Guest Post: Standlee on the Future of Worldcon Governance

By Kevin Standlee. [Note: This was originally posted on my Dreamwidth journal and my Facebook page, as a reaction to debate on other people’s pages and elsewhere. I feel comfortable discussing it because it seems unlikely to me that such a set of changes would be introduced at the 2023 WSFS Business Meeting, where I have been announced as the Deputy Chair. It seems to be that the earliest such proposals could come before the Business Meeting is 2024.]

I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes). I think some people assume that I’m 100% in favor of them or that I even authored them, neither of which are true.

The Non-Transferrability Amendment

The 2022 WSFS Business Meeting ratified a change to the WSFS Constitution that renamed the existing Supporting Membership of Worldcon as a “WSFS membership” and the existing Attending membership as the “Attending supplement.” It was Item E.5 of the 2022 WSFS Business Meeting agenda. This is the proposal that first passed as item F.6 of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting. (See minutes here. The 2021 minutes includes the makers’ original supporting arguments. Video recordings of the debates in 2021 and 2022 are available from the YouTube Worldcon Events channel.)

The effect of the change is that what was the Supporting membership is now your membership in the World Science Fiction Society, and that WSFS memberships cannot be transferred to other people. What was an Attending Membership is now a WSFS membership + an Attending Supplement. You can transfer an Attending Supplement to someone; however, they can only use it to attend Worldcon if they also have a WSFS membership. Worldcon is the annual meeting of WSFS, and therefore you have to be a member of WSFS to attend it. If you have a WSFS membership, you can use your WSFS voting rights (nominate/vote for the Hugo Awards, participate in Site Selection), and if you have a WSFS membership + Attending Supplement, you can also attend Worldcon and also participate in the WSFS Business Meeting held at Worldcon. If you have an Attending supplement without a WSFS membership, you cannot attend Worldcon because you have to have a WSFS membership as well.

This change has agitated and confused many people. Some people think it is selling a Worldcon admission on its own, which is not quite true because you still have to have a WSFS (old supporting) membership to go with it in order to use it. As Dave Howell put it in debate this year, the Attending Supplement is like an expansion package to an existing game; you can’t play the expansion by itself — you have to have the game.

It seems that this change has caught a lot of people, including people who attend many Worldcons and who have attended the Business Meeting, by surprise. Some appear to consider themselves blindsided by the change, even though it has gone through the full process of two consecutive years’ meetings and is now the rule of WSFS. When it was ratified, I heard many people saying, “Well, we’ll just have to try and vote it down next year,” and they seemed highly surprised that it had already had first passage. Now I think part of this comes from those people who opposed the change not doing a very good job of communicating what the change was. It passed both years, but not overwhelmingly so. First passage passed 35-22, and ratification passed 46-40.

How WSFS is Governed

Every year, after each Worldcon, we hear many people complaining about some action the Business Meeting took, and it seems that every year people start talking about changing how the WSFS rules are changed. Maybe I’m wrong, but most of them seem to be versions of “Let people vote by proxy” or “Have a gigantic zoom call so everyone can participate.”

Personally, I think the governance structure of WSFS is not fit for purpose anymore. Currently, WSFS is governed by the WSFS Business Meeting, a “town meeting” form of government under which any WSFS member who can attend Worldcon may attend, propose changes, debate, and vote on those changes. I think a membership organization that has had upwards of 10,000 members (many of whom cannot attend the annual meeting) is not well served by this system. Indeed, I was not surprised to read that there are people who assume that there is a WSFS Board of Directors that makes all of the Real Decisions anyway.

My preferred solution would be to replace the “town meeting” governance with an elected representative government model that I call the Council of WSFS. I suggest 21 members (roughly the cube root of 10,000; Google “cube root rule” for why I think it’s a good number). All of the members of WSFS, including the non-attending members, could elect members to this Council. We would elect 7 members each year, for three-year terms.

Initially, I would replace all of the “Business Meeting” references with “Council of WSFS.” That is, the Council would meet at Worldcon, and it would be the body that initiates changes to the WSFS Constitution. However, instead of two consecutive years’ Council meetings at Worldcon being necessary to change the Constitution, I would require that changes passed by the Council in Year 1 be put to a vote of members of WSFS of the Worldcon in Year 2, run in parallel with (but not on the same ballot) as the Hugo Awards Final Ballot. The results of ratification votes would be announced in advance of the Worldcon in Year 2. Yes, this does mean that only people who join WSFS before the Hugo/Ratification voting deadline could participate in the election.

This is not WSFS Inc. And even if it was, it wouldn’t run Worldcons.

WSFS WOULD NOT SELECT SITES. WSFS WOULD NOT BE THE LEGAL ENTITY RUNNING WORLDCONS. I stress this because I’ve already seen people assuming that this new governance model would be the World Science Fiction Society, Incorporated., with a full-time professional paid staff, and that it would be the operating entity of all Worldcons. That would be foolish. WSFS doesn’t operate Worldcons now; it (in effect) licenses the right to hold them to operating committees, and I see no reason to change this.

WSFS’s Intellectual Property

The World Science Fiction Society owns service marks (“Worldcon,” “The Hugo Awards,” and others). Technically, WSFS (an unincorporated literary society) owns the marks in the USA only, as that is how it’s registered by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

In places that do not recognize unincorporated associations as entities that can hold title to service marks — in practice, everwhere except the USA — there is a legal entity: Worldcon Intellectual Property (WIP). WIP is a California public benefit non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose board of directors is by definition the members of the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, plus when necessary a non-voting member resident of California when none of the MPC members are California residents. (The WIP bylaws require at least one Californian on its board.) This would not change under a Council of WSFS as proposed here. The Council would still elect members to the MPC. Worldcons and NASFiCs would still appoint members to the MPC. The MPC would still continue to manage and protect WSFS’s intellectual property.

Shadow Implementation

Now we could actually shadow-implement part of this soon: Have Worldcons conduct a non-binding poll of their members in parallel with their final Hugo Award voting, with the results published before Worldcon. That doesn’t require any constitutional changes, and would not be binding upon the existing Business Meeting, but would at least give the non-attending members (and those attending Worldcon who can’t/won’t attend hours of Business Meetings a change to express their opinions.

