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April 7, 2015

The morning news
Posted by Teresa at 09:17 AM *

Bruce Schneier (facts, nonfactual amusing facts, Schneier on Security) is going to host a front-page post and discussion here of voting systems and voting theory, starting about 3:30 PM EDT. If you don’t know why you should be interested, follow the links.


Niall Harrison’s The Puppy Hugos, in Strange Horizons, is a substantial discussion of this year’s Hugo mess from a British viewpoint. He reports that this year’s Eastercon* put together a last-minute standing-room-only panel on Sunday night to discuss future responses to the Hugo awards. This year’s responses don’t appear to be in question: No Award.

Comments on The morning news:
#1 ::: Cheradenine ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 11:09 AM:

The linked statistics suggest that the number of Puppy nominators was in the 200-300 range. Any thoughts on whether they're likely to pick up voters beyond that number?

#2 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 11:14 AM:

Cheradenine @1:

There's no reason Puppy supporters can't buy supporting memberships just like everyone else. I wouldn't be complacent in assuming the nominating votes will be all the votes they get.

#3 ::: J ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 11:33 AM:

I'm conflicted about the "No Award" option. How is it going to stop the Sad Puppies? From what I can tell, the Sad Puppies are very aware of the No Award option and are expecting it to win in some categories. There is already a Sad Puppy campaign starting up for next year. So it doesn't seem like No Award winning is sending any message to them at all. Vox Day came in below No Award last year. That didn't stop him this year.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't vote No Award, I'm just not seeing how it's going to have any impact on slate voting.

I worry about No Award winning in several categories says about the Hugo Awards. Does it make the award more prestigious? Does it make it more cliquish? Will authors not want to be a part of the Hugos knowing they will get attacked by No Award campaigns because they got put on some slate they never heard of? Will we see No Award winning year after year until the Sad Puppies take over completely? Can No Award campaigns damage the award as much as slate voting?

The Sad Puppies have put Hugo voters in somewhat of a hostage situation. The No Award option seems like the "we don't negotiate with terrorists" option, but I wonder if it means letting the hostages get shot. Letting Sad Puppy candidates win is the "here's 10 million dollars and a helicopter, now go away" option. Except they won't go away completely unless there are policy changes. And are the policy changes just setting up a Hugo NSA or TSA where candidates have to be strip searched before getting on the ballot?

I don't know.

#4 ::: JBWoodford ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 11:41 AM:

The point of Noah Ward, AIUI, is that it's a statement to fence-sitters: if you end up on a Puppy slate, it will not help you win a Hugo regardless of how wonderful your work is, so you're best off asking not to be included.

#5 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 11:45 AM:

Maybe we should save all these points of light for Bruce Schneier's discussion?

#6 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:00 PM:

Salon talks about the whole Hugo mess:

#7 ::: JonW ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:03 PM:

I’ll take the opportunity to self-introduce, so that I can post later: Long-time reader, first-time poster. I teach at a U.S. university, read sf and fantasy, am appalled by the puppies, have never attended a con, and haven't considered myself part of a fannish community. This issue brought me out of the woodwork, though. Good to say hi to you all.

#8 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:05 PM:

Welcome, JonW.

#9 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:11 PM:

JonW, you and the other people who have emerged during the conversation make it all worth while.

Welcome. Please hang out, comment, and generally be part of our community. Do you write poetry?

#10 ::: JonW ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:38 PM:

Abi -- not so far. But about ten years ago I put up a blog post with a link to poetry from here, so at least I appreciate how it's done.

#11 ::: JonW ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:42 PM:


#12 ::: Robert West ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Cheradenine, at #1: it seems to me that the safe assumption would be that they *will* pick up additional voting numbers. There's no downside to making that assumption, and there's substantial upside in the sense that assuming the worst makes it possible to come up with strategies for handling the worst.

#13 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:43 PM:

Somewhere (in a File770 comment?) Vox Day said that he's not interested in the Hugos, he wants to prevent it being used as a weapon against his team. So no help there.

My personal preference would be to become Sad Puppy administrator and hold an open primary in which any Worldcon Member could nominate up to 5 works in each cateogry, and then hold an IRV final ballot on the top 5 to determine the slate.

