DisCon III Posts WSFS Business Meeting Agenda

BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA. The the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda is online here.

Business Meeting Chair Kevin Standlee adds, “There are blank spots in the agenda where we are expecting reports that haven’t arrived yet The agenda will be updated as the stragglers arrive.”

The agenda includes Business Passed on to DisCon III by CoNZealand. In 2020, the 78th Worldcon, CoNZealand, was forced to hold only a limited Business Meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the meeting, they defeated all constitutional amendments up for ratification and then passed the same amendments for the first time. This effectively postponed the ratification of all amendments, and passed them on to DisCon III for ratification in 2021. (Minutes and a recording of the CoNZealand Business Meeting are available on the WSFS web site.)

There is a pending re-ratification vote on whether to make Best Series a permanent Hugo category, and to make the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book a permanent award.

And there are quite a few proposals from the Nitpicking & Flyspecking Committee (members appointed by the Business Meeting) with the goal of making the rules work better in one way or another.

All seven new proposals to change the rules are of interest. These two would directly reshape the Hugo ballot:

Short Title: One Episode Per Series: A rules change with the “intention of reducing the amount of episodes of the same dramatic presentation series that can be finalists from two to one and to retain the existing restriction of not more than two works by the same author in each ‘story’ category.” Proposed by: Nana Amuah, Olav Rokne, Cora Buhlert and Terry Neill.

Short Title: Best Audiobook. A new Hugo category is proposed by Michele Cobb and Nicole Morano. Their supporting statement argues: “Although several Hugo Award categories allow audiobook entries by being agnostic of the publication medium per section 3.2.6, audiobooks cannot simply be viewed as interchangeable with the print and ebook experience and are deserving of their own award category. Since we honor Best Graphic Story or Comic and Best Dramatic Presentation, Long and Short Form because the experience of the story is distinctive in that medium, it only follows that we acknowledge audiobooks as a category all their own.”

36 thoughts on “DisCon III Posts WSFS Business Meeting Agenda

  1. If I may add a comment pertaining to the matter of “One Per Series,” this might also clear up when a series should be nominated as a whole under long form, rather than under short form.

    Watchmen, for example, was on the shortlist twice in short form. But perhaps would have been more appropriate to have the whole series on the long-form shortlist.

    Just a thought.

  2. Olav Rokne: But whether something should be shifted to Long Form isn’t addressed in your rule change. (I’m asking that for clarity, not to take a stance on the idea.)

  3. I’d like to see a proposal to split the “Best Fanzine” category in two, to create a separate category for Blogs. But I doubt there’s gonna be anywhere near enough interest and support for that anytime soon.

  4. Rich Lynch: In 2011 you tried to purge blogs from the Best Fanzine category, and the business meeting amended your proposal to keep that from happening.

    Meanwhile, the FAAn Awards, which are restricted to the zines you want in your purified Best Fanzine category, are getting ever-diminishing numbers of voters. It isn’t easy to find FAAn voting statistics, but here are the totals from two three recent years.

    2018 — 77
    2019 — 19
    2021 — 49

    These are not numbers on which a pure-magazine-only Hugo category can be constructed.

    ETA: To include the 2021 votes found by JJ.

  5. The entire season of Watchmen had enough nominations to make the final ballot in long form but was removed because of the 2 episodes in short form (with more collective nominations). The “Hard Times” episode of Good Omens had the most nominations in the short form category but was removed because the season made the ballot in long form (with more nominations). It would be good to get some set rules on those types of changes.

  6. Getting the distribution of paper fanzines to the point where they’ve got much of a shot at appealing to an international – or even just broader USA – voterbase would be very tricky, but even so I think that kind of motivated fannish effort has more of a chance of seeing results than convincing people to create an artificial split between internet fandom and paper fandom.

  7. The fanzine category with blogs included is hanging on by the skin of its teeth in terms of voting numbers. They’d both be doomed if split.

