Dragon Awards Updates

The inaugural Dragon Awards will be presented at Dragon Con on Labor Day Weekend.

A Dragon Awards administrator previewed for File 770 one tool they will use to prevent voting abuse, and explained the award’s eligibility period.

ONE VOTE. The Dragon Awards announcement on April 4 established a one-fan one-vote philosophy.

  • “Using a dedicated Dragon Awards website, fans can nominate one (and only one) of their favorite properties”, and
  • “Fans will be allowed to vote just once for each category’s best”

The Fan FAQ makes it a rule:

Who can vote or nominate?

Anyone can nominate and vote or just vote for finalists, once only please…

Filer Danny Sichel asked the administrators of the Dragon Awards –

How will you ensure that people only vote, and only nominate, once each?

Dave Cody, Senior Director and Co-Chairman of Dragon Con answered —

We’re going to employ various tools to combat ballot box stuffing when the actual voting starts.

Also, for nominations, it won’t be possible to slate or overload the nominations for each category. We’re going to use experts in the various disciplines to create the final nomination lists after examining all the nominations.

Yes, I am being deliberately vague so that those trying to game the system won’t know what exactly we are doing to combat any shenanigans.

ELIGIBILITY PERIOD. On April 14, the Dragon Awards site announced this refinement to its Eligibility Period:

We have updated the eligibility period for works for consistency across the site. Works released between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016 are eligible for this year’s awards. We will maintain this rolling year of eligibility moving forward so that there are no gaps or overlaps in publishing works.

Therefore, the Dragon Awards Candidate FAQ now reads —

When does my book, game, comic or show have to have been released to qualify for this year?

To be eligible for the 2016 Dragon Awards the book, comic, game, movie, or, at least, one episode of any series has to have been released between July 1, 2015, and the close of nominations, June 30, 2016.

And Dave Cody extrapolates that into the future —

Eligibility for each award will cover quarters 3 and 4 of one year and quarters 1 and 2 of the following year. Therefore for the awards in 2017 the eligibility period will be from 7/1/16 to 6/30/17.

Thanks to Dave Cody for the additional insights.

[Thanks to Danny Sichel for the story.]

65 thoughts on “Dragon Awards Updates

  1. Also, for nominations, it won’t be possible to slate or overload the nominations for each category. We’re going to use experts in the various disciplines to create the final nomination lists after examining all the nominations.

    Yes, I am being deliberately vague so that those trying to game the system won’t know what exactly we are doing to combat any shenanigans.

    In other words, your nominations may or may not count, based upon the decisions made by a secret and unaccountable cadre of “experts” who will be using a secret process to make the determination. Tell me again how this is a vote that will reflect the preferences of “all fans”?

  2. What this effectively does is make the body of experts into a jury. The actual vote will be open, and reflect the preferences of ‘all fans’, but the compilation of the ballot will be juried – but in the light of proposals that fans have made. ‘Nominate’ in effect means ‘propose’. I don’t see anything wrong with this model in principle; in the Hugos nominations determine the ballot, but they don’t have to do so everywhere.

  3. Goodreads uses algorithms to determine it’s nominees no one has any idea what criteria these algorithms use or even how goodreads decide the categories. But the awards are considered legitimate since there are clearly a lot of popular works in the list. Im guessing Dragoncon will go the same way.

  4. Aaron: The expert review is the gold in the item, I agree.

    On the other hand, it’s easier to take the award seriously if they’re taking measures to keep it from being hijacked. Despite the belief that misery loves company, if it should prove Chuck Tingle can’t be kept off the Hugo ballot it really isn’t going to make me any happier to see him as a Dragon Award finalist as well.

  5. ‘Nominate’ in effect means ‘propose’. I don’t see anything wrong with this model in principle; in the Hugos nominations determine the ballot, but they don’t have to do so everywhere.

    There’s nothing wrong with hybrid models like this. The World Fantasy Award nominees are determined by a combination of membership vote and jury selection. But they don’t pretend to be “by the fans, for the fans” like the Dragon Awards do. The issue here isn’t the Dragon Award process in the abstract, it is how the process doesn’t match the rhetoric that has been attached to it.

