SciFi Wire posted an entry to day that has got a few folks into an uproar.
They basically suggested that it was possible to fix the vote, and then ran down the list of ways and means, concluding with a rated list of options (best bribe, best deal, etc).
I have to take some responsibility for this; last year we were discussing the diminishing number of voters in the LIST THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED (in fact, the response to my post on the subject is why I now refer to the SMOFS list as the LTSNBN) and I offered a few theoretical suggestions on ways that WSFS might go about attracting greater participation.
The original posts are here –
More SMOF Secrets (which includes links to SFAwards Watch and IO9 commentary on the subject)
One of the things I covered was the possibility that a small voting membership made the awards vulnerable to a fix by the simple expedient of ‘buying the vote’.
What SciFi Wire in their seemingly hasty quest to out IO9 IO9 is that we were essentially speaking about one of the Hugo Award categories that frequently receives the least amount of voting participation – one of the ‘media’ awards.
If they’d gone and done their homework, they’d have realized that their dastardly scheme is not nearly as simple as it might first appear to be.
In order to vote for a Hugo Awars, one must be a member of the Worldcon convention, early enough to be eligible to vote.
If one wants to have the privilege of nominating something for an award, early membership is required – or membership in the previous years Worldcon is required.
What this basically means is that if you really want to insure that you are in a position to ‘fix’ the vote – you need to join WSFS a full year BEFORE the thing you want to nominate becomes eligible. Whatever you’re planning on voting for might not even exist yet at that point.
Furthermore – while it is possible for someone with deep enough pockets and the silly, ridiculous desire to fix the awards to plan two years ahead, they’re still going to be up shit creek when it comes to the final ballot – because there is NO WAY that our conspirators will be able to know HOW MANY MEMBERSHIPS THEY NEEDED TO BUY two years ago.
Let me try and ‘splain a little clearer.
You have oodles and oodles of money and, rather than spending it on mason jars for your urine collection (gold labels, natch) you decide to fix the Hugo awards.
You take a look at the votes this year, and notice that only 200 people (total) voted for the ‘best cell-phone based science fiction art’ category.
You find an obscure artist, commission them to turn out a piece of SF art for cell phones and then HOLD ON TO IT FOR A YEAR.
This year’s Worldcon – 2024 – is coming up. You buy 300 memberships to the convention, thus obtaining 300 possible nominating ballots for the 2025 convention.
You lock 300 people up for a year to make sure that they can’t change their minds about participating in your nefarious scheme.
You publish the cell phone art in time to be eligible for the 2025 nominating ballot.
Your minions vote for it on the 2025 nominating ballot and it receives enough nominations to make it onto the final ballot.
You purchase ANOTHER 300 memberships for the 2025 convention, early enough so that your minions are eligible to vote on the final 2025 ballot.
Meanwhile – there has been a HUGE upsurge in cell-based SF art and – unknown to you, the 2025 convention receives an enormous boost to voting membership.
Nearly 1000 people vote for the Cell Phone Art category, with 401 of them voting for something other than your chosen piece of art.
Because of the nominating, voting and membership process, no matter what you do, you’ll ALWAYS be playing catch-up with the numbers. Sure, you might get lucky, on an under-represented award – but look how much money you’d have to spend – not to mention over two years of planning and organizing.
Besides – if enough new people suddenly joined WSFS, sent in nominations AND voted for the awards, it would be such an unusual occurrence that we’d know something was up.