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Lonestarcon has released an agenda for the business meeting. http://www.lonestarcon3.org/wsfs/wsfs-bm-2013.shtml
Interesting collection of proposed amendments.
First: "no cheap voting". Prohibits any Worldcon committee from selling cheap Hugo-vote-only memberships. Basically aimed at keeping people like me, who aren't interested in attending Worldcons or collecting the associated publications, but who would be interested in voting on the Hugos from doing so. Even though the amendment is pretty much aimed straight at me, I understand the problem. I agree Hugo voters ought to be the fans who have shown a commitment over time to the community. Requiring paying for Worldcon attendance or paying for supporting membership that includes publications is certainly a way of demonstrating that commitment. I'd prefer a model more like that of other associations where one pays a fee for belonging, gets a vote, and gets a discount for attending the annual convention. The trouble is that would require a continuing WSFS organization outside the seated Worldcon committees; I don't see any chance we could come up with such a thing. If I were going to Lonestarcon, I would vote against this amendment, since I'm the sort of person it's aimed at keeping from voting.
Second: "Best Dramatic Presentation (fan)" Actually *two* new Hugos, short form and long form. Pretty obvious this is stupid; come up with ten likely nominees (five short, five long) for each of the last few years and you might change my mind. Again, I would vote no.
Third: "Delete best fan writer, best fanzine, best fan artist" Apparently the argument is that some people think that recent winners in these categories were not worthy and by abolishing the categories we can stop annoying those folk.. Uh, I can think of a lot of fiction nominees and winners I don't think were worthy. I don't think just because I'm annoyed means we should stop trying.
Fourth: "WSFS Accountabity Act blah blah". I couldn't even bring myself to read to the end. Really, people; a post-Worldcon committee is only doing anything based on the good will of the people on the committee; how can putting a bunch of requirements on them help? If they have all gafiated, they've all gafiated. Words in the Constitution won't fix that. If they are still around, and you'd like to know something about how they did or paid for something, just ask them.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 06:58 am (UTC)|| |
The way around #1 is to allow cheaper supporting memberships. Which I favor.
#2 I tend to agree, what will get nominated? But I asked the same question about Best Semiprozine when it was under consideration, and while I never got much of an answer, in the event the gnurrs came from the woodwork out.
#3 is a perfect example of committing suicide to show up the people who don't like you.
#4 is less complex than it looks. Worldcons are already doing this. This just formally standardizes it. I don't know if that's necessary. But it's not forcing an unenforceable anti-gafiation clause on them.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 04:42 pm (UTC)|| |
The trouble with cheap supporting memberships is that they must come with publications, which are expensive to produce and mail. Either the supporting membership has to be expensive enough to cover that, or we end up having the attendees subsidize the supporters. An obvious solution would be to have a class of membership without paper publications or attending rights, and perhaps without site-selection voting rights; this seems to be exactly what the proposal seeks to ban.
What I would suggest is that we allow Worldcons to define Supporting Memberships to not include paper versions of their publications, by striking out the subsection that requires it:
1.5.3: Electronic distribution of publications, if offered, shall be opt-in.
This would allow a Worldcon to say, "Our basic supporting membership includes electronic copies of our publications and all voting rights. Paper copies of the publications are available for an additional fee that covers our cost to produce those publications."
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)|| |
I'd certainly like that, I could vote in site selection without having to pay for pubs I don't want. (Even though I'm not that interested in attending Worldcons, I do care who runs them.)
I admit that the wording I'm proposing to strike out is wording that I originally backed some years ago. Times have changed. I changed my mind based on new information. Presumably that makes me a "flip-flopper."
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 05:02 pm (UTC)|| |
Unless I am entirely mistaken, the prices for supporting memberships greatly exceed the production costs of maintaining one.
I think the costs of printing and mailing progress reports and program books are actually a lot more than you think. I'd put it at around $20-$30/member. Maybe less if you don't actually count the printing cost of the program book, which is plausible if you figure you can cover your printing costs by advertising.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)|| |
No, that is emphatically not more than I think. Since LSC supporting memberships are now $60, that perfectly demonstrates the gap that I think can be closed. If covering the PB costs with ad revenue could be done as you suppose, and a supporting membership were priced at $25 or $30, I think that would be adequate at bringing more potential voters in without diminishing their rights.
