A Couple of Bits on Hugo Award Proposals and Attempted Wikipedia Deletions
Posted on July 24, 2019 Posted by John Scalzi 57 Comments
Because I’m thinking about them and might as well get them out now before I focus on nothing else besides novel writing:
* Over at File 770, and on the subject of the Hugo Awards, they’re talking about a proposal that will come up at the WSFS Business Meeting at the Dublin Worldcon, to roll back one of the two measures implemented to blunt slating actions in the wake of the Sad/Rabid Puppies nonsense; namely, to drop the “5/6” change, which allows people to nominate five people/works in any Hugo category, and to have six slots on the final ballot. If passed, the change would have the Hugos go back to a “5/5” setting, i.e., you can nominate five people/things, and there would be five finalists. Note the “5/6” change is scheduled to sunset in 2022 in any event; that was part of the deal when it was passed.
My thought on this matter is that inasmuch as it’s going to sunset in a couple of years anyway, there’s not exactly a pressing need to get rid of it early. The proposal notes that having fewer finalists makes administration of the awards easier, and while I would certainly agree, for example, that having up to 25 (or so) fewer finalists show up at the the pre-awards ceremony would save costs on nibbles, I’m not sure that’s a great argument. Likewise the argument that having six things to read/experience in each category is harder on the voters; I mean, come on, these are Hugo voters we’re talking about here. You don’t really have to force them to read much of anything, especially these days when the Hugo Voters Packet is a thing.
Finally there’s an argument that having six finalists diminishes the cachet of being a Hugo finalist. Well, I’ve been a Hugo finalist under 5/5 and also under 5/6, and I gotta tell you I didn’t really notice a diminishment of cachet. I think I would have noticed. Certainly there’s not been a diminishment in overall quality of the finalist work, as the last couple of years in particular have yielded very strong work across the board.
Looking at who is backing the change, it’s mostly Worldcon/Hugo administrators and other SMOFs saying “we think 5/6 is more work, and we don’t wanna.” Which I entirely sympathize with — I hate extra work myself! — but that extra work was put in to mitigate damage done by slating. I think after the multi-year adventure we had with that silly bullshit, it’s precipitate to roll back changes implemented to stabilize and to restore confidence in the Hugo Awards. Again, 5/6 is going to sunset in 2022 anyway, so the folks proposing this change are going to get their way in a couple of years regardless. In the meantime, it’s fine to let 5/6 continue to do the job it was designed to do, and, as far as I can see, is doing pretty well.
* Speaking of Sad Puppy bullshit, over at Wikipedia, there’s been a push to delete the articles devoted authors Michael Z. Williamson and Sarah Hoyt, on the grounds that neither of them is notable enough to warrant a Wikipedia article. The Puppy Rump (i.e., what’s left of that particular movement, dissolute as it is at the moment) is spinning around in tight, angry circles about this, and Williamson in particular seems to have completely lost his shit about it over on this blog (which I won’t link to because some time ago Mr. Williamson told me he never wanted to have any interaction with me ever again, for reasons, which, you know, fine, I can respect the boundaries he wishes to set, which I take to mean he wouldn’t appreciate a link over to his site from here).
You might think that I, who was the target of much Sad Puppy whining and mewling, would be sitting here happily munching on popcorn while this bit of Wikidrama unfolds. But in fact I think the deletion attempt is a problem. Neither Williamson nor Hoyt are exactly on my Christmas card list at the moment, but you know what? Both of them are solid genre writers who for years have been putting out work through a major genre publisher, and who are both actively publishing today. They are genuinely of note in the field of science fiction and fantasy. One may think their politics, in and out of the genre, are revanchist as all fuck, or that their tenure and association with the Puppy bullshit didn’t do them any favors, or that one just doesn’t care for them on a day-to-day basis for whatever reason. But none of that is here or there regarding whether, on the basis of their genre output, they are notable enough to be the subject of a damn Wikipedia article. They are! Wikipedia notability is kind of a middlin’-height bar, and they get themselves over it pretty well.
Or to flip it around, if neither Williamson nor Hoyt is notable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia, there’s gonna be some bloodletting in the site’s category of science fiction and fantasy writers, because there are a fair number of Wikipedia-article-bearing genre authors who are no more notable than Hoyt or Williamson. If they go, there are legitimately many others on the chopping block as well.
