Monday, August 24, 2015

Hugo Post-mortem (part 1)

In case you didn't already figure it out, Eric and I watched the Hugo Awards live together Saturday night. We had only one technical glitch during the stream, when they announced the winner of the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form, so I had to find out who won from comments on File 770.

The full results have been announced, including how the voting went. The first pages of the Hugo Final Report list how the actual voting went. The more disturbing information is later in the report, where we learn what the puppy slates pushed off the ballot (and also get an idea of how many puppies there actually were nominating).

The business meeting Sunday morning tackled the problem head-on with the elegant but poorly understood E Pluribus Hugo proposal. It passed the first vote 186-62 after much discussion, and will have to be voted on and pass again next year before taking effect in 2017. This makes me wish I could get to MidAmeriCon II even more, now, so I can vote for it in the business meeting (I'm listed in the Aug. 6 Member List as an Attending Adult, which is not the case. I bought a supporting membership. I'm going to have to contact them to correct it.). Another proposal aimed at reducing the effect of slates, 4/6, also passed. This proposal would ask nominees to list only four choices, then there would be six nominees on the final ballot.

Let's see... Ursula Vernon has been incredibly gracious about losing out a nomination to the slates. The excellent "Jackalope Wives" would have made the ballot if not for the slates. Many people, seeing the works the slates pushed off the ballot, are furious all over again at the slate-movement and the slate leadership's dubious tastes.

Next up, I'm going to do math and speculate and think about things that probably would be better off left alone. I'm putting it all after the cut so you don't have to slog through it.

Ok, I'm going to dive into the full results and see if I can comprehend it. I understand Instant Run-Off Voting well enough (and think it is a great system), but it's taken me awhile to understand how these results are presented by the Hugo administrators, even with the information on the site.

Starting with the first page, we've got the race for the hardware:

Pass 1, the first column, gives the first-place rankings of every ballot. As you can see, 5653 ballots were cast, and he The Three-Body Problem got 1691 first-place votes. It wasn't enough for an outright win, since the winner has to have a majority of the votes. So the nominee with the least number of first-place votes, The Dark Between the Stars, was eliminated from contention and the second-place choice on all those ballots was counted for the second pass.

You can see that 25 people put The Dark Between the Stars and nothing else on their ballots. The other 226 ballots had a second choice. The Three-Body Problem picked up 36 votes, for instance, while Skin Game picked up 130.

On the third pass, No Award was lowest and got its votes redistributed. It eventually took all five possible passes to get a winner, because The Goblin Emperor (my choice) was a very close second the entire time. On the fifth pass, The Three-Body Problem finally got a majority and went to the runoff.

The runoff guarantees that the top vote-getter really is popular enough to deserve the Hugo. All the ballots are checked, and every ballot that has the top vote-getter above No Award is counted. Then all the ballots that have No Award above the top vote-getter are counted. In this case, The Three-Body Problem was above No Awardon 4547 ballots, while 671 ballots had it listed below No Award. Another 435 ballots didn't list one or the other. So The Three-Body Problem wins the Hugo.

So, that was easy enough for me to understand. But I was really confused how they determined the placement of the other folks. So I'll look at the second place winner in the Best Novel category.

My confusion came from the starting numbers of Pass 1. I couldn't figure it out at first... until I realized they simply redistributed all the ballots that had The Three-Body Problem listed first... so the 70 "No Preference" votes are from ballots that only listed The Three-Body Problem. Every other ballot had something else as second choice, and those are what got the votes.

This actually gives a lot of information about what was on people's ballots. For example, we know that The Goblin Emperor got 1515 first-place votes from the first colum of the "Race for Position 1". Now with this we know that 536 people who put The Three-Body Problem first put The Goblin Emperor in second, for a total of 2051. Ancillary Sword got a lot of second-place support as well, getting 561 votes from The Three-Body Problem ballots.

Once I figured out how they worked out the starting numbers, understanding the rest of the notation was easy. It again took the full amount of passes to decide the second place winner, which tells me the top three were all pretty close.

In direct contrast, Ancillary Sword didn't face any trouble earning third place, getting an outright majority of votes on the first pass. Interestingly, when Skin Game was put up against No Award without the top three involved, it lost to No Award, although it was listed ahead of No Award in all the other races. That's one of the fascinating things about IRV, how the votes change when one option is removed.

In the end, the Best Novel nominees had a clear ranking:
1. The Three-Body Problem
2. The Goblin Emperor
3. Ancillary Sword
4. No Award
5. Skin Game
6. The Dark Between the Stars

The two slate nominees got the least support, with The Dark Between the Stars getting dismal support and few votes no matter how you count 'em.

So, moving on to page 2 of the full results, there was a clear winner on the first pass of the first ballot for Novella. Earning 3495 out of 5337 votes was No Award, which was a pretty compelling slam against the slates. The vast majority of people who put No Award on top also left off any other options, as seen in the "Race for Position 2" in which more than 3000 votes were left over with "no preference". Ouch.