#14 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 12:49 PM:

That says a lot about him and his mindset, none of it flattering.

#15 ::: Rob Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 01:14 PM:

Niall Harrison's saying the voting fees be reduced suggests he's unaware of why they were introduced in the first place. From THEN:

Writing in VECTOR 10 (Winter '60), Ken Slater revealed that there had been an attempt at ballot-stuffing in the voting for the Hugo Awards at PITTCON, and that as a consequence the voting requirements were being amended. Interestingly, this attempt (to secure a Hugo for Badger Books hack R.L.Fanthorpe) came from Britain:

"...the PITTCON committee received over 70 votes, all emanating from around a small English village with a population of under 7000...none of the voters were names recognisible to prominent British fans...and as the votes plugged solidly for one set of first choices (hardly recognisable to the real fans who actively support the Hugo Awards and similar schemes)...well, the result is that henceforth you wanna vote you gotta pay (in future only convention members will be able to take part in the final vote)..."

#16 ::: rcade ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 01:21 PM:

"Somewhere (in a File770 comment?) Vox Day said that he's not interested in the Hugos ..."

That was probably on Black Gate, where Day has been gloating under the username Theo in a blog post about the controversy and calling himself an "arsonist" of the Hugos.

As a Hugo voter for several years, I've been extremely disappointed to see my nominations rendered almost completely worthless this year while the blocs of Brad Torgersen and Vox Day swamped the entire ballot.

I'd like to judge the ballot as it is and vote on merit, but I can't abide the cynical bloc voting manipulation. I will be choosing No Award above every slate nominee.

When I shared my dissatisfaction over bloc voting directly with Larry Correia and Torgersen on Correia's blog. I was told Torgersen heard from "dozens" of fans, his friends and pros while assembling his slate.

I can't accept a process in which "dozens" of people in Torgersen's self-selected community made recommendations while their bloc voting strategy obliterated the normal process. The fact Torgersen took comments from "dozens" does not make it OK that he hijacked the nomination process away from everyone else. The nominations that I and hundreds of others submitted in good faith had almost no chance of making the ballot.

In a comment to me on his blog, Correia admitted he has no proof that even a single novel/novella/novelette category was stuffed with a secret bloc's nominees in the past 10 years. None. Yet in the name of fighting that non-existent problem, his pals have completely taken over the Hugos.

I hope Correia and his pals will let us know when their anti-elitism campaign is over so someone other than them can make nominations again.

#17 ::: Adam Rakunas ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 01:56 PM:

Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier
Our situation's
Real dire
Please to help
Fight the frauds
Make life easy
For Hugo mods
Hey there
Here comes Bruce Schneier

#18 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 02:19 PM:

Treading carefully, and hoping that I'm not stepping over any lines here, since I'm mentioning the name - of someone who's obviously been involved in the SF world for a while.

It seems to me that Torgesen, Correia, Day et al aren't even dealing with their supporters in good faith.

If the Puppy campaigns are about bringing new and excluded voices to the attention of Hugo voters, can someone tell me what Mike Resnick, who is so far from being an excluded outsider as to have been on the short list for the same category twice over on two separate occasions, is doing on the Rabid Puppies slate?

In the light of the relatively recent brouhaha over the SFWA bulletin it seems more likely that at least part of the point is to poke the people who were involved in that with a sharp stick. (Unless there are several people called Mike Resnick, in which case I take it back.)

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 02:23 PM:

Let me lay out my marker here, then, and add anything I have to say after I see what Bruce Schneier says.

Under my professional hat I am a political scientist. One of the things I do is electoral systems. It isn't my primary area of expertise, but the people who are the big experts talk to me for some reason (maybe because I trained alongside them and know the differences among SNTV, STV, and ATV, though I have my preferences).

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 02:55 PM:

rcade, #16: In a comment to me on his blog, Correia admitted he has no proof that even a single novel/novella/novelette category was stuffed with a secret bloc's nominees in the past 10 years. None. Yet in the name of fighting that non-existent problem, his pals have completely taken over the Hugos.

