solarbird: (utena)

I had a brief discussion on Twitter yesterday with one of the Rabid Puppies. A lot of it went like you’d expect – Vox is brilliant, they can’t lose, they’ve proven the existence of a “hidden slate” that was already rigging the Hugo awards (despite exactly zero evidence showing this – lack of evidence is apparently confirmation of the conspiracy?) and so on.

But a couple of tweets caught my eye. First, you have pretty much an admission that they know this is Vox’s revenge campaign:

Marc DuQuesne ‏#RabidPuppies argument is @voxday was accused of gaming the 2014 #HugoAwards, So he's been demonstrating what gaming actually is

Vox retweeted that, which I’m sure some would say isn’t necessarily an endorsement, but let’s be real, it is. And it’s very popular with his fans.

But more interestingly: I’ve long held out the point that the foundation of the Sad Puppy argument can be summarised as, “we don’t like the winners, therefore nobody can, therefore FRAUD!” – that the entire Puppy crowd can’t even admit that voters not voting in slate actually liked what they were voting for, it was all political and secret-conspiracy. And I got that argument from him, more or less:

Marc DuQuesne ‏Exactly! That's why the #SadPuppies and #RabidPuppies formed, because overt slates are the best way to fight covert slates.

Marc DuQuesne ‏The sad argument is that low participation was causing skewing to virtue signaling instead of good work.

Virtue signalling instead of good work.

They still can’t even conceive of the idea that people actually like what they’re voting for, it had to be an invisible covert political slate, so they have to mount an organised and expensive political slate to create the results that “should” have happened. (“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,” I guess.)

That’s really insulting, as has been so much of the Puppy effort. But don’t miss this new buzz-phrase, virtue signalling.

Isn’t that neat? I thought maybe it was a one-off, but no, apparently, it’s their replacement for political correctness. They’ve realised that the PC thing doesn’t fly anymore, so they’re trying out a new, substitute phrase.

And the neat thing about that is that you now have “virtue” being used as a negative by the alt-right/reactionary crowd, just as they use “justice” as a negative. Political correctness had at least some degree of neutrality to it, but now, virtue signalling – a.k.a., not being a douchebag – and social justice warrior – a.k.a., opposing injustice? Bad? Apparently. So now we have “virtue” and “justice” both being portrayed as negatives, and undesirable.

Sometimes, my band shtick feels like it just gets more and more appropriate by the day. At least, I guess, whether they realise that or not, they’re laying their cards on the table.

This is a part of a series of posts on the 2015/2016 Hugo Awards capture by a rightist political group whose focus has now shifted to destroying the awards.

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solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)

I thought I was done with Worldcon and Hugo Award posts for the year, and said so, somewhere, possibly in comments; I guess I lied.

People are talking about a Best Series Hugo proposal. I think there’s an idea here, but it should be given every five years or so – that there aren’t enough series that reach the kind of level needed for this award to be meaningful on an annual basis.

I got jumped on over on LJ by someone who was “flabbergasted” that I don’t think enough series are published each year to make this award work, saying series make up half the field at this point, and generally asking what am I on? I’m elevating my reply to this post.

I think you misunderstand my meaning. I am saying that if you actually want to judge and award a series, you need time for that series to develop, and for fandom to become familiar with those series.

I’m not saying “a tiny number of series have books in those series published each year,” or “there are a tiny number of series.” I mean, let’s look at the pool from that standpoint for a second: it has to be a series that has a book out that year, I would presume, which tends to reward those series which have been going on and on and on and with tremendous regularity. Or, hey, maybe you wouldn’t have to have a book out that year, if the series is ongoing. Or maybe you do, but the latest instalment wouldn’t have to have to be particularly good – after all, you’re not judging the instalment, you’re judging the set. That widens the field.

Does a trilogy count as a series? I’ve been assuming not. Maybe that’s errant – it’s the kind of thing that hasn’t been defined yet. How about two books with intent for more. Is that a series? That makes the pool even larger.