  8. Meredith: I don’t think Rich is advocating that the award be for paper fanzines, but for fanzines in magazine issue format. He would not be trying to eliminate PDF zines, for example.

  9. I predict the audiobook category will not make it through, because of the issue of the same book winning in both the written fiction and audiobook category. I suppose if the only entity that could win the audiobook category was the PUBLISHER and not the author, then one could make the argument that it’s a truly different work. But if the author is considered a finalist for the same writing in two different categories based only on its delivery mechanism, there’s no way that’ll pass the business meeting.

  10. What about the narrator? I would say that is the artist who makes the difference between this and the print version. If the work is narrated by the author, then it would still be for different work. The performance of the narration.

  11. Laura says What about the narrator? I would say that is the artist who makes the difference between this and the print version. If the work is narrated by the author, then it would still be for different work. The performance of the narration.

    There are actually two types of audiobooks, straight narrations and adaptions. If you just take the matter of Neverwhere, it’s been done in multiple forms of both types. All are excellent, but they are decidedly different in what they are.

  12. I was just responding to Tammy’s concern of the same person being in two categories for the same work. My answer is that creator(s) on the ballot for the audiobook should be the narrator(s).

    As I said earlier, I’m neutral on this proposal. Comparing between regular narration and full cast wouldn’t be any more difficult than between a convention and a blog post. Or a Booktube channel and a podcast. Or a pdf zine and a blog.

  13. I like the “One Episode Per Series” idea, but the execution seems a tad complex. Reading the wording, the author first gets contacted and chooses which episode to withdraw. If they don’t do anything, the one with most votes goes through.

    I don’t get the need for the first step. It strikes me that it is in the author’s best interest to do nothing (since they don’t know the vote distribution, they might inadvertently withdraw the more popular episode).

  14. Bartimaeus: The existing rule already has a notification step, so that’s not a change.

    3.8.6: If there are more than two works in the same category that are
    episodes of the same dramatic presentation series or that are written
    works that have an author for single author works, or two or more
    authors for co-authored works, in common, only the two works in
    each category that have the most nominations shall appear on the
    final ballot. The Worldcon Committee shall make reasonable efforts
    to notify those who would have been finalists in the absence of this
    subsection to provide them an opportunity to withdraw. For the
    purpose of this exclusion, works withdrawn shall be ignored.

  15. Laura: Comparing between regular narration and full cast wouldn’t be any more difficult than between a convention and a blog post. Or a Booktube channel and a podcast. Or a pdf zine and a blog.

    That’s a mixed call in my book:
    regular narration and full cast: difficult, the difference between an audio Fiction and a Dramatic Presentation
    convention and a blog post: difficult
    Booktube channel and a podcast: easy
    pdf zine and a blog: easy

  16. For me I think the comparison between booktube
    vs podcast is closest. Certainly less difficult to me than some of the apples and oranges we get in related work these days.

    I’m not that keen on this category anyway, but that wouldn’t be much of a strike against it in my book.

  17. One Episode Per Series – I am very opposed. This would be the Business Meeting going way beyond previous practice in telling voters what they can have on the ballot. It will increase the burden on administrators who will have to contact confused TV executives and acquaint them with the technicalities of Hugo rules. It’s also not clear if a two-episode story (such as the She-Ra story nominated this year) would fall foul of this rule. And basically I don’t see any demand for it; on the contrary, I suspect that most voters think it’s cool that a popular show should have more than one bite of the cherry.

    The proposal does nothing at all to clarify the choice of whether a TV series should go on the Long Form ballot, or individual episodes on Short Form. This is anyway not a problem that needs fixing; the will of the voters has been pretty clear in all the cases I’ve been involved with.

  18. Best Audiobook: I think this won’t make it through because the proposers have not shown 1) that it’s responding to the demands of a significant market share of fandom, or 2) that it’s redressing an injustice in the current set-up for works which are not getting on the ballot in existing categories.

