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A Sphincter Says What? - Zer Netmouse
April 14th, 2015
10:57 pm

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A Sphincter Says What?
I feel like I should comment on the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies mess with the Hugo Awards this year. If you don't know what I'm talking about, basically there were a couple "slates" of candidates for Hugo Award nomination that people were pushing for this year in organized campaigns online. This is not against the rules, though many found it in poor taste, especially as the organizers were not shy about pulling in people from outside the fannish community to "freep" the results. One group did this before, but without dominating the nominations. Mike Glyer provided an overview on File 770 as to how successful they were this year (which was very), and there are now other articles on salon.com, slate, the daily dot, Strange Horizons, and i09, to name a few.

George R.R. Martin also weighed in with what I thought was a well thought-out post, and several other people have blogged about it as well, including this year's author GoH and Hugo Awards co-host (with Tananarive Due), David Gerrold. Finally, Mary Robinette Kowal has posted on how, yes, fandom can be more inclusive of SFF fans out there who may not have discovered it yet, and encouraged people to participate in the Hugo Award voting and nomination process who perhaps have not done so before. She has backed up that encouragement by offering ten supporting memberships to the current Worldcon to any fan who cannot afford such, and others have joined her in doing this, so she is accepting applications for up to 75 supporting memberships on that page between now and April 17. Please spread the word.

As for me, I did something like that last year -- The Sad Puppies slate annoyed me, particularly because I knew that, what with working on Detcon1 for July and moving to Pennsylvania in August, I had no time for reading and voting on the Hugo Awards. So I went to The Carl Brandon Society discussion list and I offered to buy four supporting memberships to that year's Worldcon to anyone who was interested in voting and would commit to reading the nominees and voting on them. (Noting that I expected people to vote their own preferences, including that I did not expect them to finish any work they were not enjoying). I felt lucky to get four volunteers, and signed them up. This year, I reminded them before the nomination deadline that they could nominate works for this year as well, and that fewer people usually participate in nominating, so it has a bigger impact.

At that time, shortly before nominations were due, I knew the Sad Puppies were likely to put forth another slate, but I didn't realize how many works in almost every category they were going to put on their slate this year. I also wasn't too concerned, however, because a fair number of people involved seemed to sincerely believe in diversifying and expanding participation in Hugo Award nominations, which is a cause I support, and I had the impression there was going to be some diversity in race and gender in their slate as well (which there was). I didn't hear about the rabid puppies slate, which promoted works by truly awful writers and editors on a purely ideological basis, until after the nominations were announced.

I see some good candidates on the ballot in almost every category, and I hope people who vote give every nominee fair consideration. I haven't decided if I'm going to join and vote or not. There's no chance I can attend Sasquan, myself, for a number of reasons.

However, this year my plan is not to give away memberships in the current Worldcon so more people can vote. I'm going to wait until after site selection for the 2017 Worldcon is completed and give away supporting memberships to *that*. Current rules are that members of the current, next, and last Worldcon can nominate for the Hugo Awards. So if you get a supporting membership to the 2017 Worldcon before January 31 of 2016, you will be eligible to nominate for three years -- 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Note that any members of this year's Worldcon can vote on site selection for 2017. In order to vote on site selection, you have to pay a fee that will be rolled into a supporting membership for whichever bid wins the Worldcon. If you are a member of this year's Worldcon, I encourage you to vote in site selection, get that supporting membership for the 2017 Worldcon, and commit yourself to nominating works and people for the Hugo Awards for the next three years.

You do not have to be present to vote on site selection. You also don't need to be widely read to be "qualified" to nominate for the Hugo Awards. You just have to care. It also helps to keep track of what stories, books, magazines, essays, art, etc, that you like each year. I recommend as part of this commitment, you start a text file or google doc or (gosh), a piece of paper on the wall or side table, titled "Fave SF&F of 2015" -- it's easier to keep track throughout the year than to remember when you're up against the deadline.

As a side note I'll also speak up in support of both the Helsinki and DC bids for 2017. The Worldcon was held in Japan in 2007 and in Montreal in 2009. Both conventions had a mix of great successes and serious issues. I think both sites deserve serious consideration for future years but not 2017. The Worldcon has not been held on the East Coast of the US since 2004, when it was up Boston (about an 8 hour drive from DC), and it has never been held in Finland. The last time the Worldcon was held in DC was in 1974, the year I was born. Both the Helsinki and DC bids have strong committees and good groundwork, and I would be pleased to see either one win.

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From:cos
Date:April 15th, 2015 03:58 am (UTC)

Worldcons and Puppies

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I'm really excited for Worldcon to be in Helsinki, and already got a supporting membership in order to vote for that. Usually I just go to Arisia (and occasionally one other con), but if Worldcon is in Helsinki I plan to go.

I am not going to have time to read all of the Hugo ballot books, not even close, and my usual reading habits are >90% books from past years. Are there any books on this year's Hugo ballot that you recommend reading? I do want to pick up a few, as long as I can target the ones I'm most likely to like.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Worldcons and Puppies

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I also have a supporting membership for Helsinki and hope to try to attend if it is selected.

I have not yet read any of the books on the ballot.

I expect Skin Game, by Jim Butcher, is a decent book. I've read other books by him and been impressed. Similarly, I've enjoyed works by Sarah Monette, author of The Goblin Emperor, which was published under the name Katherine Addison. I read the first chapter of it the other day when I was staying with a friend who had it. It was a bit cliche, but knowing Sarah I expect her to stand that on its head later in the book.

I've also heard very good things about Ann Leckie's work, but will note that Ancillary Sword is the sequel to Ancillary Justice - recommend you read the other first.