Looking at the disposition of this particular set of nonsense, it does seem like Williamson and Hoyt were targeted for deletion on the basis of their politics and/or association with the Puppy bullshit, and this is, well, silly. Wikipedia isn’t the place to settle this particular set of scores, and honestly, at this point there shouldn’t be any further scores to settle on that incident. The Puppy movement failed badly, exposed most of the people participating in it to shame and ridicule, and it appears to have damaged the careers of several of the participants (note: they will disagree on all these points, but then they would, wouldn’t they). The Puppies have already punched themselves in the face quite enough. Going after them via Wikipedia after all this time, aside from the site being the wrong place for it, just seems like poor form.
So, yeah: Keep Williamson and Hoyt on Wikipedia. They did the work to be there.
1. As I raise the specter of the Puppies here, I’m sure there’s going to be some spirited discussion on that score, so please note the Mallet is in the warming chamber and that I will swing it liberally. So play nice, and be nice to each other.
That said, inasmuch as you can, confine discussion of the Puppies to what’s here in the piece, i.e., that it’s likely (in my opinion) that Williamson/Hoyt had their Wikipedia articles targeted because of that association, and the state/actions of the Puppy Rump today. Let’s not rehash old Puppy drama and nonsense, please. If I think you’re straying too far I may Mallet some or all of your comment to get it back into line.
2. If you visit the Williamson deletion discussion page, you may notice I posted a “strong keep” recommendation there, which covers more briefly some of the things I said here.
3. On the subject of both Williamson and Hoyt, I would prefer for this discussion that calumnies on their person be avoided, and that in Williamson’s case and respecting his wishes as expressed to (and interpreted by) me, there are no links to his site. Basically, don’t turn the comment section here into a detailed complaint session about how mean/awful they are. Thanks in advance.
Off topic [and deleted because of it. Email exists for a reason, sir — JS]
I agree on both subjects. Regarding the 5/6 rule, as long as it has some effect on slates we should keep it going. It should continue to add more variety to the nominees.
Re the slating issue, why not have 5 finalists, but allow each nominator to nominate only 3? That would seem to accomplish the goal of minimizing the impact of slating, while avoiding increased admin costs. Each nominator ought to be able to select their top 3 in a given year, and will presumably vote their top 1 on the final ballot anyway.
Meh. Tempest in a teapot.
(I know, I know, famous last words… )
Because they decided not to do that (or 4/6, which is close enough), and implementing a change to most Hugo rules takes two years and they’re not going to bother (the 5/6 rule is recindible with a single vote for arcane parliamentarian reasons, as I understand it).
To cut off any other “why don’t they just” suggestions: Because it would take two years and because whatever you’re about to suggest, they almost certainly thought of it before implementing 5/6 and EPH to deal with slating. Let’s not complicate matters at this point, please.
Well, and also, Wikipedia entries aren’t rewards for good personal behavior. Charles Manson has a Wikipedia page. Nematodes have a Wikipedia page. Crystal fucking Pepsi has a Wikipedia page, for the love of Jesus.
I’d be all for adding their actions during the Puppy thing to said pages, but deletion just seems weird.
Yeah, any move to delete seems weird to me. They’re prominent enough to deserve pages far as I’m concerned.
One of the joys of being a Hugo voter is getting to read all the nominated work, so I don’t really see that as a valid problem. As you point out, the Hugo packet makes it downright easy compared to haring all over the internet trying to find every short work and related work.
There seems to be a lot more puppy-related visitors for wikipedia articles for this year’s Hugo awards than for last year’s, for some reason- the Hugo Award and Sad Puppies articles are usually pretty dead, as there’s not much to be said on any given day, but suddenly there’s been a small flurry of people complaining about the description of the puppy campaigns or trying to add minor details to the Hugo Award article about what happened 3-4 years ago. I guess it’s spillover from all of this.
I have no doubt there is some attempt to re-write history there.
As a four-time Hugo administrator (1998, 2002, 2006 and 2015), I had no problem with the 5/6 (or the proposed 4/6) changes, and I voted in favor of the change. There’s basically no difference in the administration effort (other than finding the contact info for one more person per category to let them know they’ve been nominated).
EPH, on the other hand, basically moves the process to a black box with no transparency, because it’s not possible/practical to verify the results manually. So I’ll probably not volunteer to administer the Hugos again.
Re: Wikipedia deletions: Generally speaking — not specifically thinking of the two authors mentioned here — one thing I enjoy about Wikipedia is the ability to learn about people, events, etc. with which I’m *not* familiar, regardless of whether others consider these pages worthwhile. Though a line obviously has to be drawn somewhere, if someone has made a mark, albeit a mild one, on the world, then Wikipedia is a great place to (1) record that mark, and (2) have it available for others (me) to learn about.
