The Meaning of It All

The Hugo Awards official website has made a fresh attempt to interpret the meaning of Archive of Our Own’s 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work and how individual participants ought to identify with it. However, the December 18 statement “2019 Hugo Awards Clarification” does not explain what need it’s supposed to meet or why it was issued at this time. In response, a number of fans have filled in the blanks with the worst motives they can conceive.  

The “2019 Hugo Awards Clarification” post says —

We would like to clarify that the winner of the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work is Archive Of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works.

This category of the Hugo Awards is one which recognizes works that are non-fiction or which are notable primarily for aspects other than fiction. Thus, the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work recognizes AO3 as a project and a platform; the fiction hosted on that site is not the award recipient, nor are the authors of fiction hosted on that site the award recipients.

Further, the only officially recognized 2019 Hugo Award Winner for Best Related Work is Archive Of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works. No natural persons can claim to be a Hugo Award Winner, Finalist, or Nominee for this award on behalf of AO3.

Individual works of fiction on AO3 are eligible for the Hugo Awards in the fiction categories of the corresponding length, for the award year in which they are first published. In addition, the Hugo Awards have Fan Writer, Fan Artist, Fanzine, and Fancast categories which recognize contributions that fans give freely to fandom.

Members of AO3 are welcome and encouraged to promote themselves as “participant in the Hugo Award-Winning project Archive Of Our Own” or “contributor to the Hugo Award-Winning AO3 website”.

The Hugo Awards site is created and managed by the Hugo Awards Marketing Subcommittee of the World Science Fiction Society Mark Protection Committee, who are responsible for the statement.

Renay, of this year’s Hugo-winning fanzine Lady Business, characterized the statement as an anonymous attack calculated to discourage AO3 participants from joining CoNZealand and becoming eligible to vote in the 2020 Hugos.

Many dissenting tweets have been appended to The Hugo Awards’ own tweeted link to the statement.

And here is a a sampling of related comments.

Also, Forestofglory, who wrote a post “Why I Like Taking Part in the Hugo Awards” a few weeks ago, tweeted the link again as part of the latest discussion. It begins —

Since Archive of Our Own (AO3) recently won a Hugo, and Lady Business the fanzine I write for also won its second Hugo I wanted to talk a bit about the Hugos and why I like taking part in them. I’ve been nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards for a while now and have had a really positive experience, of the Hugos as a fun communal event where a lot of people I like talk about media they like. I also enjoy the way the awards process lets me and others share and receive recs, and celebrate the SFF community….

The Hugo Awards are trademarked by the World Science Fiction Society (“WSFS”). A mark must be enforced against violators who come within notice of the holder in order to remain effective. The Mark Protection Committee’s report to the Dublin 2019 business meeting contended that they already had to take action against someone selling a pin on Etsy:

Also in June, we were notified of a violation of our rocket trademark by a group marketing a pin to content creators on the website, Archive of Our Own. While the website itself was a finalist for a Hugo Award this year, the individual content creators are not finalists in the same way that authors edited by Best Editor are not considered finalists. The main issue, however, was that the seller used our marks and created a derivative work of our rocket shape without our permission. The right to control derivative works is one of the rights and responsibilities of a mark holder, and the seller transformed our rocket ship mark without permission. We informed the Dublin 2019 Worldcon committee of this issue because even issuing a cease-and-desist order might create a ruckus for the Worldcon among fans who are legitimately excited and happy to celebrate that AO3 is a Hugo finalist for the first time. Dublin 2019 declined to issue any guidance. If the creator withdrew this merchandise and created other material, we would then react to that based on the new merchandise. The MPC determined that it was important enough to protect our mark that it sent a cease-and-desist letter asking them to withdraw the design. We also pointed out that Worldcons issue their own pins to legitimate Hugo finalists. Toward the end of June, after getting no response from the seller, we filed an intellectual property infringement claim with Etsy, citing both the U.S. and EU registrations. Within days, Etsy had removed the item from their site.

The members of the Mark Protection Committee (“MPC”) at the time of the business meeting were Judy Bemis, Stephen Boucher, John Coxon, Joni Dashoff, Linda Deneroff, Paul Dormer, Donald E. Eastlake III, Michael Lee, Tim Illingworth, Dave McCarty, Randall Shepherd, Kevin Standlee, Mike Willmoth, and Ben Yalow. Three seats came up for election and two of the incumbents were returned, with Tim Illingworth being superseded by Jo Van Ekeren. So with one exception the membership remains the same as it was in Dublin.

