Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

Daniel Enness announced he has been informed by MidAmeriCon II that “Safe Space as Rape Room,” his Hugo-nominated series of posts on the Castalia House Blog, will not be part of the Hugo Voter Packet:

Worldcon Members who are looking forward to the forthcoming Hugo Voter Packet – which traditionally contains as many of the works nominated for a Hugo Award as possible so that all voters can review the nominees in a unified set of documents – will notice a special warning from MidAmeriCon II in this year’s edition of the Packet:

As the World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II has members from 35 countries. Safe Space as Rape Room quotes extensively from a written work containing explicit descriptions of children engaged in sexual activities. This material may be illegal in some home countries of  members. MidAmeriCon II does not wish to put any member at risk of inadvertently violating the law in their country of residence by downloading it in the packet without intent. As such, under legal advice, we are not  hosting or distributing this material directly. However, Safe Space as Rape Room is freely available on the Internet and can be found by anyone at….

The series of posts is nominated in the Best Related Works category.

321 thoughts on “Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

  1. I contend that the position of a work on the nominating ballot is relevant to how the membership feels about a work, and correlates with how a work will end up doing on the final vote tally.

    [the] number of nominations is pretty irrelevant. . . # of nominations isn’t very useful

    the number of nominations are totally unimportant with regards to measuring popularity of the membership as a whole. It has absolutely no value for this

    It seems like you may be confusing nominations (gets you onto the final ballot) with votes (nominations irrelevant; it’s a blank slate, ::cough::, youknowwhatImean)

    Others disagree with this contention.

    If anyone wants something mathier about relative nomination position versus regularity of winning, they’re going to have to look them up themselves

    I can do that.

    Between 2007 and 2013 inclusive, there were 28 fiction awards (Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story), and in 19 of them, there were exactly 5 nominees that included no ties. (I rejected the other 9 to simplify some of the upcoming calculations, but doing so does not affect my final conclusions.)

    If what Kendall and Hampus are saying is true, then you would expect that works that are #1 on nominating ballots would have an average place of 3 (average of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th place) in the final vote totals. In fact, over these 19 awards, their average place is 2.26 (they do much better than average). You would expect the work getting the most nominations to end up winning only 20% (3.8 times) of the time. It happens 47% (9 times) of the time.

    If number of nominations was meaningless, you’d expect the work with the fifth most nominations to have an average place of 3 on the final tally. In fact, their average final position was 3.8 (they do worse than average). You would expect them to end up in fifth place only 20% of the time. It happens 32% (6 times) of the time.

    The number of nominating ballots a work receives is a pretty good predictor of how it will do on the final awards (by “pretty good”, I mean that you could make a LOT of money betting on the Hugos at 4 to 1 odds using nomination positions to handicap the bets). Not perfect, but pretty good. Nomination position correlates with final vote tallies.

    Now, that being the case, if one wanted to, he or she could go through all of the packets and compare how well works/people that were in the packet (did they improve or fall from nomination position to final position) did to works/people that were excerpted to works/people that were not in the packet. My sense is that there are so few works that were not available that the net effect would be small, but it would be real (not including a whole work is to the detriment of the work).

    The burden of proof lies upon those who claim that the packet should go because it disadvantages nominees who don’t submit (or are excluded).

    I don’t recall anyone making that claim for that reason — I certainly didn’t. I think well organized, neutrally administered packets are a good thing.

  2. Bill:

    As you are totally ignoring the fact of slates which is the main reason people said that number of nominations were irrelevant, your last comment has no more meaning than arguing for arguings sake.

    Which I will not be bothered with.

  3. @Bill

    Mm, my sense from a bit of a look through was that first place nominees were likely to win slightly under half the time (and the bigger the gap between the first and second place nominations the more likely the win). However, the gap seems to have widened in 2014, which I believe is the first year that not-typical-voters started getting involved due to significant Puppy presence (but not domination) of the ballot. I suspect that the result was a greater divergence between typical-nominators (small group) and the voting stage itself, whereas previously while there has been a larger voting population than nominating population, the difference hasn’t been as much. Of course, since we don’t have nominating numbers til after the ceremony you’d have a hard time betting without insider knowledge. 🙂 All that being said, first place nominees have by no means a guaranteed victory, any more than works not in the packet are guaranteed to lose (at least one winner was not in the packet and was the last place nominee).

