Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Let Our People Vote

Some months back, there was a proposal kicked around the SMOFS e-mail list and a few other places to modify the current limits on pricing of Worldcon supporting and attending memberships. Several people, starting with Mark Olson but including others, asked me to draft a proposal based on where the consensus seemed to be heading. As deputy chair of this year's Business Meeting, I can't directly sponsor legislation; however, drafting support (in my WSFS Parliamentarian hat) is part of my job description.

This LiveJournal is the only place where I have sufficient control over format to show proposals with the strikethrough/underline formatting necessary to show changes in the way we're accustomed these days, so I'm posting the current draft here and will point people at it. Note that the material may change, along with the sponsor list. For the protection of those uninterested in WSFS Business, I've put it behind a cut.

Short Title: Let Our People Vote

Moved, to amend various sections of the WSFS Constitution for the purpose of setting limits on site selection advance supporting membership fees and Worldcon supporting memberships, modifying the maximum amount Worldcons can initially charge voters to convert from supporting to attending membership, requiring Worldcons to offer supporting memberships at the door, and other administrative purposes by striking out and inserting words as follows:

1. Raise the maximum conversion fee from supporting to attending for voters from 200% of the advance supporting membership fee to 250% of the ASM fee:

1.5.5: Voters have the right to convert to attending membership in the selected Worldcon within ninety (90) days of its selection, for an additional fee set by its committee. This fee must not exceed two (2) times the site-selection fee and must not exceed the difference between the site-selection fee and the fee for new attending members. This conversion fee may not exceed the difference between the Advance Supporting Membership fee and the fee for new attending members, nor may the fee exceed 250% of the Advance Supporting Membership fee charged in the election that selected that Worldcon.

2. Set a cap on the amount that Worldcons may charge for a supporting membership, and require that memberships be available at the door:

1.5.6: The Worldcon Committee shall make provision for persons to become supporting members for no more than one hundred and twenty-five percent (125%) of the site-selection fee, or such higher amount as has been approved by the Business Meeting, until a cutoff date no earlier than ninety (90) days before their Worldcon forty US dollars (USD40) at all times prior to and during the convention.

3. Set a cap on the amount that can be charged for advance supporting membership (voting fee) and clean up references to filing deadlines:

4.2.1: Voting shall be limited to WSFS members who have purchased at least a supporting membership in the Worldcon whose site is being selected. This voting fee shall be known as an Advance Supporting Membership.
4.2.2:The supporting membership rate Advance Supporting Membership fee shall be set by unanimous agreement of the current Worldcon Committee and all bidding committees who have filed before the ballot deadline defined in section 4.6. If agreement is not reached If the committees do not agree on a fee before no later than twenty-one (21) days after the filing deadline, the default fee shall be the median (middle value) of the US dollar fees used in the previous three (3) Worldcon site selections. The fee may not exceed the maximum supporting membership cost defined in section 1.5.6.

Submitted by: Mark Olson, Jared Dashoff, Deb Geisler

Note further that the sponsor list may gain or lose members as the proposal changes, and that names appearing on the sponsor list may not be definitive until we actually get to the Business Meeting, because I'm working slightly out of synch with the people who are actually making the proposal.

If you're a member of Denvention 3, are planning to participate in the business meeting, you can add your name as a co-sponsor.

Edit, 18 June 14:30: As a result of feedback and comments read elsewhere, I'm going to attempt to add something like the California Legislative Analyst's Summary of this proposal. The explanation is much longer than the proposal itself, so here comes another cut:


This proposal places a more-restrictive cap on the cost of a supporting membership and slightly eases the limits on what Worldcons can initially charge voters to convert their memberships to attending. It does not impose a long-term price cap on attending memberships, nor does it regulate the cost of membership to people who do not vote in Worldcon site selection. It also imposes slight additional requirements on Worldcon committees to sell supporting memberships up to and at the convention.


