Updated MidAmeriCon II Business Meeting Agenda

Jared Dashoff, MidAmeriCon II business meeting chair, has released a new version of the agenda, including Lisa Hayes’ motion, 3SV and its various parts, and EPH+. Download the PDF file from the MACII website.

There’s Business Passed on to MidAmeriCon II by Chicon 7 and Sasquan

The following item was ratified at Chicon 7 in 2012 and must be re-ratified by MidAmeriCon II in 2016 in order to remain part of the Worldcon Constitution.

  • A.1 Short Title: Best Fancast

The following Constitutional Amendments were approved at Sasquan in 2015 and passed on to MidAmeriCon II for ratification. If ratified, they will become part of the Constitution at the conclusion of MidAmeriCon II.

  • A.2 Short Title: The Five Percent Solution
  • A.3 Short Title: Multiple Nominations
  • A.4 Short Title: Nominee Diversity
  • A.5 Short Title: Electronic Signatures
  • A.7 Short Title: E Pluribus Hugo
  • A.6 Short Title: 4 and 6

And there’s the submission text of newly proposed WSFS Consitution rules changes, drafts of which have been posted on File 770 over the past few weeks.

Best Series (page 8)

  • Proposed by: Series Hugo Committee

December Is Good Enough (page 9)

  • Proposed by: Colette Fozard, Warren Buff, Nicholas Whyte

Two Years Are Enough (page 9)

  • Proposed by: Warren Buff, Colin Harris

Three Stage Voting (3SV), Or “The Only Winning Move Is Not to Play” (page 10)

  • Proposed by: Colin Harris, Kevin Standlee, Nicholas Whyte, Colette Fozard, Warr en Buff

Additional Finalists (page 13)

  • Moved by: Lisa Hayes, Lisa Deutsch Harrigan, David Wallace

EPH+ (page 14)

  • Proposed by: Jameson Quinn, Claudia Beach, Bonnie Warford, Catherine Faber, Andrew Hickey, Rogers Cadenhead, David Goldfarb, Lee Egger, Tasha Turner Lennhoff, Steven Halter, David Wallace, Oskari Rantala.

22 thoughts on “Updated MidAmeriCon II Business Meeting Agenda

  1. Wow. That is a lot.

    There’s some of that that I don’t particularly support, but none that I strongly oppose. I hope we can do things as quickly as possible, especially for the “you either like it or you don’t” ideas, such as E-signatures.

  2. Personally, my minimal hope is to pass EPH and 3SV. If we get EPH+ too, that’s a bonus. Stuff like 5%, multiple noms, nom diversity, the “enough”s, and additional finalists are nice, but seem like smaller details to me. I think 4 and 6 is probably a slight step backward but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

    Should I cut and paste the EPH+ FAQ here? I think I will. Here goes:

    Q. Can you explain the motivation behind EPH+ in simple English?

    Sure, but you have to start by understanding EPH without the plus.

    Q. OK. Can you explain the motivation behind EPH in simple English?

    EPH, without the plus, is based a couple simple motivating ideas.

    First off, insofar as possible, all voters should have the same power to affect the final result. You shouldn’t have 5 times the voting power just because you happened to pick 5 things that happen to be popular with others. This voting power is the “points” in EPH. At each step in the process, the “point” from each ballot’s is divided between the remaining works it supports.

    Second off, you want a voting system which encourages people to vote for everything they consider worthy, and not just to “bullet vote” for their favorite work. For instance, a nontrivial number of Worldcon members are authors or close friends of authors. Such people are often dedicated, knowledgeable fans, with excellent taste. We don’t want to give an advantage to those authors who only vote for themselves, as opposed to voting for themselves and anything else they find worthy. In order to minimize the strategic incentive for “bullet voting”, during the elimination phase of EPH, all approvals count at full strength, as if the voter had supported only that one work.

    Q. Now can you explain the motivation behind EPH+ in simple English?

    The two motivating principles of EPH, as stated above, are in tension with each other. In fact, there is a theorem which states that any proportional system using approval ballots has incentives for bullet voting in at least some cases (C. Duddy, “Electing a Representative Committee by Approval Ballot: An Impossibility Result,” Economics Letters, v. 124, 2014, pp. 14–16. http://www.mimuw.edu.pl/~ps219737/maxCover-aaai2015.pdf). EPH is an attempt to find a sweet spot of compromise between these two points.

