Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

(1) BORN ON THE SEVENTH OF JULY. In “Spinning a high-tech web”, the LA Times provides an elaborate, photo-illustrated preview of Tony Stark’s upgrade to the new Spider-Man suit that will be seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming, due in theaters July 7.

(2) FILK HALL OF FAME. The 2017 inductees to the Filk Halll of Fame were announced at FilkOntario this weekend:

(3) FAHRENHEIT 451 TO SMALL SCREEN? The Bradbury novel is on the road to development once more. “HBO to Adapt Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan”  — BookRiot has the story.

Now, HBO is “moving toward a production commitment” (via Variety) on a feature-length adaptation of Bradbury’s 1953 novel starring Michael B. Jordan (Creed, Chronicle, Fantastic Four) as the protagonist Guy Montag and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire) as Montag’s boss, Captain Beatty.

The film will be directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, At Any Price), who is co-writing with Amir Naderi (99 Homes, The Runner). David Coatsworth (production manager on Underworld: Evolution, Ender’s Game, My Big Fat Greek Wedding) will serve as producer.

(4) THEY’RE HUUGE! “Black Holes Are Bigger Than You Thought” accuses Yahoo! News. (Just how big did you think they were? How did Yahoo! News find out?)

Now meet S5 0014+81.

It’s the largest black hole ever discovered and is heavier than our Sun by 40 billion times (40, 000, 000, 000) in the last observation.

If you plug in the equation above, you’ll find that this black hole has a Schwarzschild radius of about… 119 billion kilometers, along with a said diameter of about 236,39 billion km.

(5) THE TOUGHEST AROUND. Let Den of Geek point you at “17 really difficult LEGO sets”.

The Tower Of Orthanc

It may look simple enough on the box, but The Lord Of The Rings’ Tower Of Orthanc is actually a real tough cookie. Because most of its 2,359 pieces are jet black and slim, working out which bit goes where is the stuff of nightmares (in, um, a good way). The Treebeard that comes with it will make the struggle worth it… honest.

Buy The Tower Of Orthanc now for £348.07.

(6) TODAY’S DAY

  • April 23 — World Book and Copyright Day

Pays tribute to authors and books and their social and cultural contribution to the world

(7) DID YOU KNOW? Last year the International Costumers’ Guild participated in a “friend of the court” brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, joining Public Knowledge, the American Library Association, and others, asking the Court to protect the rights of clothing designers and costumers to freely practice their craft.

(8) AT HOME. The Verge’s Andrew Liptak reports “Netflix will invest billions to shoot its original content in California”:

Netflix is betting that filming closer to home will produce better content. In 2015, the streaming giant has announced that it would be doubling its output of original content, and it is aiming to have original productions make up half of its of its streaming catalog in the coming years. The goal is to entice users to come to the service by providing content that can’t be found elsewhere, but that goal is proving to be a strain on the existing film studio infrastructure. To cope, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announced that the company would be investing $6 billion to expand infrastructure in California, rather than chase tax incentives offered by states.

Sarandos explained to The Wrap that the company determined that going after the incentives leads to diminishing returns when it comes to their final products. Filming out of state is hard on the actors and crew of a project, and the move will help bring projects back home to California. That could prove to be costly for the company, even as California has increased its own tax incentive program in recent years. While remaining in the state will likely cost Netflix more, Sarandos seems to think that the extra cost will be worth spending.

(9) SQUEAK UP. YouTube’s TheBackyardScientist set up 10 megaphones end-to-end to see how loud a noise he could make.

The video, posted to YouTube by TheBackyardScientist, features Kevin Kohler explaining he was inspired by Bart Simpson‘s prank in the season 8 Simpsons episode The Secret War of Lisa Simpson to place 10 megaphones end-to-end and test the results.

Bart’s experiment led to a shock wave that shattered all of the windows in town — as well as Homer’s fridge full of beer — but Kohler quickly ran into a problem Bart didn’t face: a feedback loop.

