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Jay Lake
Date: 2007-12-13 21:17
Subject: [awards] A new Hugo category
Security: Public
Location:Nuevo Rancho Lake
Mood:thoughful
Music:me getting ready to zzz
Tags:awards, hugos, publishing
Because I have so little to do with my time, I am taking on a new project. In so many words, I'm planning to propose a new Hugo award category at next year's WSFS business meeting in Denver.

Here's the very preliminary scoop. When kenscholes, lasirenadolce and I were speaking with Tom Doherty this last fall at the palatial Tor world headquarters, Tom asked why there wasn't a Hugo for people like Betty Ballantine. He observed that Judy Lynne Del Rey had won a Hugo posthumously, and wasn't it a shame we didn't have a Hugo to recognize the people who'd spent their lives bettering our field.

He had a point.

Fast forward a couple of months. I've been discussing the process with some folks who understand the ins and outs very well. With their advice, I have an action plan on how to develop the formal proposal and some timing on when and how to roll it out. I'm throwing this flag mostly to see if anyone is interested in helping me pull and prod this along (along with my general rubric of public openness). The basic vision is to propose a Hugo Award for Lifetime Achievement. It could be won once and only once, by a nominee who was still alive, at least at the time of balloting. It would be for whoever the Hugo electorate wants to honor — lifelong fans, conrunners, writers, editors, publishers, critics, etc.

Obviously there's a lot of logical and procedural holes to be filled before this makes any real sense, but I welcome preliminary comments. I'll be working on this proposal for some months to come, and paying much closer attention to WSFS processes than I have in the past. I'll carry the ball during the long, quiet hours which slowly unwind through my empty days.
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David D. Levine
User: davidlevine
Date: 2007-12-14 05:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I advise against this course of action. The Business Meeting can easily eat your entire convention, and you need your Worldcon hours for valuable shmoozing professional activities.

I also believe the proposed award is ill-considered. Can you imagine the arguments over the five nominees each year for Lifetime Achievement? Or are you considering an entirely new process of nomination and voting, which would make the proposed change far more complex and much less likely to pass? Should previous winners be disqualified? How would it feel for someone to be nominated and then condemned by all, much, or even some of fandom as being unqualified for the award? How would it feel for someone to be nominated repeatedly for a Life Achievement Hugo and never win (remember, there are four losers every year but only one winner)? What would people think and say if such a person died before receiving the award?

All in all, I think it's far preferable for lifetime achievement awards to be handled as they have been handled in the past, and as they are handled at the Nebulas and the Oscars, as separate awards that are given out irregularly and at whim by the committee rather than nominated and voted every year by the general membership.
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
As Cheryl mentions below, this has been percolating along since WFC, and partially at Jay's prodding, was one of the things discussed at SMOFCon this year during a Hugo Roundtable discussion.

Things that were clear in that roundtable discussion:

- You could only win it once; past winners would not be eligible.
- You would have to be alive at the close of nominations.
- You would have to have been active in the field for a specified number of years (30 is the first draft).
- The nominating and election system would be the same as for the other Hugo Award categories, other than the eligibility period.
- Obviously, given the above, the "previous calendar year" eligibility (default for the other categories) wouldn't apply, and the category would have to be written to make it clear that this was so. (There's no technical reason you can't write a Hugo Award category to have any eligibility period you want.)
How would it feel for someone to be nominated and then condemned by all, much, or even some of fandom as being unqualified for the award?
Oh, probably just about as bad as the inevitable annual cries of dismay about how awful it is that [insert name here] was/was not nominated, the whole process is rigged, the voters are stupid, the process is corrupt, etc., etc. Given how many years I've been following this, I rarely find too much new about the annual whinging, much of which boils down to, "You should always pick what I personally want, and failing to do so means the process is flawed." Cynical? Moi?
All in all, I think it's far preferable for lifetime achievement awards to be handled as they have been handled in the past,... as separate awards that are given out irregularly and at whim by the committee rather than nominated and voted every year by the general membership.
I do think that the key thing here is that such Special Committee Awards are not Hugo Awards. Committees are prohibited from presenting Hugo Awards by fiat. You can't use the Hugo Rocket design for anything except Hugo Awards.

Now, if what the people talking at WFC really want is a Hugo Award presented by a small select group, a la the "Honorary Oscars" the Academy sometimes presents, then I think they'll have an even more difficult time getting WSFS to pass the necessary enabling legislation.
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dinogrl
User: dinogrl
Date: 2007-12-14 05:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm for it, how about calling it The Gernsback Award?

