Hugo Voting Idea Toolkit

At my request, Stoic Cynic updated his outline of the ideas attached to various Hugo voting reform proposals. He calls it “trying to define the solution domain.”

Guidelines:  Any solution should, to the greatest extent possible, maintain the pre-slating character of the awards.

Boundaries:  There are three stages we can act: Membership, Nomination, and Voting.

Actions:  Solutions would seem to fall into four general categories: Gatekeeping, Filtering, Addition, and Vetoing.

Proposed solutions, each with pros and cons, include –

1. Do Nothing

2. Membership

a) Restrict nominations to attending members.

b) Restrict nominations to a jury.

c) Remove second year nominating rights.

d) Increase supporting membership fees.

e) Ban bad actors.

f) Restrict nominating to members with consecutive years of membership.

3. Nomination

a) Implement slate detection algorithms (These were mentioned last year. What would they look like?).

b) Allow the membership to confirm nominations through a long list (DN).

c) Allow membership to deny nominations through a long list (3SV)

d) Empower the admins to remove ballots of bad actors.

e) Empower the admins to add a limited number of nominees in years with bad actors (A+2)

f) Empower a jury to add a limited number of overlooked nominees to the short list (Juried+2)

g) Algorithmically filter the nominations (EPH, EPH+, Diluted Nomination, Frozen Nomination, NOTE: Jameson Quinn is working on another algorithm variant, as yet unnamed, to incorporate a ‘satisfaction index’ and achieve A+2 type results in conjunction with EPH programmatically).

h) Restrict the nominations relative to the field (4/6)

i) Counter-slating through a third party collation. *

j) Empower the admins or a jury to remove works which tend to bring discredit on WorldCon

k) Allow the membership to vote on expanding just the number of nominees on a given year’s shortlist.

4. Voting

a) Filter the votes by preference ranking (IRV)

b) Veto bad actors (No Award)

* Removed by request

69 thoughts on “Hugo Voting Idea Toolkit

  1. Idiots. You dont understand your opponent at all. Go ahead do all of this. Vox is playing you like marrionettes.

    Maybe we should just nickname you clowns the Thunderbirds

  2. Good summary of the options. I might have other suggestions I’d make for improving the voting round instead of IRV, but while I think those would be improvements, they’re mostly beside the point in terms of the problem at hand.

  3. This is very useful, thank you.

    However, this phrasing does not accurately represent my long list stage recommendation: “Allow the membership to confirm nominations through a long list (DN).”

    I suggest: “Allow the membership to vote on the best works from a long list.”

  4. @Jason:

    Idiots. You dont understand your opponent at all. Go ahead do all of this. Vox is playing you like marrionettes.

    Maybe we should just nickname you clowns the Thunderbirds

    Good point, man. Thanks!

  5. Also, I wanted to acknowledge Dr. Mauser’s proposal from last April (I didn’t see it until mid-August).

    As I mentioned elsewhere, if a long list stage is created, I think the list ought to be 10 or 15 items, with members given a reasonable period of time to try to read as much as they can.

    The goal is to choose the best science fiction and fantasy of the year.

  6. Go ahead do all of this.

    Its good to know you have such little ability to comprehend what you read that you didn’t notice that several of “all of this” that is listed there is mutually contradictory.

  7. @Brian Z

    When I wrote the list I tried to maintain neutral tone. Feel free to campaign with your own spin though 😛

    @Jason

    Thanks! Posts like that must mean there’s hidden gold somewhere in the list…

    @Everyone

    Thanks for the congrats! I’m humbled to be included on front page.

  8. Option 3(I) does not exist. It is a perversion of what I suggested, based on a misrepresentation by a third party. I think it should be removed to prevent confusion. It also represented a one or two year only emergency course of action and should not be considered as a possible ongoing solution.

  9. @Stoic,

    I appreciate the neutral tone in your text, thank you. I don’t appreciate your accusation that I am spinning or campaigning.

    Your premise is: “Any solution should, to the greatest extent possible, maintain the pre-slating character of the awards.”

    The constitution includes the word “Best” in the name of every award. How would you make a judgement without even looking at it?

    If you don’t like “best,” say “Allow the membership to vote on the works from a long list, with a reasonable period of time for reading.”