 

(10) BITE ON. The number of people who give their smartphones to dogs as chew toys is probably smaller than the number of men who have walked on the moon, but for them — “There’s an anti-dog label inside the Galaxy S8 — here’s what it means”. Let The Verge explain it to you.

Basically, you don’t want Fido in a situation where a battery could hiss and explode in its mouth. It’s obviously possible that a child could bite through the battery as well, but the likelihood of him / her piercing through the battery is lower.

(11) ARTIFICIAL DOG INTELLIGENCE. Amazing. How is it mine doesn’t do that?

(12) FIX THE SLATING PROBLEM FOREVER. That’s what Greg Hullender would like to do. At Rocket Stack Rank he summarizes his views about the effectiveness of 3SV, EPH(+) and their combination. He says, “I  think it makes it really clear that we need both 3SV and either EPH or EPH+. Otherwise, even small slates (100 to 200 people) will be able to control a significant amount of the final ballot, including adding embarrassing nominees.”

For each year, we produced two theoretical maximum graphs. A “finalist graph,” which shows what percentage of finalists a slate could have captured for a given number of slate voters, and a “sweeps” graph, which shows what percentage of entire categories a slate could have captured.

Looking at those four pairs of graphs (2.1-2.4 below), we will draw the following conclusions;

  • Std (5/6) by itself is far too weak.
  • EPH doesn’t protect enough finalists, but it is excellent at preventing sweeps.
  • EPH+ is an improvement on EPH, but it’s still not enough by itself.
  • 3SV is much stronger for protecting finalists, especially for modest numbers of slate voters, but it’s vulnerable to sweeps, and it breaks down for slates above about 300 people.
  • The 3SV/EPH and 3SV/EPH+ combinations are far, far stronger than either component alone. Either combination is probably sufficient, but the second one is stronger.

Accordingly, we conclude that the Business Meeting should ratify both EPH+ and 3SV. That should protect the Hugos from slating interference for the nonce.

(13) DREAM CASTING. Enjoy “Miles To Go” hosted at Archive of Our Own. Note – Password = Vorkosigan (as it says at the post).

There once was a man who dreamt of the stars…

A fanvid based on the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

…Obviously, it’s not so easy to make a feast for a fandom with no existing visual source. But where there’s a will, or in my case an enormous and driving folly, there’s a way. It was always going to be an ensemble vid, with Miles as the star, but the question was how to cast it. I did eventually solve that problem, and I won’t discuss my solution in detail here because… spoilers.

[Thanks to Carl Slaughter, Cat Eldridge, Robin Reid, JJ, Doctor Science, Greg Hullender, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories, Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]

156 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 4/23/17 Scroll White And The Seven Pixels

  1. rcade: I decided to go to the source and asked Vox Day whether the Castalia House blog is a professional or nonprofessional publication under the rules (and included a copy of them in my email.)

    He sent this answer:

    I’m not offended by the question, but I have no intention of providing any information to the Hugo organization(s) or SF fandom beyond that which goes out to the public. The Worldcons simply don’t play it straight; I still find it remarkable that the one story by JCW was disqualified for having been briefly posted on his blog when Scalzi actually published OMW on his blog two full years before it was a Best Novel finalist.

    And yes, I understand that different Worldcons can interpret the rules differently. That’s precisely why I don’t provide any of them with any details beyond the minimum required. As far as I’m concerned, there is no larger discussion to which anything can be added.

    Also, I’m extremely occupied with two very cool game projects at the moment. I just haven’t given any thought to the Hugos at all.

  2. I just haven’t given any thought to the Hugos at all.

    Of course he hasn’t. Bless his heart.

  3. airboy:

    Cheaper price than the years before and better candidates with the dreck removed.

  4. SCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZI!!!!!!!!!!

    Wuu saa.

    I feel better.

  5. Ummm, did VD just make it all about Scalzi again?
    Anyway, we know that the “minimum required” included confirming that Castalia isn’t professional, so I guess we can take that crumb of amusement from the whole thing.

    ETA: Sean Kirk, on my mobile that Scalzi scream heads off the edge of the screen in the most fitting manner!