Let’s assume all of those count. That is a very large number, as you say. Huge. Massive. How foolish of me not to realise that obvious fact!


As I told the sponsors, I’m willing to consider this proposal. But given the large investment involved in reading any individual series, I doubt that many people survey the vast range of eligible series when making their nominations, and I doubt even further that in the shortlist – the set of five series nominated in any given year – that many people will be adequately familiar with all five to make a cross-ballot judgement.

And what that gets us to is an important question: how many series are followed by enough people that you get that kind of overlap? Where it’s not just a series with its fans, but the sort of series that is so endemic across fandom WSFS fandom that a reasonable percentage of that fandom have read enough of the books to talk about any given series in comparison with others on the shortlist?

I strongly suspect that number is a lot smaller. I mean, through fannish history, what’s hit that kind of mass? Let’s keep in trilogies to bring it up a bit.

Lord of the Rings, of course. Foundation. White Mountains? I doubt it, but maybe. Pern. Darkover, maybe. Vorkosigan, as you note. Potter, certainly. Hunger Games, possibly. Ice and Fire. Newsflesh, I wouldn’t rule out, but that’s maybe just me. Dresden, maybe. I’ve never cared enough to pick one up and the entire series is in the library thanks to my partner’s interest, but maybe.

I do not contest that there are dozens, nay hundreds, of series every year with a new entry. I question how many are so endemic, so pervasive, that they can be part of a ballot which can be considered intelligently by any reasonable percentage of WSFS fandom, given that playing catchup between shortlist announcement and final voting deadline simply is not feasible.

That is a much smaller number. It’s certainly not “half the field.” More like, with books coming out within the year to trigger eligibility… two. Three, maybe.

And if that sort of cross-series comparison by fandom not the intent – and given that it’s effectively impossible, that can’t be the intent – the result is..

… a straight-up series popularity contest. Which series has the most fans any given year? Yay, a Hugo.

And those most popular series will make a lot of return visits to the ballot, it seems to me, for all the reasons I just outlined above.

That is what I’m talking about when I say there aren’t enough series to make this work on an annual basis. Not there aren’t enough published – that’s trivial and obvious. That there aren’t enough endemic across fandom that they can be compared seriously.

And that is the question Best Series proponents have to answer if they want this to be an annual award. If they can get me an answer that I buy – great! If not – it shouldn’t be annual. It should be, oh, maybe twice a decade, to give fandom time to be able to consider coherently. That, I can see. That could work.

But every year? I don’t see how.

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solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)

I am reminded by comments that I never said what actually happened with “E Pluribus Hugo.” Somehow that part just escaped me.

It passed round one. Strongly. I had expected “4 of 6″ to have an easy time, and it barely cleared the majority hurdle. I had expected “E Pluribus Hugo” to be a real fight, and instead, we had a strong supermajority.

Now, it takes two WSFS Business Meetings to ratify anything. So our debate and vote was only round one. “E Pluribus Hugo” has now been sent to MidAmeriCon II, the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention and site of the 2016 WSFS Business Meeting, for final ratification. It may be debated, modified only in small ways that do not change the overall structure, and rejected or ratified.

If it’s ratified, it takes effect immediately; the 2017 Hugo Awards nominations would be under this system. If rejected, well, it’s rejected, and dead. We’d have to start over.

So if you’re going to MidAmeriCon II in 2016, you’ll want to go to the business meetings. We’ll likely all be needed to get this through.

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solarbird: (sb-worldcon-cascadia)

So last time, we were talking about the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting, and all the proposals and such that were brought forth. The main event, of course, was E Pluribus Hugo – an amendment to modify the Hugo voting system to reduce the disproportionate impact of slate voters.

As a reminder, let’s go over what happened: about 13%-15% of voters participated in a mass slate vote – with pretty good but not perfect discipline – to support a slate which was specifically political in intent. As a result, they captured all the nominations in several important categories.

