Science Fiction Awards Watch

We will be closing the poll on the Lifetime Achievement Hugo at the end of Thursday. If you haven’t voted yet, please do so.

The next poll we intend to run will be about the role of professionals in the Fan categories of the Hugos. Please note that this is not intended to be simply about John Scalzi. Other professional writers have been nominated for Best Fan Writer, and it is equally possible that professional artists could be nominated in Best Fan Artist.

In creating such a poll we face the same problem that comes up when you try to define actual Hugo rules, namely: “what do you mean by Professional?” The Hugos have pretty much given up trying to define what “professional” means. Remember that very few SF&F writers are actually full time – most have to keep day jobs, or work in other areas as well, in order to make a living. Also a “fan” may have a full time job that involves writing or art, but not in the SF&F field.

There is also an open question as to what the “fan” categories are really for. Some people argue that they are for a different competitive level of writer/artist/editor (drawing analogies with differing weight classes in boxing). Others argue that fan writing/art/editing is of a different nature to the “professional” fiction, art and editing categories, and that you can, for example, be a top class fan writer without being a top class fiction writer, and vice versa. We should also remember that people such as Joe Haldeman, Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison were fans before they achieved professional success. More recently Scott Lynch was reportedly discovered as a writer thanks to having a high profile blog. As of now we are making no assumptions as to which meaning of the fan/pro split is correct, though you may choose to argue the point in comments.

Finally there is a question regarding how professional status affects voting. It may be that quality writing/art/editing will win out regardless. However, some may argue that a successful professional in the field is liable to have a large fan base, and this will put such people at an intrinsic advantage (in a popular vote award) compared to ordinary fans.

Bearing all that in mind, here are a few suggestions as to what might be the preferred approach. Feel free to comment on these, or to suggest alternatives. We’ll start the poll on Friday.

  • Bring on the pros – the Hugos should always go to the very best work, regardless of category
  • Leave it up to the voters – if they choose to nominate professionals in the fan category, so be it
  • Leave it up to the nominees – if they think they have an unfair advantage or do not belong in the fan categories they should decline nomination
  • Find some way to exclude professionals from the fan categories
  • Allow professionals only if they are “part of the fan community”
  • Allow professionals only if they are best known for their fan activity
  • Anyone who has won a non-fan category should be ineligible for a fan category
  • Anyone who has been nominated in a non-fan category should be ineligible for a fan category
  • You can’t be nominated in a fan category and a non-fan category in the same year
  • Bar professionals from the fan categories but create a Best Author/Artist Blog category
  • Scrap the fan categories altogether

37 Responses to “Poll on Professionals in the Fan Hugos”

  1. on 08 Jan 2008 at 1:50 pmJohn Klima

    I really think once you’ve won a Hugo for a pro category (short story, novelette, novella, artist), you should be ineligible for any fan category.

    If that isn’t feasible, scrap the categories.

    John Klima

  2. on 08 Jan 2008 at 2:00 pmKevin

    John:

    You’ve implicitly defined only the four written-fiction categories as “pro.” What about the others? Does a Hugo in Best Related Book for a collection of Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches disqualify you forever for Best Fan Writer?

  3. on 08 Jan 2008 at 2:07 pmSteven

    No problem having pros in the fan category. After all, some fan writers who were nominated after they had professional credits include Piers Anthony, John Scalzi, Alexei Panshin, Harlan Ellison, Ted White, Wilson Tucker, Terry Carr, Bob Shaw, and, of course, David Langford.

    I do know of some pros who have stated that if they are nominated for a Best Fan category, they would decline, but that is a matter of personal choice, much as Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, and Ted Chiang have all declined nominations in pro categories relatively recently.

  4. on 08 Jan 2008 at 2:12 pmSteven

    John@1

    Your comment “I really think once you’ve won a Hugo for a pro category (short story, novelette, novella, artist), you should be ineligible for any fan category.” would mean that David Langford is not eligible for a Best Fan Writer Hugo, but Stan Schmidt, Michael A. Burstein, and Gene Wolfe (all of whom I have published in my fanzine, Argentus, are eligible.

