Worldcon 76 Program Troubles

When Worldcon 76 program participants were sent their schedules over the weekend such controversy resulted that the schedule was taken offline this morning, Chair Kevin Roche issued an apology, and the committee now is reviewing the participant bios, asking to hear from Hugo nominees who haven’t been put on the program and, presumably, filling the vacancies left by writers who have now dropped out.

Three issues drawing the most fire in social media have been —

  1. Respect for people’s chosen pronouns (and related concerns about LGBTQAI+ and POC participation);
  2. Whether new writers are being accepted onto programming (with skepticism fueled by the realization that several newer writers who are Hugo nominees are not on the program); and
  3. Dissatisfaction with responses by the Worldcon 76 program division.

Lighting off the social media cycle was Hugo nominee Bogi Takács’ call for an apology after seeing eir bio in the program database. (The thread starts here.)

Takács also pointed to undeserved criticism from Worldcon 76 Program Division Head Christine Doyle for going public:

Takács received an apology from Chair Kevin Roche:

Unfortunately, Roche’s general apology was preceded by another one based on some wrong information, leading to this exchange:

Hugo nominee JY Yang voiced concerns for POC as well:

Another comment:

Yang later wrote another thread (starts here) to make such points as these –

Michi Trota, in a thread that starts here, reminded programming why these creators are Hugo nominees in the first place —

In other thread, Trota wrote:

Amal El-Mohtar did this roundup of the issues —

For the record, the email Program Division Head Christine Doyle sent to program participants yesterday said in part:

We had over 2000 people ask to be on the program, and unfortunately there was no way to accommodate everyone. Similarly, we had over 2000 program items submitted, with lots of duplication in some areas, and we couldn’t schedule them all.

We realized that many people didn’t receive our initial communications, because they were either blocked without us getting notice (i.e., earthlink), or filtered into the promotions bin (gmail).

We may contact some people for headshots and bios. If the headshot and/or bio that we have for you is not to your liking, please contact us with suggested edits or replacements. A note about names: for consistency and fairness, we are not using any prefixes (honorifics) or suffixes for your name unless it changes who you are (Sr/Jr/III). That said, we fully expect all of those details to be in the bios. Let us know if we need to edit the bio to get this included.

The present controversy has cost Worldcon 76 some of its best-known participants.

N.K. Jemisin dropped out of Worldcon 76 programming:

Mary Robinette Kowal is going to the con but is getting off the program:

Several writers say they are dropping off the program to (in effect) leave room for newcomers.

John Scalzi, in “Being Seen at Worldcon”, sums up what he terms to be —

A Twitter thread on the recent contretemps at Worldcon 76, where many newer writers (including some Hugo finalists) were not represented on the initial programming slate

Including this comment:

David Gerrold said on Facebook:

Re: Worldcon.

There are program items I cannot step out of (specifically the memorial panel for Harlan Ellison), but I have written to the Worldcon Committee and asked them to cancel my reading and slot in a Hugo nominee or a person of color or a woman into that spot instead.

I will be taking a second look at a couple other panel assignments as well.

David D. Levine also offered to vacate his place on Worldcon 76 program.

(This is unlikely to be an exhaustive list, just the ones I found.)

Worldcon 76 Chair Kevin Roche has announced on Facebook (with a parallel Twitter thread):

(From the Chair)

I directed the Program Division to take down the preliminary program information that was released yesterday evening. There were too many errors and problems in it to leave it up.

I am sorry we slighted and angered so many of the people we are gathering to meet, honor, and celebrate. This was a mistake, our mistake. We were trying to build a program reflecting the diversity of fandom and respectful of intersectionality. I am heartbroken that we failed so completely.

We are tearing the program apart and starting over. It was intended to be a reflection of the cultures, passions, and experiences of Worldcon membership, with room for both new voices and old. What we released yesterday failed to do that; we must do better.

Many of you have offered to help us do a better job. Thank you. We cannot accept all those offers, but yes, we will be turning to some of you to help us do it better this time.

We will continue to reach out to the Hugo Finalists we have missed connections with, to ensure any who wish to be on the program will have a place on it.

Kevin Roche
Chair, Worldcon 76 in San Jose

An additional complaint about how the bios seem to have been created:

More dissatisfaction about program from two Hugo nominees.

Suzanne Palmer (thread starts here).

K.M.Szpara (thread begins here)

Alexandra Erin responded to the latest social media cycle with these thoughts about the application of lessons from the culture wars to the science fiction community. (Thread starts here.)

Furthermore, Alexandra Erin has decided what is needed is a “Queer Rapid Response Team for WorldCon 76”.

So, this is one of those posts that’s going to be mystifying to a lot of people but make perfect sense to others. It’s a busy day and I don’t have the time or wherewithal to go into the background. The short version is: WorldCon 76 is fudging up quite badly in how it treats attendees, up to and including finalists for its crown jewel Hugo Award. Multiple genderqueer, non-binary, and non-conforming members have spoken up about feeling unsafe and disrespected, and WorldCon’s safety team is not inspiring a lot of confidence.

Accordingly, I am taking one of my standing offers at WisCon and expanding and formalizing it for the larger WorldCon: I am forming a Queer Rapid Response Team. Before the convention next month, I will set up an automated channel that will text any messages onward to everybody on the team. The idea is that if anybody in the family needs an escort, needs a friendly face, needs emotional support, or whatever, we can form up on them like queer Voltron.

96 thoughts on “Worldcon 76 Program Troubles

  1. Wow. What a clusterf*ck. Ok, apologies from the Chair and completely redoing the programming is a good place to start, but they’ve burned up a LOT of goodwill already. I really hope they manage to turn this around.

    HUGO NOMINEES being turned down for program slots because they are “completely unfamiliar to many folks who will be attending”?!? I’m frankly appalled; I’d honestly think that someone misinterpreted what was said if I didn’t see a screencap. *sigh* First, I call bullsh!t; they got NOMINATED for the HUGOS. Second, even if this assertion were somehow true… then putting up-and-coming writers on panels is the way to MAKE them familiar to many folks who will be attending!

  2. Cassy B: ‘HUGO NOMINEES being turned down for program slots because they are “completely unfamiliar to many folks who will be attending”?!? I’m frankly appalled; I’d honestly think that someone misinterpreted what was said if I didn’t see a screencap.’

    I couldn’t believe that myself until I saw it. That’s astoundingly…I don’t have the right word. I’m boggled. I’d think that’d be a reason to put someone on a panel, not leave them off.

  3. I left fandom a couple of decades ago just for this sort of bs, being a woman is hard enough, cons weren’t even close to welcoming me. My life is so different from what it was when WorldCon was in San Francisco, I let a friend convince me it would be a good thing to go this year.

    I’d get to go on my own terms this year. Not hanging out with people who were friends of a friend. Just me doing my own thang, backpack full of books to be signed.

    I don’t know most of the Hugo nominees but was so excited to be exposed to new work and get to vote. This would be my first, and maybe only, chance to ever vote for the Hugos, and WorldCon does THIS???

    I just read Mary Robinette Kowal for the very first time and was looking forward to finding her programming tracks.

    WTF

  4. John A Arkansawyer: I couldn’t believe that myself until I saw it. That’s astoundingly…I don’t have the right word. I’m boggled. I’d think that’d be a reason to put someone on a panel, not leave them off.

    Of course it would be. As someone said on Twitter (paraphrasing), “this is why you put an experienced moderator, a well-known pro, and 2 or 3 neopros on a panel; people who come to see the author they know will leave knowing about some new voices”.

    And that was closely followed by the almost-as-unbelievable “we can’t run an #ownvoices panel, because only 1,000 of our 5,000 members would know what that means”.

    I suspect what they really meant was “we’ve had several people suggest #ownvoices panels, but everyone in the programming division has asked me ‘what is that?’, and none of us know or care what that is, so we assume that the vast majority of Worldcon attendees will also not know or care.”

    I don’t know the people on the programming division, but I did see the participant list and schedule before they got taken down, and it strikes me that the people making decisions know their own little regional area of fandom quite well, but don’t have a lot of familiarity with a wider national fandom, much less international fandom — and that was deeply reflected in their programming choices. There were only 2 panels which had the text string “divers” in the title or description, and apparently the LBGTQ-related panels were shoved off in their own track with the sex and kink panels. Which is just… 🙄

  5. David Gerrold has stated on Facebook: “There are program items I cannot step out of (specifically the memorial panel for Harlan Ellison), but I have written to the Worldcon Committee and asked them to cancel my reading and slot in a Hugo nominee or a person of color or a woman into that spot instead.

    “I will be taking a second look at a couple other panel assignments as well.”

  6. Excluding a first-time Hugo nominee from being on panels because they are insufficiently famous is a terrible policy. I hope this Worldcon makes up for that idea and future Worldcons never make the same mistake. Hugo nominees are obviously among the new voices the members would most like to see.

  7. If all the PoC/LGBTQ finalists or new voices decline to be on panels (which is certainly their right)… then wouldn’t that only leave the SWM/usual suspects to be on them? (I admit I have no idea how building a program works, nor who else is a potential panelist).

    It is very cool for Scalzi, Jemisin, Kowal, PNH, etc. to give up their time slots.

  8. (But the credential woke me up early — he’s fine now — and I’ve had a sinus headache, so I admit the ol’ thinker isn’t at its best.)

  9. rcade: Excluding a first-time Hugo nominee from being on panels because they are insufficiently famous is a terrible policy. I hope this Worldcon makes up for that idea and future Worldcons never make the same mistake. Hugo nominees are obviously among the new voices the members would most like to see.

    I absolutely support the idea that no one is entitled to be on panels at a convention — but given that the Hugo Awards are such a huge part of Worldcon, I think it absolutely makes sense to ensure that the current year’s finalists are given at least one relevant panel if they want one.

  10. Could anyone with access to the original programming schedule check the validity of rumors that certain programming member(s) of the ConCom managed to get on numerous panels despite there being not enough spots for so many applicants? If true, that’s even worse with excluding nominees and marginalized people to make room for yourself.

  11. Ken: Could anyone with access to the original programming schedule

    It’s possible that someone was able to download the schedule, I suppose, but it’s been removed and can’t be accessed either via the website or the mobile app.

     
    Ken: check the validity of rumors that certain programming member(s) of the ConCom managed to get on numerous panels despite there being not enough spots for so many applicants?

    I saw someone say that the programming chair (incidentally, the source of at least some of the clueless and offensive e-mails and posts, including the “we can’t accommodate everyone” schtick) had 4 panels assigned to them. I suspect when the new lineup comes out, that will have changed dramatically.

  12. Clearly I have room to learn. I couldn’t have run programming and been on four panels — no time!

  13. This mess is particularly sad in view of the excellence of the nominees list. The silver lining is the great unselfishness of established names in opening programming space. I thought the chair’s apology was excellent, and hope that follow-up action is as good or better.

  14. The other thing I saw was a few people saying that they’d pitched detailed panel proposals that they’d like to moderate, complete with suggested guest lists and found the panel on the schedule, with completely different people involved.

  15. This from Foz Meadows mentions an issue with head of programming getting a number of slots. It’s also just worth reading for a really good measured analysis from Meadows.

    It does seem to me that Kevin Roche is making genuine attempts to fix this – sincere apologies, pulling the program to start again which must be a major task – and I hope he’s able to put something together that helps regain a measure of trust.

  16. Hoa, less than one month left and they need to both go through all biographies, redo the programming and still have time to print everything in a booklet!?

    Anyhow, great sum up by Foz Meadows.

  17. Endorsing Foz’s post referenced above, a very good summation.

    I’m having my own dilemma. This Worldcon will be the first time I’ve been on panels at a Worldcon, one of my personal fannish-life goals.
    I was originally scheduled for one – a walk around the dealers room. I inquired about being added to more (was happy with the one, hoping to do more) and received word that I had been added to an additional, regular panel on addressing fannish tribalism, with three others individuals I’m completely unfamiliar with (a good thing).
    Now this, on the eve of the debut of Amazing, which somewhat puts me into the ‘panels would be great exposure and a boost to my career’ position, while being keenly aware that a magazine is not an individual author trying to gain some eyeballs and establish some credibility.
    So what should I do? Give up my panels? I’m willing if it will genuinely help, though I’ll personally be disappointed.
    Find a way to address this in a future issue of the magazine? I’d be happy to. Perhaps those who are being negatively affected by this can stop by my booth and offer some suggestions? I’ve worked with Foz when something that needed saying was looking for a home, so the door is open.

  18. So what should I do? Give up my panels?

    As a first-time Worldcon panelist, you are one of the new voices being given an opportunity to be heard. Don’t give up your two panel slots.

  19. @steve davidson
    You’re also on a “Walk with the Stars” with me. 🙂 Not sure if that counts as a panel. And I don’t think you should decline your other panel(s).

    I think being a Hugo Finalist does make it easier to get on panels, as does having expertise in some area. I also think it helps if you’ve been on a panel in the past. I suspect being local helps in many cases just because the organizers are going to favor people they know and trust.

    At Helsinki, I was on four panels: AI, Machine Translation, Short Fiction, and Reviewing, and I moderated two of them–even though I’d never been on a panel at a convention before. (I’d moderated panels at software conferences before though.) These were an excellent fit to my background (Short-story reviewer with a career in computational linguistics) and they were a lot of fun. I suspect there wasn’t nearly as much competition at Helsinki though.

    WorldCon76 also offered me four (not counting the walk with the stars) but I declined two of them because I didn’t think they were good fits. But you’ll be good on a Fannish Tribalism panel, so I think you should keep it.

  20. El-Mohtar tweets I really want to know … how to prevent it from happening again. I was tempted to answer “full-time permanent professional management” — but leaving aside all the issues that would cause, I suspect even such management would have problems. (For one thing, that would necessarily be a small group — which ISTM is exactly the wrong thing for Worldcon programming.) This mess will probably keep a couple of subsequent concoms more focused on preventing a repeat (and may or may not drag enough attention that some other area is insufficiently watched) — then attention will fade and some insufficiently-clued concom will do it again. The one approach that seems most likely to work is for more unheard voices to get involved in general conrunning, but that takes spoons they may not have.

    @OGH: Clearly I have room to learn. I couldn’t have run programming and been on four panels — no time! I don’t know most of the people who have run Worldcon programming, so the fact that I can think of only one who put themself on panels may be an insufficient sample; however, I would not recommend that person as a model, for reasons far beyond that action. ISTM that the question that anyone in that position should be asking is not “Do I want to do this?” but “Is there no better person anywhere for this slot?”

    One of the complaints against the 1993 concom was that they expected people outside the area to volunteer instead of asking for help; I don’t know whether a similar effect contributed to the apparent insularity of this division, but ISTM that it’s a two-way street — arguably out-area people should be more in the habit of volunteering. I admit I’m not one to talk; I was directly asked to take on my last two Worldcon positions. OTOH, they were both positions that not all concoms have had — and I did end up stepping up to fill holes in both cases. And for personal reasons neither of them was a convention I’d planned to go to — unlike, AFAICT, much of non-BayArea SMOFdom.

  21. Well, I and my friends look forward to seeing some “big-name” authors on panels, so excluding them from a bunch of panels is highly counter-productive. I attend anything Scalzi, Silverberg, and Willis are on because they are very entertaining. I hope Robert Jackson Bennett and Robyn Bennis have panels because I really want to see/hear them and get my books signed.

    A friend of mine is on the inside and one of the concom volunteers is, quite honestly, not very bright. In my experiences with them I’ve noticed this person is insular and carries weird grudges against some people and, frankly, can be very mean. But they volunteered to help, and I wouldn’t be surprised they are part of the reason for the chaos.

  22. @Ita–No one is excluding big names from program, or suggesting they be excluded. Some big names are withdrawing themselves in an effort to pressure the Worldcon2018 condom to correct their very misguided decision that first-time Hugo finalists aren’t interesting or important to attendees, and that not enough people are interested in #OwnVoices creators to be worth including some of them on relevant programming.

    Never fear; there will still be plenty of big names in program this year.

  23. Mr. Glyer, I think we must all admit that he has a point. I suspect umbrage and outrage have been taken far beyond their logical point. To quote the famous LA citizen responsible for the LA riots, “can’t we all just get along?”

  24. I have to wonder about this move that has the well-known luminaries giving up spots on the panels for other lesser-known people.

    I have zero dog in this hunt, but as an observer, it strikes me as a bit at odds with one of the draws of WorldCon. I’d always assumed that for many attendees, one of the big draws was to see their favorite author/artist/editor/whatever on a panel.

    This con is for the fans, is it not? Then it seems that this exodus of well-known for lesser-known is not going to make some (maybe a silent majority) of fans happy.

  25. Michael Rothman: Some of these newer people ARE the people I’d want to see on panels. Jy Yang for instance, I’d go out of my way to watch on a panel.. Bogi might not be an automatic draw but I am curious what e has to say and would count as a bonus on a panel topic that appealed. I would be all over an #ownvoices panel or track.

    I’d also love to see N.K.Jemisin, but I applaud her decision.

    Christine Doyle OTOH is not a draw at all.

    (ETA I am not going so my opinions bear a significalt saline content but I doubt I am that much of an outlier in thinking a novella finalist is appealing)

  26. Curtis: it’s interesting how you blame the victim of police brutality for the entire riot and not, oh, the police…

  27. There has always been a strong tradition within fandom of authors and artists giving a hand-up to the next generation. While it need not be explained, I’ll do so anyway: some of the more visible and responsible members of our community have signaled to the concom what they believe the right thing to do is and have removed themselves so as to remove any excuses there may be.

    Not ideal, but it seems to me that an extended time frame panel, or contiuously running track of “meet your new Hugo finalists” would be a no brainer; two or three of the new folks up for awards (and or new and notable ‘for some objective reason’ folks to the con would put in an appearance, maybe do a brief reading, answer questions….then roll-over to another grouping.

    It doesn’t substitute for a focused reading or a panel on a subject directly related to the Finalists expertise, on the other hand it would place some emphasis on the fact that the convention is hosting some NEW people that we all might want to get to know.

    I’m sticking with my panel and walk-around – several people (thank you) have written to me here and in email stating that I’ve got enough “newness” cred to justify it, so thanks for that.

  28. I’m kind of happy to know of #ownvoices now, which I didn’t before. At least something good.

    I’m not really into panels myself. I grow restless too quick if people talk around too much, are too slow, repeat things I know or do too much joking instead of giving me data. When that happens, I suddenly find that I have zoned out and missed the last 10 minutes. So I prefer to stick to the more professional panels where the focus is on giving information. Or to seminars.

    That is my main problem with the two Worldcons I’ve been to. Too many panels, too few lectures on an interesting subject. My highlights last year was Gregs panel on artificial intelligence and the lecture on fan history by Ahrvid Engholm.

  29. Michael Rothman on July 24, 2018 at 9:56 am said:

    I have to wonder about this move that has the well-known luminaries giving up spots on the panels for other lesser-known people.

    I have zero dog in this hunt, but as an observer, it strikes me as a bit at odds with one of the draws of WorldCon. I’d always assumed that for many attendees, one of the big draws was to see their favorite author/artist/editor/whatever on a panel.

    Effective programming needs a mix of people that the original programming didn’t have. Big names making room forces the point on the people managing the programming and reminds them not to take the big draws for granted. The big draws are fans also and they’d like to hear people they are less familiar with as well. If cons think “if we don’t make rooms for new faces we’ll lose some of the big draws” then they have an incentive.

    Also, across a number of cons now over the past few years, programming has been presented as a *conflict* between regulars and new-comers. I suspect that dynamic is partly in play here but the moves by Jemisin & Sclazi have helped stopped this issue becoming different generations of possible presenters/panelist being seen as at odds.

    In short, yes you need big draws and you need to foster the ‘big draws’ of tomorrow. Scalzi and Foz Meadows both have good anecdotes around how their access to Worldcon programming when they were less well known helped them.

  30. Mike Glyer on July 24, 2018 at 9:12 am said:

    Larry Correia couldn’t be more delighted about the current state of affairs — My Official Comment on WorldCon 2018’s Social Justice Cannibal Feeding Frenzy. [Internet Archive link.]

    Well that’s Larry for you. He can only see disagreement as war-like and permanent. He assumes that because he would end up with a perma-grudge at the end of any conflict then that is what will happen here. Treating these kinds of controversies as warfare and assuming each one is resolved with one ‘side’ winning and the other ‘losing’ (and thenceforth permanently at odds) is exactly how broad-based communities of people DON’T survive because it is an approach that has zero resilience.

    Instead, people attempting to fix things, make amends and move on is the strategy for broad-based communities that DO survive and prosper. Put people together and try to get them to work together for a common purpose and there will be conflicts and missteps and bitter arguments. Approach each one in Larry’s take-no-prisoners-compromise-is-defeat style and you rapidly end up with splintered factions who hate each other.

  31. Ita: I hope Robert Jackson Bennett… [has] panels

    When I went through the schedule marking the things I was interested in, he was the first person I looked for. I was shocked to discover that Bennett was not on Programming at all. He is one of the people I am really excited to see this year.

    I mean, that may have been by his choice — but based on what I’ve seen of his activities trying to promote his work, I would find that really surprising. And based just on his Twitter feed, I think he would be a really interesting and incredibly witty panelist or kaffeeklatsch host. And he is a Hugo Finalist this year, for pete’s sake.

    The Program Participant Suggestion Form is no longer available, so I really don’t know how to let Worldcon 76 know that they should double-check this, given all the comms noise they are undoubtedly dealing with. I really, really hope that he’s one of the finalists to whom they are reaching out.

  32. ” I was shocked to discover that Bennett was not on Programming at all. “

    If I understand it, not all programming had been made public when they chose to withdraw everything, so there’s hope yet.

  33. @Michael Rothman: Apart from what Lenora said, programming at traditional fan-run cons like Worldcon is very much different from programming at “professional” cons. Traditionally, fandom has been working on breaking down the creator-consumer and artist-audience divides, first more or less by accident, later on more consciously. The panelists aren’t there to be showcased as individuals, but to hold a spirited, interesting, and informative conversation that can continue on for the rest of the con.

    Of course NK Jemisin, Mary Robinette Kowal, GRR Martin, and other big names are going to be put on panels. But it’s just as important to vary the people around them, and continually bring in new voices to the conversation.

  34. What a mess.

    My primary interest in WorldCon is the EPH voting method I helped design. So take the following with a grain of salt.

    It seems to me at least possible that the voting method is a factor in what’s going on here. EPH is designed to ensure that the finalists represent as broad a variety of fans as possible, at the occasional expense of including the second or third choice of larger groups of fans. No voting system can (or IMO should) correct for skew in the base voting population, but it is natural that EPH gives finalist slots to people that the “insiders” aren’t particularly aware of.

    Of course, the move from 5 to 6 nominees per category is another factor in the same direction as EPH.

    If it’s true that EPH is one of the causes of this mess, then I’d still say that EPH is doing a good job here. IMO It’s better to have people be able to say “I’m a Hugo nominee and I feel excluded”, and to have the public brouhaha that follows, than it would be to just have them say “I/we feel excluded” and be ignored and leave the community.

    Of course, in ideal conditions, no good-faith group would be getting excluded. (And while that wouldn’t quite prevent all groups from feeling excluded, it would minimize that.) But volunteer conrunners are not always going to be above average. (Note that that sentence would also be true without the word “volunteer”.)

    So I’d still obviously prefer having everything go great to having a mess, but I’d prefer having a public mess to having a mess that gets ignored. And I think it’s possible that EPH helped avoid the latter possibility.

  35. I was shocked to discover that Bennett was not on Programming at all. He is one of the people I am really excited to see this year.

    What??? Well, since Robert Jackson Bennett is up for a Hugo I hope they pulled their heads out of their asses and give him SOMETHING! At least one panel and a signing. I don’t think he’s a HUGE name yet, but he really should be!! He and Martha Wells are my top 2 contenders for Best Series.

  36. Jameson Quinn: If it’s true that EPH is one of the causes of this mess

    It’s definitely not.

    I don’t know if you looked at last year’s nominating statistics, but the category with the lowest number of nominations was Fan Artist, where the Finalists had 33, 34, 39, 48, 70, and 121 nominations. The next lowest tally was 53 nominations, for a Fanzine and for this year’s Professional Artist Guest of Honor, and 57 for another Fanzine. The Finalist with the next lowest nominations had 72. In Hugo terms, anything with over 50 nominations is significant. With the exception of the Fan Artist category, the lowest nominations last year weren’t low.

    The problem is an insular programming staff which made the mistake of assuming that if they hadn’t heard of someone or some topic, then none of the other Worldcon attendees would have, either (and probably a lack of clear communication by the people above them about what the expectations were for their programming priorities).

  37. Mary Robinette Kowal on Twitter:

    I’ve offered to help @worldcon2018 with programming and they have accepted my offer. I’ll be working with a small team to make certain that multiple voices are heard.

    A request, please…grant me 48 hours of not answering questions so that I can get oriented.

    WorldCon is a huge, complicated beast. We know about the mistakes, but there’s also a ton of stuff they’ve done right.

    I don’t want to throw things out that are working.

    What I want is to proceed with focus and care. And that’s why I’m asking y’all to give us at least 48 hours to get my team up and running.

    Also, frankly, to make sure that I have the right team to help this WorldCon.

    What I’ll tell you is this…they listened.

    I look forward to working with the concom. And I look forward to seeing you in San Jose and to celebrating the Hugo and Campbell finalists and all the wonderful, diverse people who attend Worldcon.

  38. It’s their choice, but I’d rather the well-known authors not opt out (for one thing, some of them are why I am going) but only agree to be on panels with 2-3 lesser known authors (as moderator if nothing else, and maybe decline to answer any questions that are just to them). That helps the lesser known authors get exposure, and (at least more or less) satisfies the people only their for the names.

    If I go to a panel with one or two people I know and a bunch I don’t, I’ll at least check out the ones I don’t know, and usually will try to read something of theirs.

  39. Mary Robinette Kowal: A request, please…grant me 48 hours of not answering questions so that I can get oriented.

    Okay… so is there a place we can send those questions or programming requests?

  40. “What I want is to proceed with focus and care. And that’s why I’m asking y’all to give us at least 48 hours to get my team up and running.”

    This. Absolutely this, asking for time. And that it is a person with credibility asking for time, someone with experience. This is exactly what Camestros mentioned above, people coming together to fix things.

  41. Argh
    I hate it when my friends fight, which is what this feels like.
    Apologies are happening, changes are, I hope being made, lessons are, I hope, being learned.

    BUT there are real problems here, for all that I’m willing to believe in the mostly good will of those who screwed up.

    1) The name, bio, pronoun mess is a secretarial-level fail, and therefore really inexcusable.
    Office people do this crap ALL THE TIME.
    It requires only ordinary competence.
    Heck, you don’t even have to get the pronouns straight yourself, because you shouldn’t be writing it to begin with.
    The very first thing is to ASK your participants for a photo and bio (specify length).
    You don’t scramble to write their bios and screw up, you just have to track down the stragglers.
    Sigh.
    Apologies have been made, and presumably future cons will handle this in a more professional manner.

    2) Similarly the whole announcement on the dress code was just poorly handled.
    Again an issue in simple office competence: you don’t insult people’s normal competence.
    There is no need to tell nominees that this is a special evening.
    But it is nerd parade time, and people will wear their own personal best, and it really isn’t up to you to try to tell them what that should be.
    I suspect most of us appreciate the nubby nerdy mix of genuine shiny dress-up and the semi-formal tee-shirt – it’s not the Oscars.
    And, in any case, you can’t herd cats with a stick.

    3) The panels are a whole different bag of awful.
    Me, I strongly believe that every nominee who plans to be in attendance ought to be on, at the very least, one appropriate primetime panel.
    Preferably more.
    No whining allowed on this one — it is the actual job to just make this work.
    We nominated these people, we want to see THEM much more than we want four shots at the local talent.
    I’m gutted to miss some of the people who have stepped down, but bless them for doing so.
    But I truly hope some of the friends of friends and all have the good sense to make way too.

    4) I frankly hope and expect that there will be panels on subjects that I am not familiar with.
    It’s part of the reason I’m shelling out the money to attend.
    If administrators are unfamiliar with a subject, it is on them to up their game – especially if a proposed panel involves nominees.
    Fans nominated these people and the con needs to respect fan choices.

    5) I’m unhappy to learn that people’s proposed panels were reworked in what looks like kind of skeevy ways.
    I’ve never been involved at the planning level of things, so I don’t know whether reworking panels like this is business as usual, but it looks and feels kind of crappy.
    Especially when it involved eliminating POC proposed panelists on two separate proposed panels.
    I’m hoping there is some way to recover this programming.

    6) Generally summing up and thinking.

    Someone, somewhere in the process, needs to maintain totals of who is on what panels.
    You know, a simple tally sheet, to prevent outrages.
    The first priority, indeed, should be that every nominee be given a significant and appropriate role, in line with their indicated preferences.
    And especially they should be on panels with established big names in similar fields.
    At the other end of things, someone should be watching to make sure that local volunteers aren’t hogging spots.
    I’m perfectly okay with someone’s buddy who did the work gets on a panel.
    One.
    Four seems, frankly, outrageous.

    Hell, if a nominee proposes a panel there’d better be a damned good reason not to have it.
    And it being on an unfamiliar subject is not a good reason.

    Is there any chance of recovering panels involving some of the more affected nominees who have announced their intention not to participate?
    Not just the big shots (though I wish they’d manage to hang onto a panel apiece).
    But Lemberg, Takács, Yang, Anders… that’s pretty much a list of people I was looking forward to hearing.
    If the program is being totally torn apart and reworked, please let it not be too late to find its full potential, despite the seriously unfortunate beginning.

  42. Kudos to the Emergency Holographic Programming Team. Give them time and room to work, ribbons, medals, and favorite libations.

  43. Ruth S. on July 24, 2018 at 4:10 pm said:
    Kudos to the Emergency Holographic Programming Team. Give them time and room to work, ribbons, medals, and favorite libations.

    I’m feeling hopeful.
    Will ply them all with virtual cats – easier to work around than the actual ones.

  44. A point of information on Robert Jackson Bennett. As far as I can tell, he was not on programming because at this point he hasn’t indicated if he will actually be at the con. Anyone who is nominated for a Hugo has an entry in the database with The Hugo Awards and pre-awards reception blocked out on their schedule. He is also not on the membership list, but that is optional to be listed. He definitely would have been a good addition to the program.

    As for Mary Robinette Kowal putting a team together, that is a very good thing. She has done a great job with the Nebula Weekend programming and also has the general industry knowledge to make good choices on panels and participants.

  45. Lee Whiteside: A point of information on Robert Jackson Bennett. As far as I can tell, he was not on programming because at this point he hasn’t indicated if he will actually be at the con.

    Can you have a word with the Hugo Admins? Because this looks like an oversight on Programming’s part.

    @robertjbennett Jun 21
    In New Orleans now for ALA – then doing SDCC, WorldCon, DragonCon… possibly others. @kathleenq knows more!

  46. 3) The panels are a whole different bag of awful.
    Me, I strongly believe that every nominee who plans to be in attendance ought to be on, at the very least, one appropriate primetime panel.
    Preferably more.

    This means that if Vox Day and Co. ever get their act back together that would mean putting people like John C. Wright and Tank Marmot on Worldcon panels. Although depending on what other panelists there were (and assuming a moderator who could do the job of keeping them all herded) that could be interesting.

    1) The name, bio, pronoun mess is a secretarial-level fail, and therefore really inexcusable.
    Office people do this crap ALL THE TIME.
    It requires only ordinary competence.
    Heck, you don’t even have to get the pronouns straight yourself, because you shouldn’t be writing it to begin with.
    The very first thing is to ASK your participants for a photo and bio (specify length).

    A good rule of thumb would be not to publish/post anything that hasn’t been approved by the participant. And if they haven’t responded after a reasonable number of electronic requests, dust off that piece of 19th century, the telephone, and talk to them directly, or get someone who knows them to prod them for a confirmation. It’s more work for the committee person, but it will save time and trouble in the long run.

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.