  6. As long as it makes more people read stuff, I’m happy. And if they have a great time handing out the awards, even better.

  7. Yes, I am being deliberately vague so that those trying to game the system won’t know what exactly we are doing to combat any shenanigans.

    My experience in software development causes me to cynically read this as “we’re not doing anything but pray.”

    Using an eligibility period that’s not aligned with the calendar year puts quite a burden on the people doing the nominating. In particular, it means you can’t just use the same list you used for the Hugos and/or Locus awards.

  8. @Mike Glyer,

    That’s not really helping.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be unhelpful.

    (The link I posted happens to be the top result when I search for “The Dragon Awards”, which suggests that there may be at least some room for confusion on the subject of the award’s name; that’s all I wanted to mention. There’s also this one.)

  9. There is certainly room for confusion on the name (and there’s one Dragon award which is nearer to the topic of these ones). On the other hand, there are two John W. Campbell awards, and though I have seen confusion on the topic, generally we muddle through.

  10. Christian Brunschen: (The link I posted happens to be the top result when I search for “The Dragon Awards”, which suggests that there may be at least some room for confusion on the subject of the award’s name; that’s all I wanted to mention. There’s also this one.)

    That brings it back to the topic, which is fine.

  11. I think they missed a chance to give it a really cool name, but we’ll cope with the confusion. Who knows, maybe some day people will go “what?” at all the other Dragon awards.

    The midyear nominating period is very odd and will be confusing. Every other award I can think of, offhand, has calendar years. Rather a lot of burden on the voters.

    @Rose: that’s what I thought, too. Who are the experts? What are their credentials, if you don’t want to make their names public (which is fine nowadays)?

  12. The eligibility period is the big practical problem I see there; something released on 6/30/2016 will simply not have been read by enough people to give it any real chance of being nominated based on its merits for an award whose nomination phase ends 7/25/2016. Of course works in series with a big following may get nominated just based on being the next book, but that’s not really the goal.

    (I suspect they’re thinking movies, where the majority of the heavy fan audience will have seen it in the first month of release; but books don’t work like that.)

  13. The Nebs tried that rolling eligibility thing backwhen, with less than stellar success.

  14. Perhaps the semi finalists or whatever can use Westminster Rules… with the author (or agent) taking the book, BluRay, etc out for a trot around the stage 🙂
    Best Winged Dragon
    Best Non-Winged Dragon
    Best Firebreathing
    Best in Flight
    Trial By Dragon
    Crunchy and Good With Ketchup
    etc.

  15. But wouldn’t a Dragon show be something? Maybe you could have a sporting section where the dragons show off how good they are at flying / swimming / burrowing / breathing fire, etc.

    I’d watch that in a heartbeat.

    In the meantime, good luck to Dragon Con with their awards. I think the July-June eligibility time is going to be a bit confusing, and I’m kind of under confident that they’ll get the one fan one vote thing to work, and I wonder who these experts are going to be, but I expect all awards have growing pains when they’re just starting out. The proof will be in the pudding–if the Dragon Award means books / movies / whatever that I end up liking I’ll follow it. If not I’ll just go “hmmm” when it goes by the way I do a lot of awards.

  16. argh, now i need to redo my ballot since pretty much every book i nominated was in the first half of 2015.

  17. We’re going to use experts in the various disciplines to create the final nomination lists after examining all the nominations.

    So, as Aaron points out, not even close to the “popular award decided by all fans” that they’ve been claiming.

    Which is fine, they can run their award however they wish — but they really need to make the labeling on the tin reflect their actual process instead of something completely different.

    The Dragon Award Finalists will be determined by a jury, who may or may not choose to use suggestions provided by fans, and the Winners will again be decided by the jury, regardless of how fans vote.

  18. Bitty:

    “argh, now i need to redo my ballot since pretty much every book i nominated was in the first half of 2015.”

    Don’t think you are allowed to do that according to the rules.

