A Puppy Returns From WorldCon – Not an After Action Report

The actual after action report will happen when I’ve had time to recover a bit and process everything that happened. I spent most of my time at the con either attending the business meetings, or presiding over Puppy Central (which was relatively relaxed and enjoyable – thank you to everyone who helped).

The business meetings were particularly enlightening: on average about 150 people attended each day for the 3 hour meetings (4 of them). Very few of the attendees were what might be considered hard-SJW – what I saw (and yes, this is just my opinion and you might think differently) was a group of rather confused fans who want to do what they believe is the right thing.

Think of it this way – if you have been told all your life that X is good and Y has to be given an easier ride to make up for past injustice and so forth, and you’ve never actually run into anything that shows you the problems this causes, you’re going to believe it. When you’re trying to do what you think is right, and a small cadre of powerful and loud people insist that nothing you do is good enough, you’re going to accept the gaslighting and verbal abuse, and try harder to make them happy. It’s a classic abuse pattern, and it works particularly well on the not terribly socially ept (aka almost all of fandom) because we socially awkward types find it more difficult to pick up on subtle abuse.

Add to this unpleasantness a generation or so raised on “self-esteem” policies that don’t allow them to fail in any way so many of today’s young adults are incapable of distinguishing between disagreement and abuse, and you have a perfect storm waiting for somewhere to happen. (For those readers of a social justice-y persuasion, remember the feeling of working hard for something and overcoming difficulties to get there? If you don’t, then I pity you, because that’s where strength of personality and genuine self-worth come from – and there are any number of studies out there demonstrating this, but our education system denies children that feeling and that strength).

Okay. That’s enough of the political-ish digression.

There will be a Sad Puppies 5. It will have more or less the same format as Sad Puppies 4, but I won’t be leading it. That dubious honor goes to Sarah or Amanda (whichever one of them runs slower, I suspect). I’ll be helping behind the scenes, and working with the WSFS committee behind the scenes to help mitigate the damage the motions passed at the business meeting are likely to do to the Hugo brand (Why? Because I don’t want to see an award won by so many greats of the field turn into an irrelevant circle jerk and rather than bitch about its decline I’m going to do what I can to help).

Sad Puppies 5 probably won’t focus on the Hugos – at this stage it’s looking more like being simply a recommended reading list with categories more or less along the lines of the Dragon categories (which, frankly, will be a damn sight easier to manage). More details will happen when Sarah or Amanda get to them. In the meantime, no the Sad Puppies are not defeated. We might seem like a collection of bumbling clumsy… well, puppies, but we love the genre and we’re not into widdling on things or burning them down.

PS: Yes, this is rather rambly and incoherent. I’m freaking exhausted, and if there’s a greater torment for an extreme introvert than having to be social every waking hour for the best part of a week, I don’t want to know about it. You want sensible, talk to someone who can brain. That someone isn’t me right now.

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81 responses to “A Puppy Returns From WorldCon – Not an After Action Report

  1. Draven

    *makes you your preferred comfort beverage*

  2. We enjoyed meeting you as well, Kate. 😃

    • Kate Paulk

      It was great meeting you guys. I just hit “no more people” somewhere around 7pm on Saturday, and had to struggle to stay “on” for the rest of the con.

  3. We had an advantage in that we could go home every night, and not end up quite as tired. 🙂

  4. And speaking of the Dragon awards, don’t forget to vote!

  5. I yawned my way through the business meeting videos**. Kate, you brought up some cogent points there (it’s amazing how some have already managed to twist your couple of brief appearances into a major disruption). And judging by the people in the room whom I know in Real Life, yeah, mostly they’re being gaslit and =think= they’re doing what has to be done to preserve faanish culture. 3SV’s up/down vote is suicidal, and I don’t think the Rabids will be the ones to demonstrate that… rather, on down the road someone in the inner circle will find a way to abuse it.

    “You should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.”
    — Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the U.S.

    ** Worldcon business meetings are now officially the reason why my nonhumans would rather have a brawl and a shouting match than a parliament and elections.

    • Kate Paulk

      Thanks! The business meetings might not be exactly the height of excitement, but they’re where the important things get decided.

