Author Topic: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?  (Read 25966 times)

Offline disrepdog

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The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« on: October 04, 2011, 08:35:48 PM »
Over on facebook a rather lengthy discussion has been going on about how the awards are decided. A lot of people there (who attend F'con) have commented that they think the awards should move to a juried shortlist.

What do people here think and how could such a change be implemented if it was wanted by the majority?

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 09:24:17 PM »
Igniting such a discussion here from that controversial Facebook discussion I think deserves your real name being appended.
des
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Offline disrepdog

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 10:44:23 PM »
I think my questions are valid as a member of the BFS and a F'con attendee for the the last 6 years. I haven't actually put anything wrong here have I ? I am trying to gauge the feelings of the BFS in the right place rather then on facebook. I am very wary of putting my name on a public forum. I'll pm you who I am and anyone else who wants to know. But I'd rather keep it off public view if that's ok.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2011, 10:51:39 PM »
Well, it's not for me to say. It's just that with such issues stemming from that facebook thread - and the way such a thread might now go on this forum - I thought whoever started the thread should be up front with who they are.  But fair enough, of course.
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Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2011, 10:58:03 PM »
BTW, as far as I know, this forum is not strictly public - as only members can view it.
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Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2011, 11:04:53 PM »
Sorry, I just logged out to check and it seems to have changed. It is now public whether you're logged in as a member or not.
I personally don't really mind but I think someone should have mentioned that it was being changed (unless I missed the announcement).
des
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Offline Del Lakin-Smith

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2011, 07:32:28 AM »
Sorry. My fault. I was unaware of the forum now being private. I thought it was something that may have inadvertently changed when we migrated from one server to another.

Just to clarify though. Anyone can register, as far as I am aware, you don't have to be a BFS member. So although the forum is not open to guests it is open to anyone with an email address.

I have disabled access to guests again, but I would very much like to review this set up.

Best,

Del.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2011, 08:52:44 AM »
Del - the forum was always open to guests in the past. It changed sometime in the last year - if that was inadvertent, it would be great to get back to normal!

DFL - way to go on welcoming someone to the board. You didn't make quite such a fuss about real names when someone posted anonymously to say we should all be ashamed of ourselves on your behalf, I seem to remember.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2011, 09:02:39 AM »
Del - the forum was always open to guests in the past. It changed sometime in the last year - if that was inadvertent, it would be great to get back to normal!

Agree with that.

Quote
DFL - way to go on welcoming someone to the board. You didn't make quite such a fuss about real names when someone posted anonymously to say we should all be ashamed of ourselves on your behalf, I seem to remember.

Don't agree with that.
I did query the identity then, I recall.
Welcoming someone called disrepdog quoting that Facebook context was questionable at the time.
I now welcome the person now I know who it is.  It is a fair debating-point of course, and it seemed
'off' to be anonymous about it on what I thought then was a private-to-members board.
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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2011, 09:06:15 AM »
You said things like, "whoever you are".

What you didn't do was tell them that it was inappropriate to post anonymously, as you have here.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2011, 09:09:08 AM »
You said things like, "whoever you are".

What you didn't do was tell them that it was inappropriate to post anonymously, as you have here.

Well, if that is true - we all make mistakes. But I recall saying something stronger than 'whoever you are'.  And this thread is something far more important thatn that thread.

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Offline Andrew Hook

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2011, 09:17:52 AM »
Can we get back to the topic discussion...

I think it would be useful to have a long list nominated by members, following votes to a short list, and then a juried panel to read the final nominations. It's rare that I've read all the entries on the shortlist and I'm sure this is the case with many others in the BFS. To vote on the basis of not having read everything seems a little bizarre and whilst previously I haven't really thought about questioning it, having read over 300 books as one of the World Fantasy Award judges this year I can certainly see the benefit of a judged award. Of course, there will always be a question over who the judges are to be, but I certainly think it's worth discussion.

NB: I haven't seen the facebook discussion, so I have no idea how this overlaps with other views or what has been said there.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2011, 09:23:07 AM by Andrew Hook »

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2011, 09:23:18 AM »
How about all members voting for a long-list and for the membership of two juries.
An oversight jury to add to the list.
An overload jury reducing it.
Then the two juries preparing a final voting list of 4 in each category for members to vote on, but only if they've read all four.

Brainstorming a bit.
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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2011, 09:54:22 AM »
Like Andrew, I'd leave the system pretty much as it is for now, but replace the final round of voting with a panel, ideally made up of BFS members so that the important connection to the membership isn't lost.

I wrote the current awards constitution, so if it's not working I have to take some of the blame. The idea was to encourage members to put themselves in the position of jurors. But I was profoundly dismayed this year to see so many people saying that they had cast their votes the day the list went up.

That problem was perhaps exacerbated because the shortlist was announced so late - there was only a month to vote, I think, rather than the two months previously allowed for reading and watching the nominated works.

I'd also extend the rule against recommending your own work to include the work of your partner, because the five-pound joint membership makes it far too easy to circumvent that rule.

Offline neilw

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2011, 11:06:03 AM »
Genre awards come in two types: public/member voted awards (which are really just popularity contests) and juried awards (which for me carry more weight as barometers of quality). And as long as you appreciate "best" does not necessarily equate to "most popular" there's no real problem.

As voted awards measure what is "most popular among the electorate", there's no reason to expect the voters to read the entire year's published output and make qualitative decisions. They're just voting for what (or who) they like. These kind of awards work best when there are enough votes so that any skewing factors (such as attempts at log-rolling, or simply authors with sizeable groups of friends) cease to be statistically significant. They run into problems with small electorates. On the other hand there is less work involved in administrating them. Juried awards need much more organizing in terms of selecting the jury and making sure that they receive all the eligible materials and attend the required number of meetings. And the credentials of a jury are always liable to be questioned in some quarters.

Personally, I like the BFS as a member voted award, but the numbers of voting members need to be increased. That's not just a case of increasing the membership of the society, it's also about encouraging enfranchisement to vote across the existing membership and making it as easy as possible for them to do so in good time. For instance I really admire the advances the BSFA have made in recent years with publishing the shortlisted short stories (and engaging with Starship Sofa to produce audio versions) and reprinting the eligible artworks too. This way, members *can*, if they so choose, make a judgement on the basis of looking at all of the contenders (yes, this is more difficult for other categories, but that's no reason not to do it for short story and artwork).

The other thing I was thinking - I don't know how many people vote for the BFS awards, but my gut feeling is that the numbers aren't huge. Nevertheless, in the instances of accountability I think that the voting figures should be published - if not publicly, then at least for the membership to see. That's the only way to avoid stooshies like the one that's currently ongoing.