Sounds like exactly the same rationale, with the same basis, that's being used for the promotion of voter-suppression laws nationwide. Amazingly coincidental how many points of similarity there are between the SPs and the current Republican Party, innit?

#21 ::: Remus Shepherd ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 02:59 PM:

praisegod @18: I think there are two forces that attacked the Hugos this year, and they are allied but distinct. Torgersen and the Sad Puppy campaign seem to be genuinely concerned with increasing diversity and viewpoints in the Hugos, although their own views on literature are a bit outdated. Day and the Rabid Puppy campaign are misogynist reactionaries.

The two campaigns combined their efforts, but the results are not completely aligned with the goals of either. Note that there are a lot of women and people of color in the Sad Puppy nomination list. I doubt the Rabid Puppies would have nominated those people except as a quid pro quo for their allies.

#22 ::: Steve Halter ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 03:06 PM:

Remus Shepherd@21:Torgersen & co. claim to want to increase diversity and number of voters but their actions seem to result in the opposite things happening.

#23 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 03:18 PM:

It's worth noting that last year none of Day's suggestions were nominated. It appeared that his inclusion on the ballot was more due to Correia's slate than the other way around.

This year, it appears the reverse is true. Either Torgersen doesn't have the reach Correia did, or Day has somehow increased his reach, or both.

Remus Shepherd @21: I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, I saw that Torgersen did not include Day on his slate, which was gratifying. On the other hand, he's operating under a definition of diversity with which I'm unfamiliar, and his actions are giving aid and comfort to Day and Day's supporters. On the balance it seems like he's at best a useful idiot for Day and at worst a knowing collaborator whose pretense of good intent is a smokescreen for Day's goals.

#24 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 03:32 PM:

Remus Shepherd @21 et seqq.

I've expressed my own views about this at 564 on the previous thread. Shorter me: I'll give your points some thought, but it seems to me that the strongest evidence for a dissociation between SP and RP is Brad Torgesen's account of the matter, and he's at best an unreliable narrator.

#25 ::: Cheradenine ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 03:52 PM:

@21: The Sad Puppy choices for Best Related Work offer substantial evidence that there is at least a misogynist reactionary element in the leadership of the Sad Puppies. There probably are SPs who genuinely believe in increasing diversity of viewpoints, but if they think their actions are leading to that, they're being duped by some combination of SP leadership and/or Day.

#26 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 07:09 PM:

The SP/RP field has essentially set things up so they're in a "heads we win, tails you lose" situation, as far as their own rhetoric goes.

If one of their candidates wins a category, it's proof they were right, and people do want the sort of SFF (and thus the political and cultural views) they're pushing.

If a non-Puppy candidate wins a category, it's proof they were right, and there is a conspiracy of people working to keep themselves and (right-in-the-sense-of-correct thinking) people like them out of mainstream SFF.

If No Award wins a category (i.e. no award is given), it's proof they were right, and the conspiracy in charge of the Hugos is willing to destroy the awards rather than give other people a chance.

They've set up the rhetoric so they have a "we win anyway" proposition to fall back on no matter what happens - even a meteor falling out of the sky and landing on the convention hotel would be explained away as an action by the SMOFs aimed at saving the Hugos by destroying them.

I'd offer the following proposition: in a year where it becomes clear slate-based nominations are dominant in the majority of categories, it should be legal to state the nominations procedure was compromised, and there will not be a Hugo awards ceremony this year. Make it absolutely clear that slate-based nomination (that is, putting forward a restricted list of candidates, and telling people to nominate only these candidates) are not welcomed. Alternatively, where a particular slate dictates all the nominations in a particular award category, that category is automatically declared invalid for that year, and no award will be offered.

(I should note: this won't stop or defeat the SP/RP types, who will wrap themselves in the rhetoric of "it became necessary to destroy the Hugos in order to save them" and just keep on carrying on. What it will do is prevent them from wielding Hugo statuettes as proof of their political accuracy).

#27 ::: Devin ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 09:39 PM:

You know, if I really did think weird SWM-centric SF was underrepresented, and I had a big thing about John Scalzi...