They do have the "big heart award" just for fans who have contributed greatly.

On a side note, have you been thinking about my "task" you assigned? I may be able to get mock ups over the holidays...uh huh.

Edited at 2007-12-14 05:47 am (UTC)
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dsmoen
User: dsmoen
Date: 2007-12-14 10:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
For reasons mentioned here, I think it should be the Judy-Lynn del Rey Award, precisely because it does help cover overlooked pros.
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Dave Gallaher
User: dave_gallaher
Date: 2007-12-14 05:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Talk with Kevin Standlee about the procedurals and such; I can forward this message to him if you'd like. He will be happy to help you draft the proposal. You might also want to run this and the proposal on the SMOFS list; you will get a lot of feedback from the folks who actually show up to the Business Meeting and can address concerns that they have.

Dave
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Kevin Standlee: SMOF Zone
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:SMOF Zone
He's already on it. The subject was discussed at SMOFCon, in part due to Jay's writing to me.
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Cheryl Myfanwy Morgan
User: cherylmmorgan
Date: 2007-12-14 06:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This idea was suggested to me at WFC by other people, and L.E. Modesitt has made some posts on his blog about it. Jay has the right idea. It does require work at the Business Meeting. And it is by no means impossible.

Kevin and I actually raised the idea during a panel item on the Hugos at the recent SMOFcon. The results of that discussion, and some follow-on commentary, are reported here. As you will see, the assembled SMOFs were not enthusiastic, but neither could any of them come up with a good reason why the new category might not work.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 06:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you need it, I'll happily play in the devil's advocate/rip it apart pool once you have some wordage. I'm good at playing there.

I dunno how much or what I could help with otherwise. But I am for the basic idea.

And I rarely ask questions that are answered in the posts I'm responding to (grin). And I intend to be at the business meetings in Denver.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-12-14 14:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Excy!
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 06:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And you might inquire/lobby to Anticipation if they'd be willing to run it as their optional category?
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Kevin Standlee: Montreal
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 06:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Montreal
Nope, that can't be done. The Special Category that each Worldcon is allowed to add has to be for works in the previous calendar year.

Yes, I know there have been categories like "Best All-Time Series;" the rules were far less rigid back then.
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User: tomgalloway
Date: 2007-12-14 06:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
As also posted over on the Awards site, some problems I see with this;

Have to agree with Mike Glyer with respect to being named a Worldcon GOH already mostly accomplishing what this would seem to do.

The other problem, based on the above, is that the original intent was to honor folk like Betty Ballantine who have massively contributed to the field but have not been honored with a Hugo, along with the case of Judy-Lynn del Rey only getting a posthumous Hugo (and I suspect if Jay'd thought of it, he might have included Jim Baen only getting close to getting a Hugo after he died).

But why should we assume that would happen? Wouldn't the majority of winners of this be people who have won a Hugo or five? For example, why wouldn't almost any of the still living SFWA Grandmasters instantly go to the top of favorites for a lifetime achievement award? Or for art, folk like Michael Whelan who've won multiple Hugos and been a Worldcon GoH?

The only way I see this really working as seemingly intended is to effectively make this an "Other Forms For People" category, where you're not eligible if you have won a Hugo, even if that seemingly lessens the cachet of the category to "Lifetime Achievement Not Otherwise Recognized by Hugo Categories".
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Worldcon GOH is a juried prize not a voted prize like the Hugo.

It would help avoid people receiving a Hugo for a work because they have produced a body of work that is highly respected but never fortunate enough to be in a position to win a Hugo before.

An example would a great work beaten out by a work with more popular appeal to that year's Hugo voters.
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fjm
User: fjm
Date: 2007-12-14 07:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Not keen. And particularly not keen on it at a time when the male half of fandom seems to have mostly forgotten that women exist.

[Note: I used not to think the above, but the results of the kid lit survey were astonishing. Men hardly ever cited female writers.]
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The Magician
User: the_magician
Date: 2007-12-14 14:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm uncomfortable with that conclusion. I'm a male fan and I certainly know women exist, and some of my favourite writers are women. Certainly there's a disproportionate number of male hard sf writers, but then I'm not sure that that doesn't reflect the reading demographic. There are still more men in engineering, hard sciences and technology, and the people with training and experience in those areas (or at least a tropism to those areas) are the natural pool for authors. I don't know what the kid lit survey was, but since the children's authors I most remember are J K Rowling, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter and Edith Nesbit (not a man among them!) I'm obviously biased (I was never a C.S.Lewis reader, a.a . milne I was aware of but don't remember reading, Tolkein came late and was only ok ... then I got into James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and Ellery Queen, and even then I was reading Dorothy L.Sayers and Agatha Christie as much as Ian Fleming and Arthur Conan Doyle)

And since most of the names suggested for this lifetime achievement award appear to be female, this could be seen as an opportunity to rectify the omissions of less enlightened times.

