Reform or Rollback?

[Editor’s Note: Dublin 2019 has posted the 2019 WSFS Business Meeting Agenda (July 21 update) [PDF file] containing all the business submitted by the July 17 deadline. File 770 will post about some of the proposals and invite discussion.]

While the Sad and Rabid Puppies slates were filling up most of the slots on the 2015 and 2016 Hugo ballots, majorities at the Worldcon business meetings passed and ratified several rules changes that made it much more difficult for that to keep on happening. The success of these majorities has tended to overshadow how many fans did not want any changes made – no matter how often Vox Day dictated what made the ballot – or else did not want these particular changes made. And there are business meeting regulars who evidently feel now is the time to start turning back the clock.  

Here’s a matched set of proposals to end the “5 and 6” part of the Hugo nomination reforms. If you are going to the Dublin 2019 business meeting, you will have to decide whether the claims made about convenience and efficiency warrant undoing the protective rules put on the books just a few years ago.

RELATED: The Right Date?


B.4         Short Title: Suspend 5 and 6 for 2020

Moved, to suspend the changes introduced by 5 and 6 for the following year’s Hugo Award nominations (only).

Proposed by: Nicholas Whyte, Kathryn Duval, Marguerite Smith, Steven Mollmann, Ian Stockdale, Tammy Coxen, Hanne Madeleine Gates Paine, Karl-Johan Norén, and Vince Docherty

Commentary: Please see the commentary for Amendment D.7.


D.7         Short Title: Five and Five

Moved, to amend Section 3.8.1 by deleting and adding material as follows:

3.8.1: Except as provided below, the final Award ballots shall list in each category the six five eligible nominees receiving the most nominations as determined by the process described in Section 3.9.

Provided that unless this amendment is re-ratified by the 2022 Business Meeting, the changes to Section 3.8.1 shall be repealed, and

Provided that the question of re-ratification shall be automatically be placed on the agenda of the 2022 Business Meeting with any constitutional amendments awaiting ratification; and

Provided further that any business meeting prior to 2022 may move to suspend the changes introduced by 5 and 6 for the following year’s Hugo Award nominations (only).

Proposed by: Nicholas Whyte, Kathryn Duval, Marguerite Smith, Steven Mollmann, Ian Stockdale, Tammy Coxen, Hanne Madeleine Gates Paine, Karl-Johan Norén, and Vince Docherty

Commentary: “Five and Six” was one of the reforms made in 2015-16 to minimise the future effects of block voting. It already has a 2022 sunset clause and a provision that any business meeting may suspend its operation for the following year’s Hugo Awards.

After three years, we now have enough information to be clear: EPH does make a difference to deter bad actors, “Five and Six” rather less. On the other hand, having 20% more finalists does significantly increase the administrative and financial burden on each year’s Worldcon, as anyone who has been to a recent pre-Hugo reception can testify.

In addition, the burden placed by the Hugo process on diligent readers has also increased in recent years, with the addition of a new category of novels (the Lodestar) and especially of the Best Series category. In 2019 there are 31 categories in the Hugo Awards, a record. It would be a kindness to voters to reduce the required reading from six finalists per category back to five.

Although there is a 2022 sunset clause for “Five and Six”, realistically we already have enough information to repeal it now, and to make life a little easier for Hugo administrators and voters from 2020 onwards.

The Constitution normally takes two years to amend, but in this particular instance the WSFS Business Meeting also has the power to suspend Five and Six for the following year. So we can decide now to do that for 2020 (see Resolution B.3), with the constitutional amendment taking effect in 2021.

The losers will be those who had placed sixth in recent years. There is only one case of a sixth-placed finalist at nominations stage going on to win the Hugo in the last three years (the rather odd situation of Best Fan Artist in 2017, where two finalists were disqualified). On the other hand, a reduced pool of finalists increases the cachet of being among that number.

*****


“After three years, we now have enough information to be clear: EPH does make a difference to deter bad actors, ‘Five and Six’ rather less. On the other hand, having 20% more finalists does significantly increase the administrative and financial burden on each year’s Worldcon, as anyone who has been to a recent pre-Hugo reception can testify.”

That’s it – that’s the argument — the sixth nominees are eating too many canapes at the pre-Hugo reception?

And if “Five and Six” is conceded to have some effect – at the time it was passed people already knew its impact would be “rather less” – then let’s take pleasure that the nominees eating the cheese and crackers were not picked by somebody’s slate.  

86 thoughts on “Reform or Rollback?