    I’m a huge fan of Big Finish’s output myself, but I have long since reconciled myself to the fact that Big Finish is not getting Hugo nominations because its overlap with Hugo fandom is minimal, and not because it needs its own category. So I would oppose this amendment (or refer it to the Hugo Awards Study Committee, which comes to the same thing). If it were to be taken forward, it would require a lot of definitional tweaking.

  19. Nicholas Whyte: This is anyway not a problem that needs fixing; the will of the voters has been pretty clear in all the cases I’ve been involved with.

    The “will of the Worldcon members” was to limit how many bites at the cherry a series gets by passing Nominee Diversity, which limited series to 2 episodes on the ballot. This is just Nominee Diversity Part II, and it’s been proposed precisely because a lot of Worldcon members think that 1 episode per series on the ballot is sufficient.

  20. @JJ – I have obviously missed all the anguished commentary about what a shame it is that popular TV series sometimes get more than one episode on the ballot. Can you link me to any such commentary dating from before this amendment was proposed a few months ago?

  21. I don’t like one episode per series because I think that we can’t rely on having six (or five) TV series ongoing that are all of the quality needed for a Hugo nomination – and certainly not enough more than that to make a Hugo finalist position an honour, rather than something every sff series gets as of right.

    We are currently living through a “Golden Age of TV”, but those do end, and if we reverted to the quantity of good TV of 20 years ago, we would be really struggling – looking at the 2003 nominations, the six would have been: Enterprise, Buffy, Firefly, Angel (these four on the original ballot), but then a Worldcon Masquerade Half-time Show, and a LOTR DVD Easter Egg (even if you disregard these, you then get a Babylon 5 episode and then you have to get to 12th to reach the sixth TV series, Smallville).

    2004 would be Buffy, Firefly, Smallville, Gollum’s MTV Speech, Enterprise and Farscape (reasonable enough, but if you disregard Gollum, then the sixth would be a Futurama episode with 10 nominations)

    2005: Angel, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Noreascon Closing Ceremony, and Wonderfalls (the seventh would be Enterprise, with 9 nominations).

    2006: Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, a Hugo ceremony, Jack, Lucas Back in Anger (a play put on at the previous Worldcon), and Call of Cthulhu. Excepting the two fannish things, the next TV would be Stargate SG1 and South Park.

    2007: Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG1, Heroes, Torchwood, “The Tragical Historie of Guidolon, the Giant Space Chicken” (a YouTube video by Frank Wu), with the sixth series being Life on Mars

    2008: Doctor Who, Star Trek New Voyages, Battlestar Galactica, Torchwood, Pushing Daisies, Lost.

    As I think is obvious from this list, for most of this period, there were only just enough series on TV to fill a ballot, so that would have pretty much guaranteed that every series on TV would get an episode on the ballot.

    Just for a contrast, here is the 2020:
    Watchmen, Good Place, Expanse, Mandalorian, Doctor Who, Love Death and Robots

    And excluded: Russian Doll, Good Omens (long form nomination), Steven Universe, Stranger Things, The Witcher – and there are certainly plenty of other TV series being made that are sff but which are not even getting onto the longlist (e.g. thinking of shows eligible for 2020: all of the Arrowverse shows, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Mirror, His Dark Materials, For All Mankind, Game of Thrones, Star Trek Discovery, just off the top of my head).

    I think that if two episodes of a series each get 100+ nominations and are the top two nominations and the sixth-place series gets 10 for its best episode, I would prefer the two episodes of the top series; but if the numbers are close, then I think it is fair to bring in six different series.

    A proposal: if there are nominations for multiple episodes of the same series, then the number of such nominations should be divided by some factor based on the number of episodes nominated. My suggestion off the top of my head is “one half, plus one half per episode” – ie if there is one episode, then divide by one, if there are two, by 1.5, three: 2, four: 2.5, etc.

    That would make it increasingly hard for a series to get lots of episodes nominated, but would make it possible if the series was dominating TV (either because of a lack of competition, or because it was truly exceptional).

  22. It’s concern about the series which are getting no bite of the apple. I know I would like to see 6 finalists all from different series (or other short form works).

