Pixel Scroll 9/19/19 The SJW Credential That Sleeps On You From Nowhere

(1) MATCHLESS PROSE, WE HOPE. Will Frank (scifantasy), Vice-Administrator of the 2016 Hugo Awards and Administrator of the 2021 Hugo Awards, who also identifies himself as a fanfiction writer on AO3 and a trademark attorney, is trying to pour some oil onto the stormy waters that separate parts of the Worldcon community from parts of the AO3 community: “HugO3”. (Please don’t strike a match.)

…If the Worldcon-running community doesn’t police use of the phrase, someone else–someone with less humorous, less celebratory, less free-spirited intent–might be able to plausibly argue that he can call his self-published book a Hugo Award Winner just because it was fanfic, or he has an AO3 account, because the term has lost all of its significance by not being protected.

Is that likely? Who the hell knows. Is it something the Worldcon-running community wants to risk, especially so soon after a concerted effort to undermine the award, not by fanfiction authors in celebration of their validation but by a group of politically-motivated writers with an axe to grind? Definitely not.

(I’ve also seen some people saying that there isn’t any prestige in a Hugo Award given some of the historical winners, and…well, get in line behind the Oscars and the Grammys and the others, I guess. The fact is that “Hugo Award” on the cover of a book does indeed help sales. It matters. There is still cachet in being a Hugo Award winner. Or even a finalist!)

So, no, the Worldcon-running community is not saying “Hey, don’t have fun.” It is saying, “please, don’t undermine our ability to stop people with malicious intent from poisoning the term Hugo Award.”

I’m not even telling you that you have to think I’m right. But at least, please know that this isn’t just a matter of “don’t have fun.” It’s a plea for your help.

(2) HEINLEIN’S OTHER VERSION. The Number of the Beast versus Pursuit of the Pankera – not the same book at all. Arc Manor would be delighted for you to put the claim to a test — http://www.arcmanor.com/as/Comparison.pdf

It is a different book. Of the 187,000 words in the new book, it shares the first 28,000. But then is totally different. The separation occurs in chapter XVIII and here is a side by side comparison of the chapters in the two books with the point of divergence clearly marked.

(3) HISTORIC CON MASQUERADE (AND OTHER) PHOTOS. At Vintage Everyday, “Wendy Pini Cosplay: 22 Rare and Amazing Photographs of Wendy Dressed as Red Sonja in the 1970s”.

Wendy Pini does it all. In the 1970s Wendy used to hit the cons dressed as Sonja. She was born in San Francisco in 1951, and from an early age demonstrated the talents later to come to fruition as a professional illustrator, and eventually as the creator of Elfquest.

(4) CHANGES AT TOR. Shelf Awareness is reporting a couple of promotions at Tom Doherty Associates:

  • Theresa DeLucci has been promoted to senior associate director of marketing of Tor Books, Forge, and Nightfire.
  • Renata Sweeney has been promoted to senior marketing manager, Tor.

(5) ELLEN VARTANOFF INTERVIEW. From Small Press Expo 2017 (but just posted on YouTube today.)

Rusty and Joe talk to Ellen Vartanoff about her decades in the comics field and the early days of comic conventions!


  • September 19, 1952 — “Superman On Earth” aired as the pilot episode for The  Adventures of Superman television series starring George Reeves.
  • September 19, 1961 — On a return trip from Canada, while in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted by aliens.
  • September 19, 1986 — The Starman series debuted with Jeff Bridges replaced in the role of The Starman with Robert Hays. The series lasted for twenty-two episodes.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 19, 1867 Arthur Rackham. English book illustrator who is recognized as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work can be seen on genre fiction ranging from Goblin Market to Rip Van Winkle and The Wind in the Willows. Derek Huson’s Arthur Rackham: His Life and Work is one of the better looks at him and his art. (Died 1939.)
  • Born September 19, 1911 William Golding. Though obviously best known for the Lord of The Flies novel, I’m more intrigued by the almost completed novel found in draft after his death, The Double Tongue which tells the story of the Pythia, the priestess of Apollo at Delphi. (Died 1993.)
  • Born September 19, 1922 Damon Knight. Author, critic, editor. He is the author of “To Serve Man”, a 1950 short story which became a The Twilight Zone episode. It won a 50-year Retro-Hugo in 2001 as the best short story of 1950. Wiki says “He ceased reviewing when Fantasy & Science Fiction refused to publish a review.” What’s the story here? (Died 2002.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Adam West. Best known as Batman on that classic Sixty series, he also had a short role in 1964’s Robinson Crusoe on Mars as Colonel Dan McReady. The less said about his post Batman films, including a softcore porn film, the better. (Died 2017.)
  • Born September 19, 1928 Robin Scott Wilson. Founder, with Damon Knight and others, of the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. He edited Clarion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction and Criticism from the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, Clarion II and Clarion III. He wrote one genre novel, To the Sound of Freedom (with Richard W. Shryock) and a lot of short fiction. Alas, neither iBooks nor Kindle has anything by him available. (Died 2013.)
  • Born September 19, 1933 – David McCallum, 86. Gained fame as Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and has rounded off his career playing medical examiner Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in another TV series that is known by its initials, NCIS.
  • Born September 19, 1940 Caroline John. English actress best known for her role as scientist Elizabeth “Liz” Shaw in Doctor Who as companion to the Third Doctor. She’d repeat her role in Dimensions in Time, a charity special crossover between Doctor Who and the EastEnders that ran in 1993. Her only other genre role was playing Laura Lyons in The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 19, 1947 Tanith Lee. I hadn’t realized that she wrote more than ninety novels and three hundred short stories in her career. And even wrote two Blake’s 7 episodes as well. I was more fond of her work for children such as The Dragon Hoard and The Unicorn Series than I was of her adult work. (Died 2015.)
  • Born September 19, 1952 Laurie R. King, 67. She’s on the Birthday Honors List for the Mary Russell series of historical mysteries, featuring Sherlock Holmes as her mentor and later partner. She’s also written at least one genre novel, Califia’s Daughters
  • Born September 19, 1972 N. K. Jemisin, 47. Her most excellent Broken Earth series has made her the only author to have won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in three consecutive years.