All those categories ended up going to NO AWARD as fandom decided to punish the slate activists for violating several decades of “we won’t do this” consensus. It wasn’t that the exploit was unknown; it was merely that using it had been considered socially unacceptable. Thou shalt not campaign, thou shalt not form parties, and so on. And the reason is simple: one party vs. unorganised parties always wins, so competing parties always arise in response, and the value of such an award – an award which has become purely a political football – is exactly zero.

E Pluribus Hugo changes the system in such a way that it reduces slates to their strongest candidates relative to their percentage of the total popular vote. It does not eliminate slates entirely, though it does reduce their presence on the final ballot to match the percentage of people voting for them; it does not single them out for special treatment; most of all, it does not need to be told, “this is a slate, discount it.” That judgement call never happens. It’s purely the fallout of the math.

The way it works is simple. Each category is treated separately, just like now. Each WSFS member gets to nominate up to five works in category, just like now – in fact, nothing the WSFS nominator does changes.

Each of these ballots gets assigned one point, which is split across all works nominated. In a full ballot of five nominees, each work would have 0.2 points, as well as one vote each, from a member.

The point total and vote total of all the nominated works from all ballots are added up. Then, the two works with the fewest points are pitted against each other, and the one with fewer votes – the one for whom fewer people voted – is eliminated.

This is important, because the point total never eliminates an nominee. Getting fewer votes eliminates a nominee. Total votes received remains the final call.

Once a work is eliminated, it is stricken from all ballots, and we start over again. If you nominated five works originally, and one was eliminated, your ballot now has four nominees, and each of those have a higher point value than before – a quarter point (0.25) instead of a fifth of a point (0.20). And the same steps are run through again, exactly as before.

Wash, rinse, repeat, removing the weakest each time, until five nominees remain; that is your final slate.

What this does in practice is start pitting slate entries against each other roughly midway through the tallying process. Assuming they have even reasonable support, the strongest – the one with the most people voting for it, which implies out-of-slate support – will emerge. If the slate is sufficiently weak, none of them will emerge, but for practical purposes, the number of survivors will be roughly proportional to the percentage of popular vote actually received.

“But Solarbird,” I hear you cry, “This lets some nominations from slates get on the ballot!” True! But only in proportion to their actual popular support. And in the event of political slates, it means we do not have to go to the NO AWARD option to block them.

Let’s say the events of this year were repeated under this system; with statistical approximations of real data, we’re pretty sure one of the Puppy candidates probably would’ve made it onto the ballot in most of their categories. It would’ve been the strongest; the one with the most outside support.

And that’s okay. If it’s crap, it’ll finish last, maybe behind NO AWARD, maybe not. But there will be four other nominees, because they’ll have the percentage of the ballot that aligns with their actual bulk support.

The rest of the ballot will provide a diversity of choices. We won’t have another year of five NO AWARD votes.

(And if it’s actually good – great! That’s kind of the point. Vote for it.)

This makes opposition slates completely unnecessary. Opposition slates arise when they are the only way to get non-slate works onto a ballot. Under the current system, that outcome is inevitable. Under E Pluribus Hugo, even if you do get an opposition slate, well, okay, maybe they get one nominee on the ballot too. That leaves three for traditional candidates.

Slates are a lot of work. Politically-minded slates are just as much work, even when the mighty power of spite drives the engines. So if you can’t stick it to the Whoevers without literally becoming the entire show, if you can’t lock them all out, then even all the ressentiment in the world probably won’t drive you to continue. There’s too much work and too little reward. There’s simply no point to it.

The system isn’t even political. It’ll reduce, say, an accidental Doctor Who episode slate down to its proportion of the vote just as effectively. Let’s say 60% of WSFS fandom puts down basically the same five episodes of Doctor Who for Dramatic Presentation – Short Form. Right now, they own the entire ballot. Under E Pluribus Hugo, they own 60% of the ballot, and other works can be considered too.

