CoNZealand Business Meeting Plan

CoNZealand Business Meeting Presiding Officer Kent Bloom has explained how this year’s WSFS Business Meeting will be handled, one of the events that can’t be shifted online.

CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, announces that the Business Meeting of the World Science Fiction Society will be held in the CBD of Wellington, NZ, at 10 am on Saturday, August 1st, 2020 (exact location to be announced when finalised). Darusha Wehm has agreed to be Acting Presiding Officer for the meeting.

Because of travel and meeting restrictions imposed by the Government of New Zealand due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, many members of WSFS will be unable to be present in Wellington. We plan to have a very minimal meeting to satisfy the requirements of the World Science Fiction Society Constitution. We plan to take only actions which are time-constrained to the 2020 meeting, specifically extensions of eligibility for Hugo Awards under Section3.4.3 of the WSFS Constitution.

All business, including committee reports and financial statements, must be submitted to CoNZealand on or before July 2nd, 2020 and should be submitted to businessmeeting@conzealand.nz. We encourage members to submit business to the DisCon III business meeting (businessmeeting@discon3.org) instead of the CoNZealand meeting, as we plan to defer all business to 2021, when we hope more members of WSFS will be able to attend.

None of the sections of the WSFS Constitution requiring re-ratification fall due in 2020. They come up in 2021 or 2022 —

  • 2021: (3.3.18) Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book; (3.81) Tallying of Nominations [the provision for six finalists]; (3.8.3) provides that only the version of a series which received the most nominations can be a Best Series finalist
  • 2022: (3.9.4) provides after the initial Award ballot is generated, if any finalist(s) are removed for any reason, they will be replaced by other works in reverse order of elimination.

WSFS Division Head Colette Fozard said they intend to record the CoNZealand business meeting for later viewing.

14 thoughts on “CoNZealand Business Meeting Plan

  1. I think one of the first orders of business for the 2021 Business Meeting needs to be to start the necessary amendments to be able to hold the Business Meeting remotely in times in which it’s necessary.

  2. That’s not going to happen this year if all the Business Meeting is doing is as little as possible. My understanding of “minimal” means no new business.

  3. John Coxon: I think one of the first orders of business for the 2021 Business Meeting needs to be to start the necessary amendments to be able to hold the Business Meeting remotely in times in which it’s necessary.

    You will want to get started working on your proposal now, so that you have plenty of time to get feedback from others and come up with solutions for the implementation problems.

  4. Anyone who thinks a WSFS Business Meeting being held remotely is easy should consider any videoconference call you’ve attended and then ramp it up to hundreds of people. Lots of stuff does not in my opinion scale that well, and deliberative assemblies (not the same things a webinars where you just watch others and aren’t an active participant) are one of them.

    I’ve given some thought to what the correct size of any form of elected WSFS deliberative assembly would be, and I think it’s probably 21 — three groups of seven members elected for three-year terms, with seven elected at each Worldcon. That’s because of the “cube root” rule of thumb for governments. A 21-member “Council of WSFS” (with provision for anyone else to watch but not to make motions, debate, or vote) could probably manage an online meeting, but a 500-person Business Meeting online would be IMO unworkable. And I think a WSFS Business Meeting held online would be much larger than any that has been held in person, simply because it would be so much easier to “attend.”

    The large WSFS meetings we’ve had in recent years (above 300 in Spokane) are just barely manageable in person. I gave serious thought about how we’d manage 1000 people in Spokane, and it wouldn’t have been “traditional” in any sense of the word and I’m sure people would have been angry at me for it.

  5. @Kevin Standlee, Eastercon managed it by using Zoom webinar mode with the raise hand feature in conjunction with a good chairperson, and it went fine. It’s not trivial, but it’s not impossible.

    On further reading, 5.1.1 of the WSFS constitution says that “Business Meetings of WSFS shall be held at advertised times at each Worldcon.” Since the Worldcon is being held online, if the Business Meeting is not held online it is not being held at the Worldcon, and it contravenes article 5.1.1 of the WSFS constitution. Article 5.1.5 says “The quorum for the Business Meeting shall be twelve members of the Society physically present.” That means that if the Business Meeting is held online it cannot be quorate. As far as I can tell, this means that no Business Meeting can occur this year, which by extension means that ConZealand is not a worldcon.