  6. @Greg This year’s supporting memberships are the best value in years!

    We’ll have to see what’s included in the packet before that can be determined.

  7. Greg: If your aim is only to show how the worst possible attack can be defeated, that’s fine. But one might normally think that a method which defeats the worst possible attack can also defeat milder attacks, and in this case that isn’t so. If slaters do the worst, i.e. most horrifying, possible thing, producing a whole slate, or group of slates, full of obvious rubbish, they make it easier for their opponents. We know we can just vote everything down, something we might be reluctant to do to Jim Butcher, Stephen King etc. Hence, 3SV doesn’t defend us so effectively against subtler attacks. (And to the extent that EPH leaves a gap there, that gap is still unplugged.)

  8. Andrew M:

    True. EPH will let them get them some candidates on the ballot, but not all. And voters 3SV might not remove exactly every candidate, but leave some that might have gotten support anyhow.

    I find that acceptable.

  9. @Andrew M
    A completely secret slate which only nominated really good works that might have won awards anyway would most likely escape notice entirely (although I think I’d be able to detect it in the EPH numbers after the fact). However, it would also do no real damage to the awards, in the sense that the finalist list really would be full of works that deserved consideration for awards.

    Perfection is impossible to achieve, but excellence is not. I think 3SV/EPH(+) is an excellent solution, but I don’t claim it’s perfect.

  10. Why is a supporting membership this year such a great value?

    Because the Hugo packet will have very little shitty Puppy crap in it, and will instead have stories worth reading.

  11. @airboy
    The supporting membership buys you the Hugo packet, which is full of free copies of stories (sometimes entire novels). Ideally, these should really be the best stuff written all year, so if you hadn’t read it yet, it would be like buying a couple of top novels and anthologies at a decent price.

    When the slates replaced all the good stories with things like “Space Raptor” they reduced the value of the packet enormously. The 2015 packet was particularly sad. We hadn’t started Rocket Stack Rank yet, but when Eric and I reviewed the short fiction (just for each other) it was all 1’s, 2’s, and “incompletes.” The only actual good writing in the whole thing (again, short fiction only) was Michael Flynn’s “The Journeyman: In the Stone House” and that one was unreadable if you hadn’t read the earlier story in the series.

    In 2016 the slates did a bit better, partly because of the hostages, but also because a couple of the stories from Jerry Pournelle’s anthology were decent. Overall, however, the quality was still pretty poor.

    This year, however, it’s great. Look at RSR‘s Annotated 2017 Hugo Awards Finalists, paying attention to the “Recommended by” lists. With just a few exceptions, these are stories that earned praise from multiple reviewers, from readers’ surveys by the magazines, and/or are on the Nebula shortlist.

    Are there things I think don’t belong here (other than the slated stuff)? Sure. (I’m picky.) But this is a really excellent list of works–for the most part, it really does represent the best of 2016. Also, there are six works per category, not just five, so there’s more total fiction in general. (Which partly makes up for the slating.)

    @bookworm
    You’re right of course. There’s no guarantee everyone will allow their works to be in the packet, although they usually do.

  12. “I just haven’t given any thought to the Hugos at all!” Theodore bawled as he tore John Scalzi’s autographed photo into pieces.

    After he could cry no more tears, Theodore bewailed over his fate as he taped the photo back together.

  13. @Greg: TFTcrxn; I’ll try to remember, but my connection to fandom is drifting (“an angel who did not so much fall as vaguely saunter downwards” — although I don’t have anywhere near Crowley’s style) and so not always tracking.

    @Matt Y: sounds like each is still a single-purpose set; I grew up with (multifunctional) Legos, Erector, and Kenner* around (though I only owned the last) and am croggled at the idea of that much money for something that leaves so little room for personal imagination. Should I grumble about the stifling of creative thought? (Stamps cane, waves foot.) Or possibly the multipurpose sets still exist, and these are just for people who now have the money and time they didn’t used to. And the very idea of expensive raries seriously squicks me, but ““diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks“… (And AFAICT the Lego sets are even less costworthy considered as expensive jigsaw puzzles, as someone bored with a jigsaw can turn it over and solve by shapes alone. Yes, that’s hardcore.)