My objection I guess is more along the lines of making this something other than a popularity contest or contest of competing marketing (whether professional or from a small but vocal trufen network).

The only way I think we could make this simple and perhaps fairer, is to handle it more like site selection ... that people would be put forward to a sub-committee (membership of which is too complex for me to think about!) and a short list published of "deserving" people, and then voting held on that short list (and an appropriate short bio for each nominee to be published on the worldcon website and also in with the Hugo voting forms)

I think I'd prefer there to be a special lifetime award and that the Hugos be expanded to allow the committee to designate and present that as a Hugo award without requiring membership voting on who gets it.
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Rich McAllister
User: k6rfm
Date: 2007-12-14 08:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the Worldcon already has a lifetime achievment award: Guest of Honor. Let's just pass a business meeting resolution that says Worldcon GoHs get a rocket.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
GOH's are juried not voted and not a Hugo.
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Jess Nevins
User: ratmmjess
Date: 2007-12-14 13:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
More power to your elbow, Jay.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 14:04 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aside from my feeling that Worldcon GoH-ship is essentially a lifetime Achievement award, another issue is that if this is voted on as a normal Hugo, what you'll see is:

year one ballot (*=winner):

Writer 1*
Writer 2
Writer 3
Artist 1
Editor 1

year 2 ballot
Writer 2*
Writer 3
Writer 4
Artist 1
Editor 1

year 3 ballot
Writer 3
Writer 4
Writer 5
Artist 1*
Editor 1

Or something similar, with a largely similar ballot each year. In this particular category, which is based on lifetime achievement instead of (theoretically) year-to-year achievement, I think this would be even worse that when it happens in current categories.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 15:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
GOH is juried not voted and not a Hugo.
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Twilight: Daria
User: twilight2000
Date: 2007-12-14 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Daria
Interesting discussion -- I'm not sure why this should be any different from the Lifetime Achievement Oscar -- which seems, more often than not, to go to Actors that Never Quite Got the Oscar But Should Have (folks like Jim Baen come to mind).

If I can help, tag me -- I think it makes a lot of sense to honor our field in this particular way.
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Ken Scholes
User: kenscholes
Date: 2007-12-14 15:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think this is a really good idea. Let me know if I can help.
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dd-b
User: dd_b
Date: 2007-12-14 15:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Seems like there's some confusion over just who is eligible. Is it for *writers*, or not? Yeah, it could be open to both, but that's a formula for dissatisfaction all around, as the hot writers steal all the awards. The poster person seems to be an editor (Betty Ballantine). I think it needs to be specifically for non-writing activity to be viable.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And of course Betty not only was a Worldcon guest of honor, but also received a Hugo Committee Award at LACon, which was something I did support.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 16:29 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Another question...if a person were to win a Lifetime Achievement Hugo, would they still be eligible for Hugos in the future? For individual works (the fiction and dp categories) in non-individual works (editing, artist, fan categories)?
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 17:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
I don't see why someone would not be eligible for a Hugo Award in any other category after having received a Lifetime Achievement Award. I certainly wouldn't word the category in a way as to disqualify a winner from any other category except Lifetime Achievement. Indeed, I'd actively oppose a provision that DQ'd winners from other categories, because you could see people trying to vote X a Hugo Award so as to get them out of categories they've been historically dominating. And you'd get people arguing in such a case that an LAA to Charles Brown disqualified Locus and other messy side issues.

Speculating here: I think there may have been times that we've given someone a Hugo Award not based on the strength of the nominated work, but because, "S/he really should have won an Award in the past but we didn't give him/her one, so we'll make up for it now." We've seen that with the Oscars, too. So an LAA might well strengthen the other categories and remove the "guilty conscience" factor in voting for the specific work categories.
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David D. Levine
User: davidlevine
Date: 2007-12-14 17:23 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Can you name any other major award, in or out of the genre, in which a Lifetime Achievement award is nominated and voted by the fans?
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 18:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
FWiW, this is an argument for the award, if there isn't one, there should be.