Andy said at July 24, 2019 at 10:20 am:
That particular variant (3/5) was one of a large number of proposals floated before the 2015 WSFS Business Meeting. See the 2015 WSFS BM minutes starting at page 78. It failed. As it happens, 4/6 is what originally passed, but the following year’s meeting only partially ratified it, so it came out as 5/6. You can also go and watch the recordings of the 2015 meeting to find out the specific votes and debates, but I don’t know exactly which one of the recording it is on.
The “arcane parliamentary reasons” are that when the change to what is now 5/6 passed, it was on a trial basis and unless it is re-ratified in 2022, it reverts back to the pre-2017 5/5 system. Several experiments in Hugo Award rules have been similarly ratified on a trial basis with “sunset” clauses that will cause them to revert back to the older versions unless re-ratified.
The delete list also includes Thomas Kratman, who has written a fair number of books. In the discussion of deletion of Kratman, the notion is suggested that ‘professionally published’ includes ‘you were paid an advance’, which leads to the interesting question of how it can be determined that author X was actually paid an advance for book Y, except for advances announced in press releases because of their humongous nature.
Well heck, as the old saying goes, I can die now, I’ve seen everything. I completely agree with this article
Standing up for the rights of people you disagree with may not be THE definition of integrity, but it is certainly one of its definitions. Well done, Mr Scalzi.
John, I suspect any attempt by you to protest this ridiculous Wikipedia rules-lawyering will be used by the usual suspects as “Scalzi set this whole thing up so that we would have to publicly be grateful to him.”
You’re not their monkey. Don’t be their monkey.
I neither expect any of them to be grateful, nor care how they respond one way or another. I’m not doing it for those reasons.
Wikipedia’s rabidity about wanting to delete stuff struck me as dumb a decade ago and even less so now as storage costs drop. If they wanted to set some threshold for actual media storage because pictures and audio are an order of magnitude more expensive to store, okay, I could see that. But these deletion fights often consume far more discussion text than the articles themselves. The most extensive “below merit” article might use up 15k of storage when compressed. Just leave it.
I was one of the two people who made the motion to create what became 5 and 6*. (And yes, we had quite a bit of “fun” for some values of fun going through the numbers at both business meetings.)
I would like to note that one of the reasons for expanding the number of finalists was to specifically include some of the Sad Puppies. I had observed that several of the Sads had just missed the final round on previous years. (IIRC, Corriea and Hoyt. There may have been others.)
I felt that potentially allowing people a legitimate slot on the final ballot would remove any argument that people were being excluded. In short, going to six was a feature, not a bug.
* the proposal was originally 4 and 6.
John, you’re doing the internet all wrong ;)
But seriously, thanks for the above re Wikipedia – it does appear to be ridiculous and your comments are sane and sensible.
The arcana of Hugo is a bit over my head, but saying the voters will have more to read is more likely to be met with “hell yeah” rather than “oh noes” from the voter group.
John, you continue to impress me. I don’t have to pull out the dictionary very often, but you make me look up definitions on a fairly regular basis. “Revanchist”
I actually do think that Wikipedia as a community tends to grant “notability” to traditionally-published authors much more easily than writers who operate primarily in more unconventional mediums (ie, self-publishing, blogging, Twitter, and so on). This is in my view part and parcel of Wikipedia’s tendency to place a premium on “institutional” figures who may be of only marginal real influence. (Twitter operates under a similar logic in its rush to give blue checkmarks to low-activity/low-follower accounts associated with, say, reality TV contestants.) Whether this is a good tendency or not is debatable.
But of course – as you say – if the Williamson/Hoyt drama actually represented an attempt to challenge this tendency, a huge number of other relatively low-notability contemporary genre authors would also be facing Wiki-oblivion. And the demographics of the field being what they are, most of these figures would be liberal and/or opposed to the Puppies.
But that’s not happening. So yes – it’s self-evident that Williamson and Hoyt were targeted for their association with the Puppies and (to a lesser extent) their politics. That’s obviously inappropriate. I also voted strong keep.
Sensible, rational, non-emotional argument. What on Earth is this world coming to?
I usually consider Wikipedia’s notions of “notability” to be too strict, as they exclude a lot of media and writers who do things non-traditionally. This push seems ridiculous by their own usual standards and is not a good look, politics of the subjects involved notwithstanding.