  10. Option 3(I) certainly does exist. It’s just the option everyone likes least. Of course someone could promulgate self-styled “counter-slates.”

  11. 1. Thunderbirds was cool
    2. Stoic Cynic’s clarity is cool
    3. I liked Thunderbird 4 best

    I think the Jury with +2 power and the power to exclude work that is at odds with the integrity of the Hugos (f+j) but leaving everything else the same would allow the system to adapt to different tactics.

  12. How about countering slates in the nomination phase via negative nominations?

    Each voter could put in as many negative nominations as they can positive ones. Negative nomination would count some negative amount less than or equal to one positive vote, for example -0.5

    That way if a slate were promoted, many nominators could anti-slate negative nominate and counter the slate that way. If slates proved as unpopular as they have in the past, there would easily be twice as many negative votes as positive, eliminating those things from the slates.

    This would also allow people to generally express that they felt something that was being overly hyped was not worthy of a nomination. Puppy type voters could also use it to vote against whatever they felt was too socially just for their tastes, giving them a less slate-like way to express their negative opinions of previous years’ nominees.

  13. Jim Henley: Option 3(I) certainly does exist. It’s just the option everyone likes least. Of course someone could promulgate self-styled “counter-slates.”

    What I believe Martin Easterbrook objects to is that he suggested something last night, and it is represented by the opponents’ description of its effect rather than the mechanism itself.

  14. Martin Easterbrook: Option 3(I) does not exist.

    It’s called “counter-slating”, and of course it exists as an option. You’re not even the first person to have suggested it. I’ve seen at least half a dozen people broach the idea.

    It’s just a very bad option.

  15. @Jim Henley

    There is no point in including an option that everyone likes least. I certainly like it least. We have enough arguments going on. Can we please just avoid this particular argument by removing it.

  16. @Mike Glyer

    Exactly this. I would describe my proposal as “two time only voluntary 3 stage voting”. A description that may be more accurate but does not exactly trip off the tongue. Since most people seem to object to the stage where this acts like a slate I suggest we remove it and avoid a needless, complicated, and possibly heated, argument over something we are not going to recommend anyway.

    Edit: Thank you for lining it through.

  17. @Aaron

    I am aware many are mutually contradictory. None of it matters.

    There are three things that will work.

    1. An explicit blacklist, this is a win condition for Vox and the death of the award
    2. More voters, but that is what you are trying to prevent because the shitfit you clowns are engaged in started because yoh got more voters who dared not think like you.
    3. Make Vox get bored, but all of these shennangians are what is making it funny and entertaining.

  18. Dana:

    How about countering slates in the nomination phase via negative nominations?

    Each voter could put in as many negative nominations as they can positive ones. Negative nomination would count some negative amount less than or equal to one positive vote, for example -0.5

    Beale could then disrupt Hugos with an anti-slate as well, voting down five books by feminists, Scalzi et al. Maybe they would get a sympathy boost then also, but that messes up the voting even more, I think.

  19. Jason: 1. An explicit blacklist, this is a win condition for Vox and the death of the award.

    Newsflash, Mr. Rocket Scientist Rennie: nothing is a “win condition” for VD. He’s a loser. No matter how much he tries to screw with the Hugo Awards, he’s still a loser. And all of you who are his braindead, lockstep-following minions are losers, too.

    And nothing is “the death of the Hugo Awards” just because you happen to want it so.

    Jason: 2. More voters, but that is what you are trying to prevent because the shitfit you clowns are engaged in started because yoh got more voters who dared not think like you.

    Actually, “we” are quite happy to get more voters, because last year, “we” did get several more thousand voters who did think like “us”. Or perhaps you missed it when your “No Award” was announced last year?

    Which brings me back to my previous question: Why, when you have continually expressed such contempt for the Hugo Awards and the Worldcon members, did you not decline the two nominations the Puppies cheated you into this year?

    I think you really value the meaning of that shiny rocket, and the pride and esteem that come with being able to call oneself “Hugo Finalist*”.

    You’ve been talking the talk for a couple of years now. Isn’t it time you walked the walk?

