Author Topic: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?  (Read 48373 times)

Offline Andy W Marsden

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #90 on: October 07, 2011, 06:52:07 pm »
Ooh yeah, sorry CarolineC, didn't want to come across as elitist!

What I mean is, create a level that allows fans of the genre to join, still get lots of fun benefits, but without belittling them (you!) and still have the writers/publishers/editors have access to the things they require that fans don't. As you say, a topic for discussion another day, but still well worth a thought as we go forward.
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Offline Del Lakin-Smith

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #91 on: October 07, 2011, 11:35:42 pm »
I definitely agree with the idea of having a system that allows people to log in to check whether they've voted and change their vote. I'd nag people with an email every month or two, unless their email is already registered as having voted. This is something I could volunteer to put together, though I don't want to step on Del's toes.

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I agree completely Emma. A system like that would really help with the security, functionality and perception of the awards process. One of the principals I work to is to have full integration with other systems to help with support and interoperability, so the system I am looking at would integrate with the current web services that we are running. I would love your input and consultation on approaches and system functionality on ensuring the future proofing of the awards system.

I think you would be invaluable in a role in the BFS. Have you considered approaching the committee?

Del.

Offline joshua rainbird

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #92 on: October 08, 2011, 01:27:25 am »
^ if you're seriously looking at an e-mail nagging system to promote voting please ensure members (especially me) can opt out of it   ;D
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Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #93 on: October 08, 2011, 09:08:22 am »
Cheryl Morgan has suggested on her blog that a preferential voting system might be worth discussing, but also points out a potential drawback:

Quote
the BFAs use first-past-the-post voting on the final ballot rather than the preferential balloting that the Hugