Lisa Hayes’ “Additional Finalists” Hugo Award proposal has been submitted for inclusion on the Worldcon Business Meeting agenda.
Short Title: Additional Finalists
Moved, to amend the WSFS Constitution for the purpose of allowing the Committee to add up to two additional finalists to each Hugo Award category, by adding a new section after existing Section 3.8 as follows:
Section 3.X: Additional Finalists. The Worldcon Committee may add not more than two additional finalists in each category, provided that such additional finalists would qualify to be in the list of nominees described in Section 3.11.4.
Moved by: Lisa Hayes, Lisa Deutsch Harrigan, David Wallace
See supporting commentary here.
[Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the story.]
Your LJ comments make it clear that the intent is to deal with the fact that some of the finalists that are nominated don’t reflect “the true intent of the membership as a whole” — that their organic support alone would not place them in the top five. It does so by allowing the Worldcon Committee to add nominees to the finalists lists from the top fifteen.
Looking at the 2015 voting/nomination report, in nearly all of the categories, the top 15 would include works or people which had received less that 4% of the nominations. I realize that it would be unusual for the WC to add the least-popular possible entry as a finalist, but it could happen. How would adding a work or person as a finalist that was not included on 24 out of 25 ballots help make the finalist list reflect “the true intent of the membership as a whole”? It would reflect only the intent of (a small minority of members) + (the Worldcon Committee).
Would the Hugos and WSFS be better served by modifying the proposal to discourage this? Perhaps additional finalists should be selected from the top 8 or 10, rather than the top 15; or maybe additional finalists must appear on at least X% (where X >> 4%) of the nominating ballots.
Bill asks rhetorically
That would be, only a small minority of the membership as a whole actually submit nomination ballots (for reasons varying from good to understandable).
Of course, as you already know Bob, if the nomination phase always accurately reflected the views of the membership as a whole, there would be no need for any subsequent actual voting phase.
And making an extra item a finalist can, due to the voting phase, only result in that item becoming the actual Hugo winner if it was not the true intent of the membership as a whole to exclude it!!!
So it seems that thou dost protest too much against the exclusion of such works.
I guess that going down to fifteen is meant to cope with the possibility of multiple slates, where there might not be enough organic works in the top ten. On the other hand, one might well say that if slates manage to take all or most of the top ten, it’s too late to do anything, and we may as well just hold up our hands; that still wouldn’t be a fair result (it certainly doesn’t imply, as is sometimes suggested, that slates would have a majority), but it may be hard to see what other result would be fairer.
I think it has to go down to at least ten, because a partially successful slate might have taken spots 6-8.
Further point: I am intrigued by the line in the LJ proposal which says ‘In past years (not just recently), it has been clear to many people that works placing in the top five probably did not reflect the true intent of the membership as a whole’.
Is this just a reference to Black Genesis, or to something wider? It does raise questions about just what it is for a ballot to reflect ‘the intent of the membership as a whole’, and what would count against that. (Obviously, no item on the ballot has, as an individual work, the support of the membership as a whole, so it must mean something weaker than that.)
If people like the idea of extending the finalists when one or more of them have dubious support but are not outright inappropriate in themselves, but don’t like the idea of assigning power to a cabal, there is a way to do something similar using 3SV. The idea is that the second-round ballot would have 3 options: “accept”, “reject”, and “accept but extend”. For each work that got a quorum of “accept but extend” that became one of the finalists, the list of finalists would extend by one. “Reject” votes would also count towards that quorum. The “extend” quorum would be significantly lower than the “reject” quorum; say, 300 for the first extension, and 100 more for each extension after that.
This was one of the proposals that we discussed along with EPH+ and 3SV in the threads earlier, but it was decided that there were enough proposals already on the agenda, and this proposal was not urgent and could wait until next year.
Andrew M on July 27, 2016 at 7:31 am said:
There is the Black Genesis issue, but there is also the 1989 Worldcon, where the pattern of voting suggested some sort of shenanigans going on, and the 1989 Worldcon Committee (which did not have a Hugo Administration Subcommittee; Noreascon 3 declared that the corporate members of their parent non-profit corporation, MCFI, were “the committee” for constitutional purposes) on their own initiative named the sixth-place nominee as an additional finalist, after which one of the original five (the one that many people said, “one of these things doesn’t belong” about) withdrew, which is why there were only five finalists in the end.
It was the 1989 Worldcon’s attempt to deal with a situation where there appeared to be bad actors at work that inspired this proposal. Letting the Committee draw from the Top 15 rather than just taking the next-two-highest-ranked nominees helps discourage multiple slates. Overall the proposal introduces an element of judgement from the Administrators while limiting the pool of potential additional finalists to works suggested by enough of the members that existing constitutional provisions require that they be listed in the “We Also Heard From” list.
Using the Section 3.11.4 list also means that this proposal can depend on existing provisions without having to write yet another set of definitions. It’s the same reason 3SV uses phrases like “Only WSFS members can vote” — better to use wording where the meaning is understood than to create new wording where new unintended interpretation may creep in to the process.
What, though, would be a shenanigan? Slating of the current sort is clearly bad, because it allows a group of works to take over the whole ballot, or a disproportionate part of it, in a way that does not represent the spread of votes fairly. But Black Genesis wasn’t a case of this; it took just one spot, to which presumably its votes would have entitled it on any system of calculation. Some of us are also worried that slate votes don’t represent the real preferences of voters, but again this would not apply in cases like these: presumably if people are conspiring in favour of just one work, it is because they like it.
I take it the underlying thought is that these votes come from people who are not committed to the awards process as such, but only to a particular work, and are hijacking the process in order to benefit that work. I am inclined to agree that this is a problem, but I am worried that it may come up against the ‘they’re fans too’ argument, and lead to objections that we are treating some voters as Wrongfans having Wrongfun. This was a silly argument when Torgersen used it, because it ignored the fact that we were objecting to the method used to get votes for the slated works. It might have more force if deployed in defence of single-issue campaigns.
While I don’t have a position on slates one way or the other, here is my suggestion for a nomination process that punishes troll slates but rewards slates of genuinely popular works. A numeric rating would work just as well as YES/NO, I think.
(If the link does not work for some reason, it is on my goodreads blog )