Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Ballot

Black Gate, a 2015 Hugo finalist in the fanzine category, has withdrawn from the ballot. John O’Neill announced the decision today:

On April 4th, Black Gate was nominated for a 2015 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. One of our bloggers, Matthew David Surridge, was also nominated as Best Fan Writer but, as he explained, he declined the nomination before the ballot was announced.

Since the nomination for Black Gate was for the entire site, which produces over 120 articles per month by a team of over 40 volunteers, I did not decline the nomination, although personally I shared many of the Matthew’s concerns. However, over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to hear from many of our bloggers, and by and large they share many of those concerns as well.

Accordingly, on Saturday, April 18th, I informed the administrators at Sasquan that we have withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 Hugo Award.

O’Neill also thinks remaining in contention is inconsistent with the staff’s purposes in advocating a “No Award” vote:

Black Gate has, for the past two weeks, been debating the very legitimacy of the current Hugo ballot, and I have been publicly and privately advocating a “No Award” approach to the 2015 Hugo ballot. I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that this goes against the spirit of the awards. We can’t both be a part of the ballot, and actively working against it. So we have formally withdrawn Black Gate from consideration for the 2015 awards.

It remains to be seen whether Black Gate will be struck from the ballot. Sasquan previously stated the ballot was locked on April 16

30 thoughts on “Black Gate Withdraws From Hugo Ballot

  1. Being a blog, it should have never been eligible for nomination in the Best Fanzine category in the first place.

  2. Well, Mike, to quote Bill “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.” 😉

  3. It depends on what the word “periodical” means. Alas, it doesn’t mean only what Rich Lynch thought it meant.

    If anyone can demonstrate that blogs exist out of time and space, and that posts do not, in fact, appear in linear time, periodically, the case that his intended meaning (that blogs are not “periodical”) should rule would be considerably stronger.

    But there’s not a lot of point to further debate of the current language; if Rich wants his intent fulfilled, he’ll have to go back to the BM again with new language. If a majority agree with him (twice, again), so be it.

  4. Well, Gary, not to taunt you about having missed that business meeting, but I have discussed the context somewhere here before. It was just another case of fan politics. Rich Lynch and his co-authors made clear to the BM what they were trying to accomplish in 2011. Enough supporters came out to pass the change. In the classic tradition of business meeting insiders, opponents bided their time and in 2012 added one phrase (that Rich accepted while telling them how he interpreted it) and vitiated the whole thing. The people who added the phrase don’t interpret it Rich’s way, and most other people don’t either.

  5. >Being a blog, it should have never been eligible
    >for nomination in the Best Fanzine category in the first place.

    I’m almost scared of asking why not. This has the potential to be as divisive as the SPs, and I’m guessing that it has been discussed to death in the past.

  6. Whoa, I didn’t realize that I had walked into the middle of a on going fracas. Fandom is full of rabbit holes to wander down.

  7. Alexvdl writes:

    Whoa, I didn’t realize that I had walked into the middle of a on going fracas. Fandom is full of rabbit holes to wander down.

    Now you risk attracting the ire of the faction who insist that fandom is not full of rabbit holes to wander down.

  8. AG: You seriously think that in 60 years of continuous operation this is the first kerfuffle that fans have had? Oh you poor naive kids….

    You have NO idea what the puppies have opened up do you?

  9. “Now you risk attracting the ire of the faction who insist that fandom is not full of rabbit holes to wander down.”

    We call ourselves “Cute Bunnies”. We will be heard! Look for our Hugo Slate in 2016!

  10. Gary Farber sez:
    “If anyone can demonstrate that blogs exist out of time and space, and that posts do not, in fact, appear in linear time, periodically, the case that his intended meaning (that blogs are not “periodical”) should rule would be considerably stronger.

    But there’s not a lot of point to further debate of the current language; if Rich wants his intent fulfilled, he’ll have to go back to the BM again with new language. If a majority agree with him (twice, again), so be it.”

    The existing language is quite sufficient to exclude blogs. Here is what the WSFS Constitution says:

    3.3.13: Best Fanzine.
    Any generally available non-professional periodical publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects that by the close of the previous calendar year has published four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year, that does not qualify as a semiprozine or a fancast, and that in the previous calendar year met neither of the following criteria:

    (1) paid its contributors or staff monetarily in other than copies of the publication,

    (2) was generally available only for paid purchase.

    The applicable part is the very first sentence of the definition. Blogs should be ineligible because a blog is a single publication that is continuously updated and thus does not meet the “published four or more issues” requirement. Here’s a litmus test:

    Each issue of Journey Planet, on efanzines.com, qualifies as a separate issue as each has a different URL. A blog, such as Mike Glyer’s File770.com, has a single URL from which all content can be viewed. (I expect someone will point out that a blog continuation page, to get to older posts, can have a slightly different URL but that’s only for convenience. It should be obvious that arguing that a continuition page constitutes a separate issue doesn’t pass the smell test.)

    As for Gary’s other statement that the word “periodical” doesn’t mean what I thought it did, the Wikipedia definition of the word is: “a published work that appears in a new edition on a regular schedule”. An example of a “periodical publication” is a magazine, which appears in separate issues. As Mike pointed out, when I proposed the revision for this section of the constitution back at the end of 2010, I specifically included the word ‘periodical’ so as to distinguish fanzines from blogs.