  1. Yeah…..honestly I’d rather get rid of EPH than 5 and 6, if the goal is to roll things back a little and make administration easier (although I guess with spreadsheets and the like calculating isn’t that big of a deal).

    I really enjoy having an extra nominee, and having one less nominating spot than there are finalists on the ballot means that no matter what everyone will always have one finalist they didn’t pick and might be new to them, however unlikely it is that someone’s ballot will contain 5 eventual finalists.

    Hope this doesn’t succeed.

  2. garik16: honestly I’d rather get rid of EPH than 5 and 6, if the goal is to roll things back a little and make administration easier

    The advantages of EPH far outweigh the added administration overhead.

    EPH is the only thing preventing the Hugo Awards from being overrun by Puppies and other special-interest groups.

    I’m kind of agnostic about going back to 5 finalists. I can see the arguments for both 5 and 6.

    I’m far more concerned about the companion proposal to this one, which is to get rid of the membership deadline for nominating eligibility. If that’s removed, we are going to get all kinds of individual bad actors getting themselves slated onto the Hugo ballot with last-minute memberships.

  3. In theory, 5 and 6 adds 20% to my self-imposed work load every year – and in practice, I’m fine with that. I think it’s too soon, really, to start rolling back the anti-slating systems. EPH seems to be working just fine, and 5 and 6 might not be having the same impact there, but it’s got the additional benefit of getting me to read more stuff…. If I were going to the business meeting (no chance, sadly), I’d be voting against this proposal.

  4. The proposal says that “5 and 6” is scheduled to sunset in 2022 anyway. My inclination would be to wait until that point and evaluate its success then, unless it can be shown that the new system is adding a substantial additional burden for either the administrators or the voters. Is there a sense among the administrators that it’s harder to put together the packet because of the need to contact and negotiate with an additional publisher for every category? Are voters feeling overwhelmed by the additional material, especially in the long-form categories? (I started voting in the Hugos shortly before these changes went into effect, so I don’t have a good feel for “it was/wasn’t easier to read everything in multiple categories before the change”.)

  5. Nina, I’m with you. I see no reason to sunset 5 and 6 so soon after we implemented it. The Puppy mentality is, if anything, MORE prevalent now than it was then. We agreed to re-address in 2022. Lets do that.

    I’d love to hear from Registration DH’s of San Jose, Dublin, New Zealand and (probably) DC about what they think of the nomination cut off being December 31. How hard is that compared to lifting that date restriction?

    I sympathize with the concern people are not aware enough of that deadline and would very much like to see more emphasis on it by NZ and (probably) DC.

  6. As one of the makers of what became 5 and 6 (it started as 4 and 6), a big part of the rationale was getting more stuff on the ballot. Specifically, I noticed that several of the Sads (Correia for one) would have legitimately been on the final ballot had we gone to six. I felt and still feel that if a group really wants something on the ballot they should get it there. My problem with the Sads was locking up whole categories.

  7. If there is a sunset clause for 2022 anyway, why not wait until then to reevaluate? The Sad and Rabid Puppies in the form we know them may have gone away, but that doesn’t mean that the “I can haz Hugo” mentality has gone, too. Just remember the Nebula uproar this year. If we don’t keep the anti-slating measures in place, someone else will try again, now that the Puppies have shown it’s possible.

    And while the Hugo reading burden has gotten noticeably higher in recent years, the sixth finalist isn’t that much of a problem compared to the new series and Lodestar categories and the Retro Hugos.

    Finally, “But the additional finalists make the reception too expensive” is a weak argument. First of all, it should be investigated whether the reception costs actually were higher due to the additional finalists (and let’s not forget that two new categories with additionao finalists), especially since not every finalist is present or has sent a representative. If the costs really are a problem, we could look into getting companies etc… to sponsor the reception. Or, if all else fails, ditch it altogether. As designated accepter for Galactic Journey this year, I certainly appreciate getting something to eat before the ceremony, but I wouldn’t starve if there was no reception either.

  8. Hmmm, I was a definite keep for 5/6 but on a quick look at 2018 categories, the 6th nominee is often low placed in final voting. I’ll need to crunch some numbers.

  9. My personal proposal was 5 and 10. Yes, it’s a reading burden. But it’s already obvious that in many categories — well, mostly the fiction categories — there are so many works being published that very worthy works are being ignored. (Nowadays, works by men, and works from the print magazines, it seems.) I sympathize with the idea that reading 10 things per category IS a bit of a burden (less so for me because of the Locus gig, maybe — but that hardly qualifies as a defense). Anyway, I think the 6th nominee is not THAT much of a burden, and it’s justified for reasons having NOTHING to do with puppies. I am strongly in favor of retaining the 5/6, forever. (I’d be in favor of eliminating EPH, to be honest.)