    Shame that the 2015 data is so useless due to slate involvement. It would be nice to see whether the gap would have widened again due to the much larger voting population (although of course, the population wouldn’t have increased so much without the slates, either).

    Brian Z is the one arguing for the removal of the packet with, as part of that argument, the possible disadvantage of absent works.

  4. Although, the other thing about nominating numbers is that only somewhere around a quarter (I think?) of nominators get any of their picks on the final ballot in any given category.

  5. Bill, I contend that the position of a work on the nominating ballot is relevant to how the membership feels about a work, and correlates with how a work will end up doing on the final vote tally.

    That’s all well and good, but MidAmeriCon II scrambled the order of my nominations every time I hit “save”. So how would you know which was my “first” nomination and which was my “oh, this was also good” nomination?

    (And I tended to fill out nominations in the chronological order I’d read them and jotted them down on my longlist. Not in order of how much I loved them. One data point against your hypothesis, even with non-scrambled ballots.)

  6. @Cassy B

    I assumed Bill meant first as in “first in the final nomination tally” (e.g. Ancillary Justice got the most nominations overall, by a good 150+) rather than “first on any individual ballot”.

  7. @Meredith, ah, ok. I didn’t read it that way, but I agree that’s a valid reading. But then you have to separate out the effect of griefers and vandals, which is difficult to do for any post-2013 ballot.

  8. Does that awkward phrasing indicate that Meredith believes I did make that claim for that reason. or just that she knows full well that I didn’t?

    You know, I agree that “well organized, neutrally administered packets are a good thing” in one limited sense, which is that if most people are going to be pimping their books by emailing them to you for free anyway, as if their books were glorified “For Your Consideration” Oscar screeners, except for the part where you actually belong to a society of people who work in the film industry rather than simply being a fan who decided to pay forty bucks on the internet, and, what was that other part, oh yeah where they throw you in jail when they catch you posting it to the internet, then, on balance, if mass pimpage of free stuff is basically going to be completely unavoidable, there is an argument, which I wouldn’t make myself, but certainly recognize to be an argument, that it would be better for that activity to be “well organized” and “neutrally administered” by a party who is able to maintain the requisite level of unassailable neutrality.

    On the other hand, parties who accept the mandate to organize fair and neutral elections, but instead find themselves in the position of lawyering about what can stay and what must go, or dictating what will be a single routine mouse click and what gets placed in some kind of specially marked folder, or gets plastered with one of several kinds of special warnings, might do well to reflect on Holman’s earlier advice to packet creators, offered in another year and a radically different context, to consider carefully what they are doing.

  9. I assumed Bill meant first as in “first in the final nomination tally”

    Yes. Sorry I was not clearer.

  10. I suppose it is possible that Brian Z linked, approvingly, to that Orbit blog post while arguing for the removal of the packet for reasons other than using the reasoning within the Orbit blog post to support his arguments for the removal of the packet. I’m not really inclined to indulge the idea without some very persuasive reasoning indeed, but hey, it could happen.

  11. Are you now saying that it was Tim Holman who said that “the packet should go because it disadvantages nominees who don’t submit (or are excluded)?”

    Might want to double check that.

    If current trends continue, authors and rights holders who refuse to submit work to the packet in future are going to be fielding at least one obvious advantage. It will demonstrate they aren’t interested in putting up with this nonsense.

  12. @Brian Z

    No. I said you (“Brian Z”) used Orbit’s concerns (“reasoning within the Orbit blog post”) to support your argument (“support his arguments”) for the removal of the packet.

    I assume the confusion stemmed from the pronoun, but since I only named one person in the sentence leading up to it I believe it was clear who that “he” was.

  13. Pronouns sometimes lead to inadvertent ambiguity, but I didn’t notice any in this case. Brian Z was your subject, and “the blog post” would not typically be assigned a gendered pronoun.

    It looks as if you are now saying that nobody has said that “the packet should go because it disadvantages nominees who don’t submit (or are excluded).”

    That sounds right. At least, I have not heard anyone say it, and it wasn’t me or the publisher in the statement I linked to.

  14. If current trends continue, authors and rights holders who refuse to submit work to the packet in future are going to be fielding at least one obvious advantage.

