Mad Genius Club columnist Dave Freer received an answer to an accusatory letter he wrote to MidAmeriCon II’s Hugo Awards administrators about voting data shared for purposes of testing the “E Pluribus Hugo” proposal.
He published Dave McCarty’s reply as part of his column today, interrupting every single sentence McCarty wrote with a boldfaced rebuttal three times as long. I became curious what McCarty’s letter would have looked like if it had been properly quoted. This is the text, minus Freer’s fisking.
With the passage of the EPH proposal at the Sasquan business meeting, the members of WSFS began the process of substantially altering the method for selecting Hugo finalists.
The method being proposed is novel.
There is no prior example to let the members of WSFS understand completely how this method might operate when used in the Hugo awards.
As such, it was imperative that EPH be tested with meaningful data and those results reported to the next business meeting at MidAmeriCon II.
To accomplish this, Sasquan made its Hugo nominating data available to MidAmeriCon II for testing. MidAmeriCon II provided access to two researchers (Bruce Schneier and Jameson Quinn) and worked collaboratively with them to test the counting method.
The data was anonymized prior to it being shared for testing. A random key was assigned to the voter, and this key was reset to a new value in each category, so a voter who participated in six categories was given six unique keys. The data was also normalized to standardize choices and further anonymize the ballot data.
The researchers were given the data under an NDA, and while some analysis results were released prematurely, the NDA was not broken, as no voter data was shared by them.
The researchers’ technical paper is under academic review.
A more complete report to the business meeting will be made public later this spring or early summer.
The particulars of handling the privacy and secrecy of the Hugo nominators and voters is a responsibility handed each year to the Hugo subcommittee of each year’s Worldcon. Additionally that team is charged with protecting the interest and the integrity of the Hugos. We take these responsibilities very seriously.
I can assure you that neither we, nor the administrators of the Sasquan Hugos, contacted the employees of Tor, or any other publisher, prior to the release of the Sasquan final ballot, except to the extent that we will attempt to contact all nominees, and such contacts may be through their publisher, in the cases where the individual nominees have no other published contact information. This may allow a publisher to know some works that have qualified for the final ballot, but only the works published by that house, and only to the extent that we do not have any other contact information.
MidAmeriCon II welcomes all fans, as exemplified in our code of conduct, available at http://midamericon2.org/policies/code-of-conduct/. Each Worldcon’s convention committee and staff is unique to that Worldcon, and experiences at Sasquan should not be assumed to be relevant to MidAmeriCon II.
I understand your inclination to publish my response publicly, I would only ask that you publish the response in full if you do.
Dave McCarty – Hugo Administrator