Friday, August 21, 2015

Angry White Guys Hacked The Hugos... And Could Do It Again

Description: Close up of of an angry white man telling at the viewer, mouth wide
open & revealing teeth, face contorted into a scowl.
I've previously written about the efforts by the Sad & Rabid Puppies to hijack the Hugo Awards here and here, and Ria Bridges of bibliotropic wrote an epic guest post taking down the Puppy slate and its goals here. Even Game of Thrones series author George R. R. Martin took to his blog to denounce the Puppies, the ideology, the complaints and their goals.

Having successfully gotten the awards slate loaded with their mediocre reactionary choices, these supporters are harassing authors at Worldcon and taking about how they plan to do this all over again next year. But can they? How did this all happen in the first place?

Writing for Yes Magazine,  Mike Schneiderman quotes an author as saying "The Hugo Award process has always been hackable, There was just never anyone narcissistic enough to hack it." and they seem on the money.

Charlie Jane Anders from Gawker's IO9 suggests the Puppies success in stuffing the nomination ballot this year in fact disproves their very basis for existing:
"The [Puppies strategy] only succeeds if all the other nominations are scattered and disorganized. And that kind of disorganization is exactly what we saw in most nominations. It appears that everybody except Beale’s crew simply nominated whatever stories they happened to enjoy in 2014. Had there been a secret left-wing bloc nominating its own stories in lockstep, then Beale’s strategy would have failed."
Could this happen again? Sadly, the answer appears to be yes-- for at least one more year. Commenter eriko on MetaFilter explains:

...unless the SP/RP faction gets bored this year, it'll all happen next year, because there can't be any changes to the nominating process. There are a number of proposals being mooted this year, but regardless of which (if any) pass, none of them will take effect next year because they'll require ratification by the next Worldcon. So, the Hugos will use the same nomination process next year.
What will almost certainly happen, though, is a lot more people will pay attention to nominations next year, for good or ill. 
It's always been known that you could stuff the nominations and easily get a work on the ballot, and with a little effort, take over the ballot. The primary control of this wasn't regulatory, it was social. You just didn't do that --- and for decades, that worked just fine. The social contract that one did not logroll for the Hugo was strong enough that there were fans who were against authors even posting a single "these are my eligible works this year" posts online. I am not one of them, but the moment you post two? You're logrolling and you've broken the contract, and I would not only not nominate you, I'd campaign against you. 
That broke down when the SP/RP came along. They didn't care about the social contract, they easily got enough nomination to take over the ballot, and they did. It did help that, for too long, too many people who claimed to care about the Hugos and who were eligible to nominate didn't. The favorite excuse was "I didn't read a lot" and I kept saying "Doesn't matter. If you read something that you thought was Hugo Worthy, nominate it. If you read more than 5 things in a category that were Hugo Worthy, then you have to choose. Otherwise, nominate just the things you read that you think are worthy. If enough people agree with you, it'll make the short list. If not, it won't -- the 5% rule will make sure of that."They didn't, so between not enough nominations and the SP/RPs, this happened. The nice thing about the old system was it was simple, open, and transparent. The systems being mooted range from minimally effective, like 4/6, to OMG complex -- so much so that it's basically impossible to know if they'll actually fix the problem, but they'll certainly make it fun to figure out the nominations. It's all very....fannish. 
So, again, next year will only be different in the sense that maybe a lot more people will nominate -- for good or for ill. You will be eligible to nominate if you are a member (supporting or attending) of this year's Worldcon, or next year's Worldcon (in KC) or the Worldcon after that (which we find out out where tonight) if you join before the end of this year (basically, if you join this year, this being the year they'd be awarding.) Only members of next years Worldcon (KC) will be able to vote on the final shortlist, but the nomination pool is much larger.
So, what is the Hugo awards committee to do? What about WorldCon attendees?

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