    * for values of “cheated onto the ballot Finalist”

  20. @Dana: Negative nominations would be fairly easy to game. They can be abused, as @spacefaringkitten suggests. And it would be sufficient for griefers to take their slate secret, distributing it privately – they are, after all, coordinated.

  21. @Dana

    IIRC, Greg Hullender suggested something similar a while back. As SFK says, this is an explicit “Vote Your Hate” call, and nothing brings out the Usual Idiots like giving them the ability to paint a target on women/ minorities etc.. It will also almost certainly lead to various people (Scalzi, Jemisin, Swirsky, Sarkeesian etc etc) never getting a nomination.

    I think 3SVs vetting process is far better, and has far less potential for abuse.

  22. Stoic’s list is clear as far as it goes.

    But the Schneier and Quinn paper suggests that typically only something like a quarter of what they called “non-puppy” nominators will have chosen even a single one of what they called the “non-puppy” finalists on their nominating ballots.

    The majority of first stage nominators, those of us in the “long tail,” are going to look at the long list and go, “Uh oh. I’m not familiar with very many of those at all. When’s the deadline again?”

    Is there a plan to restrict participation in “second stage nominating” to those who already made all the extra effort to participate in the write-in stage? I didn’t think so.

    The vast majority of likely voters will come to a long list without having read very many items on it. If any.

    They have read few, if any, of the 45 novels and novellas.

    They have read few, if any, of the 30 works of shorter fiction or the 15 related works. They haven’t seen all 30 dramatic presentations, followed the 30 fanzines and fan writers, or studied the past year of output of 30 editors. Et cetera.

    My question is: they are going to have how long to make a good faith effort to make decisions about all this?

  23. Jason:

    You seem to think we care about what Beale calls a victory. We don’t.

  24. “There is no point in including an option that everyone likes least.”

    I didn’t see Highlander Slate Elimination listed as a method, so the least liked option was already excluded.

  25. For Archive purposes:

    If someone nominates all 5* items from a slate** in a category*** then they are classed as a bad actor and their nomination can be ignored. Refund their money if you want, personally I’d just state that rule in big text on the nominating web page. If someone wants to pay $50 to try and damage the system then it’s their own damn fool fault if they get caught.
    One doesn’t really need to pass data onto future cons. If Dead Elk 88, registered under the name Bob Dobbs, has his nominations disregarded by being a bad actor in one year, and plays honestly, then there is more joy in Heaven etc. If they continue to try and fuck the system then they continue to be ignored.

    * Or perhaps at least 4. Otherwise Voxman just slates 4 items.
    ** Slate rules being invoked when a pre-determined proportion of the nominations fit the identical pattern.
    *** Run it per category rather than per nominator so that if people are accidentally trapped because a lot of people really like Lightspeed and only get their short fiction from there, then a false positive still leaves them able to contribute in other areas.

  26. Newsflash, Mr. Rocket Scientist Rennie: nothing is a “win condition” for VD. He’s a loser. No matter how much he tries to screw with the Hugo Awards, he’s still a loser.

    No, everything is a win condition for Voxman, or at least everything that involves people noticing that he exists is.
    The way WSFS works though, anything that involves banning him is pointless. We define a slate as being to do with him then the next one will only have Jethro’s name on it. We say that slates are things that come from Castillia House and the next one will be promulgated through BringingScienceFictionBackToThe1940s.org.fi.

  27. No, everything is a win condition for Voxman, or at least everything that involves people noticing that he exists is.

    Aha!

    (But it’s already on the list.)

  28. NickPheas.

    How do you define “from a slate”? What about 100 ballots that all have the same 5 works on them, but was never published as a slate?

    HSE works similarly against overt, covert, and accidental slates. It’s been shot down as gameable by griefer’s coordinating randomized ballots for their slate, which would also affect your method.

  29. @errhead:
    Not certain what the details of HSE are.