      Plus, if I was at the con and didn’t attend, I’d only be bitching about the results, not actively trying to help matters. I’m bizarrely stubborn that way.

    • TRX

      “Rules of combat older than contact with other races. Did not mention aliens. Rules change caught up in committee. Not come through yet.”

      Green Drazi leader, “The Geometry of Shadows”

    • Bibliotheca Servare

      WOW that quote is ironic coming from him! Lyndon B Johnson warning against the dangers of unintended side effects of legislation? …Oh, wait, he *intended* the side effects… *wanders off, muttering sulfurously about corrupt democrats and useless republicans*

  6. Service above and beyond, Kate.

    As for some of those “fans”, here’s something from a prominent “fannish voice” that deserves wider circulation:

    https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/the-sad-puppy-3-meltdown-over-hugo-2016-continues/#comment-3750

    “As for SP4, I think it conclusively proved that puppies will not follow a woman.”

    I think some of these creatures are a lot braver on-line than they are in person.

  7. Well, as I have said elsewhere, the rack IS the most important feature to be considered in an SF/F author. That and surface albedo. How’s your tan, Kate?

    • Kate Paulk

      Ghostly, as usual. I’m not quite pale enough to pass as a ghost, but I’m still pretty pasty-white.

      • According to WorldCon voting rules, you are +1 for rackage and 0 for surface albedo. That means you win over all males who didn’t use to have rackage. But if there’s a Person Of Tan in the noms with rackage, you go below Noah. Maybe go for the spray tan next year.

        Unless they changed it at the business meeting. Hard to keep up with this stuff.

  8. Glad to have you back, Kate, and I hope you escape the con – crud – sick!

  9. Ted

    Hi Kate. I want to publicly thank you again for your hospitality. This Rabid Puppy enjoyed the Sad’s congregation greatly and picking your brain over a few points.
    Your One Rule is hanging on my bedroom door. I feel like a kid again. 🙂

    • Kate Paulk

      Thanks, Ted!

      For those who are wondering, the One Rule is Jim Baen’s famous “Don’t be a Butthead” In my handwriting and – by Ted’s request – signed.

  10. Thank you for the update Kate.

    • Kate Paulk

      You’re welcome! Hopefully I’ll be awake enough to put together a half-way cogent after action report next week.

  11. Uncle Lar

    Kate, thank Ghu you made it out alive.
    As a fellow introvert, I salute you for your sacrifice in even sticking your nose under than loud raucous and terribly crowded tent.
    Next year Worldcon is in Helsinki so I highly suspect attendance to dwindle, and out of sight means reduced supporting in all likelihood. 2018 in San Jose, west coast heart of the PC and SJW crowd. By then the Hugo Awards will almost certainly have faded into obscurity as the PTB, having taken them hostage and proven that when pressed they can totally destroy them, revert to their practice of incestuous back slapping and circle fornication.
    I leave it to some future historian to mark when the Hugo first began its death spiral, certainly long before Larry brought it to public attention, but for me it truly died at that award ceremony in 2015 when Noah Ward ruled the ticket.

    • Kate Paulk

      It was rather trying for someone who prefers to stay away from people. By the Hugo ceremony I was actively looking for places to sit where I had at least one empty space beside me, preferably more.

  12. Kate: I’ve been a critic of the Sad Puppies, but it appears to be evolving into something that all fans should be able to support. Helping people find great SF/F writers and works is always welcome.

    I’m glad that you attended the WSFS business meeting and spoke up. I don’t see why you think anti-bloc voting measures like EPH and 3SV will damage the Hugos, but that’s a debate we’ll continue in Finland.

    • “I don’t see why you think anti-bloc voting measures like EPH and 3SV will damage the Hugos…”

      We know. You don’t get the whole idea that the politicizing of the Hugos for at least the last 20 years damaged anything either. It’s not Leftist insanity to you, it’s just The Way Things Are. Water to the fish.

      At the moment, all the Usual Suspects are trying to pretend this has always been about Quality. But of course it isn’t, and never has been. It’s politics. Somebody with the wrong politics wanted to participate, and now behold, the rules to vote have been changed to allow Wrongfans to be disqualified.

      I note that having a vote devalued or disqualified does not come with an automatic refund. That is exactly what is going to kill WorldCon and the Hugos. That kind of mindset. Take the money, then disempower the dumb rube who thinks he will get to participate as an equal.

      My response? My job is already done. We killed y’all last year in 2015, with the Assterisk Debacle. That was the stake through the vampire’s heart. This year was the decapitation. In Helsinki, Vox is going to be throwing dirt on your face. The rest of us already moved on to bigger and better things.

    • Kate Paulk

      Thank you for the kind words.

      My biggest issue with EPH is that it takes months to verify manually, and is such a miserable task it’s fraught with error. This means it’s necessary to trust the software – and as a software tester, I can promise you there is no such thing as bug-free software.

      Consider this scenario: five years from now, a bug in the EPH algorithm shows up. If there is any disagreement about the finalists and winners (and I think that’s pretty much guaranteed no matter what happens in that time frame), the Hugo administrators are now wide open to accusations of fraud and vote-buying because the process is not transparent.

      Similarly, consider the optics for 3SV (Three Stage Voting, where voters are instructed to not consider the artistic merit of the works they reject): a controversial category could find itself with the entire long list as finalists, which is going to look really dodgy, especially when everyone knows there are five finalists unless the spread of votes is such that not enough works got enough votes to appear. Again, it’s going to look like people are playing favorites.

      In addition, we’ve all seen fandom feuds. 3SV is almost a guarantee that one fan group will try to wipe out anything representing another fan group based on something trivial. Imagine what Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form would look like if the Whovians got into a voting war with the Trekkers. Or the Brownshirts (assuming a Firefly reboot). Or…

      That’s just a part of my problems with these initiatives.

      • Concerns about EPH can be addressed by using open source software to count votes. It’s something that I believe will happen, perhaps as early as Helsinki.

        If I understand 3SV correctly it is hard to reject a work on the long list. The requirement for there to be at least 600 reject votes is a high bar to reach. I think it would be hard to game, but we have a year to play with the numbers to evaluate the proposal before a ratification vote.

        • TRX

          *My* concerns would be addressed by making voting 100% open, verifiable by anyone who is interested.

          There’s no need for a secret ballot or shell game counting methods.

        • It boggles the mind that after more than a decade’s experience with electronic voting: the hacking, the fraud, and yes, the bugs, that anyone could write “oh, don’t worry, we’ll use open source software.”

          Or that after organizing MORE than 600 votes to piss all over Mr. Pournelle & Ms Weiskopf just for pure spite, you could write that you think 600 votes is a bar to gaming the system.

          Nothing to see here.

          Your call: does it read more as feckless ignorance, or slimy dishonesty?

          • Andrew

            “Your call: does it read more as feckless ignorance, or slimy dishonesty?”

            Embrace the power of “And”….

          • Kate Paulk

            Open source software allows at least some inspection and testing, as opposed to something nobody gets to see.

            I’m aware that the Helsinki folks are looking to open source as much as they can so they can get some independent verification – which says to me (as a tester) that they are dreadfully worried about the perception of hidden manipulation EPH brings.

            I believe this is also why there were two separate attempts to give EPH extra escape clauses in addition to the sunset clause (it requires re-ratification in 2022) as well as a request that the Helsinki committee runs their data through the old system as well as the EPH system.

            Remember also: if there is a challenge to the results, it will take months to manually verify. All it will take is one person with a loud enough and persistent enough claim that the calculations were incorrect, and the year’s schedule is blown.

            As a tester – and purely as a tester, I consider that an unacceptable risk. It’s a risk that’s capable of destroying the organization and the awards, and has a sufficiently high probability of occurrence with insufficient ability to mitigate that if I was advising a business about taking something like this live, I’d be wanting a written notice from my managers that they would not consider my team liable if they chose to release and the worst happened.

      • Kudos to you for participating. Did you speak in favor or against any amendments in the Business Meeting? I watched some of the videos but I don’t think I heard your views.

        3SV doesn’t come into effect next year, so there’s still time to reconsider it, even though I think the threshold is so high that it will probably never change anything. I guess it’s meant mostly as a huge club to beat Vox Day with if he ever returns to mess up the ballot again. In my opinion, more power to Hugo admins would be a better fix to counter obvious trolling but something like that would never pass in WSFSBM.

        I’m also happy to see that the Sad Puppy campaign is moving in that direction. Have fun!

        • IIRC Kate did speak on a couple of occasions (on EPH and the like I believe), and kudos to that. Can’t have been easy, but I’m glad that there were different views showing up.

          “(whichever one of them runs slower, I suspect)”

          Heh. Reminds of the tradition at a couple of committees I’ve been on, where anyone who didn’t attend would suddenly find themselves responsible for a bunch of actions when the minutes came out.

          Those always had fantastic attendance numbers 🙂

          • Kate Paulk

            It wasn’t easy. I’m much happier being quiet and not speaking in front of any sort of crowd. I can convince myself that convention panels are a group of friends, but a business meeting and the protocols involved are a whole other ball of wax.

            • Kate, as a Business Meeting regular (like Ben Yalow, but a mere grasshopper to his kung-fu masterhood ;-> ), I appreciated your participation, and (speaking for myself) will be glad to see you do so again. You respected the WSFS democratic process and spoke articulately, and by my book that makes you absolutely welcome at our party.

        • Kate Paulk

          I spoke against 3SV and asked Dave McCarty how much extra work he thought EPH would impose on future Hugo administrations.

          (His answer, for those who are wondering, was that if you trusted the software implicitly it was no extra work, but if there was a need to verify manually it would take months. Later he told someone else who asked that he was not in favor of EPH – I suspect the difficulty of manual verification and the opacity of the results because of it have a lot to do with that response).

          • Ben Yalow

            Dave has also made it clear that the math of EPH means that it doesn’t change more than a position or so in a slated vote, and is also likely to affect positions in an unslated vote (such as we had a Loncon). So it doesn’t give a lot of benefit, and is likely to have bad side effects.

            His analysis of the past votes, and the effects of EPH, make it completely clear that both of those are true. Which is why, when explicitly asked about EPH, he was very clearly opposed (and his conclusions to the report of past effects made that clear, as well).

        • Ben Yalow

          Hugo admins (and here I’m speaking as a past member of the Hugo administration subcommittees for some past Worldcons, as well as knowing most of the past administrators) very much do NOT want more power to counter trolling.

          RIght now, it’s a strictly ministerial task — checking word counts, running lengths, years, and things like deciding what episode a nomination for “the Christmas Dr Who” is (compared to the episode that people gave a name to, or a season number and episode number in the season, or …). The power to make judgement calls about “obvious trolling” would be enough to make all of the past administrators that I know refuse t take the job — that’s more power (and more reason to be shot at) than any of us would want.

          • Yeah, I am aware of that, but I still think they should up their game. These two years have damaged the reputation of the Hugo Awards, and granting the admins more powers would have been a better fix than pestering members with more voting rounds. But it’s never going to pass, of course. There’s a historic precedent of the admin stepping up even when the rules didn’t explicitly allow it, so it is certainly not completely unthinkable. Fundamentally, the American habit of being unnecessarily legalistic is perhaps to blame.

            • Ben Yalow

              It’s not a question of “up their game”. It’s that, in giving the Hugo administrators the enormous power that the Constitution gives them, WSFS had made it clear that it expects that they will not use it for other than ministerial tasks.

              There’s currently a discussion as to whether the Hugo administrators this year, on the Retros, had overused their power in moving items between BDP-Short and -Long, when the items clearly were eligible in both. The fact that this discussion is taking place indicates the extent to which people want the administrators to avoid using their powers.

              And issues like this come up every decade or so, when an administrator pushes their powers. People really want the administrators not to push

              • Yes, I’m aware of the current consensus but I disagree with it. To be exact, the people I think should up their game are the WSFS members attending the Business meetings. They have the power to make this sort of thing happen, but for the foreseeable future they want to hold back and stay “neutral” even when there are bad actors explicitly saying that they are out “to destroy the Hugos”.

                • Kate Paulk

                  A simple question for you, spacefaringkitten. Would you feel the same way about the administrators having that kind of power if the “bad actors” were people whose views you agreed with?