    * the link focuses on the buildings set; there were also highways and motorized projects (e.g., drawbridges).

  14. VD is not a terribly logical thinker:

    I still find it remarkable that the one story by JCW was disqualified for having been briefly posted on his blog when Scalzi actually published OMW on his blog two full years before it was a Best Novel finalist.

    This is an invalid argument.

    1. Old Man’s War was a web serial novel which had never been published as a single entity; JCW’s novelette “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” had previously been publlished in its entirety as a single entity.

    2. The Hugo administrators ruled that two other Puppy stories, “Big Boys Don’t Cry”, and “One Bright Star to Guide Them” were previously published in shorter versions, but had been significantly expanded in their 2014 publication, and their nominations were allowed to stand.

    So, unsurprisingly, his claim that “The Worldcons simply don’t play it straight” is entirely false.

  15. @Chip – The multipurpose sets still exist. In fact the only reason I know anything about it is that my wife like to buy packs and put together sets to sell, as most parts are multipurpose with few sets with rare parts. Which is why the minifigs are so expensive since the designs on some of them are singular. You can probably find a lot of the black pieces for that tower but not a chest piece for a Faramir (I assume there’s a Faramir).

    There’s a cool group in Minneapolis that makes custom sets, mostly war pieces, and have some amazing displays of insanely large scale things they’ve made.

  16. *waves to Tasha*

    I’m sorry to hear about all the Stuff.

    I haven’t been around much either, but am hoping that will change: I couldn’t even get it together enough to nominate, and didn’t realize I could vote (thought I’d have to buy a supporting membership and was torn on whether or not to even try–then got my email a day or two ago).

    Seconding those who say the site is cool–have voted based on what I knew, and bought a few books today (the first in the EXPANSE series which I hadn’t read, LeGuin’s collection which I am reading happily tonight and which has already improved my mood, and erm, something else I cannot remember!).

    Things should be less hectic this summer, and I hope to be popping up and participating more.

    Best of luck!

  17. @airboy

    well, for one thing it’s a little cheaper–when I bought mine the exchange rate at the time worked out to $37 and some few cents.

    But also with having 6 finalists instead of 5, and blessedly free of crap for the most part, it looks like a Hugo ballot should look like.

  18. Going back to the full face superhero mask discussion: I’ve been bothered by Rorschach’s mask in particular for many years. We’re explicitly told that it is made of two layers of latex, holding in fluid. Yeah: you can breathe through cotton or spandex. But through that? He’s effectively wearing a form-fitting plastic bag. Definite suffocation time.

  19. Oh sure, he cares so little about the Hugos that he ran another campaign to get himself and his pals on it this year, and so little about Scalzi that he mentioned it in his response after he spent all the rest of his time this year trying to rip off Scalzi.

    Senpai will never notice you, Teddy.

    Also, providing the minimum possible info is NOT providing the minimum info needed for the administrators to accurately decide whether something is qualified. For that reason alone, his blog ought to be disqualified.

  20. @David Goldfarb: (Rorschach’s mask)

    That is a sticky problem, especially considering the problem of sight. Here’s what I’d do, if I were a cosplayer who had the “how to make the swirling panel” problem licked and wanted to stick as close to the canon look as possible…

    1. As the swirly part only seems to cover the face, make the rest of the hood out of a more standard white spandex.
    2. Fuse the two transparent layers together in a couple of places to create windows, so I can see.
    3. Make a partial – maybe even a full – faceshell to fit under the panel. It has to cover from the cheekbones down to the chin and out to the jaw, such that the chin protrudes a half-inch or so from my face. The goal here is to create space between the bottom half of my face and the swirly panel.
    4. Perforate the faceshell’s jawline – the gap – so that it allows plenty of air to come in through the spandex covering it.