Revanchist. I learned a new word; a good one. Thanks.
1) I have a Wikipedia article about me and I am far less notable than Mr. Williamson albeit in a different field. I see no reason why an accurate article about him should go away. He would be exactly the sort of person I would hope to find a Wikipedia article about if I wanted to look him up on the Internet.
2) You did me no favors by posting a link to his Wikipedia article. I spent nearly a half hour reading the arguments before I remembered that I wasn’t very interested in and didn’t have the time.
I don’t know about Williamson, but I trust Scalzi’s judgment. Hoyt definitely deserves a page. I hope deletionists drop this.
Agree on the Hugo rule proposal – why not just let it sunset as scheduled?
As to the Wikipedia thing, Camestros Felapton had a good post on this (https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/todays-right-wing-author-meltdown – I hope this link is acceptable), and while pups claim it’s political, Wikipedia people say it’s not, although they don’t appreciate the personal abuse ladled out to them. I prefer the pup pages stay up, personally; God knows there are far more obscure people covered.
I appreciate the continuing interest and sharing by Scalzi on these matters, Hugo and Wikipedia. Just yesterday, my daughter, following her avid binging of the TV adaptation of “Good Omens”, asked me what would be a good primer on science fiction literature and I spoke of my own experience, many years ago ad how useful and gratifying the Hugo awards were as a frame of reference/point of departure. I mentioned the mess-leavings in the wake of the puppies’ incontinence and surprised myself by the depth of feeling I had about it, still. The Hugos were worthwhile then and worth stabilizing and sustaining now and I would vote for maintaining curative measures awhile longer, even if they are thankfully now beyond medically necessary.
On the question of the White-Wiki-Washing of the Hoyt/Williamson pages, if they deserve obscurity, they can have it through entropy while leaving Wikipedia intact, imperfect as Wikipedia always is. There’s a bike race in France these days, running as of this writing, which has a recent history of problematic riders and results, including one Lance Armstrong, who dominated the sport for almost a decade and who won this most famous race 7 consecutive times (’99-’05). He was later stripped of those wins because of findings that he used banned performance-enhancing substances and methods. Armstrong did what he did, the race organizers reacted as they did and Wikipedia and others were left with the problem of documenting what happened. Armstrong is present in Wikipedia, largely in strikethrough form, to reflect that although he won all those races and stages as they were run, those results were later reversed (with no winner officially declared in his vacated place). To remove him entirely would leave a void in the record, so Wikipedia struggles yet to document what actually happened and to provide context. Strikethrough memorialization is hardly a satisfactory solution but it at least is a record of what happened and not some sanitized “correction” through virtual air-brushing of history.
If internet famous felines can have a wikipedia page, so can these writers. It is time for the pettiness to stop. Everywhere. I saw a meme the just day that said remember to drink half your weight in water each day. Not only will it keep you hydrated, you’ll be so busy peeing you won’t have time for internet drama.
This two party system in the US sucks. People are reds or blues and they’re not talking to each other anymore. The country is completely polarized and right now even writers and their critics fall victim to this. When who has written something becomes more important then what has been written, we better stop all this award winning stuff.
When I read about it, my question was also if the 5/6 is going away anyway, why go through all the nonsense?
Wiki? Surely whoever’s involved over there saw that attack deletions would happen, why isn’t there some kind of system set up to deal with this? Requiring people to put their names out there to delete would be a start.
If being a right-wing author is the criteria, why aren’t more of them being targeted?
John, I agree with your assessment about MZW. He’s a substantially published author and deserves a reference in the Wikipedia. However, I’m not entirely sure that your explanation of why this is happening is the case. It really seems that both MZW and Hoyt’s pages were significantly deficient in meeting the expectations of the publications citation expectations and that seems to be the most significant factor in the decision, although there are a couple references to the Sad Puppy nonsense in the debate. There might be some inside baseball stuff I’m missing that perhaps sheds this in a new light, though.
I agree that we should keep 5/6 until the already scheduled sunset and then see how it played out. We’ve really only had two cycles under the rule: one with an active slate, one without. We need a bigger sample before deciding whether the rule works!
I also suspected that Williamson’s article might have been tagged for political reasons, until someone posted a screen shot of what it looked like before the kerfuffle: nearly every citation went to his website and the article looked much more like a vanity page than an encyclopedia article. That raises the question about whether it should have been a candidate for clean-up and improvement rather than deletion. OTOH, folks have cleaned it up and added decent citations. So maybe the threat of deletion was a good thing?