    Is there a trend of authors and rights holders refusing to submit work to the packet?

  15. @ Meredith,

    Tim Holman said in 2014 that although it is difficult to know for certain if this is true, authors were increasingly feeling that if their work is not included in the packet it will be at a disadvantage.

    To refute that, you could argue 1) his assessment is incorrect, and they are not feeling that.

    Alternatively, make the case that 2) Holman was pretending to care. He shifts in the very next sentence to “authors and rights holders” so perhaps he is saying is that big corporations like his are feeling that. If he is not candid about who feels concerned, maybe 3) he’s obfuscating the real reason. Corporations generally care about the bottom line, so maybe they just don’t think it is in their best interests to give away free stuff.

    Then you might say 4) Holman doesn’t actually care about authors, but I do. I don’t see any evidence that not being in the packet hurts nominees. And there are a lot of authors who do really want to be in the packet.

    The problem if you want to argue 1) or 4) is that caring about authors’ feelings is widely accepted as a good thing and everybody can read, for example, the rage and fury in that post’s comment section (and elsewhere), in which angry voices sounded ready to vote punitively against certain nominees. You’d have to show that they weren’t just proving Holman’s point, whether that point was offered in complete sincerely or not.

    That would be an interesting conversation to have, these two years on. Especially in light of the voices vowing to vote punitively against authors published by Castalia.

    However, my reasoning was different. The packet already has pros and its cons. One demonstration was the uproar in 2014, and another was the moaning about sullying the value of the Hugos going back to things like Harlan Ellison’s rant in the mid-90s . Another is the more recent puppy problems.

    I am suggesting that the most important part of the Worldcon’s job with respect to Hugo Awards is to organize a fair and neutral election. Even an appearance of unfairness undermines that mission. As problems with the packet add up, I believe it is getting more difficult to justify the Worldcon administering the packet at all.

    I don’t have the solution. Maybe the packet should be canceled. Maybe someone else can administer it. (Though that raises other concerns.) Maybe, as discussed upthread, there could be a drive to help get the work in the hands of fans who not have a reasonable level of ease of access to it. This was raised obliquely in Holman’s comments too when he said: “… we very much hope that awards administrators give careful consideration to voter packets, particularly in those categories in which shortlisted works are already widely available, and that they continue to look for new ways to encourage participation in awards.”

    My argument is that right now it is getting in the way of Worldcon’s mission.

    @ Bill,

    Is there a trend of authors and rights holders refusing to submit work to the packet?

    By “current trends” I mean the levels of disagreement, controversy or even acrimony about what should be included or excluded and for what reasons.

    However, that’s an interesting question. There’s the established trend of book publishers including excerpts only and an uneven response in some other categories. Don’t forget dramatic categories where the possibility hasn’t even been seriously considered.

    Is Tabo and Harriss declining to make their work available even though there is no potential loss of sales a completely new thing? Might be.

  16. @Brian Z

    That’s the third time you’ve insisted I said something other than what I said. I’m done talking to you.


    Since Orbit submitted excerpts and still got a Best Novel win in 2014 more of the publishers have been taking the “risk” of only submitting excerpts, if extended ones.

  17. “That’s the third time you’ve insisted I said something other than what I said. I’m done talking to you.”

    He is just paraphrasing = making things up = aristotle! Time for a drink.

  18. False, Meredith. I drew only a single conclusion, which was merely that we can now agree that no one made or relied on those arguments.

    If I am wrong, I look forward to learning about whoever it was.

  19. @everyone who answered my question about Seveneves – Thank you all. I skipped the vast majority of the info dumps in the first two sections, checking in only occasionally to find out that, yep, I was still bored by them. They clearly served the plot in the final section and seemed to be far less wordy, so I read every word there.

    I still don’t know what to think about the book. I don’t hate it, unlike the other Stephenson I’ve read, and the premise is terrific, plus a lot of the characterization is vivid, but, wow, this is a writer desperately in need of editing. Or maybe it’s just me, because I don’t really like or need to have every last thing spelled out. Multiple times. However, even the parts I didn’t believe (that would be most of them) didn’t bother me, so there’s that.

    @Brian Z, so, no. Congratulations. That qualifies you for my first ever white out.

  20. I’ll be waiting for that apology from you and professor robinawhiteout, thanks.

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