    If I’ve got it figured right, you now have a clear space enclosing the mouth and nostrils that brings air in at the bottom. Bonus feature: the wearer’s voice should be less muffled and his profile visibly changed, making him less susceptible to facial recognition tech. Depending on exactly what the shell’s made of, it could even act as a bit of light armor.

  21. So, unsurprisingly, his claim that “The Worldcons simply don’t play it straight” is entirely false.

    Read it as “despite my status as an acknowledged sooper genus, I have been unable to work out the rules”.

  22. Old Man’s War was a web serial novel which had never been published as a single entity; JCW’s novelette “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” had previously been publlished in its entirety as a single entity.

    Are there other examples of serialized novels considered Hugo eligible as novels in a later year? I know there used to be a lot of SF/F authors creating fix-up novels by putting short stories together — Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos, for example. But they typically had new material added so they would become a new work.

    While we’re on the subject: Next month is the 75th anniversary of Isaac Asimov’s short story “Foundation” in Astounding Science-Fiction, the first component of what would become his 1951 book Foundation.

  23. Didn’t a lot of Hugo novel finalist start out as serials? That was one of the ways publishing worked in the past. The Demolished Man started out as a three-part serial in Galaxy. Dune was actually a combination of two serials. Starship Troopers was a two-part serial called Star Soldier. The three main stories of A Canticle for Leibowitz were in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

  24. @David Goldfarb

    But through that? He’s effectively wearing a form-fitting plastic bag. Definite suffocation time.

    Well, he is a superhero, isnt he? Perhaps thats his superpower!

    (Im aware the heroes in Watchmen dont work like that)

  25. Old Man’s War was a web serial novel which had never been published as a single entity; JCW’s novelette “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” had previously been published in its entirety as a single entity.

    There is also the fact that a decade separated the nominations. In 2005, web publishing was in its infancy, and no one really had a handle on whether putting something on the web “counted” or not. Heck, several years later, it was ambiguous as to whether publishing something solely as an audible book “counted” or not. The idea that the interpretation concerning web publication would not change between 2006 and 2015 is one that only a complete fool would hold.

  26. As a web publisher in 1995, I would not say it was in its infancy 10 years later.

    But ebooks were definitely in their infancy in 2005 — the first Kindle came out in 2007. So I don’t dispute your point.

    There ought to be a book/report/database of Hugo committee decisions. New committee members could read it to understand how the WSFS Constitution has been interpreted in the past.

  27. A lot of Hugo novel finalists did indeed start out as serials, but historically they were nominated for the year in which the last episode was published. Republication without significant changes did not create new eligibility. So the fact that Scalzi’s novel had not previously been published as a whole should not signify, if every part of it had been published and it had not changed significantly. (I don’t actually know if that is true.)

    I think it’s quite probable that Scalzi’s novel was indeed ineligible under the current rule. (Perhaps the rule should be changed, though I’m not sure how.) If so, it’s quite likely that the admins simply did not know about the previous publication, and that’s why they accepted it. If previous admins made the wrong decision based on imperfect knowledge of the facts, this should not be seen as a binding precedent.

  28. Greg:

    A completely secret slate which only nominated really good works that might have won awards anyway would most likely escape notice entirely (although I think I’d be able to detect it in the EPH numbers after the fact). However, it would also do no real damage to the awards, in the sense that the finalist list really would be full of works that deserved consideration for awards.

    People keep making this weird dichotomy between ‘obvious rubbish that can be voted down immediately’ and ‘really good works that might have won awards anyway’. But we know that not all nominees fall into those categories. Last year’s nominees by Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Stephen King, and Daniel Polansky, were not obvious rubbish, but neither were they serious award contenders, and they wouldn’t have been so successful without the slate. And they were not no-awarded, and so presumably they would not be voted down under 3SV. And one could construct a slate that consisted entirely of such works, and it would be more successful than the current slate is, and with the kind of support slates have had in previous years it could take two thirds of the ballot even with EPH.