Although the new statement appears gratuitous to some and pedantic to others, a likelier motive is to lay a foundation for WSFS to do something about trademark violations without going straight to court, which it lacks the budget to do. Consider what Kevin Standlee, who chaired the Mark Protection Committee until Dublin 2019, wrote on his blog on November 4:

If you are someone who insisted that nobody would ever make commercial or professional use of the Hugo Award registered service mark to claim that they were individually and personally Hugo Award winners on account of having contributed to An Archive of Our Own, you are flat-our wrong. It’s happening, and I’m not talking about “jokes” or “one-two-millionth of a Hugo Award winner” statements. The WSFS Mark Protection Committee is doing what it can about such things. Despite what some people seem to think, the first step in such cases is almost never LAWYER UP and FILE A LAWSUIT. But it uses up resources that are rather limited. I wish we didn’t have to do so. I wish that I hadn’t been right about people doing what I predicted they would do.

However, waving the threat of litigation at a group of fans collectively, almost none of whom started out with any desire to violate the trademarks, will not only offend many of them, it runs the risk of inciting people who feel unjustly persecuted to act out in precisely that way.

148 thoughts on “The Meaning of It All

  1. Meredith:

    “I don’t know where that extra syllable keeps coming from every time I try to type “interpretive dance” but I’m getting real tired of my fingers’ extremely selective stutter. :p”

    “Interpretative” is how I learned to spell it in school. Different in dictionary?

  2. @JJ

    What the actual words used did not do is refer to what the problem is apparently supposed to be: People trying to profit from it. So since the actual words used do not refer to the actual problem, is it really any surprise that they’re misunderstood? Words which mostly talked about how transformative works fen shouldn’t talk about themselves? Words which never mentioned profiting at any point? You think it’s strange that people might have concluded that the post about how they should refer to themselves might be about how they refer to themselves, jokingly or otherwise, and not about the thing which was not mentioned at all, which was profiting from claims of Hugo winningness? Which was not mentioned at any point?

    You’ve just shifted right back to Twitter Jokes are A Problem in response to where I pointed out that people really did keep saying that Twitter Jokes are A Problem, so, uh, thanks for the back up, I guess? I really… are you reading back your comments? You can’t really complain firstly that transformative works fen are inventing something out of whole cloth and then… repeat the thing they said people were saying, while confirming it was what people said, and not have anyone… notice. You don’t really do that sort of thing normally.

    (For the record, last time around there was someone saying that the AO3 was retroactively unworthy and should not have won because of transformative works fen being very very naughty. It prompted an angry comment which I did not post.)

    @P J Evans

    Mmm, peaches. Must get some next summer.

    @Hampus

    Heck, am I tripping over a British English vs American English difference and forgetting which one is mine?

  3. I actually visited the official Hugo Awards site yesterday to look something up and didn’t even notice the statement on the front page, especially since it is underneath the pinned post about the 2019 Hugo winners.

    I only heard about the statement when I saw someone being angry about it on Twitter. And my immediate reaction was, “Oh, some jerks are probably trying to violate the service mark again.” I certainly didn’t view it as a conspiracy to keep AO3 users from registering as WorldCon members. Of course, I know that there have been issues with people deliberately violating the WSFS service mark. Other people may not be aware of this background, so the statement reads very differently to them.

    Now I agree that the statement is not worded very well. But legal terms like “natural persons” suggest to me that the content of this statement is very much determined by legal requirements allowing the WSFS to defend their service mark. And we all know that legal texts are not known for their readability or clear communication.

    As for the Twitter jokes, the jokes in themselves are not a problem. But as far as I understand US trademark law, the trademark holder must also go after non-serious and non-commercial infringement or risk losing their mark. And that makes Twitter jokes a problem for the mark protection committee.

    Also 240 people buying the infringing pin are not a minor problem, as that is about the same number as there were official pins handed out during the last two WorldCons or so, even though those 240 people are only a tiny minority of AO3 users.

  4. Meredith: You’ve just shifted right back to Twitter Jokes are A Problem in response to where I pointed out that people really did keep saying that Twitter Jokes are A Problem

    No, I’ve very specifically pointed out that it isn’t about Twitter, because WSFS has never mentioned Twitter. I’m not sure where you came up with this claim.