  5. on 08 Jan 2008 at 2:18 pmCheryl

    John: interesting suggestion. I have added three more options providing different ways of dealing with this. Note that it is currently the case that you cannot be nominated in Professional Artist and Fan Artist in the same year, but the Business Meeting voted to repeal that proviso in Japan (it comes up for ratification in Denver).

  6. on 08 Jan 2008 at 3:22 pmNadine A

    I’m all for having pros in the Fan categories-fan writing in particular. It seems to me that some of this fuss has to do what comes across as a with “pros that aren’t trufen being nominated”
    sentiment-i.e. Dave Langford is a trufan, so that’s o.k., while John Scalzi’s a Johnny-come-lately.
    Not intended at all to be a slight on Dave Langford-merely that I haven’t seen people getting as upset at his nominations than the furor over Scalzi’s.
    And LCRW provides a lot of my favorite writing-so it shouldn’t be nominated as a semi-prozine because Kelly Link and Gavin Grant are professionals?

  7. on 08 Jan 2008 at 4:17 pmTom Galloway

    As stated elsewhere, as things currently stand I think pros are eligible for the fan categories, with the standard “if the nominators think their work qualifies for the category, it does, barring the Administrator knowing of something truly egregious” (such as a nominee not, y’know, actually have done any published writing or art in the nominating year).

    But the problem is that the categories were created circa 40 years ago (at least that’s when Fan Writer was). At that time 1) Getting one’s non-professional writing/art distributed was more work. Someone would have to make and snail mail out copies of the ‘zine it appeared in. 2) While perhaps more closely correlated to the voting audience in the mid-60s, it quickly became the case that a fair number of the nominating audience might not have read a particular fanzine, and so wouldn’t see the pro’s fannish work.

    Now though, blogs make it simple to widely distribute one’s fannish writing to, in the case of professionals, a fair part of their fanbase. In fact, for many authors at least, having a blog is considered helpful in building and/or maintaining their fanbase.

    And thus the problem, if one chooses to view it as such. Instead of a handful of pros producing often small amounts of fannish material, now there’s a large number producing what amount to perzines, as well as genzines, on a very regular basis. And those blogs, er, zines, are being seen by large numbers of the potential nominators.

    Again as stated elsewhere, I don’t have a problem with a slot or two on the ballot in the Fan categories going to pros, assuming that said pro did a reasonable amount of non-professional, fannish, work in the previous year to qualify. But as things stand, it wouldn’t surprise me if the ’09 or ’11 ballot for Best Fan Writer (’10 excluded due to the Oz effect and a much smaller Worldcon) looked like Langford, Scalzi, Gaiman, Lake, and Nielsen Hayden (pick one, assume a team entry, or a fifth place tie : -)).

    I’d consider every one of these eligible…but I really wouldn’t like the cumulative effect of every ballot slot in a Fan category having a significant professional writer in it either.

  8. on 08 Jan 2008 at 4:49 pmKevin

    Tom:

    If what you suggest actually does happen, I would not be at all surprised to see a strong movement to scrap the fan categories entirely, or at least Fan Writer.

  9. on 08 Jan 2008 at 6:30 pmJennie

    I’ve only been to 3 worldcons and one Loscon. How the heck can I nominate/vote for best fan anything if I don’t know who the Big Fans are?

    Scalzi says some people shit bricks when he was nominated for Best Fan Writer. I’ve only been reading him 4 months, but I’ve only seen one other blog (Scott Adams) which is as consistently entertaining and intelligent, covering such a wide range of subjects.

    On my LJ, I friend my favorite authors so I will be reminded to buy their new books when they come out. I’m sure I’m not alone. I don’t link to Big Fans (except Kevin) cause I don’t know who they are. So of course when it comes time to nominate, I will probably nominate an author (altho, quite honestly, most of them have very boring LJs).

