At a blog called The Crotchety Old Fan Steve Davidson muses on debates going on behind the scenes on the SMOFs mailing list. In this post he is talking about the proposal to limit the price of Supporting Memberships that we highlighted recently. The following section is interesting:
Then there’s the ‘buy the vote’ issue to consider. As some have pointed out, future sales of a winning property may very well justify the expenditure of the ten to twenty thousand dollars necessary to buy a win. We’re still discussing the formula (the Hugo voting and nominating process is a complicated one and isn’t subject to the simple solution of merely purchasing a majority of votes), but most of us agree that it is possible to do.
There are really only two solutions available to solve that potential problem. First is to restrict voting with a set of complicated qualifying rules designed to prevent such from happening. Possible and draconian – and still subject to manipulation.
The second solution is to make voting accessible to so many additional people that no single special interest group can possibly put together a large enough bloc to insure the success of their nefarious plans. I’m not sure where the cut-off in terms of dollars is, but I’m very sure that if the total number of voters was in the ten to 50 thousand range, no one would bother to try. And even if they did, their voice would only be one small one among many doing the same kind of thing and it could safely be ignored by those interested in maintaining the purity of the awards.
Two things come to mind immediately. Firstly, it is very worrying that there are people on the SMOFs list who are seriously discussing the idea of defining who is allowed to vote in the Hugos and who isn’t. That would be a major change to the nature of the awards. And secondly, Mr. Davidson’s second solution is very sensible.