Proxies and Remote Participation

I am deeply opposed to proxy voting, and think that trying to run a remote-participation meeting that could have thousands of attendees is impractical, even if you could conceivably set up a multi-thousand person Zoom call to try and do it. Direct democracy is very difficult to implement when you get that large, and besides, most of the existing members of Worldcon do not want to invest that much of their time into that level of governance anyway. At most, they want to vote on things without being bothered with all of that tedious debate and rules neepery. I think we as a society would be better served by implementing a way for all of our members to have some voice in the process without forcing anyone who really wants to make any difference give up a large proportion of their Worldcon to do so.

73 thoughts on “Guest Post: Standlee on the Future of Worldcon Governance

  1. I was one of the ones who spoke against this new rule. WSFS, and the Worldcon, are NOT a professional organization, nor are we a game, with extensions.

    Further, with the passage of this new rule, then next year, when I can’t afford to travel to China, I HAVE NO RIGHT to vote in the meeting. Therefore, calling it a “WSFS membership” is not true; rather, it’s two thirds of a membership, and you only have the final third if you can afford to attend. Then, of course, with no proxies, and no zoom, you still cut people out. I can name a friend who’s a dealer, who vehemently opposed the rule… but could not attend, because he had no one to sit at his table for four hours so that he could attend and vote.

    Now I brought up zoom participation with Ben Yalow, and he had the same reaction as you – oh, there will be thousands of attendees.

    Really? Attendance at Chicon 8 was what, over 3000 people… and the vote on that rule was UNDER 90 PEOPLE.

    Give me any evidence on which you and Ben base your argument that thousands will attend. In fact, show me why you think that more than 200 people would attend.

    I say this is a false suggestion, while those who attend the all the meetings at every Worldcon keep control that way they want it, rather than the way most of the fans would prefer.

    And for the “it’s so hard” if people sell their membership to keep track of who voted for the Hugos and site selection, speaking as a sr. Linux admin with a long programming career, I find it difficult to comprehend why no con has a form, preferably online, where you can sell your membership… which would of course, include check blocks of “I have voted” for either of those or not.

  2. I will add my 2 cents on one aspect — the requirement to attend business meeting. I have attended several business meetings, in full and in part, and I am not objecting to the process followed or any such thing. But the issue, for me, is that business meeting is in parallel to a number of other convention features, and it requires one to miss those features to attend. No big deal, you might say, everyone gets a choice. Well, sure. But for at least some of us, convention panels are a vital part of the convention. (Second only to the bar!) Again — so what, there are plenty of panels not opposite to the business meeting. But for those of us who are actually part of panels, there are those we can’t skip — we have an obligation to attend.

    I think, in the end, this is a small thing. It only affects a few of us, I’m sure, and if I was that serious about making business meetings I’d ask them not to schedule me against the business meeting, or something.

    Still, it does seem to me that it affects the attendance at Business Meetings.

  3. Further, with the passage of this new rule, then next year, when I can’t afford to travel to China, I HAVE NO RIGHT to vote in the meeting.

    How is that different from before the rule change?

  4. Mark:

    Back when there were only a few hundred people nominating and voting for the Hugo Awards, nobody thought that thousands of people would buy WSFS supporting memberships to pack the Hugo Award ballot with their pet nominees either, did they?

    If you allow proxies, then someone is going to run a campaign for their pet project, show up with a thousand proxy cards, and say, “I outvote all of the rest of you, so do what I say.”

    You might respond, “Limit the number of proxies that any one person can have to N.” In that case, every person who attends had better line up N proxies, or else they count as only 1/(N+1) votes in the room, and in effect, the proxies all cancel each other out. Also, every vote would be massively more complicated. Stock corporations work this out, but WSFS is not a stock corporation.

  5. An online “zoom meeting” business meeting is an interesting idea — timezone differences though would mean it would be unlikely that I’d participate (which maybe a net benefit).

    A council is an interesting idea. I wouldn’t settle on a number yet though. Worth thinking about the voting system and how such a body would have fared 2015-2017. I like the second-year ratification by a vote of the membership though.

  6. Anticipating two issues that come up every time I’ve raised this:

    1. Election Method: By default, all WSFS elections are held by the same system: Instant Runoff Voting. If you want to see the details on how the counts would look, see page 74ff of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting minutes, where there were eight candidates for six positions. (Three 3-year and three 2-year seats, due to the way we fudged around the lack of an in-person Worldcon in 2021.)

    2. Geographic Restrictions: The Mark Protection Committee used to have geographical restrictions that restricted membership to not more than three elected members from the three North American site selection rotation zones. We got rid of both those zones and then later the requirement that membership be limited. If we wanted to impose some sort of geographic diversity requirement, it would not be difficult if we could agree on what it was. You would conduct the election the same way, but once a given region had filled all of its possible members, then no other candidate from that region would be eligible and would be eliminated from subsequent rounds of voting.

  7. Further, with the passage of this new rule, then next year, when I can’t afford to travel to China, I HAVE NO RIGHT to vote in the meeting.

    How is that different from before the rule change?

    Prior to this, you only had a Supporting membership to the convention, not a so-called “WSFS membership”.

  8. Supporting allowed you to nominate and vote in the Hugos and vote for a bid. I guess this is now non transferable. I was confused about what Cheng Du was having problems communicating. Now I understand. They are not charging an extra fee for attending. (I don’t think they were taking memberships at Chicon, So the fee they are taking is for the WSFS fee to be a member of 2025? I hope whoever is bidding for 2025 can receive and disperse the funds as necessary.

  9. The biggest problem I remember with membership transfers was that Hugo admins (and possibly site selection admins) need to know about them, because how else are they to know if that ballot is valid? (Yes, we had problems.)

  10. @PJEvans – every time, over the decades, that I bought someone’s membership, I and the seller always had to contact registration, and let them know.

  11. I vote for the council, so that I don’t have to hear from my husband about all the minutiae of the business meeting because he wants to be completely informed and have a vote in everything, while I’m trying to attend ALL the panels or to just sleep in. 🙂

  12. I voted against this both times. The Business Meeting seems more concerned with making things easier for SMOFs than for the membership at large. And I say this as a SMOF. We should be making things better for the members and volunteers.

    I’m not sure a “Council of WSFS” will solve anything. I don’t think we’ll ever agree on how “representatives” will be chosen, or who they’ll be representing.

    I would, however, favor ratification by the membership at large (either via electronic or paper ballot) for the second year.

  13. And nothing addresses either the dealers or the people on panels who cannot be at the meeting.

    Jeez, next you’re going to tell me that people go to the con to… attend the con, not the business meetings.

  14. Before the rule change one could sell the entire attending membership and denote whether the rights have been used or not. Under the new rule, only the Attending Supplement can be sold, and the purchaser then also has to purchase a new WSFS membership.

