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April 7th, 2006
03:54 pm

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2008 worldcon site selection

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From:gerisullivan
Date:April 7th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC)

Part 1 of 2: Comparing the websites

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I certainly don't want to try to talk you out of it, for I haven't yet decided myself which site I'm going to vote in first place and which in second. But I thank you for raising the question -- it had been awhile since I'd looked at any of the bids' websites or otherwise evaluated where they stand now. And watching a bid's development is one of the ways I consider what kind of Worldcon they're likely to run.

Here's my current mix of thoughts on the matter:

Each website has its strengths and weaknesses. Even though Columbus has pretty much stopped running bid tables or parties most anywhere you'd expect to see a Worldcon bid in the last 12-18 months before the election, their website does a much more obvious job that Chicago's of addressing the question of just what a Worldcon is and linking to information about how site selection works. I found one link to Worldcon page from the Chicago site, and nothing that tells me voting is this year. Denver's site is the best of all in that regard. The site is bare bones, but the FAQ is excellent -- clear, to the point, useful.

Chicago's website is great at linking to regional and local conventions, and especially at building enthusiasm and credibility with their party reports.

To my eye, each of the websites does a reasonably good job of reflecting its bid's sensibilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Both Denver and Chicago say which conventions they'll be at between now and the vote, and where they've been. I note that Columbus doesn't have such a list; that's telling, given the bid to date. Denver is deliberately running a short, low-cost race. I think it would be to the overall benefit of future Worldcons if they were successful with this strategy, and I'd measure success on this not just by winning, but also by ending up with a close vote count.

From the time he came on as bid chair, Dave McCarty has stressed that this Chicago bid is drawing from across the many conventions in the Chicago area, using the Worldcon bid to help strengthen the local conrunning scene and continue building closer relationships between the folks working on the different conventions. The site's list of local and regional conventions is another reflection of that. But then, instead of maximizing the value of that approach, the main reasons Chicago claims voters should chose it is that they've held more Worldcons than anyplace else, that they're good at it, and that they enjoy it. The first is fact, the second claim is at odds with the common wisdom and my experience that Chicago Worldcons have been getting steadily worse since Chicon IV in 1982. Telling voters that you enjoy running Worldcons is fine and good; it's excellent, even. Resting on the laurels of having run the most Worldcons, and boasting about how good you are at it, is a vote-killing strategy to my eyes. If a bid it really all that good, it lets other people praise how good it is. And it uses its "Why" space to talk about its real strengths; it builds on past success rather than resting on it, and it tells us what's new and exciting this time around, especially when those new and exciting factors address key weaknesses in previous Chicago Worldcons. The Chicago bid a good mix of con-running experience and youthful energy. It doesn't reinforce the walls between the different fannish groups there; it helps tear them down. And it's not just drawing from Chicago; it has folks with national visibility and experience heavily involved. Folks like Don and Jill Eastlake Especially Jill. :-)

Denver is the only bid to list not just the bid committee but also the bid membership. While the list is shorter and older than I'd expect, it's an excellent mix of usual suspects -- and I trust the judgment of most of those -- and names that are new to me. That seems a good sign.
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From:avt_tor
Date:April 9th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)

Re: Part 1 of 2: Comparing the websites

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I have mentioned in the past that the Chicago bid site should list the membership. We've had problems with past webmasters. I will ask that this be dealt with.

I guess perceptions differ. To most of the locals I've talked to, the trend is positive; '82 had a concom at war with itself, '91 had some major problems, and 2000 worked well except for a couple of areas. It could be just that email makes internal problems more visible to a wider audience. It looks like all the local groups are getting along better now than they ever have in the past.

Dave's got tons of youthful energy. Jill and Don have more experience between them than most bids do collectively. Helen's command of detail is impressive. And we have a couple ex-Worldcon chairs and assorted division and department heads in various roles. I want to get some bios up on the web site (I've just been really busy up until last weekend for the past, gosh, ten years I guess).

I don't do political stuff well; I leave the job of persuading people to others. I didn't join the Chicago bid to compete against anybody, I just joined because I respect a lot of the people there. The bid tried to comply with tradition with the old rules, and when it looked like the rules might change, the bid chose a different year so that votes on the no-zone proposal and the 2004 site selection would not have to take future bids into account. When I heard about a possible Chicago bid at Windycon in 1981, I told Dina, "Any time Chicago wants to go for it, I'll be there to help." I'm not sure how many parties we're doing for Easter; Dave and Helen are off to Britain; Marah and I are heading for Norwescon; others are doing other cons. We're going to do at least six parties on Memorial Day weekend; Don and Jill are coming down here to Balticon and I'm heading out to help (I believe) KT at ConQuest. I know Chicago has a lot of momentum, we're going to have a lot of people and a lot of money going into LA, for what that's worth.

I'm a partisan so I'm not going to give an objective opinion. I am going to interpret your comments as useful feedback.
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