  19. Yes, I am being deliberately vague so that those trying to game the system won’t know what exactly we are doing to combat any shenanigans.

    Oddly, and pace Greg, this struck me (from my own experience in both programming and group moderation) as fairly wise. The more details available to the malign, the more attacks on the system you can expect to see. I’m OK with a bit of vagueness in this particular instance.

    I am dogless in this arena but await developments with interest.

  20. Aaron:
    In other words, your nominations may or may not count, based upon the decisions made by a secret and unaccountable cadre of “experts” who will be using a secret process to make the determination. Tell me again how this is a vote that will reflect the preferences of “all fans”?

    On the other hand, they would be begging for trouble if there wasn’t some way to prevent obvious trolling (in case it’s needed). One person could easily register to vote with a hundred different names and email addresses or more, because it’s free and open for everyone.

    But yeah, it’s tricky.

  21. So this is effectively juried, with one name we know and a bunch we don’t.

    Well, I’d say the HWA jury flap does provide an object lesson in why those wanting to Make Sci-Fi Great Again would want to keep a chunk of the people deciding which votes to keep and which to toss for *reasons* under wraps.

  22. So are they going to allow people to change their nominations since they changed the eligibility period? Right now you can add, but not change.

  23. So are they going to allow people to change their nominations since they changed the eligibility period? Right now you can add, but not change.

    Given their very limited track record thus far, I’m not expecting enough foresight to consider the problem, or organization to be able to come up with a working solution.

  24. Cat on April 15, 2016 at 3:45 pm said:
    But wouldn’t a Dragon show be something? Maybe you could have a sporting section where the dragons show off how good they are at flying / swimming / burrowing / breathing fire, etc.

    I’d watch that in a heartbeat.

    Best part’s when the judges are picking them up by the tails, checking their equipment.
    Or watching them trot around the circle on leashes, led by handlers.
    (They totally miss points for eating their handlers, of course.)

  25. Cat: But wouldn’t a Dragon show be something? Maybe you could have a sporting section where the dragons show off how good they are at flying / swimming / burrowing / breathing fire, etc. I’d watch that in a heartbeat.

    What, you mean DragonCon doesn’t even have a Dragon Show? Well, that’s a disappointment.

    < crosses DragonCon off the Bucket List >

  26. Hmm. Obfuscation is a pretty poor defence against possible attacks like freeping, and yeah, “experts in various disciplines” translates to “popular longlist, juried shortlist”.

    Combining both makes it reallllly uninteresting, but I think I’l give it a few iterations and see how it goes.

  27. I don’t agree that this is “effectively juried.” It might be, but I still don’t think we have enough information to know for sure. Experts in “various disciplines” might simply be computer and voting system experts.

    That said, the whole thing looks like a total mess. I’m not impressed. One vote is lame. First-past-the-post is one of the worst of all voting systems. And they seem to have gone out of their way to make it as hard as possible for their computer and voting system experts (if they have any) to do their jobs well. I might go so far as to say, they’ve got a literally impossible job.

    And the eligibility dates. Eligibility ending just before voting ends is one of the worst ideas I think I’ve ever seen in a long time. Yeah, I think I’ll be sitting this one out. Good luck guys, but no thanks.

  28. Here’s a truly wacky idea? Let’s let them work through this first time and learn from the no doubt interesting experience.
    “How do you get good judgement?” you ask.
    “Experience.”
    “How do you get experience?”
    “Bad judgement.”

  29. Xtifr: I don’t agree that this is “effectively juried.” It might be, but I still don’t think we have enough information to know for sure. Experts in “various disciplines” might simply be computer and voting system experts.

    Cody above actually states that it will be juried, not based on popular vote: “We’re going to use experts in the various disciplines to create the final nomination lists after examining all the nominations.” — in other words, the final nomination lists will be whatever those “experts” decide they should be.

    I mean, they’re not even saying “The final nomination lists will be the top 5 vote-getters in each category with duplicate or freeped votes removed.” which would at least be a lot more reasonable.