(9) UNIDENTIFIED WALKING OBJECTS. Aliens have landed at the convention hotel (a couple years early) reports the Tonopah Nevada in 2021 for Westercon 74 page – see the photographic evidence there!

Starting to see some out of this world stuff in honor of Alien Weekend… these aliens came all the way from Michigan to check out the happenings…

(10) OH NO, NOT AGAIN. “False Tsunami Warning In Hawaii Triggered By Police Exercise”.

Emergency sirens wailed on Hawaii’s Oahu and Maui islands Wednesday evening, warning of a tsunami, but the alert turned out to be a mistake, sparking anger from residents who recalled a similar false warning last year of an imminent ballistic missile attack.

Within minutes of the alarm going off shortly after 5 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) authorities were trying to calm the public by getting out word of the mistake.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu tweeted: “***NO TSUNAMI THREAT*** We have received phone calls about sirens going off across Oahu, but we have confirmed with the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center that there is NO TSUNAMI THREAT.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also took to Twitter. “Mahalo to everyone for taking appropriate action & tuning into local media,” he tweeted, adding that the sirens had been “inadvertently triggered” during Honolulu Police Department training.

(11) I’M MELTING! FastCompany tells everyone “Burger King is melting down plastic toys to recycle them into something actually useful”.

… Burger King has decided to remove all plastic toys from its kids’ meals. Not only that but the initiative, created by agency Jones Knowles Ritchie and starting this week in the U.K., is also calling for people to drop plastic toys from meals past in “plastic toy amnesty bins” at Burger King locations to be melted down and recycled into things that are actually useful, like play areas and surface tools, which can be recycled many times over.

People in the U.K. who bring in toys to melt down next week will get a free King Junior meal when they buy any adult meal. To promote the project, Burger King has created a cast of melted-down plastic toy characters, including Beep Beep, a jeep-driving bunny, which the brand has installed a giant melting version of on London’s South Bank to promote the project.

(12) IF YOU WERE A PTEROSAUR AS TALL AS A GIRAFFE, MY LOVE. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Inside Science reports: “Newest Pterosaur Was Likely as Tall as a Giraffe”.

Ancient flying reptile dubbed Cryodrakon boreas, the “cold dragon of the north winds,” may shed light on the evolution of these dinosaur relatives.

CBC News agrees: “Giraffe-sized flying reptiles once soared over Alberta”

Newly identified pterosaur species had a wingspan of 10 metres

Mark Whitton’s 2013 article has additional details and a great illustration: “9 things you may not know about giant azhdarchid pterosaurs”

Despite their giraffian proportions, giant azhdarchid torso were relatively tiny. Witton and Habib (2010) noted that, like many pterodactyloid pterosaurs, their torsos were probably only a third or so longer than their humeri, suggesting a shoulder-hip length of about 65-75 cm for an animal with a 10 m wingspan. That’s a torso length not much larger than your own, although they were considerably more stocky and swamped with muscle. Azhdarchid shoulders, in particular, are well endowed with attachment sites for flight muscles, as are (for pterosaurs) their pelves and hindquarters.

(13) JURASSIC SHORT. Battle at Big Rock on YouTube is an eight-minute video, set in the Jurassic World universe one year after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom that premiered on FX last night and was put online today.

(14) BRADBURY INTERVIEW. Here’s a 9-minute video of Ray Bradbury’s 1978 appearance on the Merv Griffin Show.

The always brilliant Ray Bradbury, one of the greatest sci-fi writers in history, talks with Merv about the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, Steven Spielberg, his mission as a writer, the future of mankind, and ends by reading from his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been” from his collection “When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed.”

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchccock, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Kevin Standlee, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]

405 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/19/19 The SJW Credential That Sleeps On You From Nowhere

  1. Mike Glyer said

    Edit contributors’ text?

    Mike, you’re stepping unwittingly into a minefield there.
    Changing an author’s text is a big no-no. Even suggesting the author may have a typo in their tags was, and may still be, was something the tag wranglers didn’t do.

    Now I wonder if this coloured reactions to the proposed editing of comments.

    Ps I’ve got a new email. If I’ve got it right I should have the right gravitar attached.

  2. Rivine: An anthology editor can choose whether to acquire or reject material. They don’t have to refer the decision to a third party through a Report Abuse form. Nor are they required to accept material simply because it doesn’t violate a code of conduct.

    Likewise, an anthology editor can request changes as a condition of accepting the work. If the author doesn’t make them, their work doesn’t go into the anthology anyway.

    The editor analogy doesn’t work. Why not let it go and think of a better one?

  3. Elf on September 21, 2019 at 3:14 pm said:

    I started to write a long reply here, and then it got longer, and eventually I just posted it at my blog.

    Hi Elf. I replied at your blog. 🙂

  4. Cat Eldridge:

    “It’s worth stressing that outside of fandom, however we define it, that the Hugo Award means little or nothing.”

    I do not really agree on this. Me, my father, my brother, my SF-reading friends all cared about the Hugo’s even before we were part of Fandom. I have cared about the Hugo’s for nearly 40 years since I started to notice the name on the cover of my father’s books. But I didn’t become part of Fandom until the Hugo’s were under attack from the puppies. Before that, I was just someone who liked to read SF-books. Not someone participating in communal spaces, wether on or offline.

    I had no idea what Worldcon was, but I damn well knew what the Hugo’s were.

    Camestros Felapton:

    “However, I can jump up and down.”



    ” I am now $75 (plus or minus exchange rate differences) poorer for the 78th Worldcon.”