And define fan as you would accept it, please. The Academy of Arts and Sciences members are generally fans of movies. They may work in the field, but so do a lot of Hugo voters.
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Bob
User: yourbob
Date: 2007-12-14 17:55 (UTC)
Subject: response: GOH , popularity; new thought:: Eligibility
Morning after thoughts.
____________
It seems that "GOH" is thought of as a Lifetime Achievement Award by a lot of people. Fine, but as pointed out, it's not a Hugo and it can't be a Hugo without a lot more work than making a new Hugo category. As I pointed out in the Awardswatch thread, to be a GOH you also have to be able to attend the convention. That makes some possible Lifetime nominees unfairly (IMO) automatically ineligible. There are deserving people who just can't/don't go to conventions, or couldn't be available for full GOH duties.

And GOHs are not necessarily picked on merit, and most of us should know that. Availability, popularity (as a "draw"), "theme fit" and other non-merit factors intrude. Not all in equal measure, but they contribute.
_____________
Will it be a popularity contest? Yup. Just like all the other Hugos have always been. Just like the Oscars. Just like the Emmys. You think those awards are voted by merit? Then campaigning wouldn't work, or wouldn't be allowed. And the critics favored performances and films would actually win every year, because they're the supposed academics of these entertainment industries. These are necessarily SUBJECTIVE and therefore POPULARITY votes.

And what is "best" anyway? Academics may be able to determine "technical best" but not most of us - we vote on what we like, our favorite, the one we like, not generally the technically most proficient, but what is Popular with us.

I find the idea that it shouldn't be done because it would just be a popularity contest an argument for getting rid of all awards that are voted on by anyone. If you feel that way, just don't vote, or acknowledge it, get over it, move on.
______________
Some thoughts about eligibility.

Taking 30 years as the "Lifetime", there should be some definition of "active in the genre". I attended my first Convention in 1976, attended two or three, then didn't until 2001. But does that date make me eligible as a fan? [eligible, NOT worthy]

J.K. Rowling isn't eligible because she's only been publishing for about ten years, but what if she never writes another thing? Is she eligible in 20 years, after 20 years of non-contribution?

Would an editor be eligible after ten years as an editor, if they were a copy-kid for the previous twenty?

The upshot is, how will the Administrators determine who can be on the ballot? And how can this be easily conveyed to the nominators?

:) I told you I was good at devil's advocacy.
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Kevin Standlee: WSFS Logo
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 18:13 (UTC)
Subject: Re: response: GOH , popularity; new thought:: Eligibility
Keyword:WSFS Logo
J.K. Rowling isn't eligible because she's only been publishing for about ten years, but what if she never writes another thing? Is she eligible in 20 years, after 20 years of non-contribution?
Yes, I think so, although I suggest that politically, twenty years of invisibility might make her nomination and election more challenging. We don't have sufficient perspective yet to know whether her affect on the field is that lasting.
Would an editor be eligible after ten years as an editor, if they were a copy-kid for the previous twenty?
Tricky, and I have no good answer. Probably yes.
The upshot is, how will the Administrators determine who can be on the ballot? And how can this be easily conveyed to the nominators?
I already know it's not possible to write totally air-tight definitions. You write them as clearly as you can and trust the voters to do the right thing, and for administrators to not find convoluted interpretations that defeat legislative intent.
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Jeff
User: jeffreyab
Date: 2007-12-14 17:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Steve Silver says: I have a feeling that the same names will keep showing up on the ballot time and again, slowly inching off as nominees either die or finally win the award

I disagree, I think you would see regional variations from worldcon to worldcon.

I think the key thing is to have a VOTED lifetime achievement award, maybe you could give it to the person with the most nominations and announce the winner beforehand.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-12-14 18:33 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, Steven Silver wrote that.

And as I mentioned over on my blog, the manner in which you describe could work, but I'd suggest that if done this way, the other nominees not be published, including in the nominations listing after the Hugo ceremony.
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El Coyote Gordo: Blackadder
User: supergee
Date: 2007-12-14 18:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Blackadder
My bet? J.K. Rowling, followed by a series of Cute Guys from Movies.
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Kevin Standlee: Hugo Trophy
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 18:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Hugo Trophy
Rowling wouldn't be eligible yet -- she's not been in the field long enough. The initial discussions on this subject have concluded that one needs to have been active in the field for at least thirty years to be considered eligible for such an award, specifically to prevent "flash-in-the-pan" honorees. (I'm not saying Rowling is such; I'm saying we don't know and can't know until we get enough historical perspective.)