  10. Do we actually have the data to say which finalists would have been removed by going down to five finalists per category? Unless I am badly misremembering how EPH works, the reports don’t tell us what would have happened if there had been yet another round of counting, with the seventh-place finalist’s points reallocated. We know which finalist was in the last runoff round but that doesn’t mean they’d have lost the next runoff.

    Martin

  11. That the insane reading burden imposed by the Best Series category if you take it seriously (which was obvious from the moment it was proposed) is being used as a rationale to remove some of the anti-slate measures that neutered the Puppies is beyond absurd.

  12. Agree that the “reading burden” associated with Best Series, if one actually tries to read them all, is far greater. I don’t mind at all having an additional finalist to read in the other prose fiction Hugo categories.

  13. I don’t understand wanting to get rid of EPH.

    Say you put up a fence to stop neighbourhood puppies messing around in your front lawn, and that has resulted in the puppies moving elsewhere. Do you then take down the fence?

  14. Adding to comments from @Goobergunch and @Cora Buhlert: IMO, the whinge about the number of Hugo categories is nonsense. Almost half of those categories are voluntary: nobody is obliged to dig up a batch of moldering corpses to run through the Retro-Hugo process — and soon the conventions won’t even have the option, because most of the years for which Retro-Hugos could be awarded have already had them awarded. Beyond that: I have a modicum of experience with space allocation and food costs at various scales, and I am also negatively impressed by such arguments; conventions should cut their coats to fit their cloth.

    @JJ: EPH is the only thing preventing the Hugo Awards from being overrun by Puppies and other special-interest groups. Do you have a cite for this? My recollection is that somebody did what analysis they could (working from statistics rather than actual nomination ballots?) and concluded that EPH had a very modest effect. From what I’ve seen of the listed-but-not-nominated stories, Teddy and most of its crew had gotten tired of tantrums-without-results by the time EPH was in effect and had gone off to other … playgrounds. The elimination-round proposal seemed much more effective to me, but that would have added a large burden to the administrators.

  15. Chip Hitchcock: Do you have a cite for this?

    VD admitted that there wasn’t any point in continuing once EPH passed in 2016. He ran a slate again in 2017, because a lot of minions still had nominating rights from their prior year memberships, but he only slated one work/person in each category, because he knew that was all they could hope to place on the ballot. And after that he stopped, because minions weren’t going to be willing to buy memberships any more when they couldn’t expect to take a large chunk of the ballot.

  16. I agree that EPH does work against slate efforts, though VD probably could have found a way to work around it, with some effort. My problem with it is that in the absence of an actual slate, it can have unintended effects, such as depriving Black Gate of a deserved (in my opinion, admittedly a biased one) nomination in 2018.

  17. So, to answer Soon Lee’s question, yes, you do take down the fence, if, say, it has prevented the local kids whom you like from easily playing with your own kids.

    My point is that EPH — seems to me, anyway — has only one aim: to counter slates. 5/6 really is (from my perspective, as a sort of co-originator of the concept) more about expanding the list of worthy nominees in a much more populated contemporary field than simply working around slates.

  18. So, I’ll present some numbers later but after crunching some numbers on most of the 2018 categories, there was an average magnitude shift in rank of 1 (i.e. either up or down). So it’s not unreasonable to see the 5th finalist (EPH) come 6th (pref vote). The biggest shift in 2018 was 5 places but it was down (i.e top rank finalist EPH came 6th on the final pref vote) but…I think that demonstrates that there can be significant shifts between the ranking at the two stages of voting.
    These finalists all had biggish upward shifts from their EPH rank to their final prefernce rank:
    Sheila Williams
    Rebecca Roanhorse
    The Collapsing Empire
    Wind Will Rove
    Get Out
    Foz Meadows
    Summer in Orcus
    Only one of those was a 6th position finalist though but that 5th position finalists are often much stronger contenders than their initial rank might suggest also points to it being uncommon but not very rare that in the future (if 6 finalists are retained) that a 6th ranked finalist would win.

  19. “So, to answer Soon Lee’s question, yes, you do take down the fence, if, say, it has prevented the local kids whom you like from easily playing with your own kids.”

    Or you let them in through the gate which you should have. And you’ve trained the dogs to behave, or you have another fenced area for them.