    I would regard 100 ballots that all have exactly the same works on them as plausibly the sign of a slate. Just because it hasn’t been openly published doesn’t mean that it’s not been heavily discussed on a members only forum. While puppies haven’t shown themselves especially good as message disciple so far doesn’t mean they could never be.
    There would need to be a threshold before which anti-slate rules would be invoked. I was thinking 5% which would match the theorised 200 puppies out of 4000 nominations, but not catch your 100.
    I would also probably only apply that elimination to supporting members votes.
    I’m sure that the model is gameable. Until we’ve a reliable method of sensing people’s intent as they vote and routing 240 volts through griefers, pretty much everything is. The question is whether it’s possible to set up rules which will make it too much of a pain in the backside to bother.

  30. They have read few, if any, of the 45 novels and novellas.

    They have read few, if any, of the 30 works of shorter fiction or the 15 related works. They haven’t seen all 30 dramatic presentations, followed the 30 fanzines and fan writers, or studied the past year of output of 30 editors. Et cetera.

    My question is: they are going to have how long to make a good faith effort to make decisions about all this?

    This is my biggest worry about a three stage option – I already see a lot of people commenting that they can’t nominate in a category because they haven’t read enough, or later, don’t want to vote for the same reason. It looks like a good idea on the surface, but I’d worry that the only people who would participate would be those who could organise behind a slate to get certain works through. At that point, it becomes RP slate vs some other counter-slate, and I’m not sure that makes it any better.

    A large percentage of voters could be put off by the long list of works they aren’t familiar with and elect not to participate in that stage at all.

  31. A consensus seems to be forming around 3SV or some tweak thereof. This leads to the question: if this passes, is EPH+ still needed?

    A combination of 3SV(ish) and EPH would substantially address most of the issues people have. I do think that EPH+ would still marginally improve the finalist list, giving a slate less ability to influence it. I think it is up to fandom as to whether that improvement is enough for EPH+ to earn its keep, both in terms of time at the business meeting and in terms of (slightly) increased difficulty in explaining the overall system and its motivations. I’d personally think that the answer is “yes”, but I realize I’m not representative of fandom in this regard (and that could well be putting it mildly).

    I’m posting this message on all three threads because I don’t really know where it should go.

  32. Highlander Slate Elimination is based on “there can be only one.” Any identical ballots are compressed into 1, and then the unique ballots are calculated with whatever method you choose. The more disciplined the slate, the more effective it is. Against the 1984 data with simulated slates it’s highly effective in removing the slate influence. The most popular works in the unslated data are also the most widely nominated so that the flattening of accidental small slates evens out and the results are virtually the same as as the original finalists. I’d love to see what effect it would have on the 2015 data, pretty sure the line on the graph would would be much flatter than the others. It would be more than sufficient to stop the Sad Puppies kind of slating, but it’s susceptible to active malicious collusion.

  33. “Have you tried just limiting voting to registered sex offenders?”

    I guess puppy nominee Kukuruyo would be in the danger zone after being banned from DeviantArt for pedophilia.

  34. @Katherine Jay: That’s why I believe the second round should be thought of as asking “Would you be willing to read and consider these works?”

    Y’know what makes me the saddest about this? The publicity has discouraged some very good writers who happen to be very conservative in their politics from even trying to get published. “Conservatives aren’t welcome in SF,” they say. “No, we’re pushing back against fandom’s tolerance of assholes. You deliberately take a steaming dump in the middle of the room, I don’t care what your politics are. I want you out the door.”

  35. Any identical ballots are compressed into 1, and then the unique ballots are calculated with whatever method you choose.

    How does it cope with people with empty slots?

    If lots of people nominating only one short story were getting grouped then that would be problematic. Or is this identical across the entire ballot?

  36. I am aware many are mutually contradictory. None of it matters.

    Sure you were. Which is why you said “do all of this”. It is always funny when clowns like you who aren’t particularly bright try to backtrack and claim you didn’t mean what you originally wrote once it becomes clear you didn’t understand what you were responding to. You’re not fooling anyone.

    There are three things that will work.

    There are a myriad of things that will work. The question is which one the members of the WSFS want to choose. The fact that you think there are only three options indicates that you don’t understand the purpose of the Hugo Awards at all – it isn’t to create a democratically selected set of honorees, although that’s how the award has been done thus far. The purpose of the award is to create a set of honorees that the majority of the members of the WSFS believe are worthy. At present, the system isn’t producing that result, because the nominations phase currently only represents the preferences of ten to fifteen percent of the WSFS members.

