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A couple of minor amendments to the rules that I’d like to put to this year’s WSFS business meeting, but I need at least one co-sponsor. I won’t be there myself, but I think that these are technical and uncontroversial, and encode existing best practice in order to remove ambiguity. Please let me know, in comments here or by other channels, if you are a Worldcon 76 member willing to add your name to the list of sponsors. The deadline is 2 August.

I had originally drafted the first of these to include clear guidance that votes with a blank first preference should be treated as invalid. To my surprise, some people who I have discussed this with pushed back, arguing that the lowest-numbered preference of a vote should be treated as the first preference, even if it’s not #1. To me, that is not what the rules say even as they are currently written, nor is it usual best practice for preferential vote counting. But if leaving out that point makes it easier to clarify the rest of the paragraph, I’ll make that sacrifice.

1) Title: Counting carefully

Proposed additions below - NB additions include several new paragraph breaks.
§6.4 Votes shall first be tallied by the voter’s first choices.

If no majority is then obtained, the candidate who places last in the initial tallying shall be eliminated and the ballots listing it as first choice shall be redistributed to remaining candidates on the basis of those ballots’ second choices.

This process shall be repeated, eliminating the lowest-placed candidate after each count and then transferring eliminated candidates’ ballots to their next available preference, until a majority-vote winner is obtained. If a preference below the first preference in the ballot has been left blank, no further preferences are counted for that ballot.

If two or more candidates are tied for elimination during this process, the candidate that received fewer first-place votes shall be eliminated.

If they are still tied, all the tied candidates shall be eliminated together.

The description of the preferential vote tallying process in §6.4 is incomplete, and potentially ambiguous. The proposed changes above are based on the standard counting rules procedures for a preferential vote election. There is therefore no change of procedure proposed, just clarification of existing best practice.

NB that standard counting rules for a preferential vote election allow for multiple eliminations, when there is no possibility of e.g. the second-last-placed candidate overtaking the third-last, even if they were to get all of the last-placed candidate’s votes. However the Hugo tallying rules explicitly allow for only one candidate at a time to be eliminated, except in the event of a tie for both final and first preference votes as per the last sentence of §6.4.

NB also that this amendment does not alter the treatment of votes which leave their #1 preference blank. In the drafter’s view, the rules are already pretty clear that such votes are not valid for that category.

2) Title: Counting Comics

Insert new text:
§3.8.10: In the Best Graphic Story category, in a case where various eligible elements of the same serial story have received nominations, the eligible element with the most nominations (“the most popular element”) shall be considered as a potential finalist, and all nominations for eligible elements of the story which either include the entirety of the most popular element or are themselves exclusively component parts of the most popular element shall be counted as nominations for the most popular element. This includes consideration of nominations for the serial story as a whole, whether or not the story as a whole is the most popular element. Nominations for parts of the serial story which are not (or not completely) overlapping with the most popular element shall be treated separately from the most popular element.

Nominations for different parts of a serial story by the same voter shall not be aggregated in any way.

In 2017, the Hugo Administrators faced considerable difficulty in deciding how to administer nominating votes for different elements of the same comic. (This was not the first time that the Hugos have had this problem.) In the end it was decided that the fairest approach for both voters and nominees was to identify the series element that had the most nominations, and to aggregate all nomination votes which included that element or a part of it.

This made a difference in determining the last place on the ballot. This concerned a particular comic which had been published both in twelve monthly issues and in two collected volumes. We had the following nominating votes to deal with:
  • 14 just for the title alone
  • 8 for Volumes 1 and 2 together
  • 2 for issues #1-12 collectively
  • 1 for issue #4 on its own
  • 47 for Volume 1, comprising issues #1-6
  • 8 for Volume 2, comprising issues #7-12
With 47 votes (more than half), Volume 1 was clearly the most popular element. All votes, except the votes for Volume 2, were therefore counted as nominating votes for Volume 1, for a total of 72. Clearly voters who voted for the series as a whole, for Volumes 1 and 2 together, or for a sequence of issues including those that went to make up Volume 1, wanted to see the material in Volume 1 on the final ballot. Equally clearly the voter who nominated issue #4 wanted to see the content of that issue, included in Volume 1, on the ballot.

On the other hand, the seventh place went to a webcomic which had received 54 nominations for the comic as a whole, and 7 votes for individual issues or sequences published in the qualifying year. Taken together, that wasn't quite enough to qualify the comic as a whole for the final ballot. Had the separate elements of both comics been counted separately, the result would have been different.

