The Leader of the Packet 6/29

aka “These are the times that try dogs’s souls: The summer sheep dog and the sunshine puppy will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

The roundup today features Chauncey DeVega, John Ottinger III, Martin Wisse, Lou Antonelli, Paul, Cheryl Morgan, Simon Bucher-Jones, Tom Hanks, Rachel Neumeier, Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag, Scott Seldon, Alexandra Erin and other cryptic denizens of the internet. (Title credit goes out to File 770 contributing editors of the day Will Reichard and Jack Lint.)

Chauncey DeVega on We Are Respectable Negroes

“The Whiteness of Science Fiction: From the Hugo Awards’ ‘Sad Puppies’ to Dylann Roof and Harold Covington” – June 29

….It would seem that there could be an overlap between the “Sad Puppies” racially resentful white folks (and their pathetic black and brown racial Stockholm syndrome allies) and the more formal and open White Right. The Whiteness of science fiction is united in the post civil rights era by White Supremacy gross, ugly, more polite, in some ways unapologetic, dishonestly “colorblind”, and in all of its other toxic ways.

As I shared on the RT network last Friday evening, Dylann Roof and other Right-wing domestic terrorists are weaponized by Fox News and the Right-wing hate media. Part of this training is not limited to explicit and formal political texts. Political lessons are also taught by many types of media such as music, film, art, video games, comic books, and other types of literature.

A quibble: Covington’s work sounds more like speculative fiction than it does “science fiction” (the widely known white supremacist tract The Turner Diaries fits this model as well). Most science fiction is by definition speculative in nature; speculative fiction is not necessarily science fiction. Words and concepts are important; meanings and definitions matter…..


John Ottinger III on World Magazine

“Notable Books” – June 29


Controversy erupted when one group of science fiction writers, who felt underrepresented by the awards committee, offered a competing list of nominees for the Hugo Awards. When their list won many of the five slots available in each award category, the science fiction establishment and major media noticed. The list writers—known oddly as the “Sad Puppies”—believe that books promoting politically correct causes and liberal identity politics have dominated the Hugos in recent years. Opponents say the “Puppies” are racist, misogynist, and homophobic conservatives undermining science fiction’s most prestigious award by inventing nonexistent persecution. Members of the World Science Fiction Convention will meet this summer to determine if nomination and voting rules need changing. Any changes would take effect in two years. —J.O.


Martin Wisse on Wis[s]e Words

“Fandom is more than just puppies barking” – June 28

This is not what fandom should be like, but unfortunately assholes are everywhere, even in sf fandom. But though they’re currently the loudest and most visible part of fandom, they’re not the whole of it. It’s only human to talk more about outrage than about all the everyday kindnesses that pass unnoticed, which is why British fandom has its Doc Weir award. Most people you meet in fandom, online or real life, are just normal, decent human beings. Which can be hard to remember when all you read about is a small part being incredibly nasty about having to share fandom with people who are not like them and don’t like Nutty Nuggets.

But there’s also the point that much of the sound and fury generated by those Puppies is a reaction to the fact that fandom is changing and getting more welcoming to people who may not just dislike Nutty Nuggets, but don’t like breakfast cereal at all. It’s a backlash against the idea that fandom can improve, grow more diverse, not remain the playground of a bunch of paranoid, spoiled, rightwing brats.


Lou Antonelli on This Way To Texas

“Back home” – June 29

A Facebook friend asked me today, “What do you get out of this much con-going? It’s not a financial benefit is it? I’m curious.”

I replied that I do it for self-promotion and networking. I have seen the benefits accumulate over the years of people getting to meet and know you a bit, to know that you’re a real person. I suppose it works for me because I’m very outgoing, and I’m also a much better public speaker than a writer.

I also feel this year I have a special obligation to get out there because of my Hugo nominations. I feel if I’m asking people to consider my virtues as a writer, they have the right to see me and buttonhole me.


