Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Two small Hugo reforms looking for co-sponsors

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.
Tags: #1, #4, #7, hugos 2018

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