                  • Well, I doubt that I would agree with a group whose objective is to hijack the final ballot of an arts award through block-voting in order to make fun of it with gay space dinosaur porn (and get all possible categories No Awarded), so the question is rather academic.

                    If there was group of left-wing feminists doing the exact same thing as the Rabid Puppies, I don’t think I would consider what they are doing a good thing. If that happens in the future, I promise not to object were the admins to add five more finalists to the final ballot.

                • Ben Yalow

                  If you (or anyone else) wants to change the rules (and therefore the behavior of the Hugo administrators), I encourage you to start attending Business Meetings. It’s about a 12 hour commitment for a Worldcon (less, in less contentious times). And, as I already said, I’m really glad Kate made that commitment.

                  Commenting on blog posts doesn’t accomplish change, although discussion outside the Business Meeting is often a useful way to analyze ideas, and prepare people for discussing them at the meeting. It’s why there’s a Standing Rule that requires all such motions to be submitted at least two weeks before the meeting, and why the Business Meeting staff gets the text of motions (and commentary by the makers) onto the con’s web site within a day or so after the deadline Speaking, and voting, at the Business Meeting does force a change..

                  And if you (or anyone else) needs assistance in trying to fit motions into the structure of the Constitution, I (among others) would be glad to help. And this is true whether or not I’m in favor of the motion — I’ve been responsible for the wording of motions that I’ve debated and voted against. But I think the value of having items that the Business Meeting can understand, and that result in clear language in the rules is sufficiently important that I’m glad to volunteer my time and experience to ensure that a motion best reflects what the mover is trying to accomplish, whether or not I believe that accomplishment is wise.

      • Ben Yalow

        And I join with others in commenting on how pleased I am that you were there. Thank you.

        I also note that the amendment to 3SV that would have added language that instructed the voters not to consider the artistic merits of the works was voted down by a sufficiently large majority that it wasn’t even worth counting. So that part, at least, isn’t in 3SV. I still think that 3SV is a bad idea, for all the reasons I stated in my debate on the motion — but, at least that’s not one of them.

        (For those interested in seeing the discussion on the “no artistic merits” amendment, it took place starting at 31:48 into the video for Sunday, part 1. My comments, for those interested, are at 11:44, which is why I didn’t restate them here. The meeting videos are online, with all the debate of 3SV, EPH, etc. taking place on Sunday. The Sunday video starts with https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOSC8s14c_A .)

        • Kate Paulk

          I’m going to have review the minutes before – and while – I write my after action report or I’ll get a ton of things wrong. By Sunday afternoon I was so tired I could barely keep my eyes open.

          • Ben Yalow

            It’ll take a few months for the minutes to come out. Linda needs to compare her notes against the videos, to ensure she didn’t miss anything important (although her notes are generally really excellent — she was Secretary for a number of meetings before the videos started happening).

            And she then circulates the drafts to a few other people who also take good notes.

            But the videos are already up, starting with the Preliminary on Thursday. And the EPH, 3SV, etc. are all in the Sunday videos, so there’s only about 3 hours of video to rewatch to report on those issues..

            For those wanting a summary of when things were discussed: Thursday was the Preliminary, which set the agenda for the rest of the weekend, and killed some amendments. Friday was the first Main meeting, and dealt with most of the ratification votes for stuff passed last year (except 4/6 and EPH, which were moved to Sunday), and had some questios referred to committees to report back Saturday. Saturday was the announcement of the 2018 winner, the 2017 NASFiC winner, and dealt with all the stuff except Hugo stuff (EPH, 4/6, EPH+, 3SV). And much of Part 2 of Saturday’s meeting video was dealing with a bunch of rules questions, leading to chair rulings, appeals of chair rulings, etc. — parliamentary geeks will be fascinated, and everybody else will fall asleep. And Sunday was the Hugo stuff.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Haha. You appear to be ignoring that, given the forecast, it is likely that the person who runs the next Sad Puppies will be one who thinks that Trump is a leftist Democrat. This year’s Sad Puppies was not all that different from previous Sad Puppies, or even from last year’s Rapid Puppies.