And the suggestion that the membership of WSFS would nominate a bunch of pretty-boy actors is almost laughable. (Besides, after thirty years in the field, they're not likely to be pretty boys any more.) Who do you think the membership of WSFS is, anyway?
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Sean P. Fodera
User: delkytlar
Date: 2007-12-14 18:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've said elsewhere (but will post here as well):

It seems to me that, if a Lifetime Achievement Hugo were created and run under the standard nominating rules, potential non-author nominees like Betty, Judy-Lynn or Jim will wind up overshadowed by author nominees. As knowledgeable as fandom is about the players in the industry, I find it difficult to imagine a situation where an editor, no matter their stature, would out-draw some of the bigger-name authors in the field. Didn't we recently separate the book editors into their own Hugo category because they kept getting shut out by the magazine and anthology editors? Or do we wind up with a number of Lifetime Achievement Hugos (as the Oscars have) for "on-screen talent" (ie: authors) and for "off-screen talent" (ie: editors, publishers)?
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Warren Buff
User: laminahospes
Date: 2007-12-14 20:05 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Out of curiosity, what's to define someone as being in the field? Would comics creators be eligible? Film makers? Game designers? How would folks react if this went to Stan Lee, George Lucas, or Gary Gygax? Would folks decry such an award if it went to someone who wasn't part of "real" SF?

I like the idea, and I hope that it remains open enough to include the types of folks I've listed. Because of the subjective nature of what the "best" works have been, I'm glad the Hugos are based on fan votes. If I agreed every year with every Hugo pick, I'd be more inclined to think the system flawed than if I only agreed with 40%.

I'm all for this.
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User: danfor
Date: 2007-12-14 20:39 (UTC)
Subject: New Hugo Category
Being as this is somewhat outside the scope of most Hugos, I would suggest that once you have the language to propose, you need to get a sitting Worldcon to try it as their special category. I don't see the BM agreeing to it without at least some indication of how it would work.

Secondly you really should join "SMOFS" to discuss your proposition. Many BM junkies are on "SMOFS" and the best way to lose a vote is to make a radically new proposal it without lots of advance notice.

Talk to Patrick Nielsen Hayden who started the movement to have the editor category split. He should be able to explain some of the institutional problems that you will encounter in this quest.

And finally, have a large reservoir of patience. You are going to need it.
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Kevin Standlee: WSFS Logo
User: kevin_standlee
Date: 2007-12-14 21:55 (UTC)
Subject: Re: New Hugo Category
Keyword:WSFS Logo
I would suggest that once you have the language to propose, you need to get a sitting Worldcon to try it as their special category.
Not allowed. Worldcon committees are allowed to add a Special Category (WSFS Constitution section 3.3.15), but the rule says "with nomination and voting to be the same as for the permanent categories," and that means that the default eligibility period of "previous calendar year" applies. A given Worldcon committee would not be allowed to create a one-shot category that had a scope outside of the previous year.

Yes, I know that there was once a "Best All-Time Series." At the time, the rules were far less strict. Since then, WSFS rules have solidified and restricted individual Worldcons' flexibility in this area.

To create a Hugo Award category with an eligibility scope beyond previous-calendar-year, WSFS would have to amend its constitution.
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rockycoloradan
User: rockycoloradan
Date: 2007-12-15 06:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I posted this in another forum where the Life Achievement Hugo is being discussed.

Actually, why not do it like the Baseball Hall of Fame? (Baseball writers please clarify)

All WSFS members can nominate up to 10-20 people each year and whoever gets on 75% of the ballots gets into the Hall of Fame?

Jack
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desperance
User: desperance
Date: 2007-12-15 18:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Just to point out, the Crime Writers' Association gives its Lifetime Achievement award (the Cartier Diamond Dagger) on the basis of a jury discussion after taking nominations from the membership, and without disclosing who else was in the running. This avoids that element of public competition which is perhaps appropriate for books but not really for lives, and also that repetitive list of the same names, only changing as the great-and-good died or were ticked off...
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rwl
User: rwl
Date: 2007-12-16 02:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This would appear to be the ultimate popularity contest. Bad idea. Not only that, there is a different award, the Forrest J. Ackerman Big Heart Award, that's presented at the Hugo Ceremony that already does mostly the same thing.
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