The Best Novella rankings were:
1. No Award
2. "Flow"
3. "Big Boys Don't Cry"
4. "One Bright Star to Guide Them"
5. "The Plural of Helen of Troy"
6. "Pale Realms of Shade"

Note that John C. Wright's three nominations apparently did exactly what I said they'd do, splitting the votes for him in such a way that he not only finished behind No Award all three times, he was dead last in the category for all his stories. Any decent or thinking person would have declined two of the nominations just to not finish last.

Time for page 3 of the full results. There were a total of 5104 votes in the category. This one had a tight race between the eventually winner of the Hugo and No Award, requiring all five passes for "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" to earn its rocket.

After that, No Award handily beat all the slate nominees. It wasn't even close. As in the Novella category, the majority of the voters did not put any slate nominees on their ballots.

The Best Novelette rankings were:
1. "The Day the World Turned Upside Down"
2. No Award
3. "The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale"
4. "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Earth to Alluvium"
5. "The Journeyman: In the Stone House"
6. "Championship B'tok"

While it's hard to see how many slate-supporters are voting exactly, it's pretty clear that there are more than 3,000 voters who are against the slates.

Page 4 of the full results covers the Short Stories. There were a total of 5267 votes. This was another category dominated by slate nominees, and another one where the first pass went to No Award by a landslide. Again, more than 3,000 voters preferred there be no Hugo awarded rather than any slate nominee getting it.

Kary English's story "Totaled" got quite a bit of support. It's also interesting to note that the "Race for Position 3" has a switch of leader on the second pass, only resolved by the third pass. Again, more of the fascinating aspects of IRV.

The Best Short Story rankings were:
1. No Award
2. "Totaled"
3. "A Single Samurai"
4. "Turncoat"
5. "On A Spiritual Plain"
6. "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds"

John C. Wright again comes in dead last. That shows how much every voter, not just the non-slate voters, think of his work.

I almost have to laugh at page 5 of the full results. It does, however, give us some numbers on the hard-core slate-mongers, as only the most determined to slate would vote for "Wisdom from My Internet" at all, and it appears to have gotten on at least 491 ballots. The people who listed that "work" on their ballot can be considered people who don't actually understand what SF is, or what the Hugos are. They might be fans, hard to tell, but they clearly haven't got the brains to work out what is deserving of an science fiction or fantasy related award. It is the 138 people who put it first that truly disgust me. Putting it on the ballot at all shows a lack of awareness bordering on stupidity, putting it first shows a disdain for fandom and a hatred of the Hugo awards that makes it utterly incomprehensible why they would bother to vote.

There were 4901 votes in the category. No Award had 3259 first-place votes.

The Best Related Work rankings were:
1. No Award
2. "The Hot Equations"
3. "Why Science is Never Settled"
4. "Transhuman and Subhuman"
5. "Letters from Gardner"
6. "Wisdom from My Internet"

Hey look! John C. Wright finally has an entry not come in dead last!

Ok, on to page 6 - Graphic Story. There were 4412 votes. This appears to be a fairly normal category with fairly normal distribution of votes.

The Best Graphic Story rankings were:
1. Ms. Marvel Volume 1
2. Saga Volume 3
3. Rat Queens Volume 1
4. Sex Criminals Volume 1
5. No Award
6. The Zombie Nation Book 2

The slate nominee came in below No Award, otherwise it seemed pretty much unaffected by the nonsense.

Page 7 brings us to the first of the Dramatic Presentation awards. There were 5240 votes. It looks to me like it was close enough across the board to require the full number of passes to determine the rankings at every level.

The Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form rankings were:
1. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
3. Edge of Tomorrow
4. Interstellar
5. The LEGO Movie
6. No Award

This is the first category in which all the nominees finished above No Award. While Guardians of the Galaxy was on a slate, the next two winners were not.

Page 8 takes us to Short Form. There were 4705 votes. Again, a pretty close set of rankings. The two non-slate nominees were at the top of the rankings.

The Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form rankings were:
1. Orphan Black: "By Means Which Have Never Been Tried"
2. Doctor Who: "Listen"
3. Game of Thrones "The Mountain and the Viper"
4. The Flash: "Pilot"
5. Grimm: "Once We Were Gods"
6. No Award

Again, No Award finishes last. This is nice to see and in a normal year this would be more normal, I think.

Page 9 starts the look into the editor categories with the short form. There were 4850 votes. It's notable that Edmund R. Shubert withdrew from the contest after the ballot was finalized, and thus ended up still getting votes.

The Best Editor, Short Form rankings were:
1. No Award
2. Mike Resnick
3. Jennifer Brozek
4. Bryan Thomas Schmidt
5. Vox Day
6. Edmund R. Schubert

I was sad to see the results of this one because, honestly, Resnick and Brozek both deserve accolades, and I saw no evidence that they were part of the slate effort. But the majority of the voters put No Award first, which is strong evidence that for many the condemnation of the slates was the most important message to send. It makes me wonder what other innocent people are going to get caught up in next year's inevitable slate-mongering?

Long form, on page 10, is no better. There were 4907 votes.