Paul on

“What’s Wrong With The Hugos, Part 3” – June 21

So, having first argued that science fiction is now too big for the Hugos, I then went on to argue that the governance of the award is too slow and too prone to complexify rather than simplify. At the end of that post I said that one of the major ways in which this unnecessary complexity shows itself is in the proliferation of categories. This brings us to:

Problem 3: The Award categories are inappropriate

I hold that too many of the award categories are irrelevant, or so poorly shaped that the voters do not know what they are actually voting for. And yet one of the most persistent and pernicious trends over the last few years has been to add further categories, which does nothing to make the whole thing simpler or clearer….

Okay, I’ve been rambling on for too long, but basically it comes down to this: most of the categories of the Hugo Awards are not fit for purpose. They are dependent on knowledge that the voter cannot have, or they make distinctions that are irrelevant to most voters, or they require comparison between items that cannot sensibly be compared. And these problems, or variations of them, extend into just about every one of the 16 categories there currently are in the Hugo Awards. It’s a systemic problem that ties in with the problems of governance and the problems of relevance that I have already highlighted.

I don’t know what the solution is, other than tearing the whole edifice down and rebuilding it from scratch on firmer grounds and on a simpler model. But I don’t think that is going to happen.


Simon Bucher-Jones on SBJ’s pantechnicon extravaganza

“A brief history of the Hugo awards – the file 770 compilation [as credited]”

1:  the first award.  1197 AD

The award itself dates back to 1197 and Bishop Hugo de Rainault (brother of the then Sherrif of Nottingham) who it will be remembered offered ‘a mighty prize for the most puissant account of how yon addlepate knave Robin Earle yclept Loksley might best be set about his heels.’ The original silver arrow has now become over time the stylised ‘rocket robin hood’ shape of the current award….



Rachel Neumeier

“One more note on the pro artist category” – June  29


Reid’s other covers look rather pulp style, which is not really my thing, but I do like this one.

And at least now I don’t have to think about putting No Award on the ballot. It’s a pity Reid didn’t put some of his works in the Hugo packet so they’d have been easier to find.


Laura “Tegan” Gjovaag on Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog

“Hugo Listening – Fancast” – June 29

[Reviews all five nominees.]

Of these choices, Tea and Jeopardy is definitely the best. It takes full advantage of the format, uses sound effects to improve the atmosphere and has whimsy that appeals to me. The interview was well-conducted, and the questions were perceptive and enlightening. It’s also short enough to listen to but not so long I start to think, just get on with it already! Next up, despite the length, is Galactic Suburbia, which is information-filled and fun. The trio clearly love what they are talking about and range far and wide on a variety of subjects while still pulling in the audience. I find the length problematic, but the diversity of subjects makes up for it. Adventures in SciFi Publishing is the third place winner, and the last to make the ballot for me. It’s a polished production, but went on just slightly too long on a single subject.

The next best is Dungeon Crawlers Radio, which is average but not great. I do wonder if there is a better example than the one in the sample, but due to the length, I can’t be bothered to listen and find out. At the bottom is the Sci Phi Show, which really didn’t take advantage of the audio format at all. The cheesy laughter sound effect detracted, rather than enhanced. If that was the best available, the podcast doesn’t deserve an award.


Scott Seldon on Seldon’s SF Blog

“Interstellar Is Just That” – June 29

…This film most certainly deserves the Hugo award this year. It is what the Hugo is all about. It is, unfortunately, on the Sad Puppies list. I’m quite sure it would have been nominated anyway. In other areas it has received many awards, beating out the other Hugo Nominees. And it is really quite funny that the puppies would nominate this film. They are so against stories with a message and if you don’t get the messages in this film you have to be brain dead. As against the puppy slates as I am, I am forced to concede that this is indeed the best SF film of the year and I must put it first when I vote. I just have to. From the emotional, enjoyment, box office response, and industry award perspectives this film comes out on top among those nominated. If you believe in the spirit of the Hugos, you won’t let the source of a good nominee that deserves to win cloud your judgement. Of course, not all will agree that this is the best offering, but from my perspective, I have no choice…..


