Chengdu Worldcon Will Miss Latest Estimated Date for Release of Hugo Ballot

The Chengdu Worldcon committee today posted an appeal that people “check your email without delay” to find out if they need to accept a Hugo nomination: “114 Lucky Emails Have Been Sent”. The message appeared on the 2023 Worldcon’s Chinese and English websites, and in its social media including Facebook.

114 Lucky Emails Have Been Sent

According to the WSFS Constitution , the 2023 Hugo Awards Subcommittee is currently sending emails to the finalists for final confirmation. The official list will be announced once all the finalists have confirmed by email. We appreciate your support and attention. We kindly request you to check your email without delay, as there might be pleasant surprises for you.

Hugo Awards Subcommittee of 2023 Chengdu Worldcon

June 30, 2023

The 114 number represents the total number of finalists in seventeen Hugo categories plus the Astounding and Lodestone awards. The committee is silent about how many acceptances they have already received, although they began contacting people earlier this month and it is known some finalists have already said yes.  

Making a public request such as this without setting any deadline for responses leaves open how long completing the process will be allowed to delay release of the final ballot. Just last week the committee said they were “looking at the end of June” to announce the finalists.

The rules in the WSFS Constitution require using “reasonable efforts to notify the finalists”. With certain exceptions, there is no requirement that a finalist respond or that they be passed over as finalists if they don’t respond. The exceptions are in the Best Professional Artist, Best Fanzine, and Best Semiprozine categories where a response is needed to self-certify the finalist’s eligibility for the year.

These rules were originally added decades ago to give people an opportunity to decline if they wanted to – like those who have withdrawn themselves from the award for a year or permanently, or who might have had two works in the same category make the final cut and want to decline one in order to avoid weakening their chance of winning. The portion requiring self-certification of eligibility in certain categories is a more recent addition, and the use of “should/shall” verbs in those sections implies a positive response must be received in order for the person or work to be on the ballot.

Here are the current rules governing the notification process:

Section 3.10: Notification and Acceptance.

3.10.1 Worldcon Committees shall use reasonable efforts to notify the finalists, or in the case of deceased or incapacitated persons, their heirs, assigns, or legal guardians, in each category prior to the release of such information. Each person notified shall be asked at that time to either accept or decline the nomination. If the person notified declines nomination, that finalist(s) shall not appear on the final ballot. The procedure for replacement of such finalist(s) is described in subsection 3.9.4.

3.10.2 In the Best Professional Artist category, the acceptance should include citations of at least three (3) works first published in the eligible year.

3.10.3 Each finalist in the categories of Best Fanzine and Best Semiprozine shall be required to provide information confirming that they meet the qualifications of their category.

44 thoughts on “Chengdu Worldcon Will Miss Latest Estimated Date for Release of Hugo Ballot

  1. Best case scenario is that this means all of the potential finalists have been notified, but not all of them have accepted or declined said nomination.

    I am three degrees away from someone who IS a finalist, so there are finalists out there. They walk among us even now.

  2. Why does this not surprise me? This is such a disappointing year for Worldcon.

  3. The key part of the rule is “…shall use reasonable efforts to notify the finalists…”.

    I was a Hugo administrator four times, and there have occasionally been nominees who refuse to respond. Eventually, you have to go ahead with the list you have.

    It’s not fair to the rest of the nominees, or the voters, to impose unreasonable delays on them.

  4. Despite the announcement’s stress on checking emails, I have to assume the committee is also proactively using social media DM and other ways to get people’s attention. I certainly hope they are.

  5. Well, I certainly hope they keep voting open though the end of September. I’m not going to hold my breath for a packet this year.

  6. Seconding what Paul said, people have received notification e-mails, but I’ve also heard that some have had issues with replying to the e-mails.

    We are now at the point – e-mails have gone out, but the Hugo team are waiting for replies – where we normally would be two or three days after nominations close. From that you can extrapolate when we can expect to actually see the ballot.

  7. The committee has had persistent issues with their email server silently failing when sending emails to people located outside China so I DO hope they are using alternate means of communication.

    (Happened to me when I was sorting out an issue with my membership).

  8. I’m feeling very dubious about the whole Hugo process with Chengdu. Not the only thing I’m dubious about with Chengdu, but I was never going to China anyway, so it’s the one that most directly affects me.

  9. Sending an email is a reasonable effort. Honestly it would be better not to even ask. When you publish your work, you put it out there.

  10. After the shitshow that was the nominations, I have zero faith that we’re getting anything even reasonably accurate this year. (Never could get in to the nomination portal, no one answered my many emails, carefully chosen nominations – ZERO)

  11. Clicking to follow this continuing situation.

    “To Delay a Hugo List Once is Misfortune, but to Delay Twice Smacks of Carelessness”

  12. I can say from knowing various parties that there has been upwards of a two week delay between one category of finalists being notified and another category getting the email.