  11. One other thing I can add is that the intended effect of this new language was to further differentiate between the “Best Fanzine” and “Best Fan Writer” Hugo Awards. Blogs are an excellent source of good fanwriting which should and can be honored via the “Best Fan Writer” Hugo. The “Best Fanzine” is intended to honor publications, not writers.

  12. @ Mike Glyer

    Bunny ire is not to be underestimated. If that’s possible.

    Well, my days of underestimating are certainly coming to a middle.

  13. One, what’s the definition of the word, “issue”, as it relates to the word “periodical”?

    Two, does a blog have, by that definition of the word, “issues”?

    I have no dog in this hunt, don’t care what the resolution is to it and don’t expect to “settle” anything. But words mean things.

    If a blog has “issues”, in keeping with the definition of “periodical” in the appropriate clause(s) within the WSFS Constitution, then a blog is qualified for the category, as active blogs are clearly periodic in nature.

  14. @Robert Reynolds

    I’m not sure if it answers the questions, but I’m fairly sure most bloggers have Issues.

  15. If it is any consolation to the zineosity folks, Black Gate was a terrific print magazine for about 8 years. I have every issue, and it was considered semipro in its day in that format…which probably doesn’t soothe any nerves.

  16. @MickeyFinn

    I think it’s been firmly established that we all have issues, bloggers or not. Mine are February, May, August and November.

  17. @xdpaul: I second that. Black Gate produced an absolutely beautiful print magazine. It may have been a semiprofessional one by Hugo rules, but it always looked professional to me.

  18. @Zach-I don’t follow fanzines that closely, so, given that two of the five this year were also nominees last year, could you explain just how this year’s nominees are more “diverse”?

  19. @Robert one of the founding editors of Journey Planet is a conservative who loved “If you were a Dinosaur my Love” and doesn’t feel ostracized by fandom.

    How can you say that’s not diverse?

  20. @Andrew Trembley, please re-read what I wrote. Zach made a statement. I asked a question regarding that statement. I made no statement as to diverse or not diverse, I merely asked him how, with two of five nominees the same in both years, he believes that this year is “much more diverse” than last year.

    By the way, Journey Planet is one of the two nominees which is on this year’s ballot and last year’s.. So Journey Planet probably doesn’t make the ballot this year “much more diverse” based on that point alone-unless totally different people are involved or the content has changed radically.

  21. I deliberately didn’t get involved in the Business Meeting at the time, knowing this is a hopeless fight, but I utterly disagree with Gary, while completely agreeing with Rich.

    Blogs are fanzine-like in some respects, yes, but they have never been “periodicals” as that word is normally defined. Similarly, they aren’t really “fan magazines,” since a magazine is a physical object (or file that can be realized as one) with a set number of pages. Part of what defines a magazine as a periodical, besides its schedule, is that it comprehends a delimited block of material and so can be defined as “an issue.”

    No doubt there are exceptions, but most blogs I’ve ever seen don’t have issues. Indeed, the name gives away the game. “Blog” is from “web log,” and a log is something that persists indefinitely, and so by definition can’t be called periodic in nature.

    Of course, Gary, being the owner and main writer of an excellent blog, is less than objective on this question. I’m sure he’ll vehemently disagree with my analysis even while claiming that he holds his position purely on the merits.

    I agree with Rich that right now blog fanac is best recognized via the Best Fanwriter and Best Fanartist categories. Although I think proliferation of awards should be discouraged, a “best blog” category is certainly worthy of discussion. It actually could be good to have it in operation as actual fanzines become scarcer and scarcer.

    All of which is moot with the present rules as currently interpreted.

  22. @Robert, what the hell, I can be serious if you want.

    If you’re a fan of ideological affirmative action, the fanzine category is more diverse. Duh.

    If you’re looking for format diversity, we’ve got 3 blogs, a print-style PDF ‘zine, and an email newsletter, so that’s more diverse than 1 PDF ‘zine and 4 blogs.

    If you’re looking for gender diversity, it’s a loser. Only Journey Planet has women on the editorial staff, compared to 3 nominees last year.

    It’s probably a loss on national origin diversity, but it might just be a wash. Journey Planet is partially European.

    I’m guessing it’s a wash on racial diversity. Garcia is partially Mexican cryptoJewish, related to Jerry Garcia, but more closely related to Jerry Fallwell. So he’s racially diverse…

    But “turnover” ≠ “diversity”

    Although JP being on the slate two years in the row it counts, oddly enough, as “turnover” and “diversity” at the same time. James and Chris use their laziness connections to recruit guest editors from interesting corners of fandom. It’s kind of an 80’s Prog Rock Supergroup of a fanzine, but pulling from the studio musicians of fandom working behind the scenes with little credit rather than the well-known fanzine frontmen.

  23. @Andrew-Lol! Sorry, it’s been a long day, started real early and my humor meter is undercharged! I don’t follow fanzines much, though I have read Tangent regularly and I’m thrilled it got nominated and I read BG as well. I don’t think in terms of “diverse”. I belong to the most “diverse” minority on the planet, one the majority can join in an eye blink. I literally couldn’t figure out what was “diverse” about any of this. I get your comment now and am embarrassed by not getting it the first time! All best.

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