    Robin McKinley recently started blogging (her publisher made her). Now I don’t think she could be defined as a Big Fan since I think she doesn’t go to cons and doesn’t mingle with Fandom much. But her LJ is very entertaining, especially if you like lots of footnotes. LOTS. Does she qualify? The definition of Best Fan Writer seems very broad:

    “Any person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media during the previous calendar year.”

    So IMO, let the nominators/voters decide. If the category dies, then it dies.

  10. on 08 Jan 2008 at 7:29 pmKevin

    Jennie:

    How the heck can I nominate/vote for best fan anything if I don’t know who the Big Fans are?

    It’s not just being a Big Name Fan — there are lost of those about. One also has to be known as a writer. Historically, most fan writing was in fanzines. One of the best sources for recent fanzines is efanzines.com. Now, not every fanzine is published electronically — some, in fact, go out of their way to stress that they are paper-only. One (Banana Wings) was nominated for Best Fanzine last year.

    You can also look at the full nominations list for last year’s Hugo Awards, which shows not only the nominees that appeared on the final ballot, but also those receiving some support. Some, but not all, of these fanzines are on efanzines.com.

    Of course, not all fan writing these days appears in fanzines. In the days when this award was created, that was pretty much the only place you could read it. However, most of what we might call “fan writing” today is happening on web sites, in blogs and whatnot.

    So IMO, let the nominators/voters decide. If the category dies, then it dies.

    It’s not likely to “die” in the sense of having insufficient interest. However, I suspect that if the nominees consistently end up being people who are perceived to be notable primarily for their work as professionals — and note that I agree that “pro” and “fan” are not opposites of each other — then the people who take an interest in the rule-making process are likely to start pushing to eliminate the category entirely.

    Yes, every member of Worldcon may participate in the rule-making process by attending the WSFS Business Meeting, held at stated times during each Worldcon. I do what I can to make the meeting accessible to people by explaining the procedures and helping them frame proposals. But typically only 100 or so people out of the thousands eligible make the investment of their valuable Worldcon-attending time to attend the meeting. And therefore, that group of Usual Suspects are the ones who end up making the decisions as to what the categories are.

  11. on 08 Jan 2008 at 7:42 pmDavid Moles

    I’m for anything that fights the fan/pro class divide (WisCon gets this right, most cons don’t), so I can’t support the idea of pro work making you ineligible for the fan categories. I haven’t seen any evidence at all that the current system’s a problem, apart from a lot of people getting annoyed that Scalzi almost won in the Dave Langford category, and that’s really a problem with those people rather than the current system.

    If anyone has a suggestion that will stop militant trufen from complaining that what you might call “naive fans” (by analogy with “naive art”) aren’t fannish enough, though, I’m all ears.

  12. on 08 Jan 2008 at 9:00 pmTom Galloway

    David, my point is that I think Scalzi was the nose of the camel in the tent. I very specifically think he was eligible for Best Fan Writer (ditto for Langford). But the potential problem is that rather than the occasional one or two pros in the category, I think the realization that pros who blog are eligible will soon cause the ballot to consist of nothing but pros.

    Now, if you view the purpose of the Best Fan Writer (or, potentially, fanzine. It wouldn’t shock me if a one-person blog managed to make the ballot there) as being solely to award the best “fannish writing” (yeah, it’s pretty much a “I know it when I see it”, but let’s say primarily non-fiction for folk who have significantly sold fiction, with fiction allowed for those who generally don’t sell it), then there’s no problem with an all-pro ballot.

    However, if you view it as a means of recognizing non-commercial writing by those who generally aren’t known for their commercial writing, and thus will probably never even be eligible for the 4-5 professional writing Hugos (5 if you count Best Related Book…maybe 7 if you include the editor categories), then having an all-pro ballot makes for a broken award.

    My personal take is that I think it’s a mix, but with a signifcant part of the second. Which means while I accept a ballot with a pro writer or two, a whole ballot of such doesn’t work for me.