Wasn't there some kind of complication over a formula governing the relative prices of voting, supporting memberships, conversion rates, and initial attending memberships? That's where the stickiness lies with this question.
Yes. There is currently a formula relating the cost of voting to the initial cost of attending membership. For the first 90 days after the election, the cost to convert from supporting (which you got when you voted) to attending may not be more than 4x the advance supporting membership (voting) fee. So, for example, if the voting fee was $25, that gets you a supporting membership and the right to convert to attending for not more than $100 more for the first 90 days after the election.
The attending membership cost is not regulated for non-voters, nor for voters after 90 days. The rule effectively is a protection for people who vote in every election and convert to attending most of the time right away.
There's also a restriction on the maximum cost of a supporting membership (125% of the voting fee until 90 days before the Worldcon.)
If you raised the multiplier to 6x, you could reduce the cost of voting (supporting) without affecting the initial attending membership cost.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 05:23 pm (UTC)|| |
I think it's the postage and the people points that really hurts. Actually a good result of this discussion is I went and checked supporting rates for Loncon3. It's 25 GBP, which seems quite reasonable (I assume they have some scheme for mailing the pubs in the US, they can't be covering international postage for that.) I'll even get one, if I can convince my credit card company to approve the transaction (they already bounced it once.) I'd prefer a, say, 10 pound no-pubs membership, but this really isn't bad.
While I am not on the Loncon committee and therefore have no inside knowledge, I do know that at least one previous UK Worldcon discovered that it was cheaper to print and mail their publications in the USA, even though it meant mailing their UK copies from the USA. Recent changes in mailing costs may have made that no longer practical. I haven't checked up on ISAL mail, which is what made it practical back then.
Edited at 2013-08-09 05:41 pm (UTC)
, I think that the Accountability Act is less complex than it appears. Worldcons commit to playing by the rules when they bid. Sometimes they end up with rather large surpluses. Some of them are now sitting on six-figure surpluses for more than ten years with no sign of ever spending it. Worse, those groups aren't saying anything about what they are doing. Lack of transparency is worse than spending money on things we don't like. When you don't even come clean on what you're doing, you make people assume the worst.
This isn't gafiation: it's very well known that the person who could answer the questions that WSFS wants answered has been at Worldcons and simply refuses to show up. There are existing Worldcons with surplus funds who refuse to be transparent about their actions. This make people nervous.
Or do you even care if a Worldcon makes a quarter-million-dollar surplus and then refuses to tell us on what they spent it?Edited at 2013-08-09 01:53 pm (UTC)
Kevin, is there any place that lists Worldcons with aging unspent surpluses? As you know, there are many SF-related nonprofits that would like to apply for grants from such Worldcons.
I know that this question isn't directly useful for increasing transparency. It could be mildly useful, in that it would introduce pressure from a different constituency.
No, there is no central source for it. You end up having to go through the previous year's WSFS Business Meeting minutes, which is where the reports are listed. But note that even if they have a surplus, many of these conventions have no mechanism for contacting them to apply for grants. That is one of the reasons for the proposed amendment: at least give us a consistent way of contacting you so we can apply for grants.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 03:09 pm (UTC)|| |
Previously had gotten logged out. Try again.
No, with respect to the fan categories, it's not that people think that recent winners and nominees aren't worthy, it's that they think that recent winners and nominees don't qualify in the category, which is quite different. They may be perfectly worthy - xkcd for example - but not, in that case, be fan art. Because made by a professional for the express purpose of making money. The underlying feeling, I think, is that at this point there is now a sufficiently large a voting base who have absolutely no clue about idea behind fan writer and fan artist awards that it's impossible to educate the voters. And the Hugo administrators have demonstrated repeatedly that they will not overrule even egregious nominations, so rather than continue to see goats, and chickens, and great white sharks nominated and even winning in the sheep category, it would be better to eliminate a category that is so poorly understood and curated. I'm not sure I agree. I'm not sure I disagree. But either way, it's a very different claim from "that stuff's not good enough."