    And the rules state that the winners will essentially be juried, too: “DRAGON CON reserves the right, at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Award and determine the winners from entries received prior to the date such action is taken, or as otherwise deemed fair and equitable by DRAGON CON.”

    In other words, they’ve reserved the right to pick the Finalists and Winners by any method they choose.

    And this is why I couldn’t care less about participating in these awards: they’ve openly stated up front that my nominations, and my votes, may not be counted — for any reason they choose.

    Why even bother?

  30. JJ: I interpreted the “experts in the various disciplines” as being experts in spotting various types of nefarious tricks. Thus, they would consider the votes from all the fans who weren’t obviously slating, freeping, and ballot-stuffing. Xtifr read it that way too.

    But like many things about this, the writing isn’t clear, since both interpretations are possible from that wording.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with them announcing the finalists and winners as the votes counted after ballot-stuffing is removed.

    Of course, people like Bitty who nominated early and in good faith are going to HAVE to make up another email to get their true favorites counted.

    Their computer people, I do not envy.

  31. @Mike Glyer

    No, I don’t think it is clear that Dave Cody is one of the awards administrators. The snippet states Dave Cody, Senior Director and Co-Chairman of Dragon Con . To me that sounds like he is speaking for one of the quoted positions – Senior Director and/or Co-Chairman. It doesn’t say anything to me as to whether he may or may not be an award administrator – in fact it sounds like he already has a lot on his plate.

    On eligibility – the awards pages say “Works released between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016 are eligible for this year’s awards.” – released where? Is this just the US, or just English speaking territories, or in any language, any where? Now if they were setting up their award in a vacuum such an omission might be understandable, but they aren’t.

  32. Lurkertype:

    I interpreted the “experts in the various disciplines” as being experts in spotting various types of nefarious tricks. Thus, they would consider the votes from all the fans who weren’t obviously slating, freeping, and ballot-stuffing. Xtifr read it that way too.

    That was my first reading too. But on a closer reading I interpret “the various disciplines” to point to the sentence before, which is about “nominations in each category”. I.e. the experts are experts in the nomination categories. (Books, films, games, etc.)

    The relation between nominations and jury is also relevant for the sub-genre categories. This is another thing they are less than clear on, but I guess they intend to shift nominations between categories. (Else they risk both popular books loosing out because their nominations are spread over several categories, and situations where books get nominated in an inappropriate category.) And that also point to a jury of experts on the works, not experts on vote counting.

  33. OGH asks:

    Ray: Was it not clear that Dave Cody is one of the administrators?

    Actually, no. The fact that you’re talking about anonymous administrators and then name someone with a separate set of titles made me think that he was categorically not one of that particular inner circle.

  34. Works released between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2016 are eligible for this year’s awards.

    Alas, pretty much every novel I own tells me the year it was copyrighted, which I guess is the same thing as released (OK, I know this isn’t always the case, but work with me) but hardly any of them tell me the month.
    ISFDB has release dates, but are they reliable? I guess major novels are more likely to get entries than every short story.

  35. nickpheas: Alas, pretty much every novel I own tells me the year it was copyrighted, which I guess is the same thing as released (OK, I know this isn’t always the case, but work with me) but hardly any of them tell me the month.

    ISFDB’s month/years are generally correct, but sometimes things don’t get entered in until more than a year later, and sometimes things get overlooked (for instance, they are missing one issue of Lightspeed from 2015). Amazon’s month/year publication dates are frequently wrong.

    The bigger problem, though, I think, is that by setting the eligibility window immediately adjacent to the nomination deadline, they are virtually ensuring that June releases — and perhaps May and even April releases — don’t have a fair chance to be read and nominated in time.

    I am mystified as to why they chose the July 1 – June 30 eligibility period, which lends itself to all sorts of problems with people mistakenly nominating or not nominating things, and not being able to read things in time — unless they just did it to be different from the Nebulas and the Hugos.

    In which case, they need to Google the idiom “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face”, and engage in some serious introspection.

  36. Yeah, I take “experts in the various disciplines” to mean people knowledgeable in genre books, movies, shows, or games.

