Hugo Committee, release the data

After agreeing to release the nomination and voting data for the Hugos this year, at the request of the EPH crowd, it seems the Hugo committee has changed its mind and is claiming it cant release the data without risking the privacy of Hugo voters. This change of heart causes me some concern because the Hugo committee has in its power the ability to settle a large number of arguments about the voting this year and also the ability to completely destroy any credibility that the voting committee has.

Before I explain why, lets get something out of the way. My day job consists of working in the medical research field and if there are concerns about peoples confidentiality and privacy with regard to the voting data, I am happy to offer advice, after talking to my number crunching colleagues, on how to remove necessary identifying information from the data to address this concern. In the medical research field patient privacy is everything so there is likely to be a way to redact the data so that it will still be useful for analysis while insuring that nobodies privacy is breached.

Onto the problem. It would seem that there are 4 possible outcomes from an analysis of the data. They are:

  1. Everybody voted honestly, there was no bloc voting, log rolling during the nominations or anything untoward by either side and the whole thing is a giant misunderstanding.
  2. The Puppies have been involved in bloc voting and seeking to rig the awards while the Anti-Puppies are entirely innocent of all charges.
  3. The Anti-Puppies have been involved in rigging the selection process and have been guilty of massive bloc voting while the Puppies are entirely innocent of all charges.
  4. Both sides are guilty of bloc voting and seeking to rig the selection and award process.

I think we can probably rule #1 out. Of the remaining options, a release of the data will settle the argument, one or both sides will be publicly embarrassed and can apologize for their behavior and there can be a movement towards reconciliation. I am open to suggestions for other possibilities but I believe my list properly enumerates all of the possible broad outcomes.

I suspect all this talk of “concern for privacy” is probably another way of saying, “People with something to hide are threatening us and don’t want their perfidy revealed”. I don’t think this should stop the committee from releasing the data These people have already acted badly and covering up for them wont do anything other than destroy the credibility of the Hugo voting process.

Through all of this debacle both sides have always maintained that the Hugo committee acted honestly and openly. Abiding by the voting rules and seeking to be impartial. If the Hugo committee decide not to release the data, after saying they would, it forces people to ask questions about the truth of this original belief.

If the data is released will it suddenly be demonstrated that the Hugo committee actually lied about the results and that they didn’t operate honestly after all? This will always be the suspicion regardless of the truth. Only by releasing the data, and doing so in a timely fashion, will they clear themselves of this suspicion.

Sorry Hugo committee you’ve backed yourself into a corner here. The data can be properly sanitized to maintain every bodies privacy and reneging on the release will not only make sure that arguments can’t be settled with data and foster the suspicion you are not nearly as honest and beyond reproach as everybody thought.

For the sake of the future of the awards, release the data. Nothing in there could be worse than what people will imagine you are trying to hide.

A Quick Explanation of the Puppies

Let’s imagine an award. Not a science fiction award – the award for best chef. Sounds fairly apolitical, right? It’s voted on by sous chefs. In our hypothetical world sous chefs are a relatively new phenomenon, and so it doesn’t take a whole lot for a representative vote.

Let’s imagine that in the early years of the award, winners generally match up with merit, and are voted on by a representative number of sous chefs. The winners are all fine chefs.

Now let’s imagine that, suddenly, a show comes out: World’s Best Chef. The World’s Best Chef show is a major hit. Suddenly, the profession of chef explodes in popularity, and hundreds of thousands of people, even millions, become sous chefs who had previously never even heard of the profession.

The World’s Best Chef Award lives on, but a curious thing happens: The number of voters doesn’t rise. Despite there being millions more potential voters, there are still only a few thousand who vote for the award of Best Chef, and as a result the same people are winning each year. Not only that, but all the winners happen to be republicans. And yet, despite this, the World’s Best Chef Award still claims that it represents the World’s Best Chef.

Let’s imagine a sous chef sees what’s going on and gets frustrated, as he remembers when the Award meant something. He suspects some political bias going on. To test this, he organizes a campaign to get a group of nominees in for World’s Best Chef that normally would not get on the ballot – many, but not all of them, are democrats. His goal is to force that core group of people to take these new guys seriously and start considering Chefs and food styles they previously never would have. As a joke he calls his new campaign the Unhappy Kitties.

Now let’s imagine a second group, run by a similarly frustrated sous chef, but more jaded. He believes the Award has gotten so insular that the in-group that has been dominating it for so many years will refuse to let any newcomers win the award. He decides that the award cannot be saved, and instead of having the goal of getting normally unnoticed writers a chance to win, he has the goal of destroying the awards entirely, and attempts to be as inflammatory as possible in the hope that the insular group will sabotage themselves and vote No Award above his group of nominees, spoiling the award for everybody. He calls his group the Kitties Infected by a Dangerous Illness.

During the Awards, the insular group decides it would be better to have no award than to have one of the Kitty Groups win, and votes no award, confirming the suspicions of both Kitty groups that voting is based at least partially on political grounds.

