KJ (owlmoose) wrote,

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An open note to the Worldcon Hugo Committee(s)

On the occasion of the Sad/Rabid Puppy near-sweep of the 2015 Hugo Nominations (for anyone not familiar, here's an excellent overview):

Word on the street is that you're pretty pissed that a group of folks were able to game the award nominations this way. Good. You should be. The rules for how the Hugo Awards work have long been in need of an overhaul to reflect how fandom has changed in the 21st century. Maybe their success will finally provide the impetus to make these changes. But I have two fairly simple suggestions that I think would go a long way to help keep something like this from happening again.

1. Make it easier to vote. This might seem counter-intuitive. I'm sure that it's tempting to blame the ease of buying a supporting Worldcon membership, and that it might seem like a simple fix to return to the days where you had to buy a full attending membership in order to nominate and vote. Please, don't do that. The Sad Puppy campaign started in the first place because a handful of people were unhappy about the greater diversity of voices getting onto the Hugo ballot (younger people, women, people of color...). And this diversity was born from more people having an opportunity to vote. Their voting bloc is a backlash to positive change, and these positive trends need to continue if the Hugo Awards are to retain any hope of staying relevant to the culture as a whole. Opening up the process by lowering the price of a supporting membership to $25, $15, even $10, would give you a much larger voting pool, therefore making it much harder for a voting bloc to take the ballot over.

Also to this end, consider completely rethinking the categories. The current categories are complex, confusing, and in some cases not very relevant to modern fandom. There are a number of different directions such a change could go; although I don't agree with all his suggestions, I think The G's Moderately Expanded Slate (scroll down to the bottom of the post) is an excellent place to start.

2. Put more nominees on the final ballot. One reason the SP organizers got so many works nominated this year was their decision to list five nominations for each category. If the nominating ballot has fewer slots than the final ballot, it becomes much harder for any block to sweep. And it also allows you to recognize more of the many, many great scifi and fantasy works being published right now.

Whatever you decide to do, as you begin to take action, I hope that you work to hear more voices, not fewer; to offer more inclusion, not less. The awards is at a crossroads here; some level of change is inevitable. We should take this wake-up call as an opportunity to make the award even better than it was before. The only way to fix this mess is by moving forward, not by stepping back.

This entry is also posted at http://owlmoose.dreamwidth.org/706324.html. There are currently comment count unavailable comments on DW.
Tags: fandom, the great hugo awards project

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