    I would like to revert to the old rules with the stipulation that if one is selling a membership, any unused rights go to the purchaser.

    I also think it’s disingenuous of Chengdu to package 5 one-day memberships without any WSFS rights. I understand they want to keep the prices low for their local fans, but it also disenfranchises them. Having WSFS rights would give them an example of democracy in action.

  15. To Camestros’s point, I would much prefer a STV (as has been discussed elsewhere) or similar system that ensures proportionality in the results. It should be extremely difficult for a single slate—and I do anticipate we’d see at least partial slating emerge organically—to sweep all of the seats. It would also render WSFS/Worldcon a bit less vulnerable to permanent hostile takeover via mass purchasing of supporting memberships.

    I would also want some requirement for public hearings on Council business. I’m not saying go full Brown Act* or anything but I would like a formal requirement that the Council has to take feedback from WSFS members when considering new business. In a venue that isn’t Twitter, thanks. (I am more than a little concerned that the elections would turn into a social media popularity contest.) Ideally the Council would have better means of outreach than just an annual hearing but there has to be some baseline minimum.

    *The Brown Act is California’s open-meetings law for local governments, which has a bunch of important but sometimes rather nitpicky requirements.

  16. When my Mom collapsed on route to the Dublin Worldcon in 2019 and could not attend, we donated her attending membership, so some other fan could attend.

    When nomination time came around next year, my Mom did not get a “nominations are open” mail, so I requested one and was informed that since we had donated her membership, the nominating rights had transferred to whoever had gotten it.

    Under the new system, my Mom would still have been able to nominate in 2020, but whoever got the membership wouldn’t have been able to attend without buying a supporting membership.

  17. Y’know, given Chengdu’s 5 one-day packages… that suggests that the actual WSFS meeting, if there is one, will be tiny – I mean, given under 90 people in Chicago attended… who’s going to attend, 10 people?

  18. If I understand this supporting (WSFS membership) and attending supplement correctly, I don’t like it because of the strictures it places on selling the membership. I sell my membership often. Sometimes I’ve even given it away if at the last minute I can’t attend. But now:
    1) I will not get ALL my money back if I sell, because it is only the attending supplement that can be sold, not the WSFS membership. I can’t even give a supplement away to someone who couldn’t afford to attend — because they will have to BUY the WSFS membership.
    2) Only being able to sell the attending supplement and not the WHOLE membership is going to make it very difficult for me to sell my supplement as well as difficult for the person I’m selling it to — they have to buy a WSFS membership direct from the Worldcon and then buy the supplement from me. And then the Woldcon has to put those two separate purchases together for the BUYER’s membership file. Worldcon has to verify that all attendees have BOTH parts of their attending memberships.

    AND — I do not see any explanation of WHY in Kevin’s report above. What does this change accomplish?

  19. I still haven’t seen any response at all to the issue of dealers, or people on panels being unable to vote with no proxies and no online.

  20. Pardon me for interrupting this discussion of Worldcon rules but I’d like to correct information in David Drake’s birthday listing. His long-running and popular Royal Cinnabar Navy series, not Hammer’s Slammers,was inspired by Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Mathurin books.

  21. Carolyn:

    As I was not involved in the Non-Transferrability proposal (I merely recapped it as OGH asked), I can only refer you to the makers’ original argument, which you can read in item F.6 of the 2021 WSFS Business Meeting Minutes. I do not intend to defend the proposal. But it is the current rules of WSFS, as it was passed and ratified by two consecutive Business Meetings, so until and unless it is changed, it’s what we have to work with, and that’s why I tried to explain it.

    Mark:

    That’s what a Council of WSFS would fix, in a way: those people, who have no voice in the process now and never have had a voice, could vote on members of the Council, and they would be able to vote yes or no on ratification of constitutional amendments. They wouldn’t have to take any time at all out of their Worldcon but could still have some voice in its governance.

  22. Kevin – of course, who would be elected (and how) is the question. I can see a council all Sith, er, SMOFs, ruling for their convenience… and what could the rest of us do, call for a mass meeting? Vote to expel them all? Right. Been there, was a Teamsters’ member once, called in a meeting for a strike vote, one that the majority of the meeting wanted, and it was danced around.

    How about if you’ve paid for an attending membership, then you either get the right of proxy, or have the damn thing online. Or, for that matter, as my SO suggested a while ago, let us vote online, as we do for the Hugos.

  23. @Kevin Standlee: Nit-pick: “the lack of an in-person Worldcon in 2021” should be 2020. I was really meaning to get to the Business Meeting this Worldcon, but I ended up working on the CoNZealand (2020) retrospective exhibit instead. Which gets to your point, maybe Worldcon is too large to be a direct democracy anymore, and we should give representative democracy a go.

  24. mark on September 24, 2022 at 7:43 pm said:

    Y’know, given Chengdu’s 5 one-day packages… that suggests that the actual WSFS meeting, if there is one, will be tiny – I mean, given under 90 people in Chicago attended… who’s going to attend, 10 people?

    Nearly 3,000 people voted in the 2023 Site Selection election, with over 2,000 votes cast for Chengdu, and probably most of those 2,000 votes coming from China. Chengdu has already said that every one of those people who voted will be given an attending membership. In the current parlance, all of those people (including me) are WSFS members with attending supplements. There were also a large number of voting tokens purchased (mostly from China, as far as I can tell) that never cast their ballot, but qualify for the same level of membership. So there appear to be thousands of potential WSFS members who are already in China and at least in theory might attend the Business Meeting. Whether they choose to do so is a different question.

    If only ten people attend, then no business will be transacted. Per WSFS Constitution section 5.1.5, the quorum of the WSFS Business Meeting is twelve members physically present. If that happens, then the items passed on from this year’s meeting will fail automatically, and any proposals submitted as New Business will fail first passage. Also, no new members will be elected to the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, which is what happened in 2020.

    Note that under an existing ruling from more than thirty years ago (CH-1987-1), a meeting without a quorum can receive reports, but can take no other action (other than attempting to get a quorum or adjourning, as provided in Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised). So a quorum-less meeting could formally receive the results of site selection, but could not take any action on them, including the traditional motion to Destroy the Ballots and Thank the Tellers. While I have previously contended that the passage of that motion is the point where it is no longer possible to contest the results of the election, we haven’t always passed such a motion, and it does not appear that (based on past precedents) that having the Business Meeting formally receive the report of the tellers is actually necessary to make the results official, although it does make it much easier to draw a line where things happened. Consequently, I don’t think the presence of a quorum would affect the results of the 2023 Worldcon Site Selection election.