MZW and Hoyt were not all. Ringo, Torgerson and Kratman were all tagged for deletion as well. There was a targeted abuse on Wikipedia there. The deletes were not just housekeeping. Ringo and Torgerson were instantly denied. Kratman is still open to debate.
Yeah, tagging Ringo was ridiculous and sort of gave the game away. To be honest I’m not a huge fan of his work, but he’s one of Baen’s top authors, with millions of copies sold and some early work that’s beginning to gain proto-classic status, among a certain subset of milSF readers at least.
To add my tuppenceworth as a regular editor on Wikipedia: a lot of the confusion boils down to the fact that many people misunderstand what, in Wikipedia Editors’ jargon, ‘notable’ means.
It has nothing to do with how well known, best selling, important, influential, meritorious or valuable someone (or their work) is. It only means ‘has received significant coverage (substantial discussion, not just passing mentions) in at least two (preferably more) reliable (having editorial integrity), published (therefore consultable) secondary (or tertiary, but not primary) sources that are independent of the subject.’ ‘Independent’ excludes such things as advertising, press releases, autobiographies, and the subject’s website, or material substantially based on any of these.
A Wikipedia article needs to demonstrate its subject’s ‘notability’ by citing sources that support it. If it can’t, because such sources don’t exist (yet), then the subject is by definition ‘not notable’ (yet) and the article is liable to be deleted (or to be declined at Draft stage). If however they do exist but have not yet been cited, the contributors thus far have fallen down on the task and the article should be retained and improved by finding and citing them.
I have little doubt (despite my never having read either’s fiction) that Williamson and Hoyt have been sufficiently discussed and reviewed in ‘Wikipedia:Reliable sources’ as to qualify as ‘Wikipedia:Notable’, so hopefully disinterested parties will find and cite the sources necessary to confirm this. The ‘Article for deletion’ discussion on Williamson looks to be inclining towards ‘keep and improve’ (as is often the case in such discussions), and I notice that Hoyt’s article is now merely flagged as being too reliant on primary sources, with a request for more secondary and tertiary ones.
You are of course absolutely right about the Wikipedia notability of Williamson and Hoyt. (I find something that seems to me false in the first few paragraphs of every Hoyt article I try to read, to the point where I’ve stopped, but that’s orthogonal to notability for inclusion in an encyclopedia. To invoke Godwin, Adolf Hitler was notable!)
Terry, I have thought before when this has come up that Wikipedia does itself no favours by using a term that actually means something else in common use. If WP doesn’t want to keep getting abused about this process, it needs to come up with a less loaded term for it. Otherwise you’re going to keep having blowups when people see the term and naturally understand it the way it is written.
Yes, jargon is often confusing for the uninitiated. But when you use that jargon on a label which is prominently displayed to the general public as a reason to remove an article, you should really go to some effort to make sure it is actually understandable by that public.
Some of the wikipedia editors seem to have odd ideas about Publishers Weekly, to the point they don’t think it should count as a source…
I think the attempted deletions of Williamson’s and Hoyt’s articles was triggered by them being blatantly self-promotional. The notability question only came up when there was a push to restore them. Williamson’s article has been massively edited in just the past week to make it acceptable; its current appearance doesn’t reflect the original problems with it.
I agree entirely that it was a mistake to delete it, but I don’t think that was necessarily motivated by politics. It looks (to me) as though someone noticed that a group of authors were all following the same playbook of modifying their Wikipedia pages to optimize their book sales (or even sales of other items) in violation of Wikipedia’s rules, and when they saw that, they deleted them en masse, even though the guidelines say that when an author is notable you should clean up the page, not delete it. Hence the ensuing argument as to whether they were notable or not.
Even today, not everything is politics. It only seems that way. :-)
“Wikipedia does itself no favours by using a term that actually means something else in common use. If WP doesn’t want to keep getting abused about this process, it needs to come up with a less loaded term for it.”
I agree with this, but the problem lies with what “Wikipedia . . .it” actually is, namely a huge collective project that operates entirely on the basis of very many policies (and much jargon) arrived at by innumerable consensuses over the course of 19 years. By “huge” I instance the factoid that currently, over the course of a month, around 100,000 different people carry out edits on the project, and no-one (whether individuals or some ‘committee’) is “in charge”, any more than anyone is “in charge” of Fandom.