I'd probably do what he does and produce a listing of ALL eligible SWM-centric/Campbellian/reactionary works, sorted by category.

That would make it very clear that I was trying to encourage exposure resulting in nomination, rather than running a slate. It would have the beneficial side-effect of exposure even if it didn't result in a single nomination.

Obviously I'm much much smarter than anyone involved in SP, since in three years they haven't thought of this very simple solution. Well, that or they're not being sincere when they claim that they're not trying to game the system by running a slate.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2015, 10:58 PM:

We're shutting down for the night. Please check the seat pocket in front of you to make sure you've taken all your belongings, and we'll see you in the morning.

#29 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 11:11 AM:

As I said during that emergency Hugo discussion Niall refers to, we need to stop thinking of the Sad Puppies as fans, even deluded fans: this is a political operation that cares nothing about fandom, its traditions or anything other than scoring cheap points in a much larger kulturkampf. The people organising this are hardcore rightwingers, their tactics should be known to the ML audience from the blogging wars of the Bush era. They see science fiction fandom as a cheap target to practise their domination techniques on and when fighting them we need to remember this.

Our own handicap is that we do care and therefore we cannot indulge in the same tactics as them because that would destroy the village in order to save it. Their strength is their fanaticism and organisation.

But that doesn't mean it's hopeless. We just need to make sure that we recognise our own strengths and principles and organise from there, leeping in mind the nature of this enemy, not letting ourselves be spooked in destroying the Hugos on our own.

#30 ::: Annie Y ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 01:53 PM:

#27 If their goal was to bring these works in the light - yes. But despite what they are saying, the goal is to get these works to win awards and nominations (including self-promoting on slate voting which ruins any marginal legitimacy that their campaign might have started with.) The problem with just listing them is that will still allow to "these bad fans that do not like us" (or the conspiracy or who knows what) to not give anything to them.

It may have started as an attempt to get works to readers' attention (let's give the benefit of the doubt of the very first campaign even if they do not necessarily deserve it) but what was done this year is everything but. It replaced the vote of everyone including the silent fans - the ones that are not vocal, that do not blog, don't show up online to discuss books but just show up every year to nominate and vote with the understanding that their vote matters.

I am not sure that the puppies actually realized how many of those silent fans will come out in the light now and start participating in online conversations (because I do not think that I would be the only one or the last one from the ones that tend to read and never write that will have a position now).

#31 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 03:39 PM:

rcade @16

He heard from 41 people if I counted right. That's dozens, but not enough to prevent him missing out on the Heinlein bio and _Three-Body Problem_. Certainly not enough to suggest that he heard from a representative sample of Hugo Voters.

Remus Shepard @21

I think Torgersen is interested in increasing "diversity" in the Hugo nominations in the "all diversity is contained in white men" sense and the "if I'm not in charge, then your points of view aren't diverse enough yet" sense.

Also my first impressions of the women / minorities on the Sad Puppy slate is that their writing is *much* better than that of the racists and sexists on that same slate. It's early days yet, but if that impression pans out, that tells you something about the Sad Puppies.

Re the Sad Puppies and Vox Day, I think the Sad Puppies are learning what many people have learned before them--that it is easy to get into bed with a thug, but to be perceived as having broken up with him, you have to get the thug to cooperate with you.

Martin Wisse @29

I think there is more than one kind of Sad Puppy / Rabid Puppy. Some routinely read SFF for fun. I bet these are more common among the Sad Puppies than the Rabid Puppies. Others have been brought in over political interests, via GGate, or Breitbart, and may have read the books etc on the slate (though I don't see why they would bother) but haven't read any other SFF to speak of in this year or any other.

I'm not sure it matters to our response, but I don't think they're a political monolith.

#32 ::: Doctor Science ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 04:00 PM:

I'd like to call you-all's attention to my post late yesterday about John C. Wright and some things he has expressed (and is trying, sort of, to cover up).

Wright is one of the two people who, I believe, have most to materially gain from the Puppies' nominations: he's up for *six* fiction Hugos, which means there's a really significant chance he'll take one home. Beale (in the guise of Castalia House) is the other person who has most to gain on a material level.