    The attendance of the Business Meeting at the last Worldcon held in Asia (Nippon 2007) was pretty light, as you can see in the recordings of the 2007 Business Meeting, but we did have a quorum present.

  25. mark on September 24, 2022 at 9:44 pm said:

    Kevin – of course, who would be elected (and how) is the question.

    Of course. But that’s true of all representative democracies. You wouldn’t have to go to a meeting at a time and place that’s inconvenient for you to vote for electing representatives. Just like the Hugo Awards, you could cast your ballot at your convenience. As far as who would be candidates, there are many ways of handling that, such as requiring anyone who wants to be be a candidate get N members’ support. (What N should be is debatable. How many people do you think a potential candidate should have to support them?) That doesn’t seem terribly difficult to me. And since you seem to already know how the Hugo Awards voting works, you shouldn’t have a problem numbering your preferences just as you do for the Hugo Awards.

    I can see a council all Sith, er, SMOFs, ruling for their convenience…

    Why not just say, “I don’t trust anyone but me to make decisions for all of WSFS.”

    and what could the rest of us do, call for a mass meeting? Vote to expel them all? Right. Been there, was a Teamsters’ member once, called in a meeting for a strike vote, one that the majority of the meeting wanted, and it was danced around.

    Aside from an initial election, only one-third of the members would be elected each year. And if you wanted change, then campaign for candidates who represent the things you want done — or stand for office yourself and make the commitment to be a Councilor.

    If you start from the assumption that All Government Is Evil And Corrupt, and You Should Make Me the Big Boss Forever (which is what you sound like to me), it’s hard to hold a meaningful discussion.

    How about if you’ve paid for an attending membership, then you either get the right of proxy,…

    So you want proxies. What do you plan to do when someone turns up with more proxy votes than the entire rest of the meeting combined and says, “The rest of you can go home now, because I outvote you all.” What would that Teamsters meeting have been like if one member said, “The rest of you go home. I have here more votes than all of the rest of you combined, so y’all have to do what I say.”?

    (Incidentally, I come from a union family. My late grandfather was Operating Engineers Local 3. Nothing I say here should be read as dismissive of labor unions.)

    …or have the damn thing online.

    When do you propose that this online meeting happen? Certainly not during the Worldcon. You’re too busy. Some other time? When? And do you really think that a thousand-plus-attendee Zoom call, with every single person there having the same right of debate as we currently have at the Business Meeting, will work better than what we have now?

    Or, for that matter, as my SO suggested a while ago, let us vote online, as we do for the Hugos.

    That’s what the ratification stage is. You would be able to vote for or against anything that got first passage. It would be conducted in parallel with the Hugo Awards. So there’s your online voting. If you mean, “Vote for everything online without any of those stupid meetings,” then I would ask “So who produces the proposals upon which you’re voting?”

    You do make it sound to me that you distrust all forms of government. If that’s the case, any form of government other than “Do whatever Mark says to do” isn’t going to satisfy you.

    Tom Becker:

    headsmack Darn it, sometimes it’s really hard to get all of those years straight. Sorry.

  26. Kevin,

    In general I welcome these ideas. The Business Meeting really is not fit for purpose at present. I have one point of dissent and one request for calrification.

    First, the election of Board members cannot be conducted in the same way as we count Hugo ballot places. Running IRV repeatedly for a single seat is a very good way of ensuring that minority voices are excluded for ever. There is a well established methodology for electing multiple seats through a Single Transferable Vote, which has been used for over a century to conduct public elections in Ireland, Australia and Malta (and some municipal councils in the USA). It’s a little more complex but it’s a lot fairer. (Frankly, MPC members should also be elected on this basis.)

    For the very first election, one could elect either three separate panels of X members, each serving 1, 2 or 3 years, or have a massive 21-seat election, with the first seven elected serving three years, the next seven – two years, and the last seven – one year.

    Second, when you talk about shadow implementation, do you mean that along with the Hugo ballot, members should get a list of items on the agenda for the Business Meeting and be invited to express your views? I like the concept but there are two practical problems. First, 3.11.2 of the constitution would seem to me to prohibit circulating other business with the Hugo ballot. (Not a big deal, of course, we would simply do it separately.) Second, Hugo nominations are out by April at the latest, while the only Business Meeting business then on the agenda normally is Business Passed On. Maybe a vote on Business Passed On might be sufficient for a trial run.

  27. I think I like this proposal. If we think in terms of different arms of government, individual Worldcon convention committees are the executives: they implement a Worldcon that year. The Business Meeting is the legislature: it crafts laws. There’s not a supreme court because that’s not how things work but the MPC exists to protect the legal identity of Worldcon. What this structure lacks is a “second chamber” that exists to oversee and ratify changes.

    Turning the Business Meeting into a representative body isn’t a huge change. Only some people can or are willing to attend, so already it is a much smaller subset of members voting on rule changes. The bigger innovation is having members vote directly on the ratification of rule changes in their second year. That’s an effective “second chamber” – everybody gets to be senators!

  28. Thinks. Could there be a WSFS app which would allow voting to all members without their needing to be in the meeting room? Limited widow for each vote, that pings up saying “You have fifteen minutes to vote on the proposal…” Requires a sign on based on con membership, preferably both attending and supporting. A bit slower than a 90 person show of hands, but a lot more democratic.

    I’ve been to three worldcons and every time there’s a business meeting I’ve been working on the reg desk

  29. Nicholas Whyte on September 25, 2022 at 12:39 am said:

    First, the election of Board members cannot be conducted in the same way as we count Hugo ballot places. Running IRV repeatedly for a single seat is a very good way of ensuring that minority voices are excluded for ever. There is a well established methodology for electing multiple seats through a Single Transferable Vote, which has been used for over a century to conduct public elections in Ireland, Australia and Malta (and some municipal councils in the USA). It’s a little more complex but it’s a lot fairer. (Frankly, MPC members should also be elected on this basis.)

    While I am loathe to change more than one variable at a time, I presume that the legislative definition of STV is sufficiently well developed that it could be included in a package of changes. I am more interested in the big-picture change than in getting bogged down with the relative merits of STV versus IRV. It’s possible that someone might want to propose it as a replacement voting system for the existing MPC, in which case we probably should just rewrite parts of Article 6 to legislatively define IRV and STV separately, and then put pointers to the type of election used where we discuss elections, i.e. Hugo Awards and Site Selection use IRV, while the MPC uses STV (and if a Council is ever created, it would also use it. Again, let’s be wary of changing too many things at once; adding STV for MPC elections as a single change might be an easier sell right now.

