Brief(?) Summary and Commentary on Saturday and Sunday WSFS Meetings 15

As before, here I’m going to be free with my commentary instead of limiting myself to mostly parenthetical statements. Amendments will be referred to by name. For details and summary, please see the Sasquan agenda.

Liveblog for Saturday here.

Liveblog for Sunday here.

Playlist for all segments of the business meeting here.

Saturday Meeting

This meeting was relatively short, because the room was needed for other programming at 1300, and plus they wanted to have the WorldCon chairs photo session. Important points:

  • The meeting started off with the official site selection for 2017. Helsinki won, and presented the con heads and their website. They received a check for $23,000, passed on from the last of Millenium Phillcon’s funds.
  • The “Story by Any Other Name” amendment from LonCon 3 was passed and added to constitution. This will close the audiobook loophole, for example, allowing stories that originally appeared as audiobooks to be considered with their fellow works of fiction instead of as podcasts or related works.
  • “WSFS Membership Types and Rates” amendment from LonCon 3 passed without objection and was added to the constitution.
  • “Hugo Finalist” amendment from LonCon 3 passed without objection and was added to the constitution. This was just a word term change.
  • Starting on new business for this year–this is stuff that if passed will go on to be ratified (or not) next year in Kansas City. This is where things started getting contentious.
  • The 5% Solution passed. (Thank fuck.)
  • The Multiple Nominations amendment passed.
  • Nominee Diversity was laid on the table to be taken up on Sunday after EPH was considered.
  • Tom Monaghan (apologies, I believe I have been spelling his last name wrong this entire time in my liveblogs, mea culpa) attempted to permanently adjourn the business meeting for this year and thus kill all remaining business. I found this personally very aggravating, as it seemed to be a very transparent attempt to get rid of all potential discussion and fixes with regards to the Hugo issues. Monaghan had already made it pretty clear to anyone who could overhear him arguing that he was a “puppy” of some stripe, including complaints about people defaming puppies in debate, which were for the most part not supported by the chair. The motion was ultimately disallowed due to arcane parliamentary stuff, but I think that it would have failed anyway if put to a vote.
  • The meeting ended with a motion, unanimously approved, that when the business meeting did finally adjourn on Sunday, it would be in memory of Bobbie DuFault and Peggy Rae Sapienza.

Sunday Meeting

This is where things got really contentious.

  • E Pluribus Hugo was taken up immediately via suspension of the rules. Passed via serpentine.
    • Ramez Naam, who is a writer, made the point beautifully about why slates are pieces of shit (my words, not his) by naming a sampling of works and authors who got screwed by the slates this year.
    • The point was made again and again that it’s total bullshit that 10-15% of the electorate can entirely control who shows up on the ballot.
    • Dara Korra’ti (I hope I spelled her name right) made the point beautifully across EPH and 4/6 that in a system without parties, an organized party will prevail. And she had every right to indicate that this was political because it’s been made so explicitly political by the people who started it.
    • A lot of people complained that EPH is complicated and that will alter how people vote. Considering it is about how nominations are counted, not indicated by members, I don’t really buy this argument. Also, the current system is complex in its own right as well. If you asked me to explain preferential voting to someone, I don’t think I’d be able to do a good job of it.
    • Anyway, I’m glad EPH passed. What I’m really hoping is that once they’ve got the nomination data they requested, we’ll get a good presentation about how it would have changed things this year, and we can move forward.
    • Also a point to consider: anything we voted affirmatively on this year is not yet part of the constitution. Nothing changes unless and until these are ratified next year. So by the time we take up this business at next year’s meeting, we’ll be well aware if the Hugos are once more covered with puppy shit.
    • I still believe that if EPH stops Doctor Who from dominating short form drama, that is a feature and not a bug.
    • EPH has a built-in five year sunset clause by amendment.
  • 4 and 6 also passed on a serpentine vote. This one made me kind of crazy because we spent a ridiculous amount of time noodling about if we’d use the numbers 4 and 6 or something different, and then just used 4 and 6 anyway. Much like how 90% of the time we just use the chair’s suggested debate time after 10 minutes of arguing about allowing more or less. Hrngh.
    • So noted that supposedly, this system can work in conjunction with EPH just fine. Though in my opinion, if we were to ratify EPH next year, I’ll feel a lot less compelled to ratify this one as well unless someone makes a compelling argument as to the contrary.
    • Just another shout-out to Dara, whose points on this as far as 4 and 6 doing nothing to discourage slating, were totally on point. This method could defeat one slate if it didn’t have great discipline. But if we start getting in to slates and counter slates (very likely if things continue in this year’s melodramatic style) it’s going to be a fucking mess for anyone who doesn’t want to slate.
    • This one lacks a sunset clause. I think at this point, everyone was getting pretty tired and we just didn’t manage to get the timing right on amending it.
  • Nominee Diversity passes on a serpentine vote. Not much to say here other than I was in favor of it because I’m in favor of anything that spreads the love, so to speak.
  • Best Series, by request of its originator, was moved to a committee, to report back next year. (I think he realized that everyone was getting very tired and cranky and things were not looking that friendly for a contentious subject.)
  • Electronic Signatures returned with new language from the committee. This then became a giant clusterfuck that took 30 minutes to resolve and I still don’t know why. Eventually, this too passed. It should be noted that this allows the use of electronic signatures but the means are at the discretion of the WorldCon.
  • Meeting was then adjourned in memory of Bobbie DuFault and Peggy Rae Sapienza.

