Friday, August 28, 2015

The 2015 Hugos

“The important thing is that we increased participation” said the arsonist as the last volunteer fire company pulled away from the extinguished fire.

Some observations on the vote:

The Hard Rabid Puppy Vote
By this I mean the number of people who will reliably vote as Vox Day wishes. At the nomination stage it ranged from 196-100, but of course VD has boasted that he has recruited more since. During the final vote we can look at categories that VD promoted on his final ballot that were not part of the Sad Puppy slate for a maximum value: this ranged from 585 for Best Editor Short Form to 450 for Best Fan Writer on the first pass. And it only provides a maximum, not a minimum. We know that 525 people put Turncoat as their first choice, but we don’t know how many were minions and how many were Sad Puppies or swing voters that happened to vote for their own reasons. This has important consequences for how badly he can game next year’s nominations.

The Hard Sad Puppy Vote
This is harder to judge, since few of the nominees that were only on the Sad Puppy slate survived to the short list, and some of them picked up a VD endorsement after the nominations closed. At the nomination stage, nominations for the first four categories that were just on one slate were fairly similar: 172 votes average for the Sads and 165 for the Rabids. For those endorsed by both slates, they ranged from 323 votes for the novels to 220 for the short stories, averaging about 281. This is only about 83% of the sum of the two when voting for different nominees, so there is some overlap in the two pools of nominators: you can’t just add them together to get total influence.

The Hard Anti-Slate Vote
How many people voted anything on a slate below No Award regardless of merit? The Dramatic Presentations offer some guidance. The puppy nominated Guardians of the Galaxy only got 1038 No Awards, and some of them were probably a reaction to the movie itself rather than its presence on a slate.  Even a popular, Hugo-winning movie can be judged unworthy by some voters.  The previous year, the winning Gravity got 315 No Award votes: the equivalent of about 700 proportionate to the far larger 2015 total vote. In 2013, the winning avengers got 96 voters placing no award higher, proportionate to 341 in 2015. This implies a net pure and hard anti-slate vote of about 500.

In Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, the top Puppy nominee, a Game of Thrones episode, won third place against 1414 No Award votes. This compares to the second place unslated Doctor Who episode that won second place against 520 No Awards. This suggests that the net No Award penalty purely for being on a slate in that category, regardless of quality, was probably something under 900 votes. So 500-900 is reasonable estimate of the hard anti-slate vote.

The editor categories had a lot of No Awards as first choice, but much of that was probably peculiar to those categories. Judging the editors is really hard, especially long form, unless you’re one of their authors, or someone that knows their authors.

I think that some deliberately put everything on a slate below No Award in the Editor categories, but no more than in the dramatic presentations. What hurt the non-Vox editors was this:

VD made it very feasible for the ordinary fan to judge his own work at Castalia, by forcing so much of his product onto the ballot. And a lot of people voted No Award just so he could be below it. And then they abstained on some or all of the rest of the slate from lack of information, which meant that those editors weren’t above No Award either.  Or people that would have abstained from the entire category in a normal year felt that they had to vote because of VD.

I know that some people No Awarded the entire Editor Long Form category because they thought they couldn’t judge it properly, not because of the slates. 140 voters voted No Award first in the category in 2014 when there was no slate sweep, proportionate to over 440 in 2015’s larger vote.

It didn’t help Weisskopf that she had very diffuse responsibility at Baen, a house with a reputation for light editing. Or that she had called a fair chunk of the genre “fuggheads.” But I think all the editors suffered because of challenges peculiar to the editor categories.

What Scalzi said.

Slate nominations are a poisoned chalice. The only ones strong enough to survive them don’t need them. The sensible Puppy strategy next year is to come back with an actual recommendation list, with  no less than ten suggestions per category, and once again become useful members fandom.


David Lang said...

I may be missing something, but I don't see your estimate of the hard anti-slate vote

you give all sorts of reasons for saying that some of the no award votes for best editor don't count, but I'm not seeing the conclusion.

Will McLean said...

Best dramatic presentation, long and short.

Bill Stewart said...

I didn't vote on either Short or Long Form Dramatic - hadn't seen enough of the works to rank them, so your count of Noah Ward fans is short by at least one.

Toni Weisskopf didn't submit a list of her work, so I ranked her last of the named Long Puppy Editors (vs. Beale, who while he didn't bother submitting an explicit list this year, demonstrated by the Castalia House extruded textual products he chose for his slate that he can't edit his way out of a short, medium, or long form paper bag.)

And I am *totally* not a robot.

Bill Stewart, still not a robot said...

I should have also said that last year, when the Puppies were merely trying to stuff the ballot box to logroll their friends into the nominations, I voted for several of their works above No Award (particularly Correia's, which was lightweight fun, but also the enjoyable Schlock Mercenary; I ranked Correia 4th, behind what I thought were better works, but then finished the 3-volume series after the nominations were over.) On the other hand, I thought Beale, Torgersen and Dan Wells were terrible writers, and ranked them below No Award because they earned it.