    And even if everything on the slate is, in itself, a serious award contender, a slate can still skew the result in a specific direction, excluding good works that would have done better on organic votes alone. It could create a bias in favour of white males who do not have the initials JS – or indeed of any other group. It would not hurt the reputation of the awards in the same way as ‘Space Raptor Butt Invasion’ did, but it would stop them being representative of the best in SF.

    I’m not sure why the slate being secret would make a difference. Are you thinking that if the slate were public we could know what was on it and vote it down? But (a) we know, on the basis of the no-awards from last year, that people won’t do that, and (b) there’s a practical problem in doing it: voting down everything that is on a slate allows a ‘poisoned cup’ strategy; voting down only things that are on the list because of the slate is impossible because we don’t know what they are. Is Mieville? We can’t tell.

    I don’t actually think this is an existential problem at the moment. There is only one active group of slaters. Their support is declining. It will likely continue to decline, as this year they have nominators left over from 2016, and next year they won’t. I think it quite probable that by next year they will be too few to have any actual impact on the ballot. But if the aim is to defend ourselves against possible attacks, then EPH+3SV does not do that effectively enough; it defends us against the most extreme attack, but not against others.

  29. ” But if the aim is to defend ourselves against possible attacks, then EPH+3SV does not do that effectively enough; it defends us against the most extreme attack, but not against others.”

    I just can’t parse these sentences. EPH will always be active and lower the power of slates, even organic ones. Always. In what way does it not help against all but the most extreme attacks?

    You seem to say that “does not negate a slate to hundred percent” means “does not defend at all”.

    EPH will lessen the power of the slate. Always. 3SV will remove any potential works of defamation and harassment that are left.

  30. OK, repeat ‘effectively enough’ after ‘defends us’. (I really don’t see a system which allows slates to take two thirds of the ballot as effective enough, though it’s unquestionably better than the alternative.)

    (Also, I believe there are in fact circumstances where EPH can boost a slate, and it’s not impossible they exist now. But that’s not what I was referring to; they arise only when support for the slate is relatively small.)

  31. “OK, repeat ‘effectively enough’ after ‘defends us’. (I really don’t see a system which allows slates to take two thirds of the ballot as effective enough, though it’s unquestionably better than the alternative.)”

    Which system would that be? It is not EPH/3SV anyhow. EPH by itself was deterrent enough to make Beale change his slate to something much smaller. And even then, some of his candidates were removed.

  32. I would like to announce that the various mentions of Mieville have set a rant percolating that I hope to actually sit down and write in the next day.

    tl:dr in advance: I nominated “This Census-Taker” honestly. I believe that it is art, albeit perhaps too opaque and inaccessible to be good art.

    I think it’s worthy of consideration on its merits, and I’m pissed that the discussion about it instead is did it made the ballot because Puppies. (Even though (especially because?) the answer is probably.)

  33. The Schneier/Quinn paper shows that EPH, applied to the results in 2015, would give slates a majority of spots (47 out of 80 – DPSF not being tested). That isn’t two thirds, but I find it entirely plausible that a less provocative slate could do better. I also continue to think it likely that if the slate did not include outright abuse, dinosaur porn or works published by Castalia House, 3SV would make no difference to that.

    Now, in the actual situation we are in, this is irrelevant, because VD isn’t going to produce a slate without open provocations, because he keeps making mistakes about eligibility, and because his support is declining (quite possibly as little as 80 and in any case no more than 120). With that level of support it would make no sense to attempt a large-scale takeover of the ballot. But Greg made it clear he’s not concerned with what VD might do; his point is about security from possible attacks. And I continue to say that EPH/3SV does not provide adequate defence against all possible attacks.

    (And I don’t just mean mathematically possible. It’s always been obvious that EPH does not provide adequate defence against mathematically possible attacks; with weird distributions, an arbitrarily small slate can take an arbitrarily large percentage of the ballot. That’s beside the point, as such distributions won’t actually happen. But I mean attacks one can actually envisage happening.)