Indeed, they both may have already gained enough in increased sales to Puppies voters to make the game well worthwhile.

#33 ::: Aaron ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 08:05 PM:

"I think there are two forces that attacked the Hugos this year, and they are allied but distinct. Torgersen and the Sad Puppy campaign seem to be genuinely concerned with increasing diversity and viewpoints in the Hugos, although their own views on literature are a bit outdated."

They say that. They evidence shows they are not. The proposed Sad Puppy ballot included no women in five different categories. Across the other categories, they nominated a total of nine women. Thirty-four male nominees, nine women. That's not diversity.

#34 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 09:22 PM:

TNH@28 - I may have lost a Kindle that way; I've definitely lost several hats. I've also abandoned some pulp fiction that way (like a dull mil-sf book that was one of the giveaways at San Antonio Worldcon.)

#35 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 09:31 PM:

J@3, most of the hostages have already been shot -- the ones who wrote books that were nominated but got crowded off the ballot by puppy chow, and the ones that were on the puppy slate but withdrew after they found out (not counting Correia.) There are a few hostages still alive but bleeding (the movies on the puppy slate, and some others who weren't notified about it until the nominations were over but haven't withdrawn, like Jim Butcher.)

I'm still going to try to read the puppy nominees, put them below No Award because the puppies were cheating, but still rank-order them in case there are some that are better or less bad than others.

#36 ::: Peace Is My Middle Name ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 10:34 PM:

#21 Remus Shepherd

There aren't a *lot* of women on the sad puppy list, not by a long chalk.

There are only nine women out of forty-three nominees, and not a single woman's work is up for a novel, novella, novelette, related work, graphic story, dramatic presentation, or professional artist.

Only four out of the 26 professional writers on the ballot are women.

I cannot believe anyone would consider that something to brag about.

#37 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2015, 11:46 PM:

So sorry, shutting down comments for the night in ten minutes or so. See you all bright and early tomorrow morning.

#38 ::: Steve Wright ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 08:46 AM:

Torgersen's claim to be increasing diversity would only hold water if 1) his slate wasn't crowding other people off the nomination lists, and 2) it was featuring work of a kind not normally seen in the Hugo ballots.

Both those contentions are demonstrably untrue. We already know about some of the stuff that's been crowded out (Three Body Problem and the Heinlein bio being the outstanding examples), and the Hugo ballots have always had a healthy representation of rip-roaring space opera, heroic fantasy, and the other stuff Torgersen claims to favour. It may not be ideologically pure enough for Brad Torgersen, but it's good enough for this fan.

#39 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2015, 09:58 PM:

Judging by his actions, Torgersen's problem with past Hugo ballots is they did not have a healthy representation of John C. Wright.

#40 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 12:27 AM:

Aaron, #33: They may genuinely see that as diversity. Nine women out of 34 nominations is 26%, which is well-over the "15% phenomenon". (In, say, mixed-gender classroom situations, it is known that when women contribute more than 15% of the class discussion, they are perceived to be "dominating the conversation".) They may be looking at that ballot and saying, "My ghod, look at all those women on there!"

Doesn't make them right, but it is possible.

#41 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 10, 2015, 01:51 AM:

Couvre-feu! Shutting down for the night, see you in the morning!

#43 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 02:14 PM:

I'm getting fed up with all this wittering about Bead Turgidson and his ilk.

I vote for the respectable nominees, then No Award. and don't even mention anything that was on the Puppy slates. It seems simple enough. It's like politics: after a certain point you know how you're going to vote, but people persist in spouting obvious lies to try and persuade you to change your mind.

#44 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2015, 02:51 PM:

Dave Bell - One reason not to vote like that, but to rank the slate nominees that fit below No Award, is that No Award may not win some of the categories, and it'd be better if the winner is one that's Bad as opposed to Worse, or if the winner was a non-participant in this scam rather than a participant. For long-form editor, for instance, I'd rather see Toni Weisskopf win than Theodore Beale.

#45 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2015, 11:47 PM:

Comments will be shutting down at midnight. We'll be back tomorrow morning.

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