Alexandra Erin on Blue Author Is About To Write

“The Goblin Emperor: Yes, it’s fantasy, and yes it’s a novel” – June 29

Anyway, in a year when many Hugo works were nominated whose merits are so dubious that even the people who nominated them aren’t discussing their merits, The Goblin Emperor is a novel whose merits have been rather sharply debated. It has been praised highly from a wide number of quarters, but there are some lines of criticism that have cropped up and been repeated even outside the quarters of the Puppy campaigns (though they are found most often and most vociferously within those quarters).

They are:

  • It’s not really fantasy, so much as an alternate history with non-human races because there’s no magic or other speculative element.
  • It’s not really a novel, because there is no plot/no conflict. This criticism is also phrased as “It’s more of a series of anecdotes than anything.”

The standard Puppy nonsense of “SJWS ARE SHOVING MESSAGES DOWN OUR THROATS AND VOTING FOR STORIES FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION REASONS” has certainly come up, too, of course, but it’s hardly worth engaging with them.

Now that I have read the book, I really have to wonder: did the people making those two criticisms of it do so? If they did, I don’t think they could have read it carefully. While the vision of elven and goblin societies in The Goblin Emperor are an example of intricate and engrossing worldbuilding, the magic-using classes of society appear to have been lifted straight out of classic D&D; e.g., there are clerics and there are wizards.



Cheryl Morgan on Cheryl’s Mewsings

“Archipelacon – Day 4” – June 29

Lots of people were talking about wanting to come back to Finnish conventions again. We seem to have created a lot of goodwill for the Helsinki Worldcon bid. I am so proud of my Finnish and Swedish friends right now.



533 thoughts on “The Leader of the Packet 6/29

  1. Tehran:

    Yeah, and then he spent the rest of the con hitting other creative folks with it. At least, that’s what they told me.

    They all deserved it.

    But alas, Katie stole it, and now she is Sword of Atlantis, not me.

  2. RedWombat:Ok, so yes, members of the squash clan are promiscuous which is fine as long as you don’t save seed. The first year fruit is not affected, but a hybrid seed could do anything and about 99% of it will be bad.

    We got volunteer zucchini (bush, not vining) that tasted fine, but the skins were extremely tough. Even the KitchenAid shredder attachment had trouble with them! (The volunteer tomatoes didn’t usually do anything, including growing.)

  3. @Jim Henley & @Laertes & @Gabriel F.,

    I liked “The water that falls on you from nowhere” so much I gave my top spot in last year’s Hugo vote. That calibre of story was my hope for this year’s finalists, so you can imagine my disappointment.

  4. Ooooh. Just got a couple of rather interesting emails. Not Puppy-related, but… I may end up writing some fiction of my own*, instead of simply doing editing and assembly. It’s a big “maybe” at this point, and there are a lot of details between now and then… but it’d be nice to see my name on a couple of covers, and I know the publisher pays on time.

    Sorry for the derail, but when it’s the dead of night and you need to squee, sometimes these things happen. 😀

    * Okay, so the setting’s not mine, but still…

  5. Brian Z. seems to be conveniently forgetting that the Hugo Awards are given to works of Science Fiction *and* Fantasy.

    Also “The water that falls on you from nowhere” follows that venerable genre tradition of asking a “what if?” and extrapolating from there which I think the story does admirably: What if when you speak a lie, water materialises and falls on you, and the bigger the lie the more & the colder the water?

  6. @all,

    I loved “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” too – I think I also gave it my top vote. Two things stick with me hardest:

    – that the ending is not an unambiguous happy ending (though it is a hopeful one) and this is rooted firmly in the main character’s, well, character, in his own relationship issues and not in Cliched Coming Out Story Tropes.

    – the scene where Matt narrowly saves Michelle from the consequences of lying to him while she’s cooking on a hot oily grill. That scene gives me shivers up and down my arms just thinking about it.

    I’ve seen the story receive a lot of criticism along the lines that the speculative element is arbitrary and could have been anything, but I think that’s kind of like (to borrow the point made in the Blue Author Is About To Write review/response) saying that the lightning bolt spell could have been replaced with a gun. The story is what the story is; had the spec element been different or absent, it would have been a different story.