    Yay! Not sure if you’ve seen it, but please check out the recommendation thread.

  5. Meredith: “Do I need to perform it in interpretative dance to get across the message that not all Filers agree, not all Hugo voters agree, not all WSFS members agree, not all AO3 members agree, not all OTW members agree? And that those are all overlapping circles on a venn diagram?”

    Camestros Felapton: “.. – not every part of a thing is necessarily under the control of some central point nor representative of any collective intent.”

    Commenting to agree with the comments by Meredith & Cam. For me, Cam’s comment, though in reference to their dance abilites, for me perfectly describes WSFS and AO3.

    I expressed something similar in an earlier comment but I guess even then it was already too late.

    This kerfuffle has sparked further fires in other online spaces.

    It makes me sad.

  6. So, as a (potentially unneeded) counterpoint on the “Who knows what the Hugos are?” thing, I’ve been an avid SFF reader for as far back as I can remember. Hunting them out in elementary school libraries, devouring “ancient” collections of short stories from a stack of some SF zine (Asimov’s?) found on a friend’s father’s shelves, talking about the books with my parents, reading novelizations of SFF books, etc. And I’ve wanted to be a writer of the same for about as long. I’ve been in fandom at least since college, though I don’t know if it’s the “right kind” of fandom by some standards. Lots of online discussion, not a lot of convention attendance. (No car, no money, creepy people being creepy the first time I went, the usual reasons.)

    I gained a vague understanding of the Hugos as “some sort of award that some SFF books get” probably in my mid-twenties, when I started interacting more specifically with SFF writers. I didn’t know it had categories for anything beyond novels until I heard an author I liked had won one for a shorter story. Didn’t know about most of the categories until another friend mentioned being nominated in another, and I started reading winner lists online. Didn’t know how the voting process worked–or that it was voted on at all, and not a juried award–until, oh, around PuppyGate?

    It’s possible to be very deeply into SFF fandom and neither know nor care about the Hugos. Certainly many thousand people do care, or they wouldn’t bother voting. And more thousands of people care, or the publishers wouldn’t slap it on book covers. But SFF fandom is much, much bigger than that.

  7. @Mike Glyer

    The editor analogy doesn’t work. Why not let it go and think of a better one?

    I personally am willing to let the anthology analogy go entirely, but before I do I want to say that I think that the author in an anthology analogy works even more poorly.

  8. Doire: Changing an author’s text is a big no-no. Even suggesting the author may have a typo in their tags was, and may still be, was something the tag wranglers didn’t do.

    “Changing an author’s text” is a statement that requires further nuance — to reflect whether it’s done after gaining the author’s approval, or without it. Or further, proposed after the author said they didn’t want to do the work of revising their comment, as a simple mechanical addition of other text already written by the author, in case it was just doing that amount of work that was the obstacle. Text could be dropped in from my side, whereas from the author’s side, they would have to resubmit an entire comment.

    As for the typoed Code cites, the author agreed they were typos and told me how they got in the text. It had not seemed to me in anybody’s interest to be sending people to look up nonexistent laws when that could be easily fixed. Maybe I’m wrong again, however, I don’t think the idea of fixing these typos contributed much to the problem.

    Certainly in the history of fanzine fandom there’s a strong ethic of long standing that fan writers never want any changes made to their prose, that since they aren’t submitting to a pro market they get to say whatever they want the way they want, and if the editor doesn’t like it they’ll offer the material somewhere else. Despite that, what makes a faned one of the better ones is that they try to have the kind of friendly relationship with their contributors so if it seems some change would improve things, that can be discussed without rancor.

    That breaks down in places like this comment section when somebody I’ve never heard of before wants to do something that would be acceptable with a bit of further development, or some corrections. There’s no relationship, so the contributor is just going to read into that communication whatever it means to them, which might be something deeply offensive.

  9. LectionaryStan on September 21, 2019 at 4:00 pm said:

    @Camestros Yeah, I think I agree with all of that. My only thing is that the second, formal situation hasn’t been shown to have happened, while the first situation has.

    Yeah…but that’s where the horrors of trademarks come into play. I should add trademarks ARE a horror and I also get that Intellectual Property law is a stick that fan fiction authors have been unfairly beaten with in the past. But, short of a huge societal change on the nature of intellectual property, trademark laws are what we are dealing with. Are most of the comments about winning a Hugo Award trademark infringements? I have NO idea – I’d guess not but who knows? Well, I suppose pricey IP lawyers know but that is a different can of worms. The difference trademarks make to the situation is that boundary between formal-use and informal-use is not just blurred but extended.

  10. Can a million people at AO3 reject material? Edit contributors’ text?

    Each editor has control over (1) their own entries and (2) the collections they choose to manage. (They can’t edit text, but they can reject material.) These collections can include fanworks exchanges with qualifying criteria, deadlines, and posting schedules. Comparably, a fanzine editor might control “the reviews pages” – write some, and solicit some from other people, and not have the right to control what goes into the feature article.

    Tag wranglers edit part of the infrastructure. The abuse team manages mislabeled and disallowed content. Whole archive is full of editors.

    These are not entirely parallel to magazine production, but it wasn’t nominated as an anthology or fanzine, so these are not definitive points.

  11. @Lectionary Stan – I’m glad to hear you joined CoNZealand. The more the merrier! I hope to see you there, if I can manage to scrape up the travel funds.

    I get that for my fellow AO3 members this was all an in-joke and everyone there understood the context and the culture. But the in-joke spread out into the public where the context and culture might not be understood.

    Since the MPC has a responsibility to step in and clear up any confusion regarding the Hugo Awards, they tried to step in. And, boy, did they step in it. But they did have a point. From the outside, using ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ could be (and commonly is) seen as referring to individual effort, not group effort.