    But in fact, EPH still errs too much in favor of slate voters. In EPH, Slate voters get two advantages over organic voters. First, because there are so many different eligible works, some organic voters will inevitably fail to choose any works that have a chance of winning. Such “long tail” ballots are essentially wasted; there are no corresponding wasted slate ballots. Second, the elimination phase, in order to avoid a bullet voting incentive, gives the full benefit of the doubt to slate voters by counting their approval fully even when they have several remaining uneliminated works approved.

    To counterbalance these two advantages, we should give an advantage to organic voters in the points-calculation phase. And that’s just what EPH+ does; a ballot with only one of its approved works remaining gets a full point; while a ballot with many can have as few as 5/9 of a point in total (just over half).

    Q. Where do those strange “Sainte-Laguë” numbers come from?

    Well, obviously you can look at Wikipidia for the history of the Sainte-Laguë and D’Hondt divisors. But here’s an intuitive explanation for why they make sense.

    Imagine the ideal situation; no “long tail” voters, and a perfectly proportional result. If you’re choosing 5 finalists, then this “ideal world” means you should be able to divide up the voters into 5 equal groups of 20%, where each group unanimously supports one of the finalists. In the case where 40% of the voters were slate voters, there would be 2 slate finalists, and you’d divide the slate voters arbitrarily into 2 groups, one for each of them.

    In the real world, of course, things are never quite so neat and even, with votes that can be divided into exactly 20% for each finalist. Some will have a bit more, some a bit less. How much less is the least we should tolerate? Well, it seems reasonable that the groups should at least “round off to” 20%. So a group that was at least half as big as the 20% ideal (10%) should tend to get a finalist; one that was at least 1.5 times as big (30%) should get two finalists; one that is at least 2.5 times as big (50%) should get three finalists; etc.

    Roughly speaking, that’s the motivation for the Sainte-Laguë divisors. If you want “half-size” groups to round up, then you need to use the ratios 1, 3, 5 for points, not 1, 2, 3, just as you saw in the percentages above.

    Q. Couldn’t you use numbers that fell off even faster, in order to give an even bigger disadvantage to slate voters?

    Kinda, but not really.

    First off, it’s important to note that anything from “D’Hondt” divisors as in EPH to “Sainte-Laguë” divisors as in EPH+ yields a system that is in some sense proportional, while anything outside that range is no longer proportional in any sense. And in voting theory, when you push system design too hard to get one result there is often a possibility for strategic backlash that makes such system design ineffective. In this case, that means that if you try too hard to punish slate voters, the slate will just organize into 5 blocs of bullet votes. Sure, they could do that under EPH+ too, but since it’s still a kind of proportional system, there’s more of a balance between the risks and rewards for that strategy. If a voting bloc knows exactly how many supporters it has and how many nominations the strongest organic works will get, it might use strategic bullet voting to be able to control as many finalist slots in EPH+ as it would have in EPH; but the risk is that if they guess wrong, they might end up with no finalists at all. In practice, they’ll probably stick to the simpler strategy of slate voting.

    Q. Is EPH+ worth the extra complexity it adds? Why?
    I think it clearly is; but then again, I (Jameson) may not be the best person to answer this question. The advantages of EPH+ are clear; it helps ensure more of the finalists are determined by organic voters. As for the disadvantages and/or complexity: since I live and breathe voting theory, it actually doesn’t seem any more complex than EPH to me. Though I realize that is probably not true for other people, it’s hard for me to judge how much of a problem that is.

    Q. This is complicated. Where can I read more about why it was proposed?
    Start with Bruce Schneier’s post. If you’re up for some academic jargon, you can supplement that with our paper. Finally, read this post from the previous thread in which I try to explain the reasons for EPH+ in plain language.

    Q. Is EPH or EPH+ still needed if we have 3SV, or if we have 3SV along with some of the related options?
    I believe that at least EPH is still necessary to prevent a slate from taking over the longlist. Here is the number of longlist slots a slate could get, averaged across 6 categories, assuming very weak ability to coordinate. Under ideal coordination ability, things would be much worse; they could get similar results with just about half the numbers shown on the x axis.
    “SDV-LPE” is EPH; “SDV-LPE-SL” is EPH+; and “SDV” is a version of EPH which eliminates based on points and not approvals (and thus encourages bullet voting). (Note: ignore the “(out of 5)” in the label for the y axis.)