  34. Yes, perfection is hard to achieve. So let’s think about a slate of mediocre works.

    First, under EPH it might get 3 of the 6 slots (assuming a year like 2015). Under EPH+ it would get 2 of 6. Now when we were talking slates of embarrassing crap, that wasn’t tolerable, but for works that are merely mediocre, that probably is tolerable. Also, “mediocre” is rather subjective. I rate almost 2/3 of all stories I read as three stars, which means mediocre. However, about a third of those end up recommended by someone. So it’s a lot harder to be sure that everything on a slate really is mediocre. Perhaps it really is someone’s idea of great works. Again, it gets hard to distinguish a slate from a recommendation list at a certain point–especially if there’s no call for people to vote without reading or to vote based on the politics of the authors rather than the content of the stories.

    And, of course, anyone running a slate has to got to convince people to participate. Clearly, telling people “we could win this” was a powerful lure in 2015 after the finalists were announced. And telling them “they stole it from us! Let’s burn them down!” was a powerful lure after the 2015 final vote. But just sticking one or two embarrassing candidates into the list isn’t nearly as much fun. Trying to subtly degrade the awards with mediocre works would (I claim) have even less appeal.

    Even if it isn’t perfect, it greatly increases the work needed to mount a successful campaign and it simultaneously reduces the value of doing so. It should put the problem to bed for the nonce.

  35. Andrew M:

    “The Schneier/Quinn paper shows that EPH, applied to the results in 2015, would give slates a majority of spots (47 out of 80 – DPSF not being tested). That isn’t two thirds, but I find it entirely plausible that a less provocative slate could do better”

    And that is why we will vote for EPH+. Because then it will not be the 60% of EPH.

  36. @Andrew M

    And I continue to say that EPH/3SV does not provide adequate defence against all possible attacks.

    There I think it depends on what you consider adequate. I think you’re simply asking for too much. You want protection from slating attacks that aren’t obvious. I’m only interested in protection against attacks that are obvious.

    For example, pick five per category from the top of RSR’s year-to-date list, which shows short fiction ranked according to how many reviewers liked each story, and you could make a slate comprising what are broadly seen as among the very best works of the year in short fiction. Secretly recruit a hundred people and have them vote this slate, even if they never read the works. Since these are works that already have some serious support, this will heavily favor their making it to the final ballot. And, as you say, even if word leaks out, there’s little chance they’d be removed via 3SV. Accordingly, this group has gained some control over the final ballot.

    I suspect you see that as a serious problem, but I really don’t. First, I’d be surprised if anyone wanted to do that, but second, it amounts to a sort of half-way step towards having a nominating committee. As long as they really are good works, no actual harm is done to the awards themselves. There is misbehavior, but no harm.

    If you insist on a system that catches all misbehavior–whether it causes measurable harm or not–then I think you won’t be satisfied with any system. None I can think of, anyway.

  37. @Greg

    As long as they really are good works, no actual harm is done to the awards themselves. There is misbehavior, but no harm.
    In the sense of the awards reputation with someone who doesn’t know how those works got there, then perhaps there’s no harm, but in terms of the integrity of the awards it’s still very harmful. For one long-term consequence: would honest voters bother participating if their efforts were repeatedly being undermined?

  38. For one long-term consequence: would honest voters bother participating if their efforts were repeatedly being undermined?

    I think the answer to that is no. I need to know that we’re putting an end to the stunt of unworthy works being forced onto the ballot by a minority of troublemakers. I feel like 3SV being passed is a key to my continuing to nominate and vote.

  39. @Mark

    For one long-term consequence: would honest voters bother participating if their efforts were repeatedly being undermined?

    Probably not. I suppose the best answer is to say that although 3SV/EPH+ doesn’t fix every possible distortion of the awards, it certainly fixes the most egregious ones.

    Oh it’s also worth pointing out that if someone implemented the “top-quality slate” idea I mentioned above, it would easily be detected in the EPH deflators of the top-15 list. At least we ought to be able to report to voters in normal years that no such manipulation occurred. If it did, I’m not sure what we’d do about it, but I’ll bet that in most years the answer will be that nothing happened at all.