    1. An explicit blacklist, this is a win condition for Vox and the death of the award

    There are no win conditions for Beale. No matter what happens with respect to the Hugos, Beale and his buddies will still be sitting on the fringes of genre fiction yelling at clouds. No one will care what he or they have to say or what he or they think about fiction, fans, or pretty much anything else. Even in the extremely unlikely event that he does “burn down the Hugos”, he will still lose: Fans will just shift their focus to one of the many other genre-related awards that are out there, leaving Beale still sitting in a mostly empty room preaching to his very tiny choir.

    As to whether a blacklist would damage the Hugo Awards, I know that in the sewers of the internet that you probably frequent, banning someone is seen as the worst possible thing that one can do, but in reality, most people don’t particularly mind if known malicious actors like Beale are banned from participating in an organization. In the end, banning people like Beale would probably be of no consequence to the credibility of the Hugo Awards, because that sort of thing is almost irrelevant to the reputation or credibility of an award.

    2. More voters, but that is what you are trying to prevent because the shitfit you clowns are engaged in started because yoh got more voters who dared not think like you.

    Actually, there are more voters, and a majority of them democratically selected “No Award” last year. I suspect that a majority of the voters will democratically select “No Award” in several categories this year as well. That’s how democracy works: The majority gets to determine the outcome. Right now, there is a situation in which a dedicated minority of ten to fifteen percent of those nominating can dominate the majority of the finalist slots. That’s undemocratic, and the current debate is how to rectify this situation so that the minority’s choices are represented in the results with a total closer to their actual numbers.

    3. Make Vox get bored, but all of these shennangians are what is making it funny and entertaining.

    “Don’t feed the troll” is a tactic that has never worked. Beale is what he will always be: A crank sitting on the edge of society screaming about how important he is while most people ignore him. He’s just a child who has smeared shit on his own face and insists that the adults in the room praise him for it.

  37. It’s done on each category. Single nominee matches are compressed down to 1, for instance, with the 1984 data the 40 or so votes for just Return of the Jedi get compressed down to 1, but since Return of the Jedi wasn’t a slate, but a genuinely popular work, it still has the most votes in the category due to it’s widespread support in varied ballots. Many incidental and accidentally congruous similarities get compressed, but it averages out and the end result is the same except for works whose main support is the slate. Against the slating that happened this year it would have been very effective. It also covers the vulnerability to single nominee slates. If every puppy voted for just SRBI in Short story, EPH and EPH+ wouldn’t have kept it off the ballot, but HSE would have. Unless there were heretofore unknown widespread support for Chuck Tingle amongst the general electorate.

    It’s all testable at the slate simulator linked in my name.

  38. @Aaron

    +1 on the response to Jason.

    @Brian Z

    I don’t appreciate your accusation that I am spinning or campaigning.

    Really I don’t have much to offer except a non-apology apology. It might be different cultural connotations to campaigning as a word. In mitigation it was intended as gentle ribbing and not a dire accusation. That said, if repeatedly attempting to sway other voters to support a particular course of action isn’t campaigning then I’m at a loss for what it is.

  39. Of course, had every puppy voted for SRBI in short story and nothing else, leaving 4 slots for fans then I don’t think anyone would have especially minded.

    Had they done so without telling everyone that they were doing so then who knows, perhaps their one nominee might win.

    Sorry Jerry Pournelle, if dogs lie down with you, then people will assume you’ve got fleas.

  40. Really I don’t have much to offer except a non-apology apology. It might be different cultural connotations to campaigning as a word. In mitigation it was intended as gentle ribbing and not a dire accusation. That said, if repeatedly attempting to sway other voters to support a particular course of action isn’t campaigning then I’m at a loss for what it is.

    OK. Calling that an “accusation” was a bit much so I apologize for the overreaction. What bugged me was I had made what I felt was a serious point and you dismissed it as spinning. If it was gentle ribbing, no problem.

  41. @Brian Z

    If it came off dismissive it wasn’t the intent at all and I do apologize for stepping on your foot unintentionally as such. I think inserting ‘best’ would would potentially violate a neutral tone I was aiming for ( though honestly this was more my ‘thinking it through’ notes and not intended as an article as such). I think you raised a very valid point about reading time and I wouldn’t dismiss that at all even if I disagreed with it.