    The lesson of the graph above is that even an imperfectly-coordinated slate could leave fewer than 5 organic results on the longlist, swamping 3SV, with as few as 300 voters; something that would take over 800 voters under EPH+.

    Q. I want to look at lots of graphs!

    Here is a graph of what a slate could have accomplished in the 2015 Hugos, averaged across 6 prose-work categories. This assumes slate coordination was no better than it was in reality (including the sad/rabid split and some slate voters who nominated a minority of non-slate works).

    Here’s a graph of what they could have done if “4 and 6” were in place (under similar assumptions):
    (Note: ignore the “(out of 5)” in the label for the y axis.)
    5 and 6:

  3. On page 22 of the agenda, there is some text cut off on the right side of the page regarding the Detcon financial report.

  4. In my desire to get a clean “first through fifth”, it occurs to me that I should mention that I’ve now bought tickets, and I’ll be arriving by train the evening of the 17th. I was too late to get a slot on the schedule. Is there any way I could set up an “as interested” talk about the my paper, EPH and EPH+, slate tactics, voting theory, etc., without being on the schedule?

  5. @Joshua: Using cut and paste, the missing text appears to be:

    Art show sales &
    fees combined:
    Artist sales

  6. That sure is a busy schedule. I think I’m not going to try to get Sharpening the Artist Picture (= amendment to clarify the Pro & Fan Artist categories) up for this year, but I’m going to try to set up an informal meeting to discuss it at MidAmericon so it can be submitted for Helsinki.

  7. It is a busy agenda and there may very well be more to come as there are still two days to submit. First time with the gavel should be real…um…fun.

    We are working on fixing the issue with the Detcon report for the next update (we at least will have more financial reports if there isn’t any more new business submitted).

  8. Possible ambiguity in “A.3 Multiple Nominations”

    I haven’t been following any discussions on this one, so forgive me if this is a non-issue.

    The proposed wording includes “the Worldcon Committee shall determine in which category the work shall appear, based on the category in which it receives the most nominations”. Is “most nominations” an absolute enumeration, or a relative one? If the work appears in two categories which have widely varying levels of participation, I can envision a situation where a work comes in third in Category A (which category typically gets many votes), and second in Category B (which category typically gets few votes), such that it gets more votes in Cat A than Cat B. My thinking, though, is that under those circumstances it should go into Cat B. Is Cat A the intention of the proposers? Is that the “proper” outcome?

  9. My bad. I used last year’s Detcon report as a template for this year, and that text box was from last year and should have been deleted. We’ll be uploading a new agenda shortly (possibly even this evening), and that material will be gone.

  10. @andrew m: this was my comment a year ago. We’ve been waiting for a YA proposal for some 20 years now. How about “let’s try THIS for 5 years”? See how it works. Fix it/dump it. The hand wringing over this category is beyond all understanding

  11. Viktor: The hand wringing over this category is beyond all understanding

    There are many business meeting attendees who don’t read YA and don’t want to feel obligated to start, just so they can make informed decisions for purposes of the Hugo Award.

    I wouldn’t call that handwringing. I’d call that, voting their interest.

  12. Lots on the agenda. Not much looks like easy ratification. Another long meeting.

    @Jared Dashoff
    My thoughts will be with you. A tough first meeting to chair.

  13. The hand wringing over this category is beyond all understanding.

    How about giving us a workable definition of “What is Young Adult?” in ten words or less, which includes a context for what is not Young Adult?

  14. John Lorentz: How about giving us a workable definition of “What is Young Adult?” in ten words or less, which includes a context for what is not Young Adult?

    I was originally quite supportive of adding a YA Novel category. I’m one of those who almost never reads YA — the vast majority of it I’ve sampled either simply does not appeal to me, or pisses me off because the protagonists behave like idiots and not only do the books present this in a way that implies their behaviour is acceptable, they don’t ever learn from it and grow because of it (I’m looking at you, Updraft, Illuminae and The Ship). So I will not be likely to ever nominate YA books for Best Novel Hugo, nor am I likely to rank them highly on a Final Ballot.

    I know that there are a lot of Hugo voters who feel similarly. This is why I felt that YA deserved a chance to be evaluated on its own merits. But the more I read past and current discussions, the more I realized that it’s just impossible to come up with a workable definition for the category that would definitively split Best Novel from Best YA Novel.