Because that’s the brilliance of it. I said this before, but it’s really important, so I’m going to say it again:

E Pluribus Hugo doesn’t know about intentional slates. It doesn’t need to be told, “this is a slate.” Nobody has to make that call, because it doesn’t matter. It’s kind of like a normalisation function applied to nominations. There are no arguments over whether a pattern or voting is intentional or a plot or intent or political – a lot of identical ballots will be normalised to a first-order approximation of their actual popular support, regardless.

That’s why it’s so elegant, and that’s why it’s so genius. It doesn’t lock anybody out; it just stops campaigns from locking everyone else out, dramatically reducing their value vs. their labour and monetary cost, and eliminating the incentive for opposition parties.

For me, that is fair. For me, that is enough.

I hope that, for the honest flank of the Sad Puppies, it will also be enough. One self-identified Sad came up and voiced active support for E Pluribus Hugo during the business meeting. Those who actually believe in the mythical SJW VOTER CABAL – which was emphatically demonstrated not to exist by the events of this year, but stick with me – will know that E Pluribus Hugo would normalise this supposed SJW CABAL slate just as effectively.

Is it sad that we’ve reached a point where this sort of engineering is necessary? Eh, maybe. Probably, even. But it has driven fandom to create what even some opponents at the business meeting called a more perfect nominating system.

Yes, it’s tedious as all hell to do by hand, but it can be done. Yes, it’s more complicated – but not much. It’s only a little different than what we do for final voting and for site selection already.

Yes, it’s more work for the Hugo administrators. That’s the downside. But from what I was hearing at the business meeting, there are a good number of inefficiencies in the current tallying system. Fix those, and the extra complexity of this system sounds to me like a wash. Develop the right tools – which there is now incentive to do – and you’re maybe looking at an improvement.

Do this right, and everybody wins. Everybody wins.

We have a chance here not just to “plug this one hole,” as the E Pluribus Hugo authors like to say their amendment does. We have a chance to make this whole system just a little bit better along the way.

Wouldn’t that be nice?


This part of a series of posts on the Sad/Rabid Puppy candidate slate-based capture of the Hugo Awards, and resulting fallout.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (Default)
Hey, looks like some of the Puppies are deleting embarrassing things! Too bad that's not how the internet works. If you know of more, let me know! I'll add them to this post.

John C. Wright's 'The Perversion of a Legend', archived on the Wayback Machine. Excerpt:
A children’s show, of all places, is where you decided to place an ad for a sexual aberration; you pervert your story telling skills to the cause of propaganda and political correctness.

You sold your integrity out to the liberal establishment. In a craven fashion you deflect criticism by slandering and condemning any who object to your treason.

You were not content to leave the matter ambiguous, no, but had publicly to announce that you hate your audience, our way of life, our virtues, values, and religion.


Mr DiMartino and Mr Konietzko: You are disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth. You have earned the contempt and hatred of all decent human beings forever, and we will do all we can to smash the filthy phallic idol of sodomy you bow and serve and worship. Contempt, because you struck from behind, cravenly; and hatred, because you serve a cloud of morally-retarded mental smog called Political Correctness, which is another word for hating everything good and bright and decent and sane in life.

I have no hatred in my heart for any man’s politics, policies, or faith, any more than I have hatred for termites; but once they start undermining my house where I live, it is time to exterminate them.

He's still got his post up about how he regrets not punching Terry Pratchett in the face, though. Don't worry, John, I've saved an archive.