A Supporting Membership gets you a Worldcon's generally distributed publications (progress reports, souvenir book) and the right to nominate and vote on the Hugo Awards, but it does not include the right to attend the convention. An Attending Membership includes all of the voting rights and publications, plus the right to attend the convention. An Advance Supporting Membership, sometimes called a Voting Fee, is the money you pay to vote on Worldcon Site Selection, which is essentially a supporting membership to a convention that hasn't yet been seated.

Current Situation

Currently, you pay a certain amount of money to vote on Worldcon site selection. This year, that amount is $45. If you vote (having paid that $45), you are a supporting member of Worldcon N+2.

After the election, for at least 90 days, Worldcon N+2 must allow you to convert your supporting membership to an attending membership for not more than twice what you paid to vote. (They also can't charge you more than it would cost to buy a new attending membership, including the amount you paid to vote.)

This year, you'll have the right to convert from supporting to attending for not more than $90, in addition to the $45 you paid to vote, for a total cost of $135. (If the winning Worldcon were to, for example, initially offer new attending membership for $125, they would have to let you convert from supporting to attending for $80, the difference between your voting fee and a new attending membership.)

Starting 90 days after their election a Worldcon can charge whatever it wants to allow voters to convert their supporting membership to attending.

After the election and until 90 days prior to their Worldcon, that Worldcon may not charge more than 125% of the voting fee for a supporting membership. For example, after the election, the 2010 Worldcon may charge as much as $56.25 for a new supporting membership.

From 90 days before their Worldcon, committees may charge anything they want for new supporting memberships. Moreover, they are not required to sell supporting memberships 90 days or less before their Worldcon. This techincally means that a Worldcon committee could decline to let you buy a new supporting membership to vote on the Hugo Awards final ballot if it's less than 90 days before the current Worldcon. It also means that Worldcons are not required to offer supporting memberships at the door. This may sound silly, but it's important, because there are usually people who send a site selection ballot to the Worldcon in care of someone else, and that hand-carried ballot may also include a supporting membership to the hosting Worldcon. Technically, Worldcons aren't required to let those people join and therefore could reject their ballots.

Proposed Change

Under this proposal, the maximum Advance Supporting Membership (voting fee) you pay to vote on Worldcon Site Selection would be $40. This is also the maximum amount a Worldcon committee could ever charge for a supporting membership. Worldcons would be required to always sell supporting memberships, including selling them at the door.

The limit on how much a Worldcon can charge during the initial 90-day period would be increased to 250% of the ASM/voting fee.

Example: Assume this proposal is passed this year and ratified next year. The first affected election would be the 2012 site selection conducted at the 2010 Worldcon. The ASM/voting fee could not exceed $40. (Bidders could agree upon a lower amount.) Assume that the $40 default stands.

Until at least 90 days after the election, the 2012 Worldcon could charge no more than $100 to covert from supporting to attending. Assuming the committee charges the maximum amount allowed, the total cost of an attending membership for site selection voters would be $140.

The existing limits regarding not charging voters more than non-voters would continue to apply. In addition, Worldcons could continue to charge non-voters any amount for an attending membership.

Effect on Supporting Memberships

Most recent Worldcon site selection elections have had ASM/voting fees of $45 or $50. In addition, some recent Worldcons have raised their supporting membership costs after the election. This proposal would reduce the voting fee and supporting membership to not more than $40 at any time.

Effect on Attending Memberships

Assuming current ASM/voting fee amounts and committees continue to charge the maximum allowed amount, this proposal would result in a slight increase in the initial cost of an attending membership for site selection voters.

This proposal would have no direct effect on attending membership costs to people who do not vote in site selection, because those membership costs remain unregulated.

Edit, 19 Jun 16:30: Added Jared Dashoff as a co-sponsor.
Edit, 20 Jun 07:45: Added Deb Geisler as a co-sponsor.
Tags: worldcon, wsfs

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