And I trust that all of you will be able to make the proper substitutions and see how this all connects to the Sad and Rabid Puppies.

Charting a different course for next year’s Hugos?

As Jason pointed out, this year’s Hugo Awards produced everyone declaring victory.  It would almost be refreshing to hear someone say they lost.  So I will.

I started writing scifi last year to have fun and get to know fun people. Watching this year descend into political bickering over an award was not fun and quite frankly bored the hell out of me.  To each his own I suppose, but is this really the future of scifi? If so, nuts.

Of course, it doesn’t look like I went down alone. Despite the hype, there are plenty of losers. I mean it seems obvious that unless Vox’s other name is No Award, he didn’t win.  And no offense to Jason, if you find yourself saying things along the lines of “just wait till next year”, or “you haven’t seen us really fight”, well… let’s be honest with ourselves… your side lost.  Take it from someone who spent years watching the Chicago Cubs. And it wasn’t just the puppies. Jason rightly pointed out that the showing for No Award was a Pyrrhic victory at best, whether the people realized it or not.

Clearly some didn’t realize it since they cheered for No Award. That was bad form, and a bit telling for those that cheered.  But it is unfair to paint everyone in fandom with that brush, as Jason seemed to be doing.  George RR Martin has now reported he didn’t cheer, those around him didn’t, and he thought it was bad form too.  As it is, he (an unquestionable part of fandom) was against No Award from the outset. Why artificially expand the scope of your enemies by writing off potential allies?  Also, it felt inconsistent for Jason to heap scorn on the applause, while apparently supporting the chuckles emanating from a certain skull fortress. Shouldn’t Vox have been sighing with melancholy while quietly saying “I wish it didn’t happen this way”?

I think GRRM earlier this year said that the Hugo Awards were in uncharted waters.  As it turns out, Camestros Felapton managed to make a map (reposted at SSF) showing the political terrain of the “puppy kerfuffle”. Most were ok with it.  As for me, I didn’t get how I’d fit into the picture. I clearly side with GRRM’s position, and am extremely liberal, but my writing appears at SuperversiveSF (and will at SciPhi).  Heck, SSF allowed me to publish an essay critical of the puppy slate strategy.  So it can’t be all that rabid can it? Or was I invading from the left?  I hope not.  Not my style.

Sadly, it sounds like Camestros’s skill will be required again next year.  By then continental drift will have pushed everyone further away, except the sad and rabid islands which, if Jason is correct, will merge to form a single, more heavily armed, land mass.

Is this really what people want?  I don’t. Not fun.

As far as I understood, the idea here at SSF is to challenge nihilism.  But declaring one will abandon one’s principles (namely play the system or outright cheat) to get an award, because someone else is doing it, is definitely nihilistic. Values have meaning for oneself, or they don’t. So I don’t get why Vox finds any traction here, beyond emotional provocation.

Ok, perhaps it makes sense to do something which reveals cheating is possible, supported or engaged in by others, or perhaps to let others experience the receiving end themselves.  But if that is the point, the mission was accomplished back at this year’s nomination process, and repeating it does nothing but make one the monster one set out to fight.

Honestly, if the method didn’t produce a clear win, alienated potential allies (people sympathetic to some puppy complaints were turned off by the slate), and is something you’d rail against when others do it… shouldn’t the idea be to not double down on that method next year?

That doesn’t erase complaints raised by many puppies, it just suggests other strategies should be sought to address them.  It is hard to imagine that alternatives based on one’s natural virtues, rather than the perceived vices of others, could do any worse than the method chosen this year (and suggested future abuse).  This is true for both winning awards and bringing the scifi community together… which is the ultimate goal, right? And the bonus is you get to walk away feeling clean.

I realize this is still pretty close after the event and cathartic “wait till next year” venting is natural.  I watched the Cubs, I know.  I just hope that as the months pass and a new year begins, it will come to be recognized as catharsis and not wisdom.

P.S. – Before I could place the post above, Jason added a new post calling for unification.  I don’t think that is a bad idea in itself.  The question is unification to do what exactly?  The devil will be in the details of specified goals and methods.  If it is to build a stronger force to do exactly the same thing as last year, well then my argument and recommendations above stand.

Regarding the name change.  Just puppies is better, more positive sounding, than sad or rabid puppies. However some may see that as a tantamount admission that both groups were the same all along.  Plus, if the idea is to reach people in traditional fandom as well, who might have sympathized with your issues but disagreed with the methods, then you might want to break symbolically from the past and change it to something non-puppy related.  Why not something scifi related?  You guys feel like you’re being alienated from the award’s processes, right? Treated as if you’re invading scifi fandom? So why not go with ‘aliens’?

By the way, at first (very quick) glance I thought the caption read “Adfertote Plus Cthulu”.