    I would support a Not-a-Hugo YA Award.

  15. Not-Hugo is, to the best of my knowledge, what they are proposing.

    The question of ‘what is YA?’ – if you mean ‘YA as opposed to (old) adult’, making it a not-Hugo should solve that: no, the two fields are not absolutely completely distinct, but if we don’t have to decide which award a work is eligible for, that needn’t matter. If you mean ‘YA as opposed to children’s/middle grade’, that can be answered by calling it a young people’s fiction award. The proposal in 2013, which was the source of the present process, was actually for a Youth Book award, but everyone constantly called it a YA proposal, in line with the common habit in fandom of calling all young people’s fiction YA, and that’s what the committee got saddled with.

    I’m never sure if the movement for a YA Hugo is really concerned with young people’s fiction generally, or with the specific YA age-band. There are things in last year’s report which suggest both. If people do want an award which is specifically for YA as publishers use the term, and not for children’s books, then I would oppose it, as being unfairly discriminatory.

  16. The YA Committee is scrambling to produce something. If anything comes forward, it’s likely to be a Not-a-Hugo (like the Campbell Award), but voted upon by the same rules as the Hugo Award and sanctioned by WSFS.

    How this will play out in this year’s crowded agenda is anyone’s guess.

  17. They seemed to have a reasonably clear plan last year – which already proposed that it should be a not-Hugo – so it puzzles me a bit what needs to be scrambled for. If they wanted to hold it over, though, I think that would be perfectly fair, not only because of the busyness of the agenda, but because of the whole uncertainty of the situation. Heaven knows what the slaters would make of a YA award, so perhaps we should wait till that situation is resolved. (Assuming it will be, obviously; but we could at least wait to see whether that is likely.)

  18. What’s hard to understand about these committees until you’ve sat on one is how hard it can be to get them moving and keep them on task. One particularly loud and determined objecting member can continuously derail conversations, clever fans can derail themselves into examining minutiae, committee chairs can flake for months at a time (guilty of that myself, on the Series Hugo committee), and *everybody* goes dormant over the winter. The Semiprozine revision committee took two years to complete its work, which really only happened because the original chair stepped down and was replaced with a really good manager.

    When you have a solid group of folks who are committed to finding a workable solution with a good manager, the results can be great. But WSFS committees typically take anyone who walks up and joins at the Business Meeting, which can make them *very* unpredictable. I’ve now been on five WSFS special committees (two of them of the 24-hour variety), and chaired two of those. I’ll keep doing them when they concern a matter I care about, but I know what I’m getting into. Of the five, the 24-hour ones came back with the results they needed to, while two of the year-long ones had to be renewed due to a lack of results in the first year. Scrambling, alas, is just going to be a fact of life with WSFS committees sometimes.

  19. Stop press: There is now a YA proposal. It may be found on p. 27 of the WSFS agenda on the Midamericon II website. (The page linking to the agenda says that it is ‘as of June 8th’, but this is not accurate; it is actually an up-to-date agenda.)

    Salient points:
    It is a proposal for a not-Hugo.
    It is for a book, not a person.
    There will be no formal definition of YA, the hope being that making it a not-Hugo solves the demarcation problem. (I think it does solve the problem of the upper bound: I’m not sure anyone has thought about the lower bound.)
    It is hoped that there will be a name for the award, but this is not yet decided. (It would indeed be problematic to name the award before it had been decided that it would exist.)

    All this looks sensible to me. This looks like a question on which compromise really is possible, so perhaps we can reach a settlement of the matter.

  20. That said, I do still think it ought to be a Youth or Young People’s fiction award. (The proposal in 2013 – out of which this actually grows – was for a Youth Book award, and that in 2011 was for a Children’s or YA award.) Perhaps, though, given the shortness of the time and the crowdedness of the agenda, this could be left till next year. (Though of course next year’s agenda may be just as crowded.) Would it be considered a minor amendment?

    (I suspect many of those supporting this motion are in fact thinking of young people’s fiction more generally – witness the bit in last year’s report which implied that all Newbery Medal winners were YA – but if someone did want an award specifically for YA, and not for that annoying children’s stuff, they could legitimately vote for this motion, and might be annoyed if it were later changed to let the children’s stuff in.)

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