The Best Editor, Long Form rankings were:
1. No Award
2. Toni Weisskopf
3. Sheila Gilbert
4. Anne Sowards
5. Jim Minz
6. Vox Day

Again, No Award won outright. From the lack of materials in the packet, I didn't think Weisskopf deserved an award, but Gilbert and Sowards both had good stuff. So, overall, I'm mostly just depressed that the slates ruined this category for everyone.

Page 11 has the result for Professional Artist, and these actually surprised me a bit. Julie Dillon won outright. Then I remembered that all the other artists were slate nominees. Again, a shame. There were 4354 votes.

The Best Professional Artist rankings were:
1. Julie Dillon
2. No Award
3. Kirk DouPonce
4. Alan Pollack
5. Nick Greenwood
6. Carter Reid

Again, it's the slate nominees that are under No Award. It's poison to be on a slate.

Page 12 takes us to semiprozine, one of the harder ones to define, much less judge! There were 3880 votes. Again, the people nominated by slates suffered for the nominations, both of them ending up under No Award. I don't think they deserved it, but other voters clearly disagreed.

The Best Semiprozine rankings were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine
2. Strange Horizons
3. Beneath Ceaseless Skies
4. No Award
5. Abyss & Apex
6. Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine

And thus we see that the slates damage the very people they claim to be trying to help.

Lucky page 13 is the fanzine listings. There were 3818 votes. This was another category in which a slate nominee withdrew after the ballot was finalized. Amusingly, that nominee took third place, beating out the other three slate entries.

The Best Fanzine rankings were:
1. Journey Planet
2. No Award
3. Black Gate
4. Tangent Online
5. Elitist Book Reviews
6. The Revenge of Hump Day

So, all the slate nominees ended up below No Award, but the slate nominee that withdrew was on top of all the other slate nominees. I think that's a message, too. Some fans are willing to forgive? Hard to say.

Fancast is the category on page 14. There were 3384 votes. Yet another category in which the voters put all slate nominees below No Award.

The Best Fancast rankings were:
1. Galactic Suburbia Podcast
2. Tea and Jeopardy
3. No Award
4. The Sci Phi Show
5. Adventures in SciFi Publishing
6. Dungeon Crawlers Radio

The battle for first was fierce, but there was absolutely no question about places 2 and 3. Again, the slates screwed it up for everyone.

On Page 15 we learn that Mixon almost had a first-round win for Fan Writer, but ended up just a bit under the majority. She got 2057 first-place votes out of a total of 4183 votes. Again, all the slate nominees are below No Award. Clearly the voters are rejecting the slates.

The Best Fan Writer rankings were:
1. Laura J. Mixon
2. No Award
3. Jeffro Johnson
4. Dave Freer
5. Amanda S. Green
6. Cedar Sanderson

Being on a slate makes you a loser, almost by default. The only categories that slate nominees aren't automatically below No Award were the dramatic ones.

Page 16 had the non-tainted Fan Artist category. That's right, none of the nominees in this category were slated. The slate-mongers either forgot the category or just decided to leave it alone. There were 3476 total votes.

The Best Fan Artist rankings were:
1. Elizabeth Legget
2. Spring Schoenhuth
3. Ninna Aalto
4. Steve Stiles
5. Brad W. Foster
6. No Award

This is only the third category this year in which No Award finished last. This is definitely a bad year for the Hugos.

The last category, the not-a-Hugo Campbell award, is on page 17. The award garnered 4388 votes. Again, being on a slate meant losing.

The John W. Campbell Award rankings were:
1. Wesley Chu
2. No Award
3. Kary English
4. Eric S. Raymond
5. Jason Cordova
6. Rolf Nelson

For the record, should anyone nominate me for the Hugos as part of a slate, I will decline. Because a) being on a slate makes you a loser by default and b) I haven't written one thing worthy of the Hugo Awards. Yet. Maybe someday.

To Be Continued...


TotC said...

Ok, perhaps some saw logic in not granting Toni Weiskopf a Hugo as best long form editor, but to cheer for No Award as the first choice is disgusting.

Tegan said...

You think? Really?

I think sticking a bunch of garbage onto the ballot using slates is disgusting. But it was done, and the people who are against slates cheered for the slates being firmly and undeniably rejected by fandom. I think cheering is a reasonable response when people try to force you into choosing between a bunch of crappy choices instead of nominating the best the field has to offer.

The cheers were about the downfall of the slates. If the slate-mongers are offended, so much the better. They now have no excuse - the KNOW fandom utterly rejects slates. If they continue to present slates in the future, they deserve whatever they get.

Tom Galloway said...

Let's just say I overheard something during the con that has me convinced that Ms. Weisskopf had no problems with being on the Puppy slate.

And I think you're incorrect about vote splitting. Take the case of three noms to Wright. The lowest one's eliminated...and if people really like his work, its votes will go to the other two Wright stories. And so on. In a single vote first past the post where you have to choose only one item, yeah, it splits votes. But since eliminated items' votes get redistributed, it's not a disadvantage in the Hugos.