    Of course, there’s also another problem with defining “pro writer”. To make it clear, there’s no danger of me being nominated in ’08 for Best Fan Writer. But if I were, and there were restrictions on pro writers, would such as I be under them? Last year I was a tech writer working for a major Silicon Valley company. I’m pretty sure my salary, let alone my bonus and other compensation, was greater than the majority of SFWA members’ writing income. Would that count as “pro”, particularly since it’s the type of writing that doesn’t result in having a fanbase (a lot was internal to the company, and the external docs didn’t have my name on them. On the other hand, there are fanbases for some writers who’ve done a number of commercially published help books)?

  13. on 08 Jan 2008 at 9:23 pmPip R. Lagenta

    I think that John Klima (@1) is on the right track, but he does not go far enough. Not only should we not recognize the fannish activities of professional writers, but we should do everything in our power to alienate, estrange and isolate the professional writers who still might be fans. Kudos to John Klima for getting the ball rolling. Do not let John Kilma stand alone: If you see a professional writer supporting the fannish community, please be sure to hurl insults and/or feces at him or her. John Kilma, you ARE a man of vision. I truly thank you from the depths of my heart. Keep up the good work!

  14. on 08 Jan 2008 at 9:43 pmPatrick Nielsen Hayden

    John Klima is a pal, but the day the Hugo Awards institutionalize the idea that “fan” and “pro” are states of being, rather than things we do, is the day I cease to have anything to do with the Hugos.

    I can’t think that John has even begun to think through how offensive his remarks are to people who’ve put decades of effort into pro _and_ fan activity, under the good-faith assumption that the latter wasn’t considered an aspirational version of the former. If that changes, this isn’t my community any more.

  15. on 09 Jan 2008 at 1:52 amCheryl

    Patrick:

    I’m sorry you are upset by this discussion, but I think you may have over-reacted somewhat to John Klima’s suggestion. The idea he put forward is not that different from the current rule that prevents someone from being nominated in both Professional Artist and Fan Artist in the same year. You may not like that rule, but it has been part of the WSFS Constitution for many years. Equally the Semiprozine category gives the appearance of being an attempt to define classes of magazine. By removing magazines that have substantial income and/or paid staff and/or large circulations from the fanzine category it leaves the fanzine field clear for people whose publishing activities are less intense. Again you may not like that, but it would be unfair to suggest that segregation of categories has never been a part of the Hugos.

    The important point here is that the nature of the field for the fan categories is changing. People like John Scalzi have, under the current rules, every right to compete in Best Fan Writer (and, I would argue, in Best Fanzine). As Tom has pointed out, this has always been the case, but the ease of blog production has dragged us into a world where everyone is suddenly a fan writer. This may be a good thing. After all, people have been complaining for ages about the fan writer category being dominated by one (very good) writer for decades. Now Dave has serious competition. It is also wonderful to have so many competent writers talking so intelligently about the genre. On the other hand, I understand how other people may see it as a bad thing, in that before they could dream of a nomination in the fan categories and now it looks like those categories may come to be dominated by people with whom they feel (rightly or wrongly) that they cannot hope to compete.

    Clearly many people have strong feelings about this, and those feelings are by no means confined to one side of the argument. So what we need to do is talk openly about the fan categories and what function we want them to perform. As the article in yesterday’s Guardian Book Blog pointed out, the Hugos do have a reputation for being exceptionally open and transparent. I hope that we can keep them that way, and not dismiss people as “offensive” when their views of what they want from the awards are different from ours. (And yes, I know I’ve been guilty of that sort of thing in the past – one tends to be less calm about things when one feels it is oneself that people are trying to keep out).

  16. on 09 Jan 2008 at 3:55 amDavid Moles

    I think the Fan Writer is clearly different from Fan Artist. There is no Pro Writer category. As for the differentiation between Semiprozine and Fanzine, you can make a case for that on purely economic grounds; the same isn’t true for Fan Writer.