Here's some commentary Corriea and Torgersen probably wish they hadn't said in a pro-Sad-Puppies podcast and almost certainly wish somebody hadn't transcribed (hi), given how much they're trying to distance themselves from Vox Day now:

In response to a question about their decision to bring in Vox Day to the Puppies effort:

Correia: Last year, given that my goal was to get these people to demonstrate to the world what they're like, so I was going though, I was looking at shorter work - I really did like the story... I really did like it... my fanbase, they liked it too... so when I was putting together my slate... I started looking at it, said, okay, I like this story, they hate him, they look under the bed for him before they go to sleep at night, and he's like the devil to them. But [...] in the history of art, scumbags have created art. Okay? Otherwise there's a lot of, you know, Roman Polanski is going to have to give a lot of Academy Awards back, okay?

Correia: Well, here's the thing, and actually, I know the guy? I don't think he is [a scumbag], I think what it is is that he a guy who is an internet curmudgeon who likes to pick fights with people, who got in a fight with a racist, and said racist things, in response to somebody who is hurling racist slurs for years. However, one person was from the approved clique and therefore got a pass, and the other guy is, you know, Satan-slash-Hitler, and the end of the world. So I threw him on there because I did [ed: like? knew? unclear] him, I liked the story, oh boy, that was... that caused some controversy...

Correia: But here's the thing. People who are still bringing that up, it shows that they are not, they don't, it's all about politics. So last year I nominated a guy who said things they don't like. Every year they nominate people who say horrible things about others that aren't part of their pretty little, part of their clique, that's fine. They have given awards, they've given lifetime achievement awards, to people who are public supporters of NAMBLA. Okay? They, this week they're going to back for another author who said extremely racist comments, and got called on it, and now they're trying to explain what she really meant to say.

Correia: So the thing is, for them, it's not about right or wrong, it's about part of my tribe or not part of my tribe. So at the same time, yes, I did nominate this guy's [Vox Day] story, I certainly, who else did I nominate? They ignore everything else on there...

Torgersen: I agree with Larry, in fact, I've been talking about this online [...] we've seen a lot of what I would call activists - and some of them try to be writers, but really they're activists first - try to come into this genre, supposedly the dangerous genre, if you remember Harlan Ellison's anthologies that he put out a few years ago... now the genre doesn't want to be dangerous, the genre wants to be safe. And you have all these people scurrying around calling people names - character assassinations, people get mobbed on blogs, y'know Elizabeth Moon was a a victim of that not to long ago, every year it seems there's somebody who's a new victim.

Torgersen: And they don't even have to necessarily be in the genre? Who was the British guy who was going to be [Jonathan Ross]... I thought that was a great idea... to me, he was going to bring a lot of clout to the Hugos and the Hugos were really going to get a nice spotlight. Well, what happened? Almost immediately, as soon as he was named, as he was going to be the guy, people had a freaking cow. And they were saying, "oh it's not, he's gonna make it so I can't be safe at the Hugos." Which, okay, I'm sorry, I'm military, a lot of this talk about safe spaces is complete crap and it's silly and it's juvenile and it's infantile, and they won, and they got him taken off. [...]

Torgersen: Almost every year there's some controversy over something somebody's written where they get accused of having fun wrong. You know, Larry has brought this up many times, in the genre now, you're having fun wrong, you get accused of cultural appropriation, you get accused of racism, you get accused of sexism, you get accused of trans gender phobia - the activists have really tired their best to make the genre become a game of political correctness. And, most people are running scared. Authors, like Larry said, are terrified of "what can I write?" I see that all the time with new authors now, what can I write, what can I write? [...]

Torgersen: We have a lot of people militating in the genre to try to force - for instance, Orson Scott Card got kicked off a comics thing not too long ago because activists were trying to punish him for some things he had said... [ed: that GBLT people should be illegal, and also, being on the board of the National Organisation for Marriage, and anti-marriage-quality political action group] [...]

Torgersen: More and more of the genre is becoming obsessed with making political points, making sociological points, the Hugos have become this football for activists and other people who want to make a political point. And it's like people have forgotten about the whole point of this enterprise, which is adventure, exploration, and if there's a message, that's the passenger. [...]


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