I know why administrators won't rule out works on subjective form: they don't want the roof to collapse upon them. The last few times a Hugo Administrator has disqualified a work for anything that wasn't purely objective technical reasons (wrong year of publication, wrong length), the WSFS Business Meeting has immediately responded by amending the constitution to make what the Administrator did illegal in the future.
Having an activist Administrator disqualify works that you personally don't think are eligible on subjective grounds is all well and good, but what happens when that Administrator decides that (say) Teddy Harvia isn't eligible for Best Fan Artist because David Thayer has been paid for artwork that he's done?
Because Administrators have repeatedly been warned that Activism is Bad, they have taken the approach that the voters are the eligibility jury on anything other than technical grounds (year of publication, etc.). If the voters want it, they get it, even if it doesn't make you personally happy.
Perhaps instead of trying to tear down the entire house you should work to pass rules that encourage activist administrators who will intervene when they think the nominee is unworthy of the category, and then give them the necessary political cover when they make such decisions instead of landing on them like a ton of bricks when they declare a given work "isn't a fanzine" or a given person "isn't a fan writer," even when a large number of WSFS members say that those works and people are fanzines and fan writers.
|Date:||August 9th, 2013 03:45 pm (UTC)|| |
Your usage of "you" here seems a bit confusing. Am *I* supposed to be someone who is "trying to tear down the entire house"? Am *I* supposedly personally capable of giving the Hugo administrators "the necessary political cover when they make such decisions"? And what, specifically, have *I* done to "land on them like a ton of bricks when they declare a given work 'isn't a fanzine'"? Who exactly are you talking to that you imagine this applies to?
Also, note, I specifically excluded the notion of *worthiness* from the point of this amendment, yet here you are sneaking it back in again.
English doesn't have enough second person pronouns. And I say "worthiness" and mean it. People backing this proposal are saying, "I know what a fanzine is better than the rest of the members of WSFS who outvoted me, and I say those works aren't worthy of being called a fanzine." It's a subjective decision.
Not very long ago, there are people who insisted that if the 'zine wasn't printed on paper, it wasn't "really" a fanzine, and who screamed about Emerald City winning because it wasn't "real." But nowadays, nearly any 'zine that wants to be taken seriously has to appear in PDF (I know of the exceptions, but there aren't a lot of Banana Wings-class 'zines), and it's no longer controversial to most people. Indeed, claiming that e-distribution makes a work "not a fanzine" now seems about as quaint as the Staple Wars or the claims that only mimeo on twilltone (as opposed to offset printing or photocopying) makes a 'zine "real."
And yes, you personally are capable of giving Hugo Administrators the necessary political cover, if you and others who agree with you get loud enough to support them when they make unpopular and controversial decisions.
WSFS isn't a representative republic. There's is no "them" or Board of Directors to whom you can complain. People who believe like you do have to show up and participate directly. I admire Milt being willing to stand up and propose what is surely going to be a controversial motion while still opposing it. (I note that the motion's co-sponsor backs it for completely different reasons than the one in the maker's statement, BTW.)
Edited at 2013-08-09 04:08 pm (UTC)
|Date:||August 10th, 2013 01:35 am (UTC)|| |
Probably too dismissive of the fan dramatic presentation category
For some reason when I read the fan dramatic presentation proposal, I thought of it as mainly a filk award, but it's not. There are a lot of people doing short- and long-format videos, some in the realm of (modern) fan-fic like "Star Trek: Phase II", some more fully original It's not beyond imagination that half a dozen of them each year are really good and worth recognizing. I'll stick with "show me what you would have nominated in the last few years if there had been such a category", but I'm less certain today that it's impossible to do so. Two categories to start with is too much though (I don't think even the current short-form dramatic presentation category has been very impressive.)
I can see some problems with determining amateur/non paid status though --- YouTube does pay a tiny per-view royalty to its contributors but it can add up, "Gangnam Style" apparently has rung up a couple million dollars.