announcement posted a few minutes after the embargo lifted at 1:30 PM PDT, shortly after CoNZealand's video announcement of the finalists finished.

From the outside, it looks simple, but I sweat this out every year. I had an embargoed copy of the finalists, but getting it formatted from a Word document/PDF into the way it needs to be laid out HTML in WordPress is non-trivial. No, you can't just do a save-as HTML. There's lots of cutting and pasting and putting in tags, and so forth.

The thing that frightens me the most about this is the chance that I'll accidentally hit Publish instead of Save Draft, even though the buttons are nowhere near each other. Most of the editing is offline in a text editor, but you have to paste it in and it's wise to hit Preview to find out if you left a tag open. (I did, multiple times. And there was one open tag that didn't get caught until several hours after it posted.) So the chance of posting too early was real to me. Some years ago, we accidentally broke the embargo on the finalist. (It was a technical issue caused by the WordPress-to-LiveJournal connection not respecting the "publish at a set future time" setting.) To our mortification, the Administrator that year accused us of doing it deliberately to try and get a "scoop." (It's not the case, but some people assume malice where clumsiness is at least as likely.) For several years thereafter, we couldn't get embargoed information, and I understood why. Eventually, we worked our way back into Hugo Award administrators' good graces, and I very much do not want to break that trust.

We managed to get it done this time, with only what I might consider the "usual" sorts of hiccups, such as the aforementioned open tag, a few misspellings (some of which were in the original copy we got), a couple of duplicated category names (cut and paste strikes!) and sundry other small things. I stayed online this afternoon and kept checking e-mail, and in some cases got things fixed within a minute of getting the e-mail or comment pointing it out. Here's hoping that there's nothing major left to correct.

I'm also very relieved that today at Day Jobbe was only an ordinary eight-hour day, because it meant that I could be there watching the video of the announcement, making last minute edits to the about-to-be-published results, and watching the clock to make sure we didn't post too soon, but also were online within three minutes of the time we were allowed to be.