Introduction: I’m going to open discussion of some of the proposed WSFS rules changes in the Chengdu Worldcon’s Business Meeting agenda by setting the table in a series of topical posts. (Download the English-language version here and the Chinese-language version here.)
Two motions submitted by Arthur Liu and Zhong Tianyi aim to make the Hugos more inclusive.
The first motion makes explicit something that is already true under the rules – works can be in any language — but that not everyone is aware to be true. Having a black-letter rule saying so arguably would make it easier to get that message out. [Click for larger image.]
The second motion prioritizes deleting a rule that references the “United States”. The proposal leaves untouched the preceding rule (3.4.1) that gives extended eligibility to works originally published in another language than English. [Click for larger image.]
The original idea behind rule 3.4.2 really was to “level the playing field” for English language works first published in the UK then later in the U.S.
The reasons behind the rule were discussed in a committee report to the 2000 business meeting (page 44):
This committee was charged by the 1999 WSFS Business Meeting with studying the issues surrounding the eligibility and nomination for the Hugo Award of works first published outside the USA. There is an underlying assumption in all of these proposals that, inasmuch as most of the people nominating and voting for the Hugo Award live in the USA, works first published outside of the USA are at a severe disadvantage. This disadvantage is perceived to apply even when the Worldcon is held in a country other than the USA, because even then, most Hugo voters are from the USA.
But who the specific beneficiaries of the rule were known to be was made clear in the 2013 report:
If we pass this amendment, he argued, we send a clear message about recognizing the diversity of works available outside the U.S. This is not just about the U.K.; the Worldcon also goes to Canada and other countries, and this amendment includes them.
What became 3.4.2 was broached in the 1990s and first appeared in the WSFS Constitution as something considered year-by-year and requiring a 3/4 vote of the business meeting for approval. In 2013, as one of the last works of the Hugo Award Rest of the World Eligibility Committee (HEROW), the rule was changed to its current form, and when ratified the following year made the extension automatic and perpetual.
Should rule 3.4.2 stay or go? Arthur Liu and Zhong Tianyi say it should go.