  7. I loved The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere, and if I’d been voting that year I would have given it top spot, no question. Its not science fiction, but that doesn’t bother me because the Hugos also award fantasy (gooo Goblin Emperor). I thought it was a good speculation on what the world would be like, how your life might have to change, if you couldn’t lie. The device isn’t meant to and can’t be subtle and in the background, because then it wouldn’t be a true barrier to lying.

    Just to clear a few things up, in case an earlier comment about me mislead anyone to my position…
    I don’t like bullying, and my stake in the Brian Z thing has been that some (not all) of what he gets is bullying. I have tried to push back against that segment. I probably won’t in future because limited spoons and pushing boulders up hill aren’t a good mix, even though I still think some people are being bullies some of the time, and that’s not okay.

    I also don’t like that in the rush to be awful to him/rebut his statements, the overall conversation ends up being about Brian Z rather than any number of more interesting things. Like books. (If you think he’s a troll, don’t feed the troll is always an option! If someone else or two someones have already covered the rebuttal, do we really need three?)

    I have also tried to convince Brian Z to drop some conversational quirks that particularly piss people off, but I see that didn’t really sink in because now he’s denying he even did the one I was focusing on yesterday. See above statement about pushing boulders up hill.

    I have not “looked at” what I’m doing re: Puppies and rethought it. My opinion on the Puppies stays exactly the same. They are slate voters, they screwed up the honourable agreement fandom maintained for decades, and EPH (or something like it) needs to get voted in to stop them or anyone else doing the same thing. That quote about fighting the last war does not actually mean never fixing the problems the last war exposed! Stop acting like it does! Please!

    I don’t want to negotiate with Beale, I will never want to negotiate with Beale, would it be possible, at some point, for certain Brian Z’s who want negotiations with Beale to realise that he is asking a group that includes people who Beale has said horrible dehumanising things about? I do not negotiate with people who think I am less.

  8. Happy Puppy has only drunk the Puppy koolaid.

    Brian Z is a distributor of that crap.

    Hence the difference in how these two Pups are received hereabouts.

  9. @BrianZ “I was referring more specifically to a call for a Hugo award blacklist. Thanks for clarifying your views.”

    Well, except that as usual, that isn’t what I said- that wasn’t ‘my view’, that was the view of everyone except for you, and the reason why every single person who posted on the issue (except you) said ‘blacklist?! What is Brian talking about now?’

    As everyone said, we see you choosing to use a more inflammatory and less accurate word, and this repeated tendency of yours does not increase anyone’s opinion of your honesty.

    You never answered before- if you have to lie and mislead people to persuade them to your point of view, why doesn’t that make you reconsider your opinions? I really don’t understand this.

  10. The Wedding Banquet has magical realist elements as well, does it?

    Nicholas Whyte,

    Maybe you misunderstood. I said there were better stories about all the various things I mentioned. I wasn’t thinking of a single story that combined all of those elements

    But thank you for the opportunity to link to the final scene of The Wedding Banquet, in which Ang Lee does something with a simple piece of technology, an airport security wand, that is both magical and realist.

    (And if you haven’t, you should watch the whole thing.)

  11. Soon Lee,

    Also “The water that falls on you from nowhere” follows that venerable genre tradition of asking a “what if?” and extrapolating from there which I think the story does admirably: What if when you speak a lie, water materialises and falls on you, and the bigger the lie the more & the colder the water?

    I enjoy magical realism, which of course is fantasy. I like the premise of what if something bad happens when you lie. (Hey, I even liked Roberto Benigni’s Pinocchio). This story didn’t do it for me and I didn’t see it as a Hugo Winner. Admittedly, I have read a lot of magical realism, stories with gay themes and stories about Asian families.

  12. Meredith,

    I have not “looked at” what I’m doing re: Puppies and rethought it. My opinion on the Puppies stays exactly the same. They are slate voters, they screwed up the honourable agreement fandom maintained for decades, and EPH (or something like it) needs to get voted in to stop them or anyone else doing the same thing.

    Sorry for any misunderstanding – “Meredith has looked at it” was thanking you for speaking to those who actively enjoy dogpiling and launching their troll-seeking missiles. I took all of your advice seriously, thank you for it. OTOH I was insulted so many times it was hard to feel that the burden is entirely mine so it has been tempting to either keep getting up to be knocked down again or else bet you all that we are going to stop obsessing with Vox Day after you watch me eat fifty hardboiled eggs.