  5. @JJ

    Mainly from the whole spiel about what transformative works fen should and should not call themselves. Do you think that excludes Twitter, somehow? Do you think the fact that people were mainly complaining about that happening on Twitter last time around is somehow irrelevant? (I believe there was some talk about how Twitter is “public” rather than “fannish” space – never mind how the people in question use it – to justify the focus, even.) You’re not being consistent, which very much isn’t like you, and it isn’t like you to try and retreat into pedantry, either. Mentioning Twitter by name – or not – doesn’t change the context of the debate.

  6. Meredith, months after the Twitterstorm dies out, WSFS posted a statement which does not mention Twitter. AO3 members immediately insisted that it’s about Twitter, anyway. It’s not inconsistent for me to point this out.

  7. Meredith:

    “Heck, am I tripping over a British English vs American English difference and forgetting which one is mine?”

    Google tells you yes, but both seem to be used in British English.

  8. N:

    When my father visited US for the first time in the beginning of the 80:s (it was a big thing then, as flying was very uncommon), one of his proofs of how exotic US was were the number of pages with lawyers in the phone book.

    Myself, I was very disappointed in not finding cubical tomatoes in the grocery stores as I had read they were common.

  9. @JJ

    So, a statement that primarily refers to how people refer to themselves, which those same people were mainly criticised for doing on Twitter, and does not refer to at any point what people claim it’s meant to refer to (i.e. profiting), and you’re surprised that people draw the conclusion that it’s referring to the thing it that by all appearances it’s referring to? Because, what, one word wasn’t in there?

    Seriously. Pretty much no-one here, AO3 affiliated or otherwise, has said “wow what a wonderfully written and very clear statement that’s definitely described exactly what the problem is” – the clarification came in the comments. Maybe, just maybe, the problem is that it wasn’t clear, and it didn’t describe exactly what the problem is, and the problem is not with the people who failed to magically divine the true intent but instead drew a very reasonable conclusion from the evidence they had and the history of the debate. This is what happens in fandom (and in life) when you communicate poorly: People get upset about something you didn’t entirely mean to say. If you don’t own it you can’t fix it.

    (To be clear, “they’re trying to keep us from nominating!” is not a very reasonable conclusion, or even a slightly reasonable one. It is, in fact, rather silly, not least because any member from this year is eligible anyway. But what the statement was referring to? Yeah, I think that’s reasonable. Because it isn’t clear, it didn’t give enough information, and it spent most of its time talking about, well, Twitter Jokes, with nothing to contradict that impression. And apparently everyone upset about the jokes was unaware that Tumblr exists and is also “public” and also has jokes, but that’s beside the point.)

    @Hampus Eckerman

    Well, I shall forgive my fingers their stutter, then, they weren’t wrong after all!

  10. Meredith: Because it isn’t clear, it didn’t give enough information, and it spent most of its time talking about, well, Twitter Jokes, with nothing to contradict that impression.

    I think we’re talking about two different statements here. Because I don’t know what statement spent most of its time talking about Twitter jokes. Can you tell me which statement you mean?

  11. Meredith:

    “You can have a different memory.”

    Following this thread, I thank you for your kindness. Faulty seems to have been a better description. 😛

  12. Mike Glyer on December 19, 2019 at 4:21 pm said:

    Kevin Standlee: I have corrected the post to show that you were chair of the MPC through Dublin 2019.

    Thank you. For the record, and for the benefit of people who did not go look at the linked pages in one of my previous comments, the current chair of the WSFS MPC is Donald Eastlake III, who is also a past chair and was elected unanimously by the MPC at their final meeting in Dublin.

    I see that the post on TheHugoAwards.org has now been edited by adding an additional paragraph at the end indicating that it is an official statement of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (thus answering the people demanding to know who this anonymous post represents, and clarifying that it is neither from a Worldcon committee or from any individual person, but from the WSFS entity charged with protecting its intellectual property) and also that the posted statement was intended to be about inappropriate “commercial uses” of WSFS’s service marks and gives examples of such uses. As far as I can see, there’s nothing in the statement that even mentions Twitter.