  6. John Coxon: That means that if the Business Meeting is held online it cannot be quorate. As far as I can tell, this means that no Business Meeting can occur this year, which by extension means that ConZealand is not a worldcon.

    That argument succeeds if you ignore the fact that they plan to have a quorom physically present in Wellington for their rump business meeting.

    As has often been pointed out before, a Worldcon is only required by the Constitution to do a very small set of things. If it does those things in conformity with the rules, it’s irrelevant what else they do online.

  7. @Kevin. You are right that a lot more people would attend online, but most would just want to watch and vote. The number of active participants should be about the same. Spokane was different because people were there to talk about a contentious issue they felt deeply about, not just because they were curious and it was easy to attend.

  8. John Coxon: Eastercon managed it by using Zoom webinar mode with the raise hand feature in conjunction with a good chairperson, and it went fine. It’s not trivial, but it’s not impossible.

    It’s my understanding that:

    1) Eastercon did not have a Business Meeting. They had a Bid Session at which each bidcom made a 5-minute presentation about their proposed site, the membership asked questions, and the membership then voted on which bid they wished to have host the upcoming Eastercons.

    2) Eastercon’s bid session lasted less than an hour.

    3) No minutes were taken, the winning bid was just publicly announced afterward.

    This is a far cry from the WSFS Business Meeting, which typically handles many pieces of business, some of them quite complex, lasts for a total of 9 to 15 hours, and has minutes that can run to 100 pages or more.

    Saying “it worked for the Eastercon Bid Session, so it will work for the WSFS Business Meeting” is like saying “this single staple worked for my 2-page document, therefore it will suffice for your 500-page manual which includes foldouts and index tabs”, or “this band-aid/plaster worked for the scratch on my finger, therefore it will suffice to close up your chest after your open-heart surgery”. 🙄

  9. Also, John, I’ve seen your egregiously wrong “analysis” on Twitter of why this year’s Business Meeting will be invalid, and you’re just embarrassing yourself.

  10. John Coxon on June 17, 2020 at 9:57 am said:

    On further reading, 5.1.1 of the WSFS constitution says that “Business Meetings of WSFS shall be held at advertised times at each Worldcon.”

    Yes, and that section defines the only program item that a Worldcon must hold.

    Since the Worldcon is being held online, if the Business Meeting is not held online it is not being held at the Worldcon, and it contravenes article 5.1.1 of the WSFS constitution.

    In the most highly technical sense, CoNZealand is holding the one physical program item that it is required to do, and if you can somehow make your way into New Zealand to the physical location in downtown Wellington, you can attend that one program item. No other physical programming is required by the WSFS Constitution.

    Remember that Worldcon isn’t required to be held in a place where every person who wants to attend it can do so. There isn’t a single place on Earth that would meet that requirement in practice, I think. For example, a Worldcon in the USA means that those people (including past Hugo Award winners Cheryl Morgan and Peter Watts) not permitted to enter the USA can’t attend.

    Article 5.1.5 says “The quorum for the Business Meeting shall be twelve members of the Society physically present.” That means that if the Business Meeting is held online it cannot be quorate. As far as I can tell, this means that no Business Meeting can occur this year, which by extension means that ConZealand is not a Worldcon.

    CoNZealand would be within its rights to just hold an “ordinary” Business Meeting and say, “If you can get here, you can attend.” But out of respect for the vast majority of the members who aren’t physically present and aren’t allowed to be physically present by government order, they are taking action to tread water for one year.

    You appear to be assuming that all of the other “traditional” aspects of a Worldcon are required. They’re not. This isn’t a secret. It’s been discussed many times before by people who care about the subject, but most people’s eyes glaze over when people like me try to explain it. WSFS doesn’t require very many things. Most of Worldcon consists of optional things. Even the other things defined in the Constitution don’t require a physical presence. At-convention Site Selection voting isn’t actually required. A Hugo Awards ceremony isn’t required. Even a physical Mark Protection Committee meeting isn’t required and can (and I expect will) be done online; unlike the Business Meeting, the MPC is small enough that an online meeting is practical.

  11. Kevin Standlee: It’s been discussed many times before by people who care about the subject, but most people’s eyes glaze over when people like me try to explain it.

    My eyes! My eyes! (jk)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.