    Brian Z’s who want negotiations with Beale

    Talking to him might be useful, but my main point was a little different. He is not their lord and master, he just runs a blog they like. Many Rabids voted for stuff they read and liked – and they don’t always agree with Beale.

    I also think separating people’s political affiliations from the question of what to do about slates would be a more effective path to resolution.

    I’m not opposed to “something like EPH”, though I saw some things in EPH specifically that I didn’t like. I just think there should be consultation with the whole community including puppies and independent evaluation (though it seems too late to do that before August).

  13. Brian Z.: I was insulted so many times

    … and of course, I, Brian Z, have never done anything to cause the negative reactions I’ve received…

  14. @Brian Z

    it was hard to feel that the burden is entirely mine

    Which is a good thing, because it isn’t, and around the time you start feeling like it is (if you ever do), that would be the time to look up gaslighting and listen to soothing music for awhile, perhaps have a bubble bath.

    But that doesn’t mean none of it is, and its fairly easy from the outside (where I’m not getting dogpiled) to extract specific, actionable criticisms of your particular style from the heap. Reducing the things that particularly irritate can’t hurt, at least when it comes to gaining back some ground with the people who only recently decided you were a troll.

    As unpleasant as I find bingo cards, having a look to see what’s on it and avoiding as many of them as possible, within reason, would probably be a decent guide, and one that doesn’t involve me being lateral to the dogpile picking out criticisms at a time when you’re likely in no state to listen. At a certain point being lateral to a dogpile is just more dogpile and I don’t want to do that.

  15. Meredith: that would be the time to look up gaslighting

    Oh, come on, Meredith, no one has gaslighted Brian here — while he, on the other hand, has done plenty of claiming that other people said things they didn’t actually say.

    Your compassion is admirable. But I think it’s grossly misplaced. The people here who’ve repeatedly taken the time and effort to exchange with him — only for him to continually spout lies and misrepresentations — are the ones who deserve the compassion.

  16. Meredith:

    I think I’ll take your advice on the relaxing bubble bath. If you have any good music, please share.

  17. @Brian Z:

    I also think separating people’s political affiliations from the question of what to do about slates would be a more effective path to resolution.

    Good thing EPH is utterly blind to political affiliations, then! All it does is neuter slates, and it does that regardless of whose slates they are.

    I’m not opposed to “something like EPH”, though I saw some things in EPH specifically that I didn’t like.

    And those specific things would be…?

    I just think there should be consultation with the whole community including puppies and independent evaluation (though it seems too late to do that before August).

    The group discussing EPH over at ML has not only performed loads of independent evaluation, showing their work in public where anyone can look at it, but has bent over backwards to assist anyone else who wishes to evaluate the proposal. This is what’s known as “peer review.” If you want someone else to look at it, you are perfectly free to hire an auditing firm or pay a programmer to code an implementation of the algorithm for you…

    Finally, since any proposed rule change requires two votes to go into effect, approving EPH this year would still mean that there’s a full year available for all the testing you want between then and the earliest possible final approval in 2016.

    Of course, an honest person taking even the most perfunctory look at how Worldcon works and what the EPH proposal actually says already knows all of the above. You, specifically, have been reminded of these points on numerous occasions. At this point, your “OMG IT’S ALL ABOUT KICKING PUPPIES AND IT NEEDS MOAR TESTING AND IT’S TOO LATE SO WE’RE ALL DOOOOOOMED IF THIS PASSES!” shtick can no longer be passed off as mere ignorance, you’re not playing devil’s advocate, and you’re for damned sure not funny.

    You are lying. It’s that simple. Cut it out.

  18. @JJ

    Oh, no, my apologies, I didn’t mean that was what people were trying to do, just that if he started believing some of the more, hm, colourful things said about him that he would in effect be suffering from something like it. I don’t think anyone here is being dishonest about what they’re saying, and I think people genuinely believe he is what they say he is, but that doesn’t mean it would be at all healthy for him to start believing it. It was a probably too-lazy short-hand, and I ought to have put it differently.