    We do need to come up with a reasonable system for nominating people for election to the Council. I tend to think “N current WSFS members” is sufficient, but am unsure what N should be.

    For the very first election, one could elect either three separate panels of X members, each serving 1, 2 or 3 years, or have a massive 21-seat election, with the first seven elected serving three years, the next seven – two years, and the last seven – one year.

    It would be a monster election, but the latter makes more sense to me.

    We also need to consider whether the Council should include WSFS convention appointees the way the Mark Protection Committee does, and if so, should the number of elected members be reduced or the total size increased. Having WSFS convention appointees makes the Council size vary, because of NASFiC. This is not a deal breaker. And anyone who says that you must always have an odd number of members doesn’t understand how elections work. (Ties lose, so if you have an even split, the question fails unless you have a defined “casting vote.” Assuming the presiding officer is a member of the Council, they only vote if their vote makes a difference, which means that they can vote to create a tie if they want the question to fail. But I digress.)

    Second, when you talk about shadow implementation, do you mean that along with the Hugo ballot, members should get a list of items on the agenda for the Business Meeting and be invited to express your views?

    I would only include the matters of Business Passed On, which would be the ratification phase of the full Council of WSFS proposal. This can be done without any changes to the existing Constitution, because such a poll would be non-binding upon the Business Meeting.

    I like the concept but there are two practical problems. First, 3.11.2 of the constitution would seem to me to prohibit circulating other business with the Hugo ballot. (Not a big deal, of course, we would simply do it separately.)

    Agreed. When I say “In parallel with the Hugo Awards final ballot,” I do not mean “on the same ballot,” as that’s clearly prohibited (except for the Lodestar and Astounding Awards, which I for brevity include by reference as the “Hugo Ballot” in this discussion). However, I do not see any prohibition about distributing a separate election ballot at the same time and with the same electorate.

    Second, Hugo nominations are out by April at the latest, while the only Business Meeting business then on the agenda normally is Business Passed On. Maybe a vote on Business Passed On might be sufficient for a trial run.

    Inasmuch as the full proposal if implemented would only put what is currently called “Business Passed On” to the members for ratification, that’s what I would do with a shadow implementation. New business would not be part of this in any implementation. The Council originates business; the following year’s members ratify anything that gets out of the Council.

    Putting out the ratification ballot (shadow or otherwise) with the nominating ballot instead of the final ballot makes no difference to me, but I think it would be administratively easier to do it with the final ballot. We might need to define a close date on the ratification ballot, such as “sixty days before the start of the current Worldcon,” in which case distributing the ratification ballot at the same time as the Hugo nominating ballot makes more sense. I only suggest this because you probably want to know the results of the ratification votes before the deadline for proposing new business.

  30. Camestros Felapton on September 25, 2022 at 1:16 am said:

    I think I like this proposal. If we think in terms of different arms of government, individual Worldcon convention committees are the executives: they implement a Worldcon that year. The Business Meeting is the legislature: it crafts laws.

    Nicely put.

    Turning the Business Meeting into a representative body isn’t a huge change. Only some people can or are willing to attend, so already it is a much smaller subset of members voting on rule changes. The bigger innovation is having members vote directly on the ratification of rule changes in their second year. That’s an effective “second chamber” – everybody gets to be senators!

    This is something with which I am very familiar with the two US states in which I have lived. Both California and Nevada’s state constitutions have an amendment mechanism whereby constitutional amendments originate with the legislature but must be ratified by the people. (There are additional mechanisms, including constitutional amendments originating from the people via the initiative process, that I didn’t want to get into here. Also, Nevada requires that constitutional amendments pass in statewide votes in who consecutive general elections; however, the general concept of legislature-to-popular-ratification is what matters here.)

    NickPheas on September 25, 2022 at 4:57 am said:

    Thinks. Could there be a WSFS app which would allow voting to all members without their needing to be in the meeting room? Limited widow for each vote, that pings up saying “You have fifteen minutes to vote on the proposal…” Requires a sign on based on con membership, preferably both attending and supporting. A bit slower than a 90 person show of hands, but a lot more democratic.

    Not really. First of all, it would require every member to have a smartphone, something to which I’d object on first principles. This may be something that a lot of people can’t understand: not everyone has a smartphone. Heck, not everyone has an email address! Unless you’re planning on saying, “Unless you have a computer, email, a smartphone, etc., you can’t be a member of WSFS.”

    Second, it’s not just voting. The current system essentially requires that people who are going to vote also have to be present for the debate. You may find this hard to believe, but on more than one occasion, the in-person debate has formed my opinion on how I vote on the question, and I think that’s important for the first round of the process: the origination of legislation. Do popular ratification with the following year’s members to get the broader vote of the members, particularly inasmuch as it can be done over a longer period of time to allow broader debate in multiple forums. Besides, by the time you reach that ratification stage, the proposals have been sufficiently well-developed that it’s much easier to have a debate on the final proposal, whereas new legislation goes through more of a hammering-it-out process. I would think that going to this two-stage process would force advocates to focus more on getting their proposals into their best form in the first year, rather than trying to push half-baked proposals through in year one in the hope that the following year’s meeting can iron out the technical bugs.

    Possibly this is where the people who say, “Do everything online” go wrong, in my opinion: they may only think that the only thing that matters is the mechanical process of voting. If that were the case, we could just schedule specific times for votes on each question, and in your case, you could possibly get away for fifteen minutes to cast your vote. If you’re trying to do direct democracy the way the current Town Meeting works, you need to have every member have the same access to the debate that we currently have, not just a couple of yes/no buttons to press.

  31. Pingback: The WSFS Mark Protection Committee elections | From the Heart of Europe

  32. I presume that the legislative definition of STV is sufficiently well developed that it could be included in a package of changes.

    The easiest approach to this is to define it as either the current edition of or a specific edition (presumably third, that being the most recent) of “How to conduct an election by the Single Transferable Vote”, published by the Electoral Reform Society, in the same way that the constitution references Robert’s Rules rather than writing our own rules into the constitution.

    It is, annoyingly, out of print in paper, but the third edition is available for free online; it is on the author’s website, with copyright permission:
    http://www.rosenstiel.co.uk/stvrules/index.htm

  33. The current system essentially requires that people who are going to vote also have to be present for the debate.

    The bigger problem, from my perspective, is that you also have to be there for other debates because of the non-rigidity of the schedule.

