The agenda is out for the WSFS Business Meeting to be held in Chengdu. (Here, and here in Chinese.) A lot of amendments to the rules and the constitution are proposed; some of them are good; some of them are pointless; and some of them are wrong. Everyone will agree on that much but not everyone will agree on which is which. The proposals are as follows:
A.1.1.A Marks Authorization
✓ Sensible tidying up of the responsibilities for protecting the WSFS Marks.
A.2.1.A Discussion Items
✓ Allows the Business Meeting to discuss issues raised by its own committees without having to vote on them. This would have avoided the need for some of last year’s shenanigans.
A.2.1.B Business Meeting Contingencies
✓ Makes sensible provision for cases where the Business Meeting does not take place or is not quorate. Let’s hope it’s never used, but sensible to have.
A.2.1.C Consistent Change
✓ Clears up a lot of language which had been made obsolete by the shift to WSFS members as a concept. Won’t satisfy any who opposed that shift but makes life easier for the rest of us.
B. Financial reports
😲 Not a matter for voting, but wow, this year’s NASFic, Pemmicon, had expenditure 40% higher than its income. Doesn’t really endear me to the concept of the NASFiC (on which, more below).
C.1 Bilingual Debate at Business Meeting
🤷 Good as far as it goes to say that bilingual debate should be provided for at a Business Meeting outside an Anglophone country, but not sure that it needs to be encoded into the Constitution in this way, and not sure that this wording is really strong enough if it does.
D. Eligibility extension
✓ Three films that were not widely distributed in 2021 and which the Business Meeting can declare to be eligible for 2022. I am always inclined to be generous.
E.1 The Zero Per Cent Solution (referred for ratification from 2022)
✓ Removes a ticking time-bomb in the constitution which could have led to accidentally No-Awarding less popular categories in a year where there are one or two very high-profile nominees.
E.2 Best Game or Interactive Work (referred for ratification from 2022)
✓ There are already too many Hugo categories, but this is an extensively researched and well thought out proposal which will align the awards more closely with what fans are actually doing.
F.1 Convention Time Bracket
🤷 Invokes incapacity of a convention committee where the date slips past December of the year of the convention. Not sure that this is needed, or that it is needed in this form.
F.2 Bid Committee Contactability
🤷 Not clear to me that this needs to be encoded into the constitution, or, if it does, that this is the right information to require.
F.3 Site Selection Ballot Provisions
❌ Two provisions which both tighten up the information that is required to validly fill in a site selection ballot. I think both proposals go in the wrong direction – we should be making it easier to participate, not tougher – and I suspect that either would risk violating EU data protection legislation, as indeed does the current (admittedly unclear) wording. I will vote against both.
F.4 Hugo Awards Criteria for Non-English Works Eligibility
✓ A helpful clarification of the rules, formally adopting a decision already taken by this year’s Hugo administrators. But I will vote against any attempt to further formally quantify the conversion ratios.
F.5 Best Fancast Not Paying Compensation
✓ Seems to me sensible that the Fancast ballot should not include professional productions.
edited to add: I am changing my vote here to an ❌. Subsequent discussion on File 770 made it clear to me that there are nuances here that need to be taken into account, and that it is a bad idea to try and hardwire a general over-arching definition of fan vs pro activity into the Constitution, as was advocated by some last year. The fan/pro line falls rather differently between zines, ’casts and art, and the definition of each category should clarify the boundaries for that category only; there is no need to make a general rule.
F.6 Best Young Writer
❌ There are already too many Hugo categories. Creates a new award for a writer under 24 who has got published in the last year. From what I’ve seen of some previous nominees in that age bracket, this is going to be about boosterism rather than quality.
F.7 Clarifying Language Requirements
✓ Goes without saying, but sometimes these things need to be said. This and the next proposal are discussed in this File 770 thread.
F.8 Remove Regional Limitation
❌ The proposal seems to be based on a misunderstanding – the current system actually benefits non-US works over US works by giving them a second chance to get on the ballot. If we ever have a situation where North American voters are not consistently the largest bloc among the Hugo electorate, we can look at whether this is still needed, but for now it’s a protection against US dominance, and should not be changed.
F.9 Establishment of ASFiC
❌ Having an ASFiC is a great idea, but WSFS should not be in charge of it. Likewise, WSFS should not be in charge of NASFiC, which should instead be abolished in its present form. See this File 770 discussion thread.
F.10 Best Game Category
🤷 Hopefully E2, which is better worded, will pass and this won’t need to be considered.
F.11 Independent Films
❌ There are already too many Hugo categories. Not everything needs to get a Hugo. Having not one but two awards for independent films is definitely excessive, and the definition of what is and isn’t an independent film will be a major headache for administrators.
No doubt the Business Meeting will take a different approach. (It usually does.) But the above is how I think I will be voting.