The book I was most enthralled with so far this year was published earlier, unfortunately -- Redwood and Wildfire, By Andrea Hairston. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those interested in love and sex and poly.
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From:ckd
Date:April 15th, 2015 05:39 am (UTC)
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Since site selection is a ranked preference ballot (like the Hugo final ballot), one can influence the vote even if your first choice doesn't win.

The second/third/etc choices can definitely make a difference; the 2015 site selection vote was a choice between Helsinki, Spokane, and Orlando. After Orlando was eliminated (having the fewest #1 votes), its ballots were redistributed to their #2 votes which put Spokane ahead of Helsinki despite the latter having more #1 votes.

So if you like Helsinki better than DC but DC better than the other two, vote Helsinki #1 and DC #2....
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From:glenn_glazer
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:07 pm (UTC)

Voting at Lonestarcon

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I'm sorry, ckd, but the statement about having more first round votes being somehow important is a common fallacy about Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). In some ways, it is like saying that the person who was ahead after the first lap should be the one wins the marathon. The whole point of redistributing the votes is remedy strategic voting required by and the inequities caused by the first past the post system. It may not have produced a result you like, but it produced a result that was reflective of the broad base of the electorate. I refer you to a wonderful video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE , it will take less than five minutes of your time.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting at Lonestarcon

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I didn't take Chris to be asserting that having the most first-round votes was somehow important, Glenn. I think you are misreading his comment. He is just explaining to prospective voters how the ranked voting works, and using the 2015 site selection as an illustration of the influence of people's ranks below first place.

I already understood all that, but I thought CKD's comment might be of value to other people who have never voted in site selection before, as I am encouraging them to do now.

I am concerned that your comment might confuse people, however, as it seems to be addressing a point he did not make.
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From:glenn_glazer
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting at Lonestarcon

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I disagree, Anne. Perhaps you are missing some context.

This quote "put Spokane ahead of Helsinki despite the latter having more #1 votes." or statements very similiar to it were very commonly used by members of the Helsinki committee and especially one of their bid chairs right after the vote as a way of trying to discredit the winner of the election, as if there was something wrong with the way the system worked and that Helsinki "should" have won because they were ahead at the end of the first round of balloting.

There is no other reason to make such a remark because if one understands IRV, then it is at best pointless commentary - there's nothing meaningful to be derived from being ahead at the end of the first round of voting any more than there is anything meaningful about being ahead after the first lap of the marathon.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting at Lonestarcon

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I think you are seeing an agenda where there isn't one because other people who perhaps did have such an agenda said something similar to what was said here. I am not convinced.

There is certainly a very good reason to make such a remark -- if your assumption is that the reader may not be so familiar with IRV. You understand IRV, but if one does not, it is most certainly not "at best pointless commentary". It is instead a cogent example.

I personally would rather have seen a Helsinki win for 2015, and I voted accordingly, but I don't think it failed to win due to a flaw in the process. It didn't win because of how people voted.

Chris is using this example to explain how votes matter - including all ranks, not just the first place one.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 05:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting at Lonestarcon

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(In Truth I would have preferred that Helsinki not have bid for 2015 at all, since it was really too close in time to Loncon 3. I hope their 2017 bid has more of a chance.)
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From:ckd
Date:April 15th, 2015 07:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Voting at Lonestarcon

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netmouse has already said most of what I would have; you are inferring context by conflating my choice of phrasing with previous discussions you may have had with other people. Would it have helped if my example had been preferring DC to Helsinki and then Helsinki to the remaining two?

I used 2015 as an example because it was the most recent multiply-contested site selection vote (2016, with only two serious bids, was effectively reduced to first-past-the-post once the hoax/write-in votes were distributed) and as a demonstration of how IRV is not FPTP because it allows second and later choices to affect the outcome (as, in the 2015 vote, it quite clearly did; FPTP would have elected Helsinki by a plurality).

This is not a thread on alt.fan.ranked-choice-voting, and so I wrote for a reading audience that may or may not have had experience with IRV and related systems in order to help them understand why ranking multiple options is important.

(As for that CGP Grey video you referred me to, I've already seen it. I've been a fan of his videos for a while now, and for that matter I've been using IRV and its cousin STV for years as both a fan voting for Hugos and Worldcon sites and as a resident of Cambridge, MA which has used STV for municipal elections since 1939.)
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From:glenn_glazer
Date:April 15th, 2015 01:51 pm (UTC)

Slates

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I would like clarify the point around "basically there were a couple 'slates' of candidates for Hugo Award nomination" to point out that the two slates in question, Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies, were allied in their perspective and thus behaved much like a single slate. If they had been opposing slates, we would have seen very different results - much like American elections where there are slates backed by the two major parties.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Slates

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I disagree that they behaved like a single slate. In fact, as has been observed, where the slates disagreed, the Rabid Puppies slate dominated - its nominees made the ballot, to the exclusion of the nominees on the Sad Puppies slate.

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From:glenn_glazer
Date:April 15th, 2015 02:10 pm (UTC)

Re: Slates

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Okay, that's a fair distinction. What I was focused on is that there weren't any slates in strict opposition.
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From:netmouse
Date:April 15th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Slates

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Well, there aren't going to be any slates in strict opposition, are there? Because the group they claim to be opposing, the "SJW"s, doesn't exist.

(I know exactly one (straight white) guy who is willing to own the SJW designation. Aside from that, I agree with what someone else said about how it's not a term anyone calls themselves. It's an internet pejorative that creates a frightening scarecrow some people like to argue against. Some of the behavior that is attributed to the SJWs has occurred from time to time, but by different groups that do not have a single shared agenda, nor any leaders who will pick up that tainted flag.)
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From:ckd
Date:April 15th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)

Re: Slates

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I'm much more of a Social Justice Magic User. I don't have the STR for Warrior. :-D
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