    Though I’m sure that if Charles Brown started putting out an irregular ten-page ‘zine out of photocopied B&W pages, there’d be plenty of people yelling that it shouldn’t be eligible, even if he did all the work at the bottom of the hill down at Krishna Copy rather than up at the Locus mansion.

    On a historical note, I’d just like to point out that Ted White was professionally published before he won Best Fan Writer in 1968, Wilson Tucker was professionally published before winning in 1970 (and in fact had a novel win the Campbell award that same year), Terry Carr was professionally published before winning in 1973, Bob Shaw had been publishing novels for ten years before winning in 1979 and 1980, and the unassailable Mr. Langford has been professionally published various times off and on during his nearly-twenty-year run.

    Anyone who thinks Scalzi’s appearance in the category is a novelty is just making s*t up.

  17. on 09 Jan 2008 at 8:27 amJohn Klima

    Not that it needed my help, but I partly wanted to get some discussion going. In my heart of hearts, I’d rather see the Fan categories stay since there are no other organizations that give back to the people that make it possible for them to exist in the first place.

    My comment also comes out of the year when Dave Langord won Hugos for Best Short Story and Best Fan Writer. That really bothered me. I remember being almost angry about it.

    But as I sit here and think about it, would I have a problem if someone won a Golden Globe for a movie role and another for a television role?

    Well, no, of course not. So, taking into consideration Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s comments, if Dave Langford writing Ansible wins an award and Dave Langford’s story from F&SF wins an award (which I voted as my #1 choice for the award), how is that different from my Golden Globe example?

    Simple, it’s not. The two types of writing were done for different purposes. And I’d be a fool to think that people who make a living on science fiction are not fans of science fiction as well.

    I’m sure I’ll irritate at someone with this next bit, but I’m trying to think out loud here. I do get frustrated when I see the same people/publications winning awards year after year. I don’t want to say it makes the award meaningless or a joke, but when an award is referred to as ‘The Best Dave Langford Award’ or ‘The Best Locus Award’ I have to wonder if the voting for that award is serving the community. It’s not like someone getting nominated for Best Short Story every year, since it’s for a different piece of work form year to year. But it’s also not like Dave Langford and Charles Brown et al are doing anything less than an incredible job every year.

    And yes, I’ll admit, there’s some sour grapes in knowing that should I ever get nominated for an award and I’m up against Dave Langford or Locus that I’ll lose.

    I read Ansible. I subscribe to Locus. It’s not that I think they don’t deserve an award. As I said, they do consistently incredible work. And I don’t mean to say that we should just give the award to somebody–anybody–else just to make a change. Obviously I’m not alone in my thinking since it sounds likely that getting rid of the Semiprozine award is going to be discussed if not actually happen; and I’m sure that’s at least in part because Locus always wins it.

    Could you feasibly do some sort of rolling eligibility wherein if you win five years in a row you are ineligible for three years, or is that just being petty?

  18. on 09 Jan 2008 at 9:49 amDavid Moles

    I think trying to limit eligibility would be at least as big a can of worms as trying to define “pro”, John, but broadly, I agree with you. On that note, though, I think what would be best for the awards would be for more eligible nominees to get more exposure in front of more voters.

  19. on 09 Jan 2008 at 10:22 amJohn Scalzi

    John Klima:

    “Could you feasibly do some sort of rolling eligibility wherein if you win five years in a row you are ineligible for three years, or is that just being petty?”

    Hello Lifetime Achievement Hugo!

  20. on 09 Jan 2008 at 10:38 amJohn Klima

    @David Moles

    I agree. I don’t need to open more cans of worms if I can help it. I desperately want more nominees to get more exposure, but they only way I see that happening is by having some sort of jury/committee make sure things get onto the ballot, which defeats the whole thing that makes the Hugos cool. Of course, if we can get more voters (like a $15 nominating/voting membership; or a 5% discount in the dealer’s room with voting PIN or something) the point is moot.

    @Scalzi

    So if you win the lifetime, are you ineligible for other awards?