    If you could announce, at the same time as the announcement of all other panels, fixed time-slots for each motion, then people could come to the Business Meeting for the slot for the motion that they are interested in, vote at the end of that slot, and then leave.

    It would be far more practical for members to miss a single panel for an issue they are particularly interested in, or to close up their dealer’s table for an hour, than to expect people to attend the whole of potentially multiple four-hour meetings.

    This would, however, require a (presumably elected) business meeting organising committee that would allocate timeslots, and would also require a pre-meeting deadline for the submission of amendments (so that no person could introduce business during the meeting when members who might have attended had they known that was to be introduced are not present and unable to become present at short notice).

  34. If this were introduced, I would like to specifically make it so that WSFS is licensing the right to conduct a Worldcon and licensing the service marks to the worldcon that year. This would give it the power to act if a Worldcon did something that might damage the value of the marks or the reputation of Worldcon – not a problem we have really faced (the closest is the Raytheon sponsorship around last year’s Hugos, which wasn’t all that close), but one that it would be useful to have some mechanism created in advance to deal with; there is very little capacity for members to call the Worldcon committee to account once they have won Site Selection, and having an elected Council able to do so would be valuable.

    Ideally, I’d make WSFS responsible for running a WSFS membership system and the Hugo ballots (and the WSFS ratifying ballots and Site Selection), with the Worldcons only running the attending supplement membership system; this would make GDPR compliance enormously easier, as the data relating to a membership in year X does not have to be passed on to the Worldcon for X+1 – that data would remain under the control of WSFS, and the Worldcons would just need to verify the the WSFS membership of anyone buying an attending supplement (WSFS should be able to set up an API that the Worldcon can use to sell WSFS memberships and verify existing ones). I would want the WSFS Council to be firmly established before moving to this approach, though; this is not a responsibility to be transferred to a newly-created body in which members will (inevitably) not yet have confidence.

  35. Moving from a “whoever is there can vote” model to “specific people who have committed to attend the next X Worldcons can vote” model brings up a couple of potentially problematic issues.

    Suppose council member Jane Doe has a financial hardship in the last year of her term, and can’t afford to attend? Will Worldcon subsidize her?

    Likewise, suppose she is ill? What is the work-around for that?

    Suppose council member John Doe is a swing vote on an issue, and just before a business meeting, is accused of a Code of Conduct violation? Will he have to skip the meeting until the CoC issue is resolved? What if his missing vote changes the outcome of the decision?

    Suppose several members of the council feel that they cannot attend a particular Worldcon because of matters of conscience relating to the host country, or because the host country discriminates against them politically, or for matters of lifestyle?

    Are any of these sufficient reasons to say that a council member might participate remotely, or via proxy?

  36. If this is indeed a serious proposal, I would suggest that we build a break-glass-in-case-of-disgrace option, such that on the same ballot as the membership-at-large ratification there is *by default” a list of the current board members (or SMOFlords or whatever we’re calling them) with a “no confidence” checkbox next to each name. That way, if something disqualifying comes up six months into a three-year term, we’re not stuck with a milkshake duck for for the next two voting cycles.

  37. @Richard – Given that the much-missed Colin Rosenstiel is no longer able to update his website, better to reference the Electoral Reform Society page:

    https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/how-to-conduct-an-election-by-the-single-transferable-vote-3rd-edition/

    And I totally agree about the necessity of having a more rigid schedule. This is one of the worst aspects of the current system. It enables those more familiar with the system (or who enjoy being disruptive) to wear down the enthusiasm of those who just want to be there for one particular issue.

    @bill – good questions, which will have better answers with a committed committee of a couple of dozen at most than with an at-large meeting of those who are able to turn up,

  38. @bill: With the council-of-wiseguys model that Kevin proposes, there is no reason that cabal meetings need be held at Worldcon, or in-person at all. Though Kevin and I disagree about how im/practical moving the current BM online may be, I’m sure we agree that a 21-person zoom meeting is eminently doable.

  39. Unless the proposal includes some mechanism by which funding for Council Member Travel would be provided, I expect a representative system of this kind would need to allow for remote participation. Happily, hybrid meetings (where some people are present whilst others attend remotely) are much more manageable with 20-some persons than with thousands.

    I do like the idea of a fund that provides for at least one year of travel to Worldcon per person elected to a three-year commitment. Else, no one could reasonably accept a nomination who cannot afford to travel, which would eliminate quite a few of us. We could begin building such a fund at any point in time.

    At this point in time any three members can propose business for the meeting(, though that does not guarantee that it gets on the agenda, nor that it will be debated, nor voted on.)

    I really would like to see the process for setting the agenda pushed earlier in the year, so that the members would have time to at least discuss proposals with their representative, or submit public comment, before items go to the council. Trying to guess how the people you represent would like you to vote on something because there is not enough time for their review is always a potential issue.
    Representatives are of course expected to act in their constituents’ best interests, which is not always there way a popular vote would go, but some time for input on items in the Agenda would, I think, be a Good Thing. (TM).

  40. I think giving even an elected body authority over seated Worldcons is a very bad idea that is much more likely to create problems than solve any potential problem or prevent any problem that might occur, for many reasons.

    The fans as a whole have selected a Worldcon during site selection. Why should a much smaller body be empowered to interfere with that decision once it is made?

    It’s hard enough to organize and run a Worldcon, trying to be responsive to the many communities in fandom, without being overseen and nitpicked by a body of people THAT HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ACTUALLY RUNNING THE EVENT.

    Worldcons need to form some sort of legal entity to contract for facilities and otherwise do business. What if the “WSFS Board” decides that it dosen’t like the hotel a Worldcon has contracted with, or some other entity? Will they be given the power to direct the Worldcon to break that contract and face the subsequent penalties? Will elected but unpaid members of a “WSFS Board” be willing to accept possible liabilities for tortious interference in such a case?

  41. Tom Barnes: You’ve hit on the question — what work is a Council of WSFS supposed to be doing? Right now, the WSFS Constitution delegates all operating power to the seated Worldcons. Those rules would have to be changed before the things you’re concerned about — like vetoing hotel contracts — would be within the power of the business meeting or its successor if there was a Council.

  42. Richard Gadsden on September 25, 2022 at 8:26 am said:

    The bigger problem, from my perspective, is that you also have to be there for other debates because of the non-rigidity of the schedule.