PLEASE NOTE: I am now going to start going through my previous liveblogs and try to correct some name misspellings. Please bear with me.

I also have some thoughts on the Hugos, and maybe I’ll type those up at some point. But this post is already 1K words long, and my liveblog from today was almost 3K. I’m getting pretty worded out, here.

See you in Kansas City next year, space cowboys.

15 thoughts on “Brief(?) Summary and Commentary on Saturday and Sunday WSFS Meetings

  1. Reply Paul Weimer Aug 23,2015 18:14

    Thanks for putting all this effort and time in, Rachael.

  2. Reply Kendall Aug 23,2015 19:24

    Thanks for liveblogging and summarizing; I don’t know how you managed to follow almost everything AND get it down in your posts! Kudos!

  3. Reply Nathanael Aug 23,2015 20:29

    I may come to Kansas City next year. Partly to ratify EPH. (I’ve studied voting systems; this is a very good fix.) The sunset clause sticks in my craw, but hopefully by then it’ll be obvious that EPH is working.

  4. Reply bagofcats Aug 24,2015 06:41

    Thank you! You did wonderful work!
    And Helsinki! That’s just around the corner: maybe I’ll be able to attend.
    Greetings from a fellow (former) geologist and palaeontologist.

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  6. Reply delagar Aug 24,2015 10:27

    Just want to add my thanks for the live blogging — as someone who couldn’t attend, these have been great.

  7. Reply Jack Foy Aug 25,2015 17:52

    Thanks for doing all of this!

    I share your frustration with all the time we wasted trying to trim down debate time. I wonder if there’s a way for us next year to move to just adopt all the proposed debate times en banc, reminding people that we can move to extend debate time case-by-case?

    (By the way, I got here by way of your Daily Science Fiction story. Well done!)

  8. Reply Galen Charlton Aug 26,2015 11:29

    Hi, I just want to add my voice in thanking you for doing the live-blogging and summaries of the business meetings!

  9. Reply mnemex Aug 26,2015 14:06

    Dara’s participation was -great- here. Dara is a Pacific Northwest filker (well, that’s how I know them), and it’s great to see them kicking ass and taking names.

    I think a motion to call the question on all assignments of debate time would be in order.

    That said, I do think the ritual of determining debate time via filling blanks is useful (although it would be lovely if people restricted themselves to doing it by 4s, at minimum). It takes a 2/3 majority to extend debate once time has been set (or, yes, you could lay the motion on the table until the next day, which iirc only takes a majority vote, which would reset debate time, but unless it’s day 2 that’s going to be hard to sell), and one of the lovely things about WSFS politics is that we are mostly non-partisan enough that you -can- change people’s minds with debate, so while a shorter debate time wastes a lot less time (maybe. As long as people are solid about Previous Question motions and not speaking unless they’re saying something new, debate only really goes on as long as it needs to), a longer debate time gives people a chance to debate subsidiary motions and make substantial arguments on the main motion, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right. This time, we had Kevin chairing, and he was, in fact, really good at predicting the “correct” debate time for most motions; in previous years the chair has set everything way short by default and we had to hash out the real time with blanks.

    Kilowatt was also amazing, btw (I know he has been at Worldcon and I think at the BM before, but I’d not known by discussion on Making LIght how good a speaker he was). I suspect he’ll be preparing yet another great presentation for next year, once he gets the data (and I have a feeling we’ll be able to access the 2016 nomination data after it’s no longer embargoed in a more accelerated fashion than the 2015 data, although that remains to be seen).

    Re 4 and 6: I was somewhat more genuine in not wanting to drop the nominations to 4 (if EPH passes; obviously if it fails we’ll want to plug the hole with -something- even if it’s something not very good [and gamable] like 4 and 6) than caring if we up the ballot to 6. I do think that increasing the size of the ballot is a mixed blessing. Obviously, if it’s larger than the number of nominations it’s a tiny bit harder for a group to pack it even with EPH, and it might break the “I have to nominate 5 things” cycle that can sometimes hit “5 and 5.” And, of course, 6 nominees means we get more chances to have winners and hopefully a greater diversity of works (particularly with EPH, which tends towards a large variety of popular but only minimally overlapping opinions). OTOH, the IRV system works far better if everyone has read/watched everything in every category they vote for, so every nominee you add does reduce that factor; at least to a small degree decreasing the number of people who vote in each category and/or who vote having read/watched everything. But 5 to 6 isn’t a huge deal for this (going to 10, as one of the fillins suggested, would be a big deal here).

    I was against Nominee Diversity in the face of EPH, because EPH solves the source problem without ignoring groups of nominators (and because when you fix the same problem two different ways, one of them is probably unnecessary but might still have secondary effects). OTOH, frankly if EPH hadn’t been in the hopper (and passed) I’d have been all for Nominee Diversity [as I am for nominee diversity], so maybe we can avoid clogging the drain next year as long as we sort ratifications the right way.

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  11. Reply Traveller Aug 27,2015 16:35

    IIRC, adding a sunset is a lesser change. I expect one to get added in KC. I plan to make such a motion, but I really expect another will beat me to it.

    Thanks again for your liveblog and related commentary.

    • Reply Rachael Aug 27,2015 16:36

      I’d definitely support the motion. I think structural changes like this need to be approached with caution.

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