  20. Rich Horton: yes, you do take down the fence, if, say, it has prevented the local kids whom you like from easily playing with your own kids. My point is that EPH — seems to me, anyway — has only one aim: to counter slates.

    Which is a pretty important aim.

    If you take down the fence and it allows the local kids to get in, but the bullies also get in and keep beating all of them up, you haven’t really accomplished the intended goal.

  21. @Rich Horton: I’d say that “whom you like” is a rather large qualification on that statement.

  22. EPH definitely affected the final ballot in the years it has been in efect. It knocked off a fanwriter finalist in 2017 (our own Camestros) in favour of a puppy finalist of all things. And in 2018, it knocked The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley and Autonomous by Annalee Newitz (both of whom I’d have vastly preferred) off in favour of The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi and the Kim Stanley Robinson. Plus, Black Gate was knocked off the ballot in best fanzine.

    But nonetheless I’m in favour of retaining EPH, because the slating danger is still there.

  23. Looking around at the world of writers I see a small proportion of authors whose behaviour can be quite extreme in their desire for self-promotion. That urge played a part in the Sad Puppies and while the pups have given up on the Hugos I have zero doubt that there will be future collisions between an aspiring author’s desire for self-promotion and the integrity of the Hugo Awards.

    No Award is a deterrent to repeat behaviour but it’s less of a deterrent to some bozo trying to gain fame and fortune by spamming the nominations. The bigger deterrent there is cost and being sufficiently clever to hide what they were doing. I’ve seen plenty of evidence that there are authors willing to spend large amounts of money on fake reviews, fake purchases on Amazon and fake awards to believe that eventually, somebody will make a successful attempt to spam the Hugo Awards (i.e. buy enough sock/meat puppet accounts to be a finalist). They won’t win a Hugo and there’s a good chance they’ll lose to No Award but it’s just a matter of time.

    EPH is irrelevant in this scenario. 5/6 has two effects:
    1. it lowers the number of spam votes the spammer needs to buy
    2. it limits the damage done by a spam nominee

    So, yes, Pups have gone. Authors behaving badly haven’t gone. [eg MZW trying to brigade bully Wikipedia this very week].

  24. Cora Buhlert on July 23, 2019 at 8:53 pm said:

    EPH definitely affected the final ballot in the years it has been in efect. It knocked off a fanwriter finalist in 2017 (our own Camestros) in favour of a puppy finalist of all things.

    As a connoisseur of irony, I still find that frankly delicious.

  25. OK, “whom you like” should have been in parens. I like all the “local kids”, even Binti, who I don’t think is good but who I do think deserves to play with all the other kids who do like her.

    It’s clear that this is a case of “letting the terrorists win”, in a way. We let them force us to do unsavory things, just to keep them in line. This may be unavoidable, because of the threat they post, but it’s not a good thing.

  26. Rich Horton: It’s clear that this is a case of “letting the terrorists win”, in a way. We let them force us to do unsavory things, just to keep them in line. This may be unavoidable, because of the threat they post, but it’s not a good thing.

    You mean, it seems clear to you.

    In my opinion, it seems clear that the “terrorists” have lost, because the measure we’ve put into place is a good deterrent to them getting the reward they want, so they don’t bother playing.

  27. Camestros Felapton: Pups have gone. Authors behaving badly haven’t gone. [eg MZW trying to brigade bully Wikipedia this very week].

    e.g. this year’s Nebulas. As Cora pointed out, there have been other special interest author groups who watched and learned from the Puppies’ example, and they haven’t gone away. SFWA was actually nice to them (which I think was a mistake on SFWA’s part, but I guess we’ll find out next year). It will be interesting to see what’s on the Hugo longlists when they are released.

    And if EPH were repealed, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Puppies came back for another round, laughing the whole way about how stupid we were for opening the door for them again.

  28. Camestros Felapton: I know, Aristotle and all that, but Vox Day said his goal was to destroy the Hugo Awards. For Vox’s purposes it worked very well to have us voting a bunch of categories No Award — because the award becomes a nullity when it can’t be given to someone.

    Once the changes to the nomination process were passed, they improved the marginal possibility of some non-slate nominees making the ballot — so voters would have a choice, and escape the No Award trap. (You’ll recall the business meeting did not want to adopt any of the proposals that might have let voters actually weed slate nominees from the ballot.) So the elements in the rules that help different constituencies have an impact on the final ballot are really the part we’re counting on.

  29. JJ: Now go to your room and think about what you did.

    I thought about it. I gave a sealion a fish. My bad. Can I come out now?