  13. @RedWombat–So, they’re letting finalists know, category by category? That seems…inefficient.

    I’m sure it seems logical to them, right?

  14. Although I couldn’t go to the scene without obtaining a visa, I hope to have good Chinese translations and publications.

  15. Best wishes to all the finalists ahead, hope there will be one day to see my name on it soon~

  16. I wonder if part of the issue is an unusual number of declines, requiring them to track down the next person in the nominations list each time.

  17. @Lis Carey — the more charitable interpretation is that they are sending notifications as soon as a category is finalized, but some categories have taken longer than others.

  18. I’m not entirely surprised that this is such a mess. In addition to the concom’s lack of experience, there are unusual technical barriers on both sides. China, of course, famously has its “Great Firewall” designed to keep Chinese citizens from connecting to parts of the Internet that are not approved by the Chinese government. On the other side, China is so notorious as a source of spam and such that many admins block anything that appears to come from there.

    Mike Glyer wrote:

    I have to assume the committee is also proactively using social media DM and other ways

    Yes, but their options for doing so may also be limited. Many western social media are blocked by the Great Firewall! And few western authors are likely to have accounts on Weibo or other Chinese social media.

  19. @Jennifer Povey
    I had similar issues with my primary e-mail provider simply not delivering e-mails from the Chengdu Worldcon (and other e-mails from countries deemed sources of spam and fraud as well) at all. I even called my ISP about it and explained the situation (I’m also a translator and get e-mails with attachments from non-European countries a lot) and asked them to switch off the filter for my account and was told that they couldn’t do it, because the filter was at the server level.

    I’ve also heard that there were significant delay between finalists in different categories being notified. It seems they went through the list category by category, finalist by finalist, rather than sending out the e-mails all at once.

  20. //Xtifr on July 1, 2023 at 12:34 pm said: Yes, but their options for doing so may also be limited. Many western social media are blocked by the Great Firewall! And few western authors are likely to have accounts on Weibo or other Chinese social media.//

    True and that’s a big issue for bulk or automated emails but the Chengdu Worldcon organisers do have some people who aren’t based in China. Assuming there is a mix of finalists from within and from without China, it would make sense to send the notifications of being a finalists from an email address external to China to those finalists who aren’t in China.

  21. This whole mess reminds me when a company I do translation work for was involved in an enviornmental clean-up project in Cuba. Of course, they had to work with Cuban officials and had to e-mail them. Which was a problem, because many e-mails to Cuba simply bounced.

    In one case, you could e-mail the secretary of some fairly high-level official, but not the official himself. So all e-mails went via the secretary, who did not speak English, so we added a “Could you please forward this to your boss?” in Spanish to every e-mail.

    I also suspect that all e-mails to Cuba were monitored, even though this was a non-military project with the support of the German government. Because once, I sent an urgent e-mail from my personal account rather than via the company and my e-mail server acted weird for weeks afterwards.

  22. @Camestros Felapton
    That’s what I don’t understand either. The technical issues with e-mails from China are not a new phenomenon, so why don’t they use a non-China-based e-mail account to contact finalists and members outside China?.

  23. Xtifr: I was assuming that since the Hugo administrators include a person from outside China they wouldn’t be restricted to sending communications from inside China.

    And I know that some notifications have been sent from outside of China. What I don’t know is how long they waited to start doing that.

  24. Maybe the real Hugo short list was the spam email our servers deleted on the way?

  25. Yeah, not saying the filtering on both sides is an insurmountable problem, but it may have been a bigger one than anyone initially anticipated! Especially since all the nominating and voting data is considered sensitive, and needs to be kept secure. Ordinarily, I’d be appalled to learn that a committee was copying preliminary nomination data to a secondary system in another country! That’s already less secure!

    And, of course, they have to get the results back through the Great Firewall once they have answers!

    It’s easy to say that they should have planned for all this from the start, but at the same time, I can’t help thinking “boy, I’m glad I’m not part of their IT team!” 🙂

  26. Xtifr: Adding to the wonderfulness…. Today I tried to send a question to the Hugo team. Both official addresses bounced back undeliverable.

  27. Close one before you open the next. I’m seeing different correct type of finalists in each category.

  28. They’re not all in the actual ballot yet though. I was able to log in, but novel only had 1 actual title then novel 2, novel 3, etc.

  29. I clicked on that link and got only a blank page with a few Chinese characters. Maybe it’s only for members?

  30. @Jeff Jones
    That’s what I’m seeing now too. It translates to “The site is being upgraded, please wait”.

  31. It must only be visible to people who have logged in as members. Because when I try to use the link from an “in private” window I get that same message (in Chinese).

  32. They’ve closed it off now that they saw it leaked. I was seeing the list without being logged in previously anyway.

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