  13. @JJ

    I have been very clear, I think, and I’m not willing to waste much more typing energy on explaining that leaving out the word “Twitter” does not materially change the context. The statement was badly written and did not communicate what it was meant to communicate. This is perfectly plain from the criticism it has received from many people in this thread, regardless of affiliation. Since it did not communicate what it was intended to communicate, it was open to interpretation, and since the behaviour described within it mapped perfectly onto “things people were criticised for doing on Twitter”, presumably unintentionally, that’s not unreasonably the interpretation people landed on. Because it didn’t actually say that it was about people attempting to profit or otherwise materially benefit.

    You can keep insisting that people should have just known what it was about, I suppose. Or you could push for editing the statement to make it clear that the primary problem is people trying to profit or otherwise materially benefit. Wouldn’t even have to lose the bit at the end about the preferred way for people to refer to themselves. Up to you. Depends on whether you want to fix the problem.

    I suppose, on reflection, you could be trying to convince me that the statement wasn’t meant to be about Twitter Jokes, but that would be rather pointless, since I already know that. As I’ve said. Multiple times. But that doesn’t make it well-written or an effective communication, it just means I have reason to believe and trust the people who have told me it isn’t. Why would anyone who hasn’t visited this thread know that? I’m trying to tell you how it looks to the people it’s presumably trying to talk to. You can believe me or not, as you so choose, I can’t make you listen. But insisting people should just know what it meant isn’t going to get you the results you want.

    @Hampus Eckerman

    It hasn’t been a happy fun time full of shinies and rainbows for me, given that it was essentially a war between two houses and both of them are mine, so some of the less nice comments and frustrations probably stuck in my head more than they would have in yours!

  14. @Kevin Standlee

    Just saw your comment – I hope the change helps to calm things down. It’s certainly an improvement. I only wish it had been written more clearly to begin with, and hadn’t left so much room for interpretation. I don’t enjoy seeing fandom fighting fandom over shadows and misinterpretations and bad wording and cultural differences, and this debate has been nothing but.

  15. Meredith: The statement was badly written and did not communicate what it was meant to communicate. This is perfectly plain from the criticism it has received from many people in this thread, regardless of affiliation. Since it did not communicate what it was intended to communicate, it was open to interpretation, and since the behaviour described within it mapped perfectly onto “things people were criticised for doing on Twitter”, presumably unintentionally, that’s not unreasonably the interpretation people landed on.

    Ah, okay, I understand now. I can’t say that I personally feel that it was reasonable for people to jump to that conclusion, but I respect your opinion that it was. I know that you care deeply about both WSFS and AO3, and I am sorry that this renewed discussion is causing you pain.

  16. Thanks Kevin, hope will help at least some people to calm down. Thank you for your hard work.

  17. @JJ

    Well, you knew what it was meant to mean. Much harder to see how something will read to other people when you already know what it is. Especially people who aren’t precisely your people. (And it was very quickly clear how many cultural differences there are between different forms of fandom. They seem small until everyone’s already upset and then it’s all mismatched gears crunching against each other.)

  18. While commercial use of service marks is the main issue, non-commercial use isn’t something that can be completely ignored either. Probably not worth actively pursuing, but not to say it’s perfectly fine. I remember a couple big kerfuffles in the fiber arts community over trademarks. Back when Yahoo groups was THE place to have forums, hundreds of groups had to remove a certain phrase from their group name or be shut down. More recently (this century at least :)), groups on the Ravelry website had to change terms which might imply some sort of affiliation with the Olympics and remove any depictions of the Olympic Rings in avatars (using yarn, for example). So I have some idea of how ridiculous and unnecessary this may seem to AO3ers.

  19. I see that the post on TheHugoAwards.org has now been edited by adding an additional paragraph at the end indicating that it is an official statement of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee …

    Much better. I think it would be a good idea for the official Hugo Awards site to always publish official statements with the identity of the group making them, whether it’s a committee or a particular Worldcon.

  20. @Laura
    The Olympics committee seems to be over-vigilant. They went after a business in L.A. that had “Olympic” in its name, which is named for the street it’s on (Olympic Boulevard). They should have done their homework first.

  21. P J Evans on December 20, 2019 at 8:48 am said:
    @Laura
    The Olympics committee seems to be over-vigilant. They went after a business in L.A. that had “Olympic” in its name, which is named for the street it’s on (Olympic Boulevard). They should have done their homework first.

    The IOC are litigious in general.

    The IOC actually sued Special Olympics over nomenclature, despite the fact that we have a letter signed by Avery Brundage and by Juan Antonio Samaranch stating that the organization (which works to empower persons with disabilities) could use the term “Special Olympics.”