Just as in Science, some less-than ideal Wikipedia terminology has been invented on the fly and become inextricably interwoven into its fabric, so now it’s far easier to require new participants to learn the local lingo than to change that lingo.
As a parallel, I think it’s regrettable that Science uses the term “law” to describe a set of consistent and repeating phenomena, because in everyday life laws in the familiar legal sense are constantly amended and repealed, and are frequently broken. Good luck on getting Science to change that term, though!
One of the things I often say about both the Hugo nominating reforms we voted in starting with the 2017 Hugos (5/6 and EPH) is that they are slate-resistant, not slate-proof. Just like my wristwatch is water-resistant, not water-proof, which means I can wear it out in the rain and maybe even take it swimming, but it would be a bad idea to go diving with it, the reforms help keep a moderately-sized slate group from completely taking over the ballot, but they won’t stop a sufficiently large and well-organized group from doing so. They just make the process harder. The two reforms complement each other, providing an extra degree of slate-resistance than we would get from either reform acting alone. As such, I think we should be careful about weakening our protection by getting rid of 5/6 too quickly.
It’s true that the last organized slating attack took place in 2017. We’ve now had two years of Hugo nominations without such slates, and have enjoyed a rich and diverse group of nominees in those years. But that doesn’t mean that we no longer need the protections. Just as we shouldn’t throw away our umbrella after a couple weeks of dry weather, we should be aware that slates could return in the future if we leave ourselves vulnerable. EPH alone will give us some protection going forward, but EPH + 5/6 is stronger.
To understand why the combination is stronger, we should take a moment to look at what EPH alone can do. EPH is based on some theory about proportional voting systems. It tries to assign finalist slots in a way that is roughly proportional to the support various subgroups have in the nominating electorate – the idea is that if you had 6 finalist slots to allocate (under 5/6), and two thirds of your nominees love stories about spaceships but hate dragons, while the other third really love dragons but are tepid about spaceships, the ideal allocation of finalists on the ballot would be around four spaceship stories and two dragon stories. EPH gets closer to that ideal than the old nominating system did, but it’s not perfect.
The best academic analysis of EPH based on historic Hugo voting data is Jamison and Schneier: https://www.schneier.com/academic/paperfiles/Proportional_Voting_System.pdf . In that paper, AV is the old nominating system, and SDV-LPE is EPH (the aqua-colored line in Figures 1 and 2). With 5 finalist slots available (under the old 5/5 system), the old nominating system lets an organized slate take over all 5 slots in a category with only around 15-20% of the electorate (pretty close to what actually happened in 2015 and 2016 for several categories). With EPH in place, the slate needs more like 40-45% of the electorate to get the same result with reasonable confidence. That’s not perfect proportionality, but it helps.
How does 5/6 add to this? Well, if we have a small slate at around 10% of the electorate, they may expect to get one slot on the ballot, maybe two if they are lucky. This is similar to what we faced in 2017. EPH may give them a small diversity boost to get that one slot, as it did in at least one category in 2017. But the rest of us can just ignore that one slot if it is bad, treating it like the sacrificial piece of meat we put at the far end of the picnic table to occupy the yellowjackets and keep them away from the rest of our food. We will in most cases get five good nominees in a category, and can treat it as a normal Hugo election, similar to a pre-2015 ballot. That, I argue, is a satisfactory result given the presence of the slate in the first place. Conversely, a large slate of around 45% of the electorate may grab five slots for their nominees in spite of EPH. In that case, 5/6 acts as a safety valve, ensuring that we get at least one nominee on the ballot who wasn’t slate controlled, so we don’t have to No Award the entire category. It would take a much bigger (and better-coordinated) slate to claim all 6 slots under the combination of EPH and 5/6. For intermediate values of slate support, we will generally get one additional non-slate nominee on the ballot with 5/6 in place vs. the older 5/5 system. That is also good, as it helps ensure the quality of the winner by having more than one competitive entry (2015 and 2016 had several categories where the only non-slate nominee won by default; it would have been better if another non-slate nominee could have joined them on the ballot.)
