Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

While we are waiting for the full stats, a thought on how the #SadPuppies failed

It all could have been more difficult. The campaign to No Award the Puppy slates this year was made much easier by two factors, both of which were eerily predicted by Cat (I think catsittingstill) in a comment on Brad Torgersen's blog after last year:

Next time, bring your best game. Read a lot, talk among each other, pick your *best* stories. No bland reguritated elf seeks god never finds him though but boy won’t it upset the Hugo voters stories. Encourage your readers to nominate for quality, and *only* to nominate things they have actually read and liked. If you get stuff among the finalists, encourage your readers to read *everything* before voting. Even if there are people on the other side that aren’t taking the high road, after this year’s performance, you can’t afford to play tit-for-tat.

Remember that it’s partly a popularity contest. Choose for your spokesman someone who can avoid being a weapons-grade jerk in public... You desperately need a spokesperson who can respond to an essay about moving beyond binary gender–if they respond at all–with a “I’m sure you thought it went without saying, but just in case, don’t forget to write a good story also” instead of a 4,000 word rant attacking a position–“don’t bother writing good stories”–that the essay writer never took. You need someone who doesn’t accuse the average WorldCon voter of lying about what we like–voting for stuff we hate because of the author’s race or sexual preference.

If you want the Hugos to be about the best pulp, fine; people can like pulp and that’s okay–you’ll need about 3K more voters who prefer pulp to literary, but that could be possible. But you really need a leader for your campaign who can avoid antagonizing the neutrals.

It's reasonable to say that this advice was completely ignored. Brad Torgersen bragged of the "open" "transparent" process by which his slate was selected, but in fact it was just him and his mates deciding which of their mates should be on the list, without any actual judgement about quality. For all the Puppy complaints about cliques, political messages and works getting nominated which are of poor quality and are't sfnal enough, in too many cases they did exactly what they accused the imaginary cabal of doing. And people notice.

Cat's second point is even more important. Correia, as Puppy spokesman, was petulant but at least persistent. Torgersen was far worse: he is good at stringing words together to make an emotional point, not always that good at choosing the right word to make an intellectual point, and lousy at engaging with other people's arguments. Journalists who knew little of the situation and suddenly needed to write about it took one look at his blog, with made-up acronyms and made-up enemies, and decided who was right and who was wrong pretty quickly. That impression would have been confirmed by looking at other Puppy blogs, or indeed reading the comments to Torgersen's, in which one Puppy author threatened to turn up at an opponent's house - which he had located - with a gun.

It would have been tougher to argue for No Award this year if the Puppies had chosen better material and had had a spokesperson who cultivated the neutrals rather than annoying them. Will they learn for next year? I doubt it.
Tags: hugos 2015, sf: hugos
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