    That is what is being requested. A change in wording from ‘I am’ to ‘We are.’ Or, if using ‘I’ is really necessary, then from ‘I am a Hugo Winner’ to ‘I won a millionth part of a Hugo.’
    Various people have said to me that they don’t think it’s a big deal, so they’re not going to stop. My question is, if it’s not a big deal, if it doesn’t mean anything to them, why not change? How important is it that the in-joke be phrased in just that specific way? I don’t think everyone is going to understand, or agree, that the difference matters. But is it important enough to fight over?

    And on the issue of clearing up confusion – your quote included this as an example of the type of joke you might see: “Check out my Hugo-winning fic for this.” This is where another type of confusion is coming in. The Best Related Work Award is for everything but fiction. It’s for the existence of the AO3 archive, all of the communal work that went into creating and sustaining AO3 in 2018, and for the amazing (and I think groundbreaking) tagging structure that we all contributed to. And by saying that, I’m not trying to diminish AO3 in any way. Just like with the MexicanX Initiative or the Illustrated Earthsea edition, the fictional parts were not supposed to be part of the evaluation.

    I don’t know if you checked out the MexicanX Initiative but it had some striking similarities with AO3’s nomination. It was a community initiative for bringing Mexican artists, authors and other creators to San Jose Worldcon and was a finalist along with AO3. Part of the initiative was a diary/series of interviews/essays with the participants as well as publishing an anthology of short fiction by the participants. (Sorry if I’m going over stuff you already know). When I evaluated it as a finalist, I took into account the communal effort put into organizing the whole thing, and even the effort and success of publishing an anthology – but I did not evaluate the short stories themselves.

    Had the MexicanX Initiative won, all the participants would be able to say ‘We won!’ but the authors could not then start saying “I’m a Hugo-winning author” or “My short story won a Hugo.” And if they had, then the MPC would probably have stepped forward to try to clear that up too. (I wonder if there’s an AU where a furious fight between WSFS and the MexicanX Initiative is happening?)

    Anyway, this turned into a longer post than I anticipated. I hope it’s not coming off as a rant because I certainly don’t mean it to be.

  12. Some authors on AO3 have beta readers, who should pick up on simple errors (grammar and spelling, in particular; the number of times I’ve seen “lay” where “lie” would be better grammar, or the past tense of “lead” as “lead”).

  13. @PJ Evans – My favorites have always been ‘steaking a vampire’ and ‘bare with me.’ They never fail to make me lol!

    Although the one time I tried to point it out, thinking I was being helpful, taught me never to try that again.

  14. @Camestros Yeah, totally. I definitely think this thing could be if not salvaged, at least smoothed over, but it has to come from official communication from the WSFS/MPC at this point. These comment section arguments about whether they’re fair use or not are giving everyone a decent idea of the scope and reach that actions to protect the trademark miiight take, but it’s useless knowledge until we know what actions they actually will or won’t take. (Like, even if everyone on the MPC does believe that the Twitter jokes are fair use and don’t send C&Ds for that reason, would that be taken as legal proof in the future that they insufficiently protected the mark? We don’t know! Godspeed their lawyer(s)’ consultation.) Big sigh.

    @Hampus Sorry, I missed you earlier. I’ll definitely take a look, thank you.

  15. That is what is being requested. A change in wording from ‘I am’ to ‘We are.’ Or, if using ‘I’ is really necessary, then from ‘I am a Hugo Winner’ to ‘I won a millionth part of a Hugo.’

    @ Lorien Hi, thank you. I will probably not be able to scrape together New Zealand flight money, unfortunately, but I’ll set the dream aside as a “ah, one day…” goal.

    I don’t mind it personally, at least in public use, but I have seen people come down on “0.0001% of a Hugo” remarks as well. If the millionth of a Hugo is actually fine – well, I don’t know, it’s been confusing as to what language really does threaten trademark, as like I said above, we still haven’t gotten an updated clarification yet. Other than that, I think other people have made better explanations on AO3 users ability to partake in the AO3 system in a way that I think is unique, but I agree that that might be the closest comparison given yet. (Fanzines, magazines, anthologies, and such are all such faulty comparisons and just don’t work as precedent.)

  16. @lorien
    One zine I still have has a typo that they refused to fix – it had become a tradition in itself. (“Denonstarting” – your guess is as good as mine what was originally intended.)

    I fixed them when I was rebuilding a manual at work, but I had no one looking over my shoulder. (I also rearranged the entire thing into more logical chapters, and added an entire new chapter dealing with some of the weird stuff that we ran across.)

  17. P J Evans on September 21, 2019 at 5:31 pm said:

    One zine I still have has a typo that they refused to fix – it had become a tradition in itself. (“Denonstarting” – your guess is as good as mine what was originally intended.)

    Does this suggest an empirical way of distinguishing between fan writing and the other stuff? Seasoned fan writers make excellent use of typos and understand that they are like seeds & whole grain in a loaf of artisanal bread, whereas those crude ‘professional’ writers foolishly remove all character (and dietary fibre) from their work with foolish processes like ‘proofreadnig’ and modern monstrosities like ‘spell check’.

    If so, I heartily approve.

  18. @Lectionary Stan –

    Frankly, I doubt we’re ever going to hear the MPC definitively say this or that joke wording is legally acceptable, although I could be wrong. But my experience of lawyers (IANAL) is that they’d never give that advice to a client, especially if it might be used in some potential future case (not involving AO3 in any way) by someone to defend their own more serious infringement. If most AO3 members refuse to consider the issue until they get an official ruling from the MPC, this issue will never go away.

    I think this can be handled, or at least defused, if we all try to find a compromise wording that leans more to the ‘we’ side of the fence and less to the ‘I’ side of the fence. What major principle are we defending by refusing to consider alternate methods of phrasing?

    AO3 is unique, that’s certainly true. But using ‘we’ instead of ‘i’ doesn’t diminish that in any way. This is just my opinion, but I think it actually embraces the group-ness better than using ‘I.’