So that’s the positive case for keeping both EPH and 5/6 to work together. Now I should note that there are two different proposals on the Business Meeting agenda addressing 5/6. There is a proposed constitutional amendment, D.7 (Five and Five), which would get rid of 5/6 permanently, but which would even if it passes need to be ratified by the 2020 Business Meeting, to first go into effect in 2021. Then there is an ordinary resolution, B.4 (Suspend 5 and 6 for 2020) which would suspend 5/6 for next year’s Hugos (only). Normally it takes two years to make any changes to the Hugo voting procedures, but both 5/6 and EPH had a special suspension provision that I wrote, which allows any Business Meeting prior to the sunset meeting in 2022 to suspend the operation of that measure for the following year. This was part of the negotiations to get support for ratification in the first place, and was something I proposed to head off a worse (from my perspective) amendment that otherwise might have passed. Part of the idea was that we were in a fluid situation against an intelligent adversary who was changing his slate strategy every year in response to what we did, and there were multiple proposals on what to do about it that might not all play well together. So I wanted to make it easy for the Business Meeting to temporarily get rid of provisions that might not fit well with other proposals, while making it easy to bring them back the following year if getting rid of them turned out to be a mistake, rather than having to wait two years for a fresh constitutional amendment. Hence the suspension amendments.
I should also note that the sunset clauses don’t mean that either EPH or 5/6 is automatically going away after 2022. Rather, they mean that the 2022 Business Meeting will have to vote on whether to make each of them permanent from 2023 on. Only if that vote fails does the related provision go away. So combining this with the existence of the suspension amendments, the only practical effect of passing amendment D.7 is that if ratified in 2020, it would avoid the need for the 2020 and 2021 Business Meetings to pass suspension resolutions for 5/6 affecting the 2021 and 2022 Hugos, respectively, and eliminate the sunset ratification vote for 5/6 in 2022. Even if D.7 passes this year, opponents of 5/6 would presumably still need to propose a suspension resolution for the 2020 Business Meeting just in case ratification of D.7 fails. So basically D.7 is a “save a little time in the 2021 and 2022 Business Meetings” proposal, plus whatever symbolic value it has for its supporters.
I will acknowledge that I do feel a certain amount of fatigue at having extra finalists on the ballot to read, especially in a year that also has a lot of retro-Hugo nominees on the ballot such as this one (but also joy, because some of those sixth finalists are really good). I would have a fair amount of sympathy for B.4 as a stand-alone resolution if the primary argument in favor was “2020 is also going to have a lot of extra reading on the ballot due to the retro-Hugos that year, and it’s unlikely that slaters will attack in 2020 specifically, so why don’t we just suspend 5/6 for 2020 only?” My concern is that supporters of D.7 would take the passage of B.4 as a signal that we don’t need 5/6 any more, period, and use it to rally support for ratification of D.7 next year. If D.7 is defeated first, I will be happy to consider B.4 on its own merits.
I don’t know these writers (and writers aren’t what I’m generally looking for on Wikipedia) but I do look up plenty of obscure topics on Wikipedia and I don’t think “Not Famous Enough” is a good reason to delete anyone or anything.
When I see people claim someone’s not worthy of being in Wikipedia due to obscurity, I can’t help but think about my family tree research. I’m one of the many who can track her family lines back to various crown heads of Europe and Asia. This has led me down very jolly rabbit holes on genealogy sites and the ‘pedia. If my multi-great grandmothers who were daughters of the grandsons of a king’s bastard get can be listed on Wikipedia pages, so can active sci-fi authors regardless of politics.
I am strictly an outside onlooker of Wikipedia, so take this for what it is worth. Deletion wars: is this ever anything other than a power play? Any given instance might be motivated by personal animus against the subject; or narcissism on the part of the person proposing deletion (i.e. “I have never heard of this guy, so how important can he be?”); or purely arbitrary muscle-flexing; or fifteen other things I haven’t thought of. The arguments for why deletion should even be a thing are unconvincing, for the reasons Don Whiteside gave above.
That being said, the deletion wars are mostly interesting to me as being an issue with Wikipedia that Wikipedians are willing to acknowledge–not because this is the biggest issue, or even close to it, that Wikipedia has.
Kudos, John, for doing the right thing on this one.
If self-publishing makes you non-notable, then none of Edward R. Tufte’s books would count in his favor. Yet The Visual Display of Quantitative Information has been in print for 36 years, and it and its successors (all self-published) have made him rich many times over. And he has a Wikipedia page.
@Theophylact: It’s not that self-publishing makes you non-notable, it’s just that it doesn’t count very much by itself in making you notable. From the first page of Google results for Tufte, I found his biography from when he was awarded the AIGA medal, which in turn has pull-quotes from reviews of his work in Wired, the Journal of the American Statistical Association, and the New York Times. Those reviews alone are enough to make him count as notable, regardless of how he published.