    I agree. I also know that there are many people who consider that a feature, not a bug.

    If you could announce, at the same time as the announcement of all other panels, fixed time-slots for each motion, then people could come to the Business Meeting for the slot for the motion that they are interested in, vote at the end of that slot, and then leave.

    I have, on occasion, suggested “tennis match” scheduling, whereby items would be scheduled as “not before NN:NN,” which wouldn’t help you if the debate ran long on earlier items, but would also let you know that you wouldn’t have to attend before a given time. Such schedules could not be advanced; that is, there would be some possibility that the meeting would get to a point where it could do nothing because of the schedule. This horrifies many people, so we never make it happen.

    If this were introduced, I would like to specifically make it so that WSFS is licensing the right to conduct a Worldcon and licensing the service marks to the Worldcon that year.

    This is effectively what we already do. The Mark Protection Committee has, more than once, issued letters to selected Worldcon committees that formally advise them that they have a limited license to use WSFS service marks under the rights granted to them by the WSFS Constitution. They can’t sell ownership of the marks because they don’t own them. This is good for multiple reasons, including that if a convention goes bankrupt, the bankruptcy court can’t auction off The Hugo Awards to the highest bidder. (The court might conceivably be able to auction the right to hold the Worldcon from that year to someone else, but they’d need a time machine to make it happen.)

    Michael VanHelder on September 25, 2022 at 9:24 am said:

    @bill: With the council-of-wiseguys model that Kevin proposes, there is no reason that cabal meetings need be held at Worldcon, or in-person at all. Though Kevin and I disagree about how im/practical moving the current BM online may be, I’m sure we agree that a 21-person zoom meeting is eminently doable.

    I agree, and it seems likely to me that a Council would eventually not have to meet in person or at any given place. One reason for keeping the size down is to make it practical. I’ve used this figure of 21 before, and have had people say that they consider that too large and that smaller would be better. (I’m fond of the cube root rule, myself, and contend that the US House of Representatives should be about 690 members for the same reason, rather than stuck at the figure frozen a century ago, but that’s a different conversation.)

    Nicholas Whyte on September 25, 2022 at 9:20 am said:

    And I totally agree about the necessity of having a more rigid schedule. This is one of the worst aspects of the current system. It enables those more familiar with the system (or who enjoy being disruptive) to wear down the enthusiasm of those who just want to be there for one particular issue.

    If you could convince the Preliminary Business Meeting to create a firmer schedule, you could do that now without any constitutional change. If the PBM scheduled items with “not before NN:NN on them,” the meeting could not vote to make it happen earlier than that, because the meeting cannot suspend a rule that protects absentees, and such scheduling gives absentees certainty that they need not be present until time NN:NN. Items could still be postponed, however. Maybe you could convince the meeting to do so; I know that whenever I propose it, people are convinced that there will be vast dead spots in the agenda and react with horror to the idea.

    bill on September 25, 2022 at 8:48 am said:

    Moving from a “whoever is there can vote” model to “specific people who have committed to attend the next X Worldcons can vote” model brings up a couple of potentially problematic issues.

    With which we already deal with the only existing permanent body of WSFS, the WSFS Mark Protection Committee. Most people are unaware of this because they ignore the MPC and the MPC just tends to go about its business.

    Are any of these sufficient reasons to say that a council member might participate remotely, or via proxy?

    Proxies are fundamentally undemocratic, and furthermore they excessively complicate votes because each person present has a variable number of votes. Also, one individual person could overwhelm the group by simply obtaining ten proxies and announce, “I outvote you all.”

    However, there’s nothing wrong with remote participation when the group is small enough to be able to practically managed. The MPC (around 15 members; it varies depending on how many NASFiCs there are at a given time) has held hybrid meetings or completely online ones. For example, our meetings in DC were hybrid. The first meeting in Chicago was hybrid (one member attended via Zoom). The second one would have been, but none of the members said they wanted to attend remotely.

    The key thing about remote participation is that every member has to have an equal opportunity to participate whether or not they are physically present. It’s not just voting; it’s all of the other things a member is eligible to do. The most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised has a new section about such things.

    Richard Gadsden on September 25, 2022 at 8:43 am said:

    …there is very little capacity for members to call the Worldcon committee to account once they have won Site Selection, and having an elected Council able to do so would be valuable.

    One thing at a time. Load a proposal up with too many changes at once, and it’s doomed to failure. At the moment, the WSFS Constitution already gives most authority to Worldcon/NASFiC committees. The case you cite is within the committee’s authority and would not, short of new legislation, not be within the Council’s jurisdiction. Remember, the Council is just a drop-in replacement for the existing WSFS Business Meeting. It has neither more nor less authority than the existing WSFSBM does.

    Note that if a WSFS convention did something that could potentially alienate the WSFS service marks, that would be a matter for the Mark Protection Committee. While a Worldcon/NASFiC committee can change venues or even transfer their license to another group, it has to conduct the Hugo Awards under the rules of the WSFS Constitution. (A Worldcon committee can’t just say, “Screw the rules, we’re giving rockets to our friends,” or “We don’t care what the Site Selection rules are; we award Worldcon N to ourselves, and all future Worldcons, too.”) Again, they don’t own the marks; they are licensees. No single Worldcon or NASFiC committee owns the service marks of WSFS; they are jointly held by an entity whose governing body includes both appointees from individual WSFS-sanctioned convention and from the membership of WSFS as a whole via election by the Business Meeting.

    Tom Barnes on September 25, 2022 at 10:58 am said:

    I think giving even an elected body authority over seated Worldcons is a very bad idea that is much more likely to create problems than solve any potential problem or prevent any problem that might occur, for many reasons.

    See my comments above about the limited license that a Worldcon committee has.

    The fans as a whole have selected a Worldcon during site selection. Why should a much smaller body be empowered to interfere with that decision once it is made?

    In general, I agree that it should not. However, WSFS convention committees are bound to obey the WSFS Constitution. There’s already an entity that has that authority to step in if they exceed their authority: the Mark Protection Committee. However, the MPC’s authority doesn’t mean that they can unseat a Worldcon just because they don’t like their programming or even their sponsorship choices. They could only get involved if the the convention was exceeding their authority, say by trying to declare a Worldcon elected without reference to the site selection process.

    Worldcons need to form some sort of legal entity to contract for facilities and otherwise do business. What if the “WSFS Board” decides that it dosen’t like the hotel a Worldcon has contracted with, or some other entity? Will they be given the power to direct the Worldcon to break that contract and face the subsequent penalties? Will elected but unpaid members of a “WSFS Board” be willing to accept possible liabilities for tortious interference in such a case?