  19. Hampus Eckerman on September 21, 2019 at 4:16 pm said:
    I do not really agree on this. Me, my father, my brother, my SF-reading friends all cared about the Hugo’s even before we were part of Fandom. I have cared about the Hugo’s for nearly 40 years since I started to notice the name on the cover of my father’s books.

    This was the same for me. I discovered (and fell in love with) the works of Heinlein, read in his bio that he’d been recognized with the prestigious Hugo Award.

    This led me to spend the 1980s reading as many Hugo-winners and finalists as I could. It wasn’t until 2000 that I found out who votes on the Hugos, and how to participate in that process.

    In fact, if you read J. Michael Straczynski’s excellent autobiography (which came out earlier this year), he talks about his relationship with the award, and how much it meant to him as a youth, and how the title “Hugo Award Winner” was meaningful to him.

    Speaking of JMS’ biography, it’s near the top of my list for Best Related Work for the upcoming Hugo season.

  20. @ Lorien And to be honest, I think that’s the way it has to be. I think synecdochic/Denise has a better understanding of it that the MPC doesn’t actually have a right to send C&Ds over the claims. If it is in fact overreach, then it’s not just kindly asking people to stop, it’s theoretically a breach of first amendment rights. If it has no legal backing because it doesn’t legally threaten the Hugo’s trademark at all and it’s just a request, then it really is just a matter of discussion between the two groups.

    It took a pretty long time in that first day or two for this conversation to even settle in on being about trademark protection, so when some people (definitely not you) say it’s been about protecting the mark from the beginning, going back to the first few comments on the 9/14 post where it’s very much personal attacks on the AO3 community and very little “but why can’t they just respect that we want to protect the trademark?”

  21. @Camestros – “Does this suggest an empirical way of distinguishing between fan writing and the other stuff? Seasoned fan writers make excellent use of typos and understand that they are like seeds & whole grain in a loaf of artisanal bread, whereas those crude ‘professional’ writers foolishly remove all character (and dietary fibre) from their work with foolish processes like ‘proofreadnig’ and modern monstrosities like ‘spell check’.

    If so, I heartily approve.”

    If only! I’ve seen a plethora of typos coming at me from professional writing too. Although with spell check you tend to get the mistaken use of ‘conversation’ where ‘conservation’ was meant (hello, ER!). And I’ll never forget the fight I had trying to convince someone they really wanted to say ‘correspondencies’ and not ‘correspondence.’ (Oh, look spell check thinks ‘correspondencies’ is not a real word!)

  22. @LectionaryStan – That’s not what I meant. First, sending out a request is in no way a breach of first amendment rights. Not even ‘theoretically.’ Whoever is suggesting this seriously does not understand the first amendment, unless they’re referring to first amendment rights of some other country.

    Just because I think there’s an added dimension to this which is where the real anger and vitriol is coming from does not mean that I’m implying that defending the trademark was not a valid reason for the MPC to reach out to the OTW. It was a valid defense of trademark, even if they have no desire to follow up with a lawsuit. (And, just for the record, I have no idea what the MPC might want to do. I don’t speak for them. I’m just theorizing.)

    What I was addressing is that when AO3 members said, essentially, ‘it’s no big deal, it’s just a joke, no one could possibly take it seriously’ various members of File 770, WSFS and others responded by saying, essentially, ‘yes, we do take it seriously, this matters to us on an emotional level.’ And that is when accusations and misinterpretations started snowballing.

    None of us can resolve the legal issue because we are not in a position to do so. But we can resolve the emotional issue if people decide to be considerate and understanding rather than confrontative and stubborn. (In case this is interpreted to mean one side only is being confrontative and stubborn, that’s not what I mean. I happen to think there isn’t ‘one side’ vs ‘the other side’ since there are at least three groups and many of us are members of all three groups.)

    In amongst all the furor I thought I saw a starting point. One which was fundamentally at the heart of things. A change in wording from ‘I’ to ‘we’ or at least from ‘I won a Hugo’ to ‘I won a millionth of a Hugo.’ Making that change could resolve a lot of the emotional issues, and could even make the legal issue go away. So it seemed worth a shot.

  23. Lorien Gray:

    Thank you for being so much better than me at expressing my feelings about this.

  24. First, sending out a request is in no way a breach of first amendment rights. Not even ‘theoretically.’ Whoever is suggesting this seriously does not understand the first amendment, unless they’re referring to first amendment rights of some other country.

    @Lorien Sorry, you’re right that that I should have been more clear. Threatening to send C&Ds when the basis for it isn’t strong enough in order to get people to stop doing the thing is a breach of free speech. This does assume that (1) the basis for sending C&Ds is not legitimate, and since the Hugo’s are not famous enough to claim dilution, the basis is in fact very shaky and that (2) claims of being a Hugo winner are in fact protected speech.

    Making illegitimate legal threats to try and stop protected nominative speech/fair use speech at least touches the first amendment, unless using threats to get people to stop certain kinds of speech is another amendment breach that I’m missing…?

  25. @LectionaryStan–

    @Lorien Sorry, you’re that that I should have been more clear. Threatening to send C&Ds when the basis for it isn’t strong enough in order to get people to stop doing the thing is a breach of free speech. This does assume that (1) the basis for sending C&Ds is not legitimate, and since the Hugo’s are not famous enough to claim dilution, the basis is in fact very shaky and that (2) claims of being a Hugo winner are in fact protected speech.

    Making illegitimate legal threats to try and stop protected nominative speech/fair use speech at least touches the first amendment, unless using threats to get people to stop certain kinds of speech is another amendment breach that I’m missing…?

    Where and when did MPC make these threats? Be specific. With links.

  26. @Lis They didn’t, and let’s hope they continue to not. But people here have implied it, who’ve been publicly open about their membership in the WSFS, who’ve implied it might be what’s next in this situation, so it’s not exactly clear to everyone in the room that it’s off of the table.