Hopefully not too off-topic. @Esoth Max, for a great primer on Science Fiction, read Jo Walton’s Hugo-winning ‘Among Others’. The protagonist joins a Science Fiction book club, and the reader is presented with a cornucopia of references to SF classic authors. (My own strategy is to work my way through the Hugo & Nebula nominations, which is how I discovered Jo Walton.)
The meaning of “notability” is that other (non-Wikipedia) sources found the subject worth writing about. Wikipedia is trying to be a tertiary source (like an encyclopedia) which means it doesn’t allow dependence on or require evaluation of primary sources. It simply doesn’t let you make assertions that rely solely on primary sources. This is a special usage of the term and hasn’t got to do with how generally known something is; it’s more to do with how important it is within its own field, usually.
Hoyt is notable (in this technical sense) enough that her article was quickly marked not to delete. A dozen sources on her were found without much effort.
Williamson though is a genuinely borderline case. It took a lot of searching to find secondary sources on him (I believe a few were located in the end after a quick perusal of the discussion, so he seems likely to end up being considered notable in this case – a tertiary source which was a SF encyclopedia and some secondary sources being pro reviews of his first book, Freehold, an article in Stars and Stripes magazine about him and someone’s unpublished but publicly available graduate thesis that mentions him and has some analysis of his work.
It’s funny (peculiar, less so ‘ha-ha’) that even this incident got the canids’ persecution complexes going. What happened seems like (absent partisan targeting, covered as an afterthought below) an utterly routine example of Wikipedia’s AfD (articles for deletion) process by which insiders strongly question ‘notability’ of the subject, which as others say (/me nods to Dana A.) is a term-of-art concept resolved by breadth of documented coverage elsewhere. This happens pretty much all the time, all around the encyclopaedia. And the reason they do it is otherwise it’d be clogged with vanity articles. Notwithstanding which, of course the articles may very well have been targeted for partisan reasons, as that happens, too. Still, on the evidence, the system of review worked, so what is there to complain about, exactly? (And, FWIW, I’m glad the articles were retained.)
Back about (IIRC) ten years ago, I nominated for deletion a Wikipedia article about me, using the slower and less dramatic of the two available methods, identifying myself and saying I wasn’t notable enough to warrant an encyclopaedia article about myself. After a few weeks waiting to see if anyone came out saying ‘Eeek, no, he’s world-infamous’, this was granted. (Why did I seek deletion? Because this was back before Wikipedia’s policy on biographies of living persons was much enforced and there’d been a troubling history of abusing the site for passive-aggressive attacks on the putative subjects. Also, the article was pretty inaccurate and woefully incomplete, and I was the subject was strongly discouraged (de-facto forbidden) by site policy from improving any article where I had conflict of interest (‘COI’, i.e., was too well informed because of personal knowledge). This includes articles maligning one’s famously killed father. Mustn’t touch those, must wait for disinterested strangers to fix them (as fortunately happened to that one over the course of July). The very semblance of COI editing tends to trigger the AfD impulse from the regulars, in reaction — as Greg Hullender mentions.
On the Business Meeting matter, I’m still pondering, but leaning towards ‘5 of 6 and EPH are working. So please don’t fix them.’ For the same reason you don’t roll back your improvements to computer security if nobody tries to attack them for a while..
I think the tiny amount of cachet that might be lost by being one-of-six instead of one-of-five will be completely dwarfed by the huge amount of joy that that sixth nominee will get to experience at being a nominee!
I just wanted to thank Terry Hunt above for the explanation of what “notable” means as a Wikipedia term of art. I never realized before that it didn’t mean what the word means in common usage.
(Now, if only I could understand how an article that is almost word-for-word out of the creator’s book and is based on primary source research with footnotes that range from irrelevant to outright false passes Wikipedia muster…)
“It’s funny (peculiar, less so ‘ha-ha’) that even this incident got the canids’ persecution complexes going.”
Very generally, it’s been my experience that the folks who participated/aligned themselves with the Puppies externalize their frustrations and anxieties, i.e., their actions couldn’t possibly have precipitated their career misfortunes or their unfulfilled expectations, and it’s impossible it’s simply that luck was not on their side, so it has to be that someone somewhere is keeping them down. So feeling persecuted is a more acceptable avenue than mere self-introspection. I discuss this general concept a bit in my piece on The Brain Eater.