  21. on 09 Jan 2008 at 10:41 amKevin

    John:

    No version of the Lifetime Achievement Award I’ve seen discussed seriously would disqualify the recipient from any other category. It should be obvious why this is so.

  22. on 09 Jan 2008 at 10:43 amJohn Klima

    @Kevin

    Right, because if someone keeps writing/editing/painting/etc. they should be able to earn and win any awards their work merits.

  23. on 09 Jan 2008 at 11:05 amDennis Howard

    My view of authors’ blogs as fan writing is strongly influenced by my reaction to a figure familiar to many of us — the neopro writer who builds a wall of books in front of himself at con panels. With some author blogs, but certainly not all of them, I simply cannot turn off the mental image of a wall of books out in front of the blog.

    I don’t want to see the Fan Writer Hugo awarded to someone who thinks he is writing for his market, rather than for his community.

  24. on 09 Jan 2008 at 12:03 pmJohn Scalzi

    Kevin @ 21:

    It was a joke.

  25. on 09 Jan 2008 at 12:37 pmKevin

    John @24:

    Oh, I figured as much, but as you can see, some people take such things seriously.

  26. on 09 Jan 2008 at 1:51 pmGregg Trend

    Even IF a professional (present mode) writer or artist writes for or does art for amateur fanzines, I don’t think they should be nominated for the Fan Writer or Artist Awards. However, I would make an exception in the cases of Dave Langford or Steve Stiles, because they don’t make a great deal of their income from such professional work. I used to exhibit in convention artshows (worldcons & regionals) starting in 1960. I became a professional graphic designer in the early 1960s, which I did until the mid-1980s. I am now a semi-retired preservation archivist. However, I NEVER did any professional SF/F illustration or design. I worked in automotive and related advertisng. So, when I filled out the artshow entry sheet I always checked off “Amateur.” Decades ago, Jack Gaughan, who was both a fan and professional artist, won both the Fan & Professional Artist Hugos!
    In writing, especially, fannish writing which is not sercon, is the only fanzine based writing which should be considered. Faan fiction (about fans, not established fictional characters, i.e., Star Trek characters, etc.) and essays about fannish activities, and fan history, plus general essays with a fannish attitude should be what’s considered. Unless you’ve been around what we call Core Fandom (mainly fanzine fandom), you may not understand this.

  27. on 09 Jan 2008 at 2:31 pmPeter Sullivan

    I don’t see a problem – I go with the PNH line that fan-writing and pro-writing are things people *do* rather than things people *are*.

    Tom@7′s point about the possibility of a Best Fanwriter ballot consisting of 5 pro author’s blogs is fair enough, but if that ever came close to reality, my preference would be to split the award into Best Fanzine Writer and Best Weblog. Which has the bonus side-effect of finally getting a web Hugo in via the back door…

  28. on 09 Jan 2008 at 3:31 pmCheryl

    Gregg:

    Thanks for the input. For the benefit of those not familiar with Core Fandom and its principles, could you elaborate on what you mean by “sercon”. Would this mean that all book reviews don’t count? All discussion of SF&F literature? Or only things that you guys consider boring?

    Also we are going to need a short phrase that describes your position that we can put in the poll. Would something like “Only Trufen should be eligible” do?

  29. on 09 Jan 2008 at 3:48 pmPetréa Mitchell

    Re #27:

    Nitpicky question on Best Weblog: How would you define eligibility for a particular year’s award? Date stamps on the posts? LiveJournal, at least, appears to support making backdated posts.

    This is not meant to be a hostile question– I haven’t decided whether I like the idea or not, I’m just trying to think it through.

    (And unfortunately, if your answer involves the Internet Archive, it’s just been caught not working the way people think it does.)

  30. on 09 Jan 2008 at 8:01 pmKevin

    Petréa Mitchell @29:

    Nitpicky question on Best Weblog: How would you define eligibility for a particular year’s award?