  27. Speaking only for myself and not for any other entity, corporation, or group of which I am now or ever have been a member, I think it highly unlikely that the WSFS Mark Protection Committee/Worldcon Intellectual Property will take any substantive actions about most people making jokes or claiming to have been one-millionth of a Hugo Award winner. I think it highly likely (because they’ve already done so; see page 43 of the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda and the report of the WSFS MPC to the Business Meeting) that the MPC will take action against merchandise that improperly uses a WSFS service mark, including misleading phrases such as “Hugo Award winning fanfic author.”

    I personally think that any AO3 contributor who actually cares about the high honor paid to AO3 by presenting the organization with a Hugo Award should not dishonor the Award by calling themselves a “Hugo Award winning author,” but can and should quite legitimately use phrasing along the lines of “contributor to a Hugo Award-winning project.” This is my personal opinion; again, I am not speaking for anyone other than myself, and I’m sorry if making this comment offends anyone, for it is not intended to be offensive.

    Regarding the “ownership” issue: one of the tests that you can make regarding who is a Hugo Award finalist (and thus who is the winner) is this: “Can this person (or persons, or legal entity), by declining the finalist position, remove the shortlisted work from the ballot.” Who could have rejected the ballot slot for AO3?

  28. @LectionaryStan – We certainly agree that there are a lot of assumptions being made. The first assumption, though, has to be regarding how the MPC worded its initial contact to the OTW. As far as I know, the OTW hasn’t disclosed to anyone what the specific wording was so I’m not sure it’s fair to assume that there was a threat of legal action. Although with the connection between the Kickstarter and the AO3 there may have been a threat of legal action in specific regard to that which so far everyone seems to agree is reasonable.

    And I would be very surprised if threatening legal action rises to the level of a breach of free speech. If it was, I doubt Trump would be so cavalier in tossing around threats of lawsuits. Also, I’ve never heard of a frivolous lawsuit ever running into trouble on first amendment grounds. And if actually filing an unfounded lawsuit is not illegal then I doubt threatening to do so would be although IANAL. There’s also the fact that until a lawsuit is adjudicated, no one can state as a fact that it has no basis. Up to that point, it’s all opinion. I’d expect the defense and the complainant to have differing opinions on the matter.

    I’m also troubled by how everyone is equating wanting to defend a trademark in order to preserve future options with a dilution claim. The two are not the same. I would be very wary of relying too much on that assumption.

    I’ve heard of lot of people say that nothing can be done until the legal issue is addressed. But I disagree. In my opinion a lawsuit is never the first step in solving a problem. I certainly always think of it as a last resort. It’s much better – certainly faster, cheaper and less draining – to try to solve this non-legally first.

  29. @Lorien I can’t say I’ve heard of C&Ds/lawsuits being served over Twitter jokes in the same caliber, so I think we’ve never heard of such a thing for the same reason. Also, bringing up why Trump is able to say obviously incorrect unlawful things opens a whole can of worms so I’m afraid I’m going to refuse to respond to that, as it’s very far away from the matter at hand.

    And if there is no legal basis for claiming that it’s infringing or dilution of the trademark, then this is not a legal issue, it’s an inter-community communication issue.

  30. @LectionaryStan – I can’t agree with you that there is no legal basis, or valid trademark defense issues but that’s beside the point. My preference has always been to solve this without reference to legal authority.

    I’m happy to discuss with you possible solutions on the inter-community communication issue. What do you think about AO3 members embracing slight changes to the wording of their jokes?

  31. @Lorien I think some people would agree to it, especially the closer they get to this side of the fence, and I think there are some people who are not going to be convinced out of their right to say it and won’t stop regardless. A few curious might ask why stop, and the answer to the why has been from “we think it’s infringement” (which is evidently, extremely debatable) to “we don’t like because it feels disrespectful” (which is 100% going to be perceived as sour gate-keeping and I don’t think there’s any way around that). There might be luck with outreach to some, but I think the idea that every single one of the people doing it will stop is a deadend.

  32. @Kevin — Do you anticipate any attempts to amend the WSFS Constitution in light of what has gone on lately? Such as:
    – Refinement of what may or may not be eligible for BRW?
    – In the cases of Hugos that honor works instead of individuals, who may accept those Hugos, and who the WSFS considers to have won them?

  33. @LectionaryStan – Fair enough. Very few things are 100% effective. I take your point that the reasons so far given for making a change in phrasing haven’t resonated. Any suggestions on an approach that would?

  34. Mike Glyer: Can a million people at AO3 reject material? Edit contributors’ text?

    Rivine: Yes, through the Report Abuse form.

    The people who review the Abuse Reports and make the decisions on what action (if any) to take are the editors. The people making the Abuse Reports are not.

  35. Gosh, I hope I got everyone’s names right. Pre-emptive apology if I did not, I’ve triple-checked but honestly, I would not trust me right now.

    Not into the editor comparison, for reasons mentioned by others above. It also inserts hierarchy, I think, which really doesn’t belong. Not sure there are going to be many great analogies for AO3, because, so far as I’m aware, it’s unique.

    I’m not convinced there’s a solution that’s going to please everyone re: “we” vs “I won 0.000000042% of a Hugo” vs “contributed to a Hugo-winning Community Project” vs “member of a Hugo-winning community” or… whatever. So I don’t think we should aim for no-one, anywhere, is upset, but perhaps as few as possible?

    (Am ignoring legal/not-legal on basis that none of us know for absolute certain what the line is, and none of us particularly want it to go to court in order to find out, whereas hashing out the kindest compromise is well within fannish powers. If the cats will consent to some herding.)

    (Although one legal comment! The first amendment is, so far as I’m aware, and without looking up wording or being in any way American, quite limited: The government shall not infringe blah blah blah. The WSFS is not the government, so it shouldn’t be a first amendment thing at all, should it?)