A suggestion for Puppies 2016

Puppies2016-small

Because everything sounds fancier in Latin and we are the heirs to the older more noble tradition unlike the nihilists in the puppy kickers. For those who don’t speak Latin (I don’t, a very nice and anonymous Latin scholar helped me with it), ADFERTOTE PLUS CATULI means BRING MORE PUPPIES! and is pronounced “odd-fairt-Ohte ploos cahtooly” (Where the capital O is like the o in clover).

And why not Sad or Rabid Puppies, but just Puppies? I think this year clearly demonstrated we are all have the same enemy and will be treated as such regardless so why not unite?

Some post Hugo thoughts

It has been an interesting year for the Hugos and I’ve taken a few days to reflect on the results. Strangely both of the extreme factions seem to have declared victory. The Puppy Kicker Brigade seem to have taken No Awarding a number of categories as a vindication for them. That they have successfully repelled the “barbarians at the gate” and shown them once and for all whose boss, or something like that. On the other side, from the Rabid Puppies camp, you can here the baritone laughter of the dark lord from the depths of his skull fortress as he watches the Puppy Kickers behave almost exactly as predicted, cratering the awards rather than letting “Wrong Fans” into the club house and making sure to snub obviously deserving people.

So who really won? Does it really matter? What I thought was the real take home of the evening was the way the TruFans(tm) revealed themselves to be so malicious and spiteful. I’m not sure whether this came as a surprise or a confirmation, either way, it was ugly and foolish.

It is no secret I am in the Puppies camp, Sad or Rabid, probably shifted from day to day but my sympathies were with Larry, Brad, Sarah and Vox. I thought the idea of No Awarding everything was stupid and pointless, but I can understand why some people thought it was necessary, they were wrong, but entitled to their opinion.

I get it, some felt the award nomination process was tainted, that what they saw as unreasonable behavior was not to be rewarded, all th rest of it. I don’t agree with it, but I can understand the impulse. That wasn’t the part that bothered me. You could vote No Award in good conscience, lament the necessity of it and say that you wish it could be avoided but principle demanded that it be done to preserve the integrity of the award and so on. I could accept that, I could understand that.

What destroyed any understanding or sympathy I had for those in the No Award camp was when they cheered the result. That was the ugliest , most spiteful and maliciously mean spirited display I have seen in quite a while. There was no lament that it had to be this way, but there was positive delight taken in destroying the awards, in deliberately ruining the day so that “WrongFans” would learn their place. Such a petty childish display from supposed adults.

A final thought. Many in the Puppy Kicker Brigade think they have won. 3 years ago, I wasn’t voting in the Hugos and I watched as Larry suggested the awards had a participation problem and that that needed fixing. 2 years ago I watched Larry do it again, and do it more successfully than he had the year before. This year, I decided to join in, and I watched the Puppies sweep the nominations and watch the Puppy Kickers collectively lose their minds and then watched them band together to make sure that No Award took the top spot in any of the “soiled” categories. I watched as the reaction was to rush through ill conceived and hastily drawn up rules changes, as people bought voting memberships for others in an effort to sway the vote, as all manner of bald faced lies were told about the various Puppies contenders and participants.

Do people really think this is over? That the Puppies have been shown the door and wont be back? Sad Puppies 4 is already under way with Kate the Impaler at its head, Vox has taken note of what went on and is always ready to play by whatever rules his opponents wish to set. The Puppy Kickers said loudly and clearly it was perfectly acceptable to cast votes without bothering to read the books. What else was No Awarding a book you hadn’t read because you disapproved of its pedigree? Don’t complain when others decide to follow your example.

Time will tell but like so much of the political left in all spheres, they have played every dirty trick they had, campaigned as hard as they were able and managed this Pyrrhic victory all while their opponents were disorganized and arguing among themselves and had never really seriously taken the field of battle. I wonder how they will go now that they have managed to unite the various Puppy Factions and larger forces against them.

David Hallquist nails the #Hugos last night

Fellow SuperversiveSF contributor and multiple times Sci Phi Journal contributor David Hallquist summed up the No Award’s at the Hugo’s last night perfectly in one sentence.

Doesn’t the super-villain always set off the “Self-Destruct” when his underground lair is overrun by the heroes?

It couldn’t have been put better.

Will Lou Antonelli get an apology after SPJ Airplay Bomb threat?

So, i’m sure a number of people have noticed that SPJ Airplay was evacuated after numerous bomb threats that has derailed the #GamerGate discussion at the event. This follows on from a Bomb threat that evacuated a #Gamergate meetup earlier this year.

So what I want to know is, When is Lou Antonelli going to get an apology for his obviously reasonable concerns about Worldcon that he mentioned to the Spokane police? How often have we witnessed the PuppyKickers get hysterical and say that Sad Puppies and #Gamergate are related? It seems to have been a constant drum beat, so it is reasonable to conclude that anti-#GG folks are and PuppyKickers are similar groups when they don’t actually overlap in membership.

It seems Lou’s concerns about someone in the PuppyKicker camp doing something stupid at WorldCon are hardly unreasonable given someone in the anti-#GG camp has done something stupid at SPJAirplay.

When will Lou get his apology?