    Given that it does not appear that the Business Meeting has such authority to do so, a Council also would not. The main proposal is a 1:1 swap for the existing Business Meeting. Only things that the current Business Meeting can do could be done by an elected council.

    Mike Glyer on September 25, 2022 at 11:02 am said:

    Tom Barnes: You’ve hit on the question — what work is a Council of WSFS supposed to be doing?

    Exactly, and my answer is, “Anything the existing WSFS Business Meeting does, and nothing more.”

    Right now, the WSFS Constitution delegates all operating power to the seated Worldcons. Those rules would have to be changed before the things you’re concerned about — like vetoing hotel contracts — would be within the power of the business meeting or its successor if there was a Council.

    Agreed. That’s why I stressed that this is not WSFS Inc. and that we’re not creating an entity that would be the operating legal entity of a given Worldcon or NASFiC.

    WSFS convention operating committees have a very large amount of authority. As long as they do the WSFS functions as defined in the WSFS Constitution and do not act in ways that would alienate WSFS’s intellectual property, they can pretty much do what they want.

    I know there are people who hate the analogy, but WSFS is like the International Olympic Committee. The IOC doesn’t run the Olympic Games; they license the right to hold the games to local host committees, who are required to work within the IOC rules, but it’s the local host committees that do the work and hold the contracts. If a committee goes bankrupt, they can’t drag down any other committee or the IOC itself. Yes, the IOC does micro-manage host committees more than WSFS does Worldcon/NASFiC committees, but the concept is the same. When you bid for a WSFS convention, you’re bidding to operate it under WSFS rules, which give you a surprisingly large amount of leeway. In particular, section 1.6 of the WSFS Constitution is pretty broadly written.

  43. Why do we need this council? Because people who don’t go to Worldcon or who can’t be troubled to get to the Business Meetings kvetch? What could the council do that isn’t getting done now? It seems like inviting in a Puppy government.

    The current WSFS membership change complaints could be countered by a simple requirement that all proposed changes to the constitution to be voted on be disseminated separately to all members by email (instead of hidden in a massive agenda document that you had to go looking for).

    If the Council of WSFS is supposed to meet at Worldcon, how long will it be before they pass a rule saying that their expenses to get there must be covered by the Worldcon? Anything else shuts out low-income fans. However, turning it into a Zoom session means that issues critical to Worldcon could potentially be decided by people who don’t regularly attend.

    How do you balance world geographic representation with filling the council with people who go to Worldcon often enough to know what it’s all about?

    What about the expenses of campaigning for election? (For that matter, who funds these elections?)

    Do you really think that the same people who didn’t trouble to pay attention to the agenda in two years can select qualified representatives instead of “my pal Joe Fann, he’s a good guy” and “Jim Pro, he writes great sf”? (I invite you to look at the current U.S. Congress for reasons why the representative form of government isn’t always best.)

    What mechanisms will there be for removing people from office and on what grounds?

    After every Worldcon, people who weren’t paying attention complain about things the Business Meeting did. But at least fans who do pay attention have the opportunity to do something, including rounding up a group to attend and vote.

  44. Exactly, and my answer is, “Anything the existing WSFS Business Meeting does, and nothing more.”

    I think that is wise. However, the existence of the body and its more overt public accountability would make it the group that people would lobby to do something about the issue of the day. People find the anarchic (in the neutral sense) non-existence of the management in charge of Worldcon confusing and this new body would be rapidly assumed to be that group.

  45. Kevin,
    You write, “How about if you’ve paid for an attending membership, then you either get the right of proxy,…

    So you want proxies. What do you plan to do when someone turns up with more proxy votes than the entire rest of the meeting combined”

    Now, if the membership had NOT been broken up, the only people who could presumably turn up with proxies are proxies from people who were at the con, but unable to attend (as dealers or panelists).

    Oh, and speaking of con attendance, I find it interesting that this is all being considered now, when attendance is down, as opposed to, say, the 80’s or ’90s, when cons in the US, esp. the year after an out-of-US Worldcon were in the 6000-8000 attending member range.

    I wrote “have the damn thing online”, which you asked “when?” Let me suggest something really bleeding edge… a hybrid meeting at the con? Then, say, dealers could watch while at the table.

    I also like the idea of timed specific issues. Many people, myself included, are uninterested in some/most of the issues.

    Finally, I wrote, and you responded., ” I can see a council all Sith, er, SMOFs, ruling for their convenience…

    Why not just say, “I don’t trust anyone but me to make decisions for all of WSFS.”

    First, thanks for putting words in my mouth, words that do not represent what I was saying. Second, I’ll note that my father was union as well, and I have been a couple of times. Finally… how about why should I trust people who are self-proclaimed Secret Masters Of Fandom to run it for the rest of us? And with that, I will quote what I see on a quick look to be Joeseph Welsh, “Have you no shame?”

  46. Leah Smith on September 25, 2022 at 12:51 pm said:

    Why do we need this council? Because people who don’t go to Worldcon or who can’t be troubled to get to the Business Meetings kvetch? What could the council do that isn’t getting done now? It seems like inviting in a Puppy government.

    On that note, assuming the body was elected using STV (see Richard Gadsden & Nicholas Whyte’s comments above) and had a third of the seats elected each year, it would be difficult for a Sad/Puppy like group to mount a take-over.

    Based on their numbers in 2015, they would have won some seats but still have been a minority. It would take at least three years to get control and the Puppies couldn’t sustain that momentum.
    Even assuming they did get a chunk of members on the body, they showed little interest or understanding of the rules or a willingness to craft rule changes. i.e. they wouldn’t know what to do once they were on the body.
    Even assuming they managed the multi-year campaign to get members on the body AND had a legislative program to enact, any changes would still need ratification by a broad vote of the members, which they’d lose.
    Site selections and the actual running of the Worldcon would carry on regardless because this new body wouldn’t have a direct say in how each individual convention was run.

    It’s not wholly immune to an electoral coup because nothing is. Maybe if several members had retired one year, increasing the number of available positions and maybe if somebody funded a huge number of member votes etc then somebody could take over but it would require having a majority of member votes somehow in their pocket and at the end of it they’d still face two years of work to change the rules. It would be a lot of work and money for little gain.

    A more likely scenario is somebody getting enough disaffected members to vote them on to the body where they could use their position to basically troll and grandstand without actually doing anything of substance. That would be annoying.

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