    One of my principles in life is that bullying is bad whoever it happens to… Even if I don’t like what that person is saying. I prefer not to be selective because I don’t like where that goes.

  19. Rev. Bob on June 30, 2015 at 10:08 pm said:

    Ah, so it’s a neuroscientist who slipped in those anti-climate change dog whistles.

    I can certainly see why a neuroscientist would be very cautious about science being settled. Our understanding of the human brain and mind is a very tenuous thing.

    Our understanding of climate change, however, is a different matter entirely, and there is overwhelming evidence that human activity is having dramatic effects on it.

    Ages ago when I hung out in the skeptics’ community, one of the sad truisms was that no one makes a fool of themself so much as an expert who thinks a degree in one subject qualifies them to lecture on all and makes them immune to folly.

    With all due respect to the neuroscientist for his understanding of the human nervous system, I would rather listen to what actual climatologists who understand their own subject and are devoted to the truth of it say about the climate. And what they say is clear and unambiguous.

  20. Meredith: I think people genuinely believe he is what they say he is, but that doesn’t mean it would be at all healthy for him to start believing it.

    On the contrary, I think it would be extremely psychologically-healthy for him to start taking on board the things that the other commenters on here are saying to him.

    Meredith, he is not being bullied. He is getting called out on his lies and misrepresentations. His behavior is the cause of this.

    I encourage you to look up the definition for “bullying”. You keep using that word. I do not think that word means what you think it means.

  21. @JJ

    I don’t have a problem with people calling him out. I have a problem with people calling him garbage.

  22. @Meredith:

    There is a difference between bullying and an unequivocal statement that one is through putting up with bullshit. I believe I can safely say that most of the rebukes Brian is getting fall firmly into the latter category, and furthermore, that he is the master of his own destiny at this point.

    If he feels that these rebukes constitute abuse, he can stop them in several ways. First and easiest, he can simply drop the discussion; nobody here is seeking him out that they may hurl abuse at him. Second, he can mend his ways; one typically does not get dogpiled upon for making vague or false statements if one makes clear statements that align with observable reality. Third, he could simply stick to the comedy and filk, for which he has received a good deal of acclaim.

    Brian Z is not an innocent kid being hunted down by the school bully. He’s the class clown who thinks keying cars is hilarious, no matter how many times he gets caught and beaten up for doing it. Your sympathy does you credit, but it merely enables his bad behavior. You are not helping him by claiming that the damage isn’t that noticable and the cars’ owners should be more understanding about it.

  23. @Rev. Bob

    Well, I have spent quite some time trying to convince him to stop behaving badly, too. That’s working roughly as well as trying to convince people not to call him garbage. 🙂 Honestly, once this thread is done I plan on staying out of it entirely. Its become a waste of spoons, and I’m not so quixotic to keep spending them to no purpose. (Note: I’m being a little sarcastic with the use of the word quixotic. I don’t think what I’ve been doing is a sign of any excess of nobility.)

  24. @Meredith:

    No disagreement here; I just wanted to groove on your use of “quixotic” and note my own quixotic quest where its pronunciation is concerned. (Something tells me I need say no more than that…)

  25. @Rev. Bob

    I feel suddenly paranoid that pronouncing it the way I have been (Spanish x, sort of an h sound) is terribly wrong.

  26. Rev. Bob,

    I only key cars that have Jeb Bush bumper stickers. 🙂

    More seriously, would you also like to see an independent evaluation happen before ratification, if passed? It wasn’t clear from your comment. That would certainly satisfy my reservations about the technical aspects. Short of a wealthy benefactor, I wonder how the task could be accomplished.

  27. Evaluate for what? What are the technical aspects about which you have reservations?
    It would be useful to run the proposed system against the nomination ballots from several years to see if/when it produces different results to the existing system. Are you proposing something different?
    Who is the independent evaluator independent from?

  28. @Meredith:

    Let’s just say that I was quite surprised, and my sensibilities perturbed, to discover not only a “W” sound, but an “ecks” shortly thereafter. The name doesn’t have those*; what are they doing in the adjective?!?