    When I worked for Special O, we were constantly vigilant about avoiding using terminology that tread on their trademark (For example, we NEVER referred to Special Olympics Athletes as “Special Olympians,” because the latter term was deemed to adversely impact their intellectual property.) They sued us anyhow, and lost because we’d been vigilant about how we used the trademarked term.

  22. @Hampus Eckerman: one of his proofs of how exotic US was were the number of pages with lawyers in the phone book. Didn’t de Tocqueville have something to say about that? (Not literally phone book, of course, but something parallel.)

    What this mess most shows to me is that the MPC needs to have non-MPC people — preferably people who have never been involved with the MPC, and possibly haven’t even been to a WSFS business meeting in ages — read any future public statements, to give an non-technical viewpoint and to ask what is motivating the statement. As a lifelong nerd/geek in other areas, I know how easy it is to erroneously think things are obvious, or at least clear, to people outside one’s own {nerd,geek}ery. It’s possible this applies to any statement representing WSFS — not because of boomers (of which I’m one) or anything relating to age, but simply because it’s too easy to not-see the forest for the trees. It’s true there will always be some people who will misread a statement, possibly even deliberately, but it’s also true that people involved in an issue can leave out context. cf the story about Mike Ford: “Mike, you need to make this a little clearer.” “I have a horror of being obvious.” “Mike, you have no idea what most readers [or even readers of Ford] consider obvious.”

    @Olav Rokne: interesting about the IOC, but not surprising; they have to find people willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money in the hope that licensing will cover some of it. gah.

  23. @Chip —

    What this mess most shows to me is that the MPC needs to have non-MPC people — preferably people who have never been involved with the MPC, and possibly haven’t even been to a WSFS business meeting in ages — read any future public statements, to give an non-technical viewpoint and to ask what is motivating the statement.

    Sensitivity readers would be good!

    As for other parts of this discussion: Everyone really needs to keep in mind that mark protection is NOT only about people trying to misuse the mark for profit. As Olav pointed out with his Special Olympics example, it also applies to non-profit misuse. Us boomers (I am just barely one myself) may remember the days when we were discouraged from using words like Kleenex or Xerox or Kodak in ordinary speech, because those companies were trying very hard (and ultimately unsuccessfully) to protect their marks. Yes, non-profit usage of marks CAN damage the mark and its holders, no matter what the person misusing the mark intended.

  24. @Contrarius

    Yup, not that I can see Hugo falling into some generic usage, but the point of non-commercial use still applies. (Another example here in the US is aspirin. Completely generic name for a pain reliever here — brand name elsewhere. And to use a more contemporary example, Google would prefer people not use their name as a verb.)

  25. The WSFS Mark Protection Committee, which manages the protection of the intellectual property of the World Science Fiction Society, including the mark “Hugo Award,” has issued this statement regarding commercial use of “Hugo Award” by individual contributors to Archive of Their Own, winner of the 2019 Hugo Award for Best Related Work.

    “Archive of Their Own”

    I promised myself I wouldn’t touch this mess with a ten foot pole, but this is like watching a train headed for a collapsed bridge and if anyone here can edit this really bad error in the clarification paragraph or let someone who can edit it know, please do it as soon as you can. Right now it’s… kind of hard not to read it as either insultingly careless or just flat-out insulting.

  26. When one of the maintainers saw the typo, they fixed it. Looking at the time stamps, it was done within an hour of the correction actually being sent to the web site team rather than being posted elsewhere. (And I later noticed that there was a completely different typo in the same paragraph that nobody seemed to notice. I fixed it myself as I’m one of the maintainers.)

    I commented on Twitter that it reminded me of when the San Francisco in 2002 Worldcon bid misspelled “San Francisco” in large bold type on one of their progress reports, even though more than twenty committee members theoretically proofread the thing.

    And speaking of proofreading, I’m trying to figure out how having every public statement vetted by lots of different people and run through apparently many, many reviews is consistent with the simultaneous demand for immediate responses within a very short time (so that even replying in one day is Much Too Slow). It does seem very much to me that to some people, you have to be 100% perfect, you must respond instantly to everything, and if you make any mistakes, it must be due to nefarious intent.