    Re: Kevin Standlee, I’m not familiar with whatever previous wank (PS. If this is a transformative works fandom term, for those unfamiliar, it basically means fannish argument – in particular there was a blog called Fandom Wank where people would write-up and submit reports about various fannish arguments so people could /popcorn) it is that’s soured people, but when I was bumbling around back in 2015 trying to figure out this whole Hugo thing, I’d got it into my head that fanfic authors weren’t eligible for Fan Writer and made some sort of reference to that. I was immediately, enthusiastically informed that there was no such rule and any fic author could be nominated in that category and be on the ballot with enough widespread support. I can’t really square that with “Kevin Standlee doesn’t like transformative works fen all up in his fandom and doesn’t want us to have fun”. I agree that the communication in the A03 comments wasn’t effective, mainly because of cultural mismatch, but I also don’t think that was intentionally or wilfully rude, at all, because he had no obligation to correct my misapprehension and make me, noobish transformative works fan, feel welcome and accepted in the Worldcon community and he did it anyway. Which doesn’t make me think he would be willing to go off and try and piss off all of transformative works fandom at the first opportunity. So, there’s that.


    Yes! There’s a lot of ways for something to be fanfiction. The biggest and easiest and best known is “fiction based on characters or a setting created by someone else, without being paid by the owner/creator of that property”, but there’s others – I’d consider the Trigger Snowflake stories hosted here to be fanfic, and my example in the other thread was, I think, Mina de Malfois, which is (like Trigger Snowflake) fic about fandom rather than fic about a fandom. And, as you say, fiction with a fannish sensibility! It’s a cool thing that fanfic can be so many things.


    Well, I’m not sure I’ve considered saying that I won a Hugo at any point, even at my most tetchy with this whole… thing… Although I’ve certainly thought “transformative works fandom won a Hugo” or “we won! we did it! we won!” or maybe “dibs on that tiny bit on the righthand curve, the particularly stroke-able atom, right there, that bit’s mine now”.

    But I can see quite easily how people get from “we won” to, well, “we won, and we includes me, so I share in the win, and therefore I won”. It’s a fairly obvious logical progression.

    (Although the Hugo-winning fic thing is partly jokes and partly based on a misunderstanding of the Related Work rules.)


    Yay! I hope you enjoy the experience thoroughly, and I hope to see you in the recs thread (wot Hampus has kindly pointed to – and anyone else lurking, too, Worldcon membership definitely not required to participate in recommending stuff) and/or the various discussions here or elsewhere!

    @Lorien Gray

    I just wanted to say I appreciate your comments and I’m chewing them over in my head to see how I feel about them.

    @Mike Glyer

    Oh nooo no I really liked how you turned my tetchyness into something light and funny. You did great! I’m sorry, I’m probably not communicating well, my partner tells me my speech has gone slow and slurred, which normally only happens when my blood pressure has decided that supplying the proper amount of oxygen to the brain is far too much work, and that’s not even a problem today (for a change), so I think the pain is just… using up waaaay too many brain cells, which happens sometimes. I didn’t mean to make you feel like your joke had fallen flat, at all, I liked it. I’m sorry.

  36. Cat Eldridge: It’s worth stressing that outside of fandom, however we define it, that the Hugo Award means little or nothing.

    Certainly how much it means to the SFF-reading public can be debated. But there’s no question that it means something. This is why publishers put “Hugo Award Finalist” and “Hugo Award Winner” on book covers, blog posts, and advertising material — because they know that there are members of the SFF-reading public to whom this means something, and that it will make them more likely to buy the books. This is why a lot of librarians specifically order books which are Hugo Finalists and Winners for their libraries — because the “Hugo Award” label has come to represent an indicator of quality and innovation in SFF works.

  37. @Lorien I mean, I’m personally a little confused because while some have said what phrasing is good or not, it has varied between WSFS members, so right now, there is only the line from Kevin for preferred language, which has only been “contributor to a Hugo-winning project” and not any others. So the line of “what is disrespectful” doesn’t have consensus between members. So if it remains at what Kevin has said, then that hasn’t changed from the OTW statement, which means the reaction from AO3, generally, isn’t going to change, either.

    So all of the following is just my opinion; I don’t necessarily think it’s reasonable or possible, but it is what I think. If the MPC was very determined to continue asking people to rephrase instead of any other action, then they would need to issue a statement and clarify exactly what their intent was with the statement to the OTW. Why did they not mention trademark protection if it was about trademark protection? From the start, the claim that this was about legal protection of the mark was undermined and seen as an insincere excuse. It took days for the conversation to settle on “well, it’s about protecting the Hugo’s trademark, actually, and the AO3 people were just so mean about it!” And another thing, if this is so central to the value of the Hugo’s, why did they pass on a message to the OTW instead of making a statement themselves? This undermined the appearance of seriousness; it appeared probably not that big an issue at all. So the reason it started out that way would need to be clarified if the MPC want the AO3 users to believe it’s both serious and that the core issue really is about the trademark protection.

    Ideally, there would be someone, a spokesperson presenting this who could be proven to have enjoyed the joke, or even previously partaken in it. Don’t know if that’s possible. But the request for people to stop calling themselves Hugo winners came in hand with a bunch of WSFS members who were also very loud and ugly about how much they hated it; it went in hand with WSFS users being loud and ugly about their negative opinions of the AO3 and the people who use it. So any official apology would be helped if there was someone involved who were neutral previously, or heaven forbid, could be shown to have appreciated why people were saying it in the first place. Having a public request for people to stop making jokes or stop being celebratory is a bummer. Having a public request to stop making jokes hand-in-hand with what appears from the outside to be part of a group of people seething anger and contempt makes it feel personal. The appearance of impartiality was undermined. So if impartiality is the aim, then the people making the request to stop shouldn’t be the same ones who are publicly being contemptuous of the requestees.