  23. I wrote a long comment that seems to have got stuck in moderation – I went through the first few years of BDPSF and noted that they would have really struggled to get six episodes from different series – in one case going down to the 12th nominee, and twice down to series with single-digit numbers of nominations and once down to just 10 nominations.

    For at least the first six years of the award, the result of one episode per series would have been that every sf/f series could expect their best episode to be nominated.

    I don’t think we should adopt a rule that is reliant on there being a large number of sff TV series for the indefinite future, and Worldcon does not have a mechanism to rapidly reinstate the previous system if the current TV production glut turns out to be a bubble that then bursts.

    Also, I’d say that if the most popular series gets 140 nominations for its best episode and 100 for its number two and the sixth series gets 10 for its best episode (real numbers from real nominations in the early 2000s), then two episodes from the number one series seems a lot fairer than forcing a sixth series onto the ballot.

    My suggestion is that we adopt a rule along these lines “if there is more than one episode of a series still being considered in the nominations process, then each episode’s number of EPH points and number of nominations should be divided by (0.5 + 0.5*number of episodes)” (ie divide by 1.5 if there are two episodes still in consideration, by 2.0 if there are three and so on).

    This would mean that a ballot with two episodes from the same series would require the series to do particularly well, and three would be truly exceptional; it would mean that this is only likely when the field is much less competitive than at present, when I could name 30 series that are eligible (in the sense of being sff) at the moment, and where the longlist of nominations generally includes a dozen or more different series; but would not mean forcing a finalist for the sixth best series in a year when there really are only four or five deserving of the honour.

  24. Rich Lynch on November 22, 2021 at 2:39 pm said:
    I’d like to see a proposal to split the “Best Fanzine” category in two, to create a separate category for Blogs.

    As long as we also divide the short story category into “stories published in a traditional print magazine” and “stories only published online.”

    We are currently living through a “Golden Age of TV”

    OK… Let’s look at a year prior to the “Golden Age of TV”. Just to pick randomly 1988 as an example (if there’d been a short form back then.)

    Off the top of mind, there’s Captain Power, The Highwayman, Max Headroom, Doctor Who, the Transformers cartoon, Star Trek: TNG.

    As I think is obvious from this list, for most of this period, there were only just enough series on TV to fill a ballot, so that would have pretty much guaranteed that every series on TV would get an episode on the ballot.

    No. It isn’t “obvious” from this list. And some of the examples you note as being left off the ballot (Life on Mars, Futurama) seem like works that could well have done with a Hugo nod. Life on Mars is exceptionally good. Futurama has some classic episodes, but never got a Hugo nod.

  25. We are currently living through a “Golden Age of TV”

    How about for 1982? You’d have Hitchhiker’s Guide, Ulysses 31, Blake’s 7, Dr. Who, Buck Rogers, Greatest American Hero, Read All About It!, Mork & Mindy, and The Day of the Triffids.

    It’s an embarrassment of riches. The next year, you have several of those shows returning as well as new shows like Voyagers!, and QED.

    (Note: I don’t like Mork & Mindy, but it was popular at the time and probably would have been in contention if there’d been a short-form category)

  26. If I may jump in, as one-of the co-proposers of One Episode Per Series (really the person who thought of it…sorry /hj): There’s a lot of discussion happening in this thread that’s giving us a lot to think about. I dunno if I can address every question/qualm, but I will say that we intend the rule change specifically in regards to Short Form, and that we weren’t thinking about just TV shows; dramatized fictional podcast episodes and web series episodes are also eligible for the category. Nor were we thinking of just English-language shows either. I think there’s a variance of sci-fi short media that doesn’t present itself when you look at the smaller sample size of US/UK television.

    (Don’t mean to insult anyone, just further explaining our position. Nice to see folks here saying they like it, that’s a relief)

    @bill: maybe the Golden Age of TV Theme Songs though!