      The Sad Puppies position, as far as I can tell, is that the most effective way to counter bloc voting is to increase the number of voters. The more voters, the more expensive it is to run an effective secret campaign.

      The resources spent bitching about Sad Puppies could have instead been effectively used to advertise for more voters, and raise awareness of the contest. They were not.

      Looking beneath the beneath, if the decisions are being made rationally, there would seem to be a preference for native faction control over no control. In which case, describing EPH and 3SV as anti-bloc would be a falsehood.

  13. Just think, next year you won’t have to cater to folks who come over recommending garbage fic in the name of addressing complaints people had about SP3.

    For folks are looking for new awesome stuff to read to cleanse the Hugo palate, our first issue is now up for free on our website.

    https://cirsova.wordpress.com/cirsova-magazine/issue-1/

    We are pretty much the opposite of the big zines in terms of what content we’re promoting. Issue 3 will be out in late Sept/early Oct.

  14. rawlenyanzi

    Only one award matters. It isn’t the Hugo. It isn’t the Nebula. It isn’t even the Dragon.

    It’s the Benjamin.

  15. I want to thank Kate for all her hard work n SP4 and her hospitality at World Con and kudos to the Sad Puppies who manned the barricades at MidAmeriCon II to paraphrase the Bard We few, we happy few, we band of siblings

  16. Bravo to CIRSOVA! On the same line, the National Fantasy Fan Federation is reviving its large zine TIGHTBEAM as an all fiction.poetry/art/review electronic zine.

    Orientation? Tightbeam will target publishing excellent fiction, excellent art, fiction reviews, and a lively letters column.

    Fiction? As Editor, I plan to follow the editorial standards I followed when I edited Eldritch Science some three decades ago. Where these standards any good? In the course of nine issues, I lost at least three of my regular writers to major commercial science-fiction novel-publishing houses.

    So what are the standards? First, there is a minimum length limit of 7500 words. I am actually open to publishing works of up to novel length, though I don’t expect to do so very often.

    Second, Tightbeam is open to tales of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural mystery, as well as poems and artwork with similar themes. Tightbeam characters are expected to act, not the passive observers. Tightbeam plots should weave a believable conclusion, not abandon the morass of unresolved hints.

    I am not interested in publishing:

    1. Rolegaming stories in which the roll of the dice is still audible. Stories inspired by rolegames are acceptable.
    2, The master detective and his faithful amanuensis are acceptable; Holmes and Watson are not.
    3. Explicit erotic or pornographic material.
    4. Tales in which the protagonist is simply a witness — panoramas of alien worlds — or in which the protagonist is overwhelmed by events, having the free will of a snowflake in the path of an avalanche.
    5. Political tracts disguised as works of fiction.
    6. Works of horror and terror in which the focus is on shocking the reader with gore and pain.

    Poems are expected to have both rhyme and meter, e.g.,
    :
    The setting sun, her golden rays
    Strike towering cloudy casements high,
    Sets airy castles all ablaze,
    Draws fiery shades o’er twilight sky,
    Gives burning sign that night creeps nigh.

  17. I have a suggestion for Sad Puppies 5: Wait to announce the final list until after Theodore Beale has revealed his Rabid Puppies slate.

    This will prevent your effort from being piggy-backed (puppy-backed?) and better separate the two campaigns, which have different agendas and tactics.

    • Sad Puppies like what they like and don’t worry about Nebulas, Locus, or the Rabids. Sad Puppies aren’t going to defer to the Rabids, and, they don’t defer to us.

      I appreciate you are making your suggestion in a spirit of helpfulness, but would you change the way you operate to accommodate Vox Day?

    • Andrew

      Why assume Vox would release first? Why would he? Why should he?

    • Kate Paulk

      Since none of us are in consultation with Vox Day, I dare say we’ll release the list on a schedule that works well with whoever is leading the campaign.

      I’d really rather not get into a finger on the trigger war waiting to see who can jump latest without waiting until after the finalists get announced.

      And if – this being a very large if – I can get an app built that collates the list as we go, it will be irrelevant because any time anyone arrives, they’ll see the current state of things. Time, narcolepsy and assorted other things may prevent that, so I’d suggest that nobody holds their breath waiting.

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