    So many issues that are just obvious: eligibility period overlapping nominations, difficulty of determining what month something was released, one nomination which you can’t change, and nominating something in two categories nulls your nominations. Doesn’t seem to be a good idea to nominate before the eligibility period ends unless you’re certain there couldn’t be anything better and that one category is definitely the best fit.

    Not that I really know anything about setting up website voting…But it seems like it would be just as easy to allow overwrites as it would be to allow you to add to your ballot. For anyone who’s nominated, did you receive any confirmation for what you nominated?

    Of course, fairness is “baked in” to these awards! Unlike those crazy Hugos with their membership fees, cabals, strange Australian voting, and potential rigged EPH nominating rules! 😛 😉

  37. JJ: I am mystified as to why they chose the July 1 – June 30 eligibility period, which lends itself to all sorts of problems with people mistakenly nominating or not nominating things, and not being able to read things in time — unless they just did it to be different from the Nebulas and the Hugos.

    Yes, the time between eligibility ending and nominations closing isn’t a lot of time to be considering 70,000+ word novels. The only other reason I could see, besides just being different, is to have finalists be things that have been released closer to the time of the awards ceremony. But I think that makes determining eligibility more trouble than that would be worth. The Hugo schedule gives you time to consider both nominees and then finalists. (Even that seems a bit tight when I’m trying to get it done!)

  38. I am trying to resist snark in this matter, especially since Dragon*Con makes up two-thirds of my con-going experience (twice plus the Heinlein Centennial)*, but if the point is to make awards that track popularity rather than quality, then using the fiscal year to determine eligibility makes all the sense in the world.

    *Not counting the local library’s annual CALSCon, which the whole family plus has gone to all three years, because it’s great but not exactly a con** except in name.

    **I think.

  39. Putting as bad a light on it as I can think of right now (lets look at the worst-case scenarios and get them out of the way), here are my thoughts:

    The system put in place allows for plenty of room for Dragoncon to engage in “pay-for-play”. (Wanna win best whatever – 10k – unless someone else bids higher. Actually, it will be more subtle than that; look to see who sponsors the event more next year, and whether or not something they were behind won an award… It might also be used to entice certain high-profile authors who have publicly stated they will never go to Dragoncon to do so once again – fan pressure and all….)

    Dates are obvious; the con itself was moved to steal the thunder of Worldcon, These dates allow them to extend the time frame of their announcements stepping on Hugo announcements.

    The month thing only works for people who get advance notice of release dates from publishers.

    The time frame for this year is way too short.

    I’m ignorant of many of the ways of the internet, but I don’t see how they’ll ferret out multiple voters with legitimate multiple email addresses.
    But then again, since that info is not publicly disclosed, no one will ever have any idea if those works nominated by “the public” are given any consideration whatsoever.

    You can’t change a nomination once made: smart voters will therefore wait until the very last moment – which I expect will crowd the jurors even more. On the other hand, if the “jurors” are handed a finals list – they really have nothing to worry about.

    Are final vote tallies going to be disclosed? Did the Best Military SF novel really receive the most votes?

    You don’t have to have nominated in order to cast a final vote. You don’t even have to be a member of the convention to nominate or vote. This is A: a great way to build a mailing list and B. a great way to build a mailing list. It’s also a great way to buy yourself the title of “Fan award” and to leverage “most people voting” against “most prestigious award in the field”. The follow on argument will undoubtedly be “how can the Hugos call themselves the most prestigious award in the field when the Dragons have ten times the participants?”. Counter arguments will carry no weight because the numbers are on the side of the Dragons.

    Negativity, negativity, negativity. Sorry. Life isn’t treating me so well these days and I guess that’s coloring my reception of these things.

  40. “The system put in place allows for plenty of room for Dragoncon to engage in “pay-for-play”.”

    Could we please not start with the conspiracy speculations until the first award has been handed out?

  41. For me, it doesn’t seem like a juried award. Or a popular vote. More like a method of crowdsourcing for nominees.

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