    Ay, there’s the rub, and that’s why the debate on a potential Best Web Site Hugo Award (introduced at Nippon 2007′s Business Meeting) spent nearly all of it’s time debating the subject of “how to determine publication date” and “how to prevent people from being influenced by content added after the end of the eligibility period.” After spending an inordinate amount of time, the meeting punted the whole issue back to the Taming the Digital Wilderness Committee, which is supposed to report some concrete proposal to next year’s WSFS Business Meeting.

    Personally, I think this stuff is nearly impossible to technically adjudicate. It’s a “toothpaste tube” problem, in that the tighter you try to grip it, the messier it gets. The two Worldcons that ran Best Web Site as a Special Category defined it fairly broadly and left it to the voters to decide what was eligible and what was not.

  31. on 09 Jan 2008 at 9:56 pmMichael Walsh

    re #1.

    Interesting idea, scrapping the pro categories …

  32. on 12 Jan 2008 at 4:52 amPeter Sullivan

    Kevin@30: “how to prevent people from being influenced by content added after the end of the eligibility period.”

    Same as you do for Best Fanzine, or Best Fan Writer, or the Best Artist awards – trust the voters {grin}.

  33. on 12 Jan 2008 at 9:14 amPatrick Nielsen Hayden

    “I hope that we can keep them that way, and not dismiss people as ‘offensive’ when their views of what they want from the awards are different from ours.”

    Cheryl, if you’re going to condescend to me, try to keep your eye on the plot. I very specifically didn’t dismiss any person as offensive; I said that John Klima’s opinion offended me. I also said that John is a pal. In other words, I made a very clear distinction between the opinion and the person. If you want to calm a discussion down, don’t purvey straight-out untruths about what people have said.

  34. on 12 Jan 2008 at 1:53 pmCheryl

    Patrick:

    As usual, my command of English is lamentable. Let’s try this again.

    I hope that we can keep them that way, and not dismiss people’s views of what they want from the awards as ‘offensive’ when those views are different from ours.

  35. on 12 Jan 2008 at 2:04 pmKevin

    Peter @32:

    I agree that, in general, we should trust the voters. Furthermore, I find it troubling that we seem to hold new categories to a higher standard than we do existing ones. I’ve said before that there are existing categories that, if proposed as new today, wouldn’t be able to withstand the massive level of nitpicking and neepery to which they would be subjected.

    Having said that, I suppose there is at least the technical possibility that (say) a web site could get nominated and then completely revamp itself around Easter in order to make itself “more attractive” to people voting on that year’s Hugo Awards. But in what way is that different from paper fanzines making a particular effort to get an issue out just about the same time as the final Hugo Awards ballot is hitting the mail?

  36. on 12 Jan 2008 at 8:39 pmWarren Buff

    Scanning my copy of the latest issue of Challenger (a perennial Hugo contender in the fanzine category), I see fanwriting by the likes of Greg Benford and Mike Resnick. I wouldn’t call either of these two newcomers to fanwriting or to pro status. Nor would I support a change that would prevent such pros from being recognized if their fanwritings were strong enough to merit it. I appreciate that they participate in fandom to such an extent.

    I am, however, a little concerned about how to handle online writing. My initial feeling is that there ought to be some distinction between writing a pro does as a fan, and writing done as a pro. Specifically, I feel that writing on an author’s commercial website (“Here’s my blog, and a link to my books!”) is somewhat different from writing in non-commercial venues. A professional author with a blog outside of his commercial efforts ought to be considered alongside any other fan with such. Perhaps the best solution is to point out the distinction in the wording of the category, and leave the judgment to the voters and nominators.

  37. on 17 Jan 2008 at 6:07 amMike McMillan

    Petréa, Kevin @29, 30 on the Best Web Site Hugo

    The only practical method I’ve come up with for eligibility time frame is from close of Hugo voting for the previous Worldcon. Essentially, if you see it, you can vote for it. Tough to cheat.

    With the growing mass of SF&F material on the web, the likelihood of ‘old’ material getting a nomination is zilch.