  30. Mike Glyer: Can I come out now?

    Only if you say 10 Hail Hugos and promise not to do it again.

  31. The Helsinki Business Meeting also considered a proposal to suspend 5 and 6, which was defeated by a wide margin. My impression is that 5 and 6 is popular even with a lot of the Business Meeting regulars who ordinarily hate Hugo reform, and it’s very popular with most Worldcon attendees; I know that immediately after it passed, when I told people I’d worked to push the change through, they almost invariably thanked me and expressed delight at the change. And when I made my speech in favor of the amendment (and against suspension), I made the point that the change was beneficial for its own sake, not just as a defense against slating. I think 5 and 6’s popularity will keep it safe, but of course if attendance at the Business Meeting is low weird things can happen.

    (I won’t be at the Worldcon this year or next year, unfortunately, so I won’t be able to stand up for it at the Business Meeting. I hope that support for 5 and 6 is strong enough that its detractors give up trying to get rid of it; if nothing else, because the Business Meeting goes on too long as it is.)

  32. When 5 & 6 was first proposed, I was relatively neutral. But I’ve liked having 6 finalists irrespective of its slating deterrence.

  33. Camestros Felapton on July 23, 2019 at 8:56 pm said

    EPH is irrelevant in this scenario

    That was a poorly chosen sentence from a commentator here who often says things that I frankly regard as rubbish. To clarify: in that very specific scenario of a single author trying to spam a single work on to a ballot, EPH isn’t relevant — because EPH hasn’t got anything to work with there.

    More generally EPH is a net good regardless of whether there are shenanigans or not. Without EPH, the nomination process is more vulnerable to finalist being dominated by a block of voters REGARDLESS of whether they intend to be a slate or its just people voting in a very similar way. EPH doesn’t stop that (coughGood Placecough) but it should reduce the impact.

  34. Mike Glyer on July 23, 2019 at 9:11 pm said:

    Camestros Felapton: I know, Aristotle and all that, but Vox Day said his goal was to destroy the Hugo Awards. For Vox’s purposes it worked very well to have us voting a bunch of categories No Award — because the award becomes a nullity when it can’t be given to someone.

    Yes. For Vox ‘No Award’ was something he could exploit. I still suspect he’d rather have won one but griefing was his broad objective.

    Correia, on the other hand, I think it finally sunk in around April 2015 that the best he could hope for was a humiliating No Award. If he’d anticipated that his ‘Get Correia a Hugo’ campaign would lead to a series of No Awards, I think he’d never have started (and hence probably no Rabid Puppies either)…but that involves a universe in which Larry spends time in quiet self-reflection.

  35. Grrr…this how my comments end up being blogposts, as I end up replying to what I just wrote.

    So yes, Vox would have prefered winning to No Award, but prefered No Award to just leaving the Hugos alone. However, if he couldn’t get either of those two then being Kingmaker would also be an option he’d have liked. 5/6 by itself wouldn’t stop that e.g. Vox forcing a slate on a category which we’d No Award, leaving one finalist that would win by default — which in Vox’s head would mean he picked the winner. Descending order of pay off to his ego there i.e.
    1. Winning a category
    2. No Awarding a category ‘burning it down’
    3. Kingmaker – forcing the choice
    No Award ruins 1, 5/6 ruins 2, EPH ruins 2 & 3.

  36. Chip Hitchcock on July 23, 2019 at 8:13 pm said:

    IMO, the whinge about the number of Hugo categories is nonsense. Almost half of those categories are voluntary.

    I’m pretty sure 100% of the categories are voluntary. I keep trying to remind people of that whenever I hear whinging about how much reading they “have” to do. 🙂

    I’ll bet that authors are 100% in favor of 5 and 6!

    As for EPH occasionally knocking out something I might like: yeah, I still consider that a positive feature, because it means that the thing that got knocked out would almost certainly have lost anyway to something else that was on a bunch of the same ballots! And the final result gives us a wider range of tastes! Which, to me, is the big win of EPH, even if it means that an occasional puppy work squeaks onto the ballot that wouldn’t have otherwise, because some people, apparently, like that stuff, so I’m ok with it.

    That’s what ultimately convinced me that EPH was good in the first place. It wasn’t just some anti-puppy magic sprinkled on the system. Even in the complete absence of any attempts to game the system, it means more diverse tastes will be represented on the final ballot. And I think that’s a really good thing!