  42. OK, I’ll try and collect my thoughts, for whatever they might be worth.

    1. Do nothing

    Allow Beale and his Very Few Meatheads to pee in the swimming pool indefinitely and hope that, at some point, they run out of urine. Well, it’s an option. It’s not a good option, though.

    2. Membership

    OK, 2a, c, d and f all look like variations on a theme to me, and that theme is “raise barriers to participation and hope that they discourage bad actors more than they do legitimate fans”. Raising barriers to participation is a bad thing in principle, I think, and we’d need a lot more data to know if any of this stuff would work – basically, we’d need hard numbers on how much a bad actor is willing to spend in order to spoil the Hugos. I have no idea how you’d go about getting that information.

    2b fundamentally changes the character of the Hugo award, from popular voting to popular voting on a juried list. It opens up all sorts of other cans of worms, too – who picks the jury and how?

    2e would be absolutely ideal. If there were a consistent, objective way to identify a bad actor, and a reliable way to enforce it. (What’s to stop banned bad actor J. Random McNastyperson buying a membership for F. Random Dupe and telling Dupe how to vote? Obviously it’s against the rules, but McNastyperson is a bad actor, he has no problems breaking rules.)

    3. Nomination

    I think this is where some good decisions could make a difference. Slate-vitiation methods such as EPH and 4/6 are good ideas, and being implemented… we do have data that says they’re not a panacea, though. So 3g and 3h are in the works, and this is a good thing.

    Slate detection algorithms (3a)… as the man says, what do they look like and how do they work? Answer that question and demonstrate one in action, and I’ll be happy to support it.

    3b and 3c – the intermediate phase in the nomination process – are cumbersome, but would undoubtedly help. (Again, not a complete panacea; they demand a lot of engagement and attention from the electorate as a whole, as well as putting more work on the admins’ shoulders. But either one would be a step in the right direction.)

    3d has the same problems of 2e – how do you identify, for certain, a bad actor’s ballot? – with the added disadvantage of opening up the admins to accusations of personal bias. (I would think they would be false accusations of personal bias, but I assume our poor Hugo admins have to be like Caesar’s wife, above even suspicion.)

    3e and 3f – pros: they get something worth voting for onto the final ballot. Cons: they don’t take the trolls’ rubbish off the final ballot. And 3e opens up the admins to accusations of partiality again, and 3f – well, who picks the jury, and how does the jury deliberate?

    3i – struck out, and deservedly so.

    3j – same problems as e and f, plus who decides what “brings discredit on Worldcon”, anyway? I’m doubtful about any measure with that amount of subjective judgement built in.

    3k – could be worth looking at. My first thoughts, though, are 1) it looks like it would be slow and administratively cumbersome, and 2) as with 3e and f, it doesn’t take the spoiler rubbish off the ballot.

    4. Voting

    … really, this does not seem to be a problem. We saw last year that the final voting worked just fine – the unworthy stuff got voted below No Award, nothing awful got a Hugo it didn’t deserve*. The problem was that the trolls kept the good stuff off the ballot during the nomination phase. I really think it’s the nominations process that we have to address.

    *except in the sense that this happens every year, because everyone likes to have something to complain about.

  43. I’m starting to think that 3j is actually the solution with the greatest chance of non-gameable success. Yes, it involves individuals using their discretion. But I think serious, human-based judgement is the *only* way to screen out griefers.

    I would suggest that the jury be composed of 3-6 individuals, something like: 3 from current concom, 2 from previous concom, and 1 from con before *that*. Decisions have to be unanimous (or maybe also n-1).

    The crucial elements for the jury would be: depth of experience, like “have voted for Hugos in 5 out of 6 most-recent years.” This is also the point of having not just people from the current concom and the one before, but from one before *that* — to get people with the experience to judge what “tend to bring discredit on Worldcon” looks like.

  44. Whether it’s done administratively (either by “the admins” or “a jury”) or by the membership (3SV/DN), “subjective” decisions will be made. I think fleeing from subjectivity in this process would be a profound error, and guarantee failure.

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