A Couple of Bits on Hugo Award Proposals and Attempted Wikipedia Deletions
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.