  37. Rich Horton: yes, you do take down the fence, if, say, it has prevented the local kids whom you like from easily playing with your own kids. My point is that EPH — seems to me, anyway — has only one aim: to counter slates.

    But what if, as in the case of the WSFS rules straining the metaphor to breaking point, it takes three years to put the fence up again should the puppies come back?

  38. @ Xtifr : My explanation is (and I think always has been) that EPH detects slates, no matter if they’re intentional or not. And that is (I think), on the whole, a good thing.

    I am much less sure about 5&6, I’m OK with it being with us. But I’d be equally good with it not being with us. But, in Helsinki, I voted to keep it, because at that point we simply didn’t have enough info to say one way or another. This time, um, not sure.,

  39. Rich Horton:

    “So, to answer Soon Lee’s question, yes, you do take down the fence, if, say, it has prevented the local kids whom you like from easily playing with your own kids.”

    I have absolutely no idea what this is supposed to mean. EPH doesn’t in any way prevent a certain kind of candidates from being nominated. What it does is make it harder for one group to occupy all places on the ballot. For me, EPH is more about making it harder for one homogeneous group to fence others out.

    If that makes some bullies leave because they can’t put a stranglehold on the whole award, then huzzah! But anyone voting in good faith should be happy to nominate, regardless of if it has become harder to take absolutely every place on the ballot.

  40. I see 5/6 more as complement to EPH. It mostly makes sure that a candidate that was switched out at the end of the EPH algorithm still gets a place that it wouldn’t have gotten with only five finalists. Better then to have 5/6 instead of 6/6, because otherwise someone would have complained that the sixth place had been switched out by EPH.

  41. Hampus Eckerman on July 24, 2019 at 1:26 am said:

    I see 5/6 more as complement to EPH. It mostly makes sure that a candidate that was switched out at the end of the EPH algorithm still gets a place that it wouldn’t have gotten with only five finalists. Better then to have 5/6 instead of 6/6, because otherwise someone would have complained that the sixth place had been switched out by EPH.

    Good point. Also, in the old system ties were possible but in EPH they are much less likely, so an extra place ensures somebody who might have got joint 5th still gets to be a finalist. Of course, both arguments rely on the idea that 5 finalists is the natural number of finalists.

  42. My response is: the ‘type’ of personality drawn to things like Sad/Rabid Puppies never goes away.
    They back off, they go underground, they shift focus, they turtle, they re-brand.

    But.

    They. Never. Go. Away.

    “Defeat” (as in no longer being able to dominate the ballot) isn’t defeat in their thinking. It’s an opportunity to engage in future mayhem.

  43. I was discussing this proposal with my husband (who doesn’t vote in the Hugos himself). When I quoted the part of the commentary which mentions the additional “burden placed by the Hugo process on diligent readers,” he said, “Wait – ‘burden’?! Isn’t this something you do for fun?” Yes. Exactly. You can always evaluate as much or as little as you like regardless of how many finalists or categories or works in series there are.

  44. My view at the time was that the right answer was ?/5. EPH waters down nominations based on the number of works you nominate, so the more you nominate, the less effect your nomination has. Having applied that rule, why have a restriction on how many works an individual can nominate?

    If someone nominated every single eligible work, their nomination would have no effect whatsoever. If they nominated everything published by a major publisher, then it would have very limited effect; the anti-slating provisions would stop something along those lines from having any meaningful effect.

    I still think that there should be no limit on the number of works people can nominate, but that’s not really the question here…

    The question of how many finalists there should be is a rather different question – 5 was originally chosen, as far as I can tell, merely because it is a common number across many awards, and it gives “Hugo finalist” the same cachet relative to the award as “Oscar nominee”. Six changes that to the cachet of “Booker shortlisted”. Both seem entirely reasonable numbers (where, say, 12 would not be).

    If the effect of having six finalists is that it limits the number of categories, then I would definitely prefer having five finalists and more awards to have the same total number of finalists. Similarly, if the sixth finalist is making it more difficult to persuade publishers to agree to a Hugo packet inclusion, then that would be a potentially persuasive argument – I’d prefer five finalists that all voters have the opportunity to read to six that only those who can afford to buy the book can read.

    But I don’t think the argument presented is sufficient – it seems to come down to “this is what we used to do, the reasons for change to six no longer apply thanks to EPH, let’s roll it back again”. Well, that’s true, but five was arbitrary in the first place, so let’s have a real reason to pick one number over the other.

    If I’m present in the room, I will abstain because I do not have a strong preference between five and six, unless a strong argument I have not yet seen is made.

Leave a Reply

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

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