  27. Kevin Standlee: Do you realize how very often you try to deflect criticism in this exact same way, trying to bundle together several kinds of complaints and make it appear that any possible remedies are mutually exclusive? It’s really insulting to people’s intelligence.

    Since nobody at all was expecting the Spanish Inquisition this policy statement, and in fact the MPC has lingered over it since the Worldcon, there was plenty of time to get more eyeballs on the draft.

  28. It’s easy to overlook typos: you see what you’re expecting to see, instead of what’s actually there.

  29. Kevin Standlee:

    It does seem very much to me that to some people, you have to be 100% perfect, you must respond instantly to everything, and if you make any mistakes, it must be due to nefarious intent.

    Their’s a huge difference between making a typo which is just a simple error and making a typo which gets an organization’s name wrong repeatedly – particularly where the context and background of said discussion centre around who is being respected and who is being dismissed.

    As Mike says above in this case they’re was plenty of time to proofread, and that this statement about the Archive of Our Own got their name written wrong is a much more significant typo than my abuse of there their they’re in this comment.

    Or to be more blunt, impact matters more than intent. Your continued defensiveness and deflection even in an obvious disrpectful error (yes, I saw, it’s fixed, I know. not the point) is not good look.

  30. beable: Their’s a huge difference between making a typo which is just a simple error and making a typo which gets an organization’s name wrong repeatedly

    Except that’s not what happened. AO3’s full name appears 3 times in the original post, and in each of the 3 cases, it was correct. After AO3 members screamed loudly about needing attribution for the statement, an addendum was quickly written to provide that, in which the organization’s name was gotten incorrect exactly once — no doubt due to haste and/or tiredness (the members of the MPC all work jobs, and have families, and are no doubt dealing with illnesses and holiday demands as well).

    It seems to me that you should not be trying to exaggerate the extent of the error, nor looking for malicious intent in everything that the MPC says and does.

  31. It’s also an easy error to make, because we are wired to adjust pronouns to the context. And since whoever amended that statement probably isn’t a regular AO3 user, they used the third person plural posessive rather than the first person plural possessive, because that would be the correct form if we weren’t talking about a proper name here.

  32. “ After AO3 members screamed loudly about needing attribution for the statement”

    Not just AO3 members. Anyone with any sense of responsibility.

    “quickly written”

    Almost two days later.

  33. Irritated Observer: Not just AO3 members. Anyone with any sense of responsibility.
    It was posted on The Hugo Awards website, by “The Hugo Awards”. That should have been sufficient attribution for anyone except those looking for names of individuals at which to direct abuse and harassment via the internet and e-mail.

     
    Irritated Observer: “quickly written” — Almost two days later.
    By a committee which has to meet virtually via e-mail, a handful of days before Christmas. Yes, it was quickly-written.

    None of this would have been necessary had the 2019 Hugo Awards division made a clear statement to begin with, back when the award was first made. Now the MPC is left trying to deal with a bunch of people who are commercially-infringing on WSFS’ marks, many of whom might not have done so had the situation been made clear up front.

  34. Yes, in a shocking twist it turned out to be the same group credited on the About page of the website.

    Yes, very quickly compared to the length of time to create the original statement.

  35. It was posted on The Hugo Awards website, by “The Hugo Awards”. That should have been sufficient attribution …

    “The Hugo Awards” isn’t sufficient attribution. If something’s being said about an award winner the WSFS-affiliated entity making the statement needs to be identified. The last Worldcon’s chair and Hugo administrator were confused when this statement originally came out, as was I and other WSFS supporters.

    I joined AO3 this morning and found German-language same sex erotica about the sitcom Empty Nest. It’s the only story about that show on the site. Fanfic is a strange and wonderful place.

    If anyone in this discussion is actively writing there, I’d enjoy checking our your work.

  36. rcade: The last Worldcon’s chair and Hugo administrator were confused when this statement originally came out

    Yes, so confused that they posted a statement which contradicted exactly nothing in the MPC’s statement. And then they quickly deleted that statement. 🙄

  37. They were confused about who issued the statement and said as Dublin 2019 officials they had nothing to do with the decision. That’s a pretty strong indicator to me that attribution was needed.

    What you’ve called sufficient attribution is not clear at all. There is no entity called “the Hugo Awards” that issues public statements. There’s each year’s convention and a few committees. Any official statement posted on the Hugo Awards website needs to be attributed. Otherwise it’s not really official at all, because even WSFS members won’t know under what authority it’s being said.