    * Okay, I can find dictionary ecksamples of both pronunciations for the name, but only one version of the adjective.

    @Brian Z: “More seriously, would you also like to see an independent evaluation happen before ratification, if passed? It wasn’t clear from your comment.”

    Not clear, you say? Please show me even a gram of doubt in my statement that:

    The group discussing EPH over at ML has not only performed loads of independent evaluation, showing their work in public where anyone can look at it, but has bent over backwards to assist anyone else who wishes to evaluate the proposal.

    So that you cannot (honestly) claim that I failed to answer your question, though: I am completely satisfied with the vetting that has already been done. If I were not, I am capable of building my own code to test it. It is a straightforward algorithm.


    That’s already been done, with the one extant set of nominating ballots. As I recall, the results either matched or saw a switch between places 5 and 6.

  29. Hi Ray,

    What are the technical aspects about which you have reservations?

    What are the possibilities by 2017? A single slate of five items seems not very likely if EPH is ratified. If things get competitive, who knows? Several open and secret recommendation lists of varying lengths? Publisher boycotts that affect voter behavior and other changes in voting strategies? People seeking vulnerabilities to game or disrupt the awards process. Then there are non-technical problems – like how to organize broad community consultation and avoid all of those messes.

  30. You are trying to change the ground. Again.
    You said “That would certainly satisfy my reservations about the technical aspects.” and now you bring up things that are not technical aspects.

  31. @RevBob
    I think it would be useful, if possible, to run EPH against several years of ballots. To be able to say
    in all these contests nothing changed
    in these contests there was a very small change
    in these contests there was a big change
    But I’m not volunteering 🙂

  32. Brian Z.: like how to organize broad community consultation and avoid all of those messes

    Broad community consultation has been organized and conducted at Making Light, where anyone who participated in good faith has been welcome.

    Anyone who has chosen not to participate can hardly complain that they didn’t have the opportunity.

    The purpose of EPH is not to address whatever vague, mystical scenarios you have — for some strange reason! — not been able to articulate. It is to address the current problem — and the new methodology has been thoroughly tested and simulated and vetted. Once it’s passed, its efficacy will be judged according to actual results.

    You’ve been banging on about this for weeks and have not been able to come up with anything concrete — just a bunch of “what if a bunch of demons come up out of a chasm in the earth and decide to vote simultaneous slates?” mumbo-jumbo.

    Please just STFU about it, unless and until you are actually able to articulate a meaningful issue.

  33. As usual, Brian speaks with a forked tongue and mush in his mouth. Lots of FUD, nothing specific.

    “People might do all sorts of vaguely-outlined things!” They might indeed, but that says nothing about the EPH system. One might as well complain about adopting Windows 10 on the grounds that some Windows machines are in homes with children, and some teenagers use computers to find naughty pictures. While both of those things are true, they are unrelated to Windows 10.

    “Ooo, someone might look for exploits!” Well, yes, I’m sure they will. Be sure to speak up if you find one. So far, it hasn’t happened, and while EPH may not be bulletproof, it’s a lot better than the existing FPTP, which has already been exploited.

    “But what about talking to the Puppies?” The victim of a burglary does not typically seek the thief’s permission or advice before installing new locks.

  34. @Ray

    IIRC, the making light thread had access to real 1984 data, and a simulated 2013, for testing. They’ve run checks on what EPH would have produced instead (remarkably minimal differences), and run some simulations with added slates.
    They’ve made the data available to others who wish to test as well.
    Basically, a lot of testing has been done already, and if EPH passes the first hurdle this year, there will be a full year for some really comprehensive number crunching by anyone who wants to prior to ratification the year after. If some terrible flaw is revealed, EPH will no doubt fail at the 2016 meeting, but current indications are that it works as designed.

  35. @Ray: “I think it would be useful, if possible, to run EPH against several years of ballots.”

    Certainly it would. Unfortunately, that data simply does not exist; ballots are usually destroyed after being counted, so the community is lucky that one set has survived. The best that can be done – which already has been – is to test EPH vs. FPTP* on statistical models of ballot data and see how they compare. As noted, where slates are absent, the two systems have been observed to return either the same results or to differ in the lowest nomination slot (5 and 6 swap places sometimes, so that 5 makes the ballot under one system while 6 does under the other). More detail is – surprise! – available over at the ML thread where they’ve been discussing exactly these nuts and bolts.