  27. The changes to Best Fan Artist eligibility further dilute what a “fan artist” is and essentially make eligible every professional artist who wants a shiny rocket trophy. Grasping neopros will be glad to see this enacted.

  28. As I understand it, the change to Best Fan Artist is in response to one of the Best Fan Artist finalists not being allowed to include one of their works in the packet because it had only appeared online in the eligible year and not been displayed at a convention until the following year.

  29. @Nicholas Whyte
    I have been complaining for years in my Hugo finalist commentaries that the same shows get nominated over and over again, often for multiple episodes, while other excellent genre shows don’t get a look in. Not to mention audio dramas, short films, music videos, web series, etc…

    For example, Lovecraft Country, The Handmaid’s Tale, Outlander, Chernobyl, Westworld, Lucifer are all highly acclaimed SFF series (and science fact for Chernobyl) that were nominated for and won multiple big mainstream awards, but never got a single Hugo nomination. Lovecraft Country, Chernobyl and Lucifer will never get that chance again, while The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld and Outlander are past their prime. It doesn’t exactly raise the profile of the Hugos in the film/TV world, if we fail to even nominate some of the most acclaimed genre TV series in favour of multiple episodes of Hugo voter favourites like Doctor Who (which I like) or The Good Place (which I don’t). As for two-part episodes like the She-Ra episode, I imagine it would work like it does now, with two-parters nominated as one if they are under 90 minutes together, though that may have to be clarified.

    I am sorry that this proposal means more work for Hugo administrators, but they have to contact the studios anyway to ask if they accept the nomination. Adding, “We also have a rule that only one episode per series can make the ballot, so please pick one” shouldn’t be that much more of an issue.

    Here are some SFF shows from 2020 that would make worthy Hugo finalists: Foundation, WandaVision, Loki, Star Trek Discovery, Cowboy Bebop, The Wheel of Time, Squid Game, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Y: The Last Man, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Arcane, Hawkeye, The Book of Boba Fett, Doctor Who, The Expanse, Legends of Tomorrow (another one that never got a Hugo nomination in spite of being consistently good), The Flash, Supergirl, Superman and Lois, Black Lightning, The Nevers, The Walking Dead (another hugely popular show which never had a Hugo nomination) and its spin-offs, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Prodigy, American Horror Story, Invasion, For All Mankind, etc… That’s way more than six shows and I’ve probably forgotten a bunch, so why reduce it to three, if multiple episodes are nominated? Doctor Who and The Expanse will still get their chance, as long as there are enough fans who want to nominate them.

    I have the personal policy of never nominating more than one episode of any one TV series, though I have occasionally nominated a whole series in long form, and I’ve never had problems finding five worthy series to nominate. This is also why I was happy to co-sign the proposal.

    @Richard Gadsden
    The current proliferation of streaming service may eventually consolidate and the current SFF TV boom in the US may eventually wane (in the UK it has already waned with only Doctor Who still holding up the flag), but I still think we will have more than enough works to choose from. TV seasons are shorter these days andd the long summer break is a thing of the past in the streaming age. Plus, there is a lot of good SFF TV being made outside the Anglosphere, e.g. Dark, Real Humans or Squid Game, which was a global sensation. Plus, anime series, web series, music videos, audio dramas, short films, etc… There is a wealth of great filmic SFF out there and that won’t change, even if less of it comes from the US.

    Finally, the fact that Life on Mars and its sequel Ashes to Ashes never got a single Hugo nomination is one of the great injustices of Hugo history.

  30. Finally, the fact that Life on Mars and its sequel Ashes to Ashes never got a single Hugo nomination is one of the great injustices of Hugo history.

    I will one hundred per cent agree with this. Life on Mars is amazing.

  31. @Mike Glyer

    Fair! I always forget about those because most of them give me a bit of a headache to read – something about the text spacing, I think. Well, that ought to solve most of the distribution issue (if not the headaches issue) so a good fannish look-at-all-our-shinies! effort ought to be much more within reach than I’d previously assumed.

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