  38. You can see on the About page of the website:

    This site is created and managed by the Hugo Awards Marketing Subcommittee of the World Science Fiction Society Mark Protection Committee.

  39. Laura, that doesn’t help. It would be understandable if various bodies had the statements hosted on the site. Does ‘The Hugo Awards’ mean a statement endorsed by the Hugo Awards Marketing Subcommittee, or the WSFS Mark Protection Committee? Or some other body/person?

    I agree that assuming malice is unproductive.

  40. Well, it’s been explicitly stated on the post itself now. But I don’t really get why the questioning about whether this statement was from someone with authority to speak on it. It was on the official Hugo Award site run by the MPC about a MPC matter.

  41. But I don’t really get why the questioning about whether this statement was from someone with authority to speak on it.

    The questioning is because a lot of entities are involved in the Hugo Awards and could potentially be making an official statement: every past Worldcon, every future Worldcon, permanent WSFS committees and ad-hoc WSFS committees. I’ve been a Worldcon member for over 10 years now and when I saw the official statement in its initial form I had no idea who was saying it. (One can argue I should’ve known, of course, but the intended audience of the post is more than just us WSFS lifers.)

  42. rcade: The questioning is because a lot of entities are involved in the Hugo Awards and could potentially be making an official statement: every past Worldcon, every future Worldcon, permanent WSFS committees and ad-hoc WSFS committees.

    This is just sophistry. Realistically, there were two possibilities:
    1) Dublin 2019 and its Hugo Awards division, which still have a website, a blog, a Facebook account, a Twitter account, and the ability to e-mail every member on its contact list from the @dublin2019.com domain, and
    2) The ongoing part of WSFS which maintains The Hugo Awards website and Twitter accounts (you know, where the announcement was actually published and tweeted).

    Since it didn’t appear on any of the accounts of the first entity, and did appear on the accounts of the second entity, the source would seem fairly apparent.

    What’s absolutely mystifying to me is why Whyte and Bacon would feel compelled to write and post that statement — which doesn’t contradict the MPC statement in any way other than to say that it was “ill judged” — and then almost immediately delete it.

    That’s just bizarre. Why would they have posted it, unless they were sure that they wanted it made public? Because of course people copied it and took screenshots of it. And isn’t it strange that a statement which complains about “lack of engagement” came from people who didn’t first engage with the MPC?

  43. One can argue I should’ve known, of course, but the intended audience of the post is more than just us WSFS lifers.

    My thought was that the statement was also for anyone who came across a “Hugo Award-winning author” assertion somewhere and then went searching to find out what it was about.

  44. This was the first time I recall that the Hugo Awards web site was used to disseminate an official statement from the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (MPC). While the MPC is in overall charge of managing the four WSFS web sites, the day-to-day management of those sites is delegated to the Hugo Awards Marketing Committee (HAMC), not all of whose members are on the MPC.

    Most posts on the WSFS web sites have the name of the person who posted it (you can see mine that way), but in this case, the MPC wanted the statement posted this way. The mistakes made (and I’m partially responsible, as 1/15 of the committee’s membership) appear to be that we did not:

    Explicitly declare the exact entity name that issued the statement,
    Include a specific statement that it was being prompted by ongoing unauthorized commercial use,
    Explain why the term “natural person” has a legal meaning that matters in this case,
    Provide additional detail about why we were issuing the statement at this time.

    I think it is a reasonable assumption that the next time something is published in this way, it should reflect the lessons learned from this incident.

  45. Yes, it is not unreasonable, to put it very mildly, that a statement should say who it is by and what it is actually about. That is just basic competence and professionalism, and it’s a bit surprising that some seem to feel that the absence of these details first time round was not really a big deal, let alone to see suggestions that those saying they were important are arguing in bad faith.

    It might also be sensible for the MPC to solicit external friendly input in advance next time it makes any public comment. It’s usually better to get things right first time, and taking an extra couple of hours or a day to get comment on a draft can often be a good investment of time, especially if it has already been four months.

  46. I’m sad that any sort of statement was needed. That there are some people misrepresenting themselves as Hugo winners if they aren’t. I’m sorry that many AO3ers who aren’t doing that felt attacked out of nowhere for being happy and proud about AO3’s win. And I’m especially sad if they thought it was to discourage them from participating in the Hugo process.

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