    * In case anyone missed it, FPTP = First Past The Post, aka the current nomination system, in which the five most-nominated items make the ballot.

  36. @ Mark, yes, I’m very confident in the testing that has been done so far. It might reassure people to see that it wouldn’t make any difference in normal years.
    It would be very useful, if possible, to run this year’s ballots through EPH and show people what the shortlist could have looked like. (I know that can’t happen until after this year’s con)

    ah, cross-posted with Rev.Bob. If the data doesn’t exist any more it can’t be done.

  37. I would very much like to see what happens if this year’s ballots are run through EPH. I am intensely curious to see what would have made it if the effect of the slates was diminished severely… or see if the slates still had the same effect.

  38. Tegan –

    I am very much hoping that Sasquan will release all the anonymous nomination data at some point after the final voting ends. I *hope* it will be before the Hugo ceremony but I doubt they’ll do that. Standlee appears to be working on the assumption that no additional data will be available to the Business Meeting until after the ceremony.

  39. ah, cross-posted with Rev.Bob. If the data doesn’t exist any more it can’t be done.

    Actually you can get very close.
    We know the number of nominating ballots and we know the number of nominations each work received. Based on that, you can construct ballots at random. You can add the proportions of single nom ballots, double nom ballots etc. from the 1984 data.
    Then you run this through EPH. And then repeat the process 1000 times.

    As the number of nominations for each work doesn’t change, the same works will tend to come out on top. What changes is the number of points each work has initially and in the latter stages depending on what fictional nomination ballot they appear on. You can then check the spread of the results. If all 1000 runs yield the same result, you can be reasonably confident that this result would hold for the actual 2013 nomination ballots. If 95% of your simulations show one result it’s less certain, but then you look at the other five percent and check how different it really is.

    Sounds odd, but works.

  40. LunarG, I don’t know if there’s a goat-cam; I didn’t know to look for it. I just said <pointing> “Hey, look; that roof is covered in grass… holy shit, there are goats on the roof of that restaurant!” and my husband said “sounds like a good place for lunch….”

  41. “I see he is making shit up again. EPH is designed to stop VD (or any other slate, but RP was the catalyst) gaming the nominations after 2016, nothing more, nothing less.”

    Really guys… your spittle laced fury is kind of wasted at this point. I mean… you really should be holding some of your outrage back for 2016 when we do this again.

  42. @mk41 I can see how that is a good test. I’m thinking more if someone has been led to believe that EPH means only one Doctor Who episode will be on the ballot and lots of other normal voting behaviour will be ‘punished’, it would be a handy corrective to be able to say, “we ran the 2012/3/4 dramatic short form nominations through EPH, and the final ballots were exactly the same”

  43. I think it would be wrong of Sasquan to release the data before the awards are presented… but I do want to see it eventually. If there’s no big difference, that will tell us EPH doesn’t work. If there is a difference, we will understand it much better.

    In the end, it’s up to the folks running Sasquan. Whatever they decide, I hope it’s the right thing to do. They’ve already been put in a nearly impossible situation this year.

  44. Kurt Busiek on June 30, 2015 at 11:48 pm said:

    ::narrows eyes::

    Should we be worried that Kurt’s autocorrect sees Tegan as Tehran?

  45. Even if earlier years ballots are fine, I don’t remember seeing anything about whether this year’s nomination data was already disposed of. It’s quite plausible that at minimum the paper ballots have already gone, but perhaps they would be kept until after the awards in case of last minute issues? Either way, the ballot details aren’t released until after the awards, so if the full info still exists then that’s the first possible time it could come out. That’s not to say they will be; I can see a number of possible objections to releasing modern data in that fashion.

  46. @ Ray
    The simulation is the handrail. The proposal is like a math formula in that respect, it works whether people understand it or not. I’m all for being a accomadating as possible, but at some point people either have to sit down and work it through for themselves or trust the experts.

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