We propose therefore that future Hugo administrators be given clear guidance on how to count nominating votes in this category. We do not propose any such change for other categories, where votes for split and joint candidates (for A, for B and for A+B as a single nomination) should continue to be counted separately.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2018 04:16 am (UTC)
The Counting Comics proposal seems like a sensible reform; so much so, that I wonder why you restrict its effect to the Graphic Story category. While that's the category where the issue is most likely to arise, similar situations can occur in other categories (and have done so, for instance, the nomination of Connie Willis's Blackout/All Clear). It seems to me that the principle applies equally well to all categories in which serialized works may be nominated.

Steven desJardins
Jul. 30th, 2018 10:20 am (UTC)
Behind this LJ handle, I am David Bratman, Worldcon 76 member and planning to be an attendee, and also myself a former Hugo Administrator (over 20 years ago, since when things have changed quite a bit). I like your amendments and would be willing to add my name if you need it.

Do you need a co-sponsor to be present at the BM? Probably a good idea anyway. I have only attended rarely, but would be willing to do this. The only catch is that I not quick on the draw at parliamentary verbal exchanges.
Jul. 31st, 2018 07:40 am (UTC)

Thanks. I have two other co-sponsors for the Counting Comics proposal who will be at the Business Meeting, but I am very glad to be able to add you name to the list.

I will save the Counting Carefully proposal for next year, as explained below.
Jul. 30th, 2018 12:51 pm (UTC)
First motion
Ben Yalow here:

I'm somewhat confused by what you mean by a preference left blank. It may be tied in to your interpretation of "first", which you mention in the last paragraph, and which differs from Site Selection's general interpretation of the rules.

I know that site selection's (in the years I've been involved, either as a teller or organizer -- I can't speak for other years for certain, although, from talking to past administrators, I believe it's pretty general) interpretation of the rules is somewhat different from yours. Site selection has assumed that any sequence of non-duplicated positive integers is valid, and is ranked in order from lowest to highest number. We then treat the lowest number (which, on a normally-filled out ballot will be "1") as the first choice, the next lowest as the second choice, etc.

So site selection has generally counted ballots that you would treat as invalid.
Jul. 30th, 2018 05:29 pm (UTC)
This change is focused on Hugo ballots...not site selection
Ben - Colette Fozard here. This change is focused on how *Hugo Award* ballots are counted, not site selection. This was circulated to a short list earlier (as he mentioned), and the only input that came back before was how this is different from how site selection works. I think that's okay.

As an illustrative example, and Nicholas can correct me if needed: I plan to vote in the 2018 Hugos later today. I will only be voting for 2 choices in a certain category.

Scenario for votes to be counted: I vote for one finalist as #1 and the next finalist as #2.

Scenario for votes to be discarded: I vote for one finalist as #4 and the next finalist as #5.

That seems fine to me, because if I am silly enough not to rank anything as #1 but only start ranking further below, then I would have no votes counted in this category for slots #1 through #3.


Jul. 31st, 2018 07:38 am (UTC)
My take on the case of voters who have left preferences blank is that there are several possible explanations for what was in the voter’s mind.

If we pick one of them, we are in my view over-interpreting the voter’s wishes from the limited information available.

All we can do is admit that the voter’s intention is not clear, and that the vote cannot therefore be counted.

There’s a limit to how far we can go to read the minds of voters who do not follow the guidelines (which of course are also capable of improvement).

However it is clear from discussion here and elsewhere that I will need to be in the room making the case for a change myself, so I will save the “Counting Carefully” proposal for next year and just put forward the “Counting Comics” proposal, which has three co-sponsors.
Jul. 31st, 2018 08:22 am (UTC)
From Greg M.
Hi Nicholas! Greg Machlin here. I am an attending member of Worldcon 76 and am happy to be listed as a co-sponsor of both of these amendments; they're good clarifications.
Steve Mollmann
Aug. 2nd, 2018 01:47 am (UTC)
"If a preference below the first preference in the ballot has been left blank, no further preferences are counted for that ballot."

Can you explain what this means? I find the wording here confusing.

I really like the comics proposal, and think it is a savvy way of counting nominations in that category that overcomes many of the problems of the early years of the category. I was really glad when you explained its use in your rulings list from last Worldcon.
Aug. 2nd, 2018 07:26 am (UTC)
Meaning that if a vote is numbered 1, 2, 5, with no 3rd or 4th preference expressed, then only the 1st and 2nd preferences are counted.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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