  40. I don’t think any single approach can do what you want, and I don’t think averaging (for some value of averaging) an ensemble or picking a random member of an ensemble will pass. You’re going to have to settle for something flawed. Like Valeria told Reed and Victor, “You can’t win. It’s time to start thinking about how to keep from losing.”

  41. @Dawn Incognito on April 25, 2017 at 3:44 pm said:

    tl:dr in advance: I nominated “This Census-Taker” honestly. I believe that it is art, albeit perhaps too opaque and inaccessible to be good art.

    I think it’s worthy of consideration on its merits, and I’m pissed that the discussion about it instead is did it made the ballot because Puppies. (Even though (especially because?) the answer is probably.)

    I’m planning on reading it, regardless of how it got there. I’ve liked what I’ve read of Mieville before, and I’m quite capable of being impressed by opaque and inaccessible art.

  42. I read The Last Days of New Paris recently and This Census-Taker last year. I think overall I preferred the latter – it feels like it has a lot more to unpack and will stand up to repeated re-readings better. … New Paris for all its surrealist trappings felt a lot more “standard” (for Miéville values of standard) than This Census-Taker – although I’m sure there’s plenty in there that I missed on my first read-through too. I’ve yet to read a Miéville book I didn’t like, but I definitely enjoyed some a lot more than others, so far.

  43. The only “perfect” solution would be to detect blockvotes by using an algorithm and then let administrator remove those votes. It has been made clear that no WorldCon administrator would want to get involved in that. 3SV is the next best thing.

  44. This morning in the shower it occurred to me that there is a way to make it easier for the fans to detect slating at the 3SV stage: publish the EPH deflator for each nominee in the longlist.

    I understand the reluctance to publish either the vote total or the EPH points for nominees; such numbers are likely to influence people for or against a nominee, and we want objective decisions.

    But the deflator is the ratio of votes to points. It doesn’t tell you how many people liked a given work–it tells you how much EPH discounted its score for being “slate-like.”

    To see what this would look like, look at the far-right column “EPH Deflator” in 2016 Hugo Nominations Organic Estimate. For most organic nominees, this tends to be a number under 2.0, but slate nominees run from 3 to 5. This works best in categories like Best Short Story, where there are a great many things to choose from, and it works less-effectively in categories like Best Semiprozine, where there are three or four main choices, but even there, the slated items stick out.

    As Andrew M said above, I doubt that this would induce fans to reject a nomination for a qualified work, but, in a normal year, it could help reassure people that no effective slating had actually occurred. (For that purpose, of course, the report could wait until after the awards are announced.)

  45. @Greg Hullender: I’d rather not see that kind of info till afterwards (but, interesting to see later, I guess). People easily misunderstand things like this IMHO (possibly myself included).

  46. @Hampus Eckerman
    I’ve thought about that. It could be extremely powerful for identifying who the slate voters actually are (assuming you’re WorldCon and have all the data). However, more-rational slaters might decide just to focus on the Best Novel category, on the grounds that that’s where the most money is. But it’s definitely true that for a cross-category slating effort, there’s is a lot of data potentially available to separate a deliberate from an accidental slate.

    @Kendall
    You’re probably right. I just wanted to toss it out there, since it gives a way to identify hostages. A low deflator would tell us that the work didn’t need help from the slate. A high deflator would tell us that it probably woudn’t be in the list except for the slate.

    One obvious problem is that it would detect accidental slates (e.g. Dr. Who fans only nominating Dr. Who episodes) as well as secret slates, so it probably wouldn’t work to just reject anything with a high deflator. You’d need some evidence that there really was a slate. (E.g. a post from Vox Day saying “here’s this year’s slate.”) 🙂

    Another problem is that it would fail to detect “bullet” slates–ones where the slaters focus on getting a single targeted work onto the ballot. Those only work if the organizers can convince their followers to nominate nothing else in that category, though. Otherwise EPH will happily trade the targeted nominee for a higher-ranked alternative.

Comments are closed.