    Lastly, this should only actually happen if the MPC truly has reason to believe that the claims are infringement. Then they should thoroughly and precisely illustrate the infringement or dilution claims, with their lawyer-backed reasoning that if they don’t ask people to stop, that it will hurt the ability to keep the trademark.

    But if they think or know that there is no real legal basis to ask people to stop, that it’s a personal dislike or a personal feeling that it disrespects the awards, then they should retract the request entirely. Individuals not speaking for the MPC or WSFS should certainly still feel free to explain what they think and why and reach out to the AO3 community – but unofficially, and definitely without the implicit threat of lawsuits.

  38. LectionaryStan: “we don’t like because it feels disrespectful” (which is 100% going to be perceived as sour gate-keeping and I don’t think there’s any way around that)

    RedWombat was kind enough to explain a bit of AO3 culture whereby AO3 members tend to be inured to, and dismissive of, any request that they respect someone else’s feelings, because this has been so frequently-used as a way to attempt to emotionally-manipulate members into giving into their demands that they do something.

    So I think it would probably be helpful to explain a little bit of context for File 770 (overlapping with WSFS members).

    Back during the Puppy attacks on the Hugo Awards, for a couple of years it was quite common for drive-by commenters to drop in here and say things like:

    I didn’t really know anything about the Hugos and Puppies or have an opinion on it, but now that I’ve done some reading about it, I’ve decided that you are all really horrible people and the Puppies are right! This has made me not want to have anything to do with the Hugo Awards!

    I was totally neutral on the issue of the Puppies and the Hugo Awards, but after seeing all of the horrible things you people have said, I’ve decided that I’m never going to attend Worldcon, and I think the Hugo Awards are trash!

    Puppies not being the brightest crayons in the box, often they would make these comments with their real names or their customary pseuds, and if you Googled their nym and the word “Hugo”, you would discover that they had posted dozens of comments on Puppy blogs with all of the other people attacking Worldcon members and the Hugo Awards, had never been neutral, and had never given a shit about Worldcon or WSFS members. (Puppies didn’t, and still don’t, seem to understand that they’re not commenting in secret forums, and that other people can read their public comments.)

    After the first few rounds of what eventually became quite a common occurrence which went on for a long time, my autonomic response to such posts became, “Nice try at emotional manipulation! Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.” And I know that I’m far from the only person on File 770 who developed that reaction.

    So when AO3 members make such comments here, they are almost certainly getting an emotional reaction from the people who read the comment, but it is very likely not the emotional reaction they were going for. This is probably something that is good to keep in mind.

  39. I don’t think the presence of “Hugo winning” on the fronts of books is much evidence of knowledge outside of fandom, since the books are targeted at fandom as well as to the general public. The blurbs, etc. could well be targeted to fandom.

    But librarians almost certainly know what it means, whether or not they are fans.

  40. @JJ: Aw, unfortunately, it seems I am not able to answer you publicly since my reply to Lorien is missing now, but I am well aware of the Puppies. The Worldcon members and the Hugo’s were very sympathetic for enduring that! But accusing me of similar emotional manipulation feels very off the mark here. But I guess it does feel nice from where you are to say that.

  41. Meredith, I am so sorry to hear that your health is being so challenging right now. Please take good care of yourself. If there’s anything I can do to help, you have my contact info. Sending you virtual love and hugs. ❤

  42. LectionaryStan: accusing me of similar emotional manipulation feels very off the mark here. But I guess it does feel nice from where you are to say that.

    Again, I have not done that, so I’m sure you understand why I feel that you are posting in bad faith. Just as RedWombat tried to help File 770 commenters understand why AO3 members tend to be inured to requests that their feelings be considered and respected, I’m trying to help the AO3 commenters who’ve been saying this understand why File 770 commenters might be inured to such comments.

  43. @JJ If I’m being honest, no, I don’t understand why you think I’m posting in bad faith. I am genuinely puzzled and even hurt at times as to how you often find the worst possible messages in what I’ve written.

  44. LectionaryStan, you just accused me of something I very obviously had not done, and on top of all of your other claims that people have said things they have not said, that certainly looks like bad faith posting to me.

    Perhaps it’s a case of what you mean not being effectively translated to the words that you post; I can’t say. But when the words that you post are what look to me to be blatant lies, my reaction is that you are posting in bad faith.

    You might consider prefacing the things you say with “I feel like…” or “Even though this isn’t what you said, it’s what I feel like it’s saying”. Because without those qualifying words, when you make absolutist statements which are clearly false, I figure that you’re an adult who is well aware of what you’re saying, and that you’re deliberately posting falsehoods.

  45. @JJ Okay, I frequently do, especially through all this. So when you march me through the history of bad experiences with something you call emotionally manipulative, then say I shouldn’t be surprised at the reaction I get, is that not you drawing a clear link between me and the emotionally manipulative thing?

  46. No, LectionaryStan, that’s me very gently trying to let you know that some of the things you’ve said probably didn’t have the effect that you hoped they would have.

  47. LectionaryStan: I mean, that hasn’t been a mystery so far, but with you, it feels personal.

    I’m genuinely sorry that you feel like that. It might help you to know that one of my huge hot buttons is people claiming that I’ve said things I haven’t said — there is a whole lot of personal history on this to which I’m not going to subject you, but please be aware that almost nothing is likely to get a more visceral reaction from me than someone insisting that I or someone else involved with File 770 or WSFS has said things they haven’t actually said.

    Seriously, if you stop pushing that button, I guarantee that my posts to you will seem a lot friendlier.

  48. JJ, the issue is to me, I’m not doing that, or close to doing that. Conversations like this mean we all have to paraphrase a little, and no one else is expected to precisely quote exactly everything, so I’m not lying, but clearly my mental shortcuts for “what does this mean” doesn’t line up with your mental shortcuts. What we mean, what we say, and what the other person hears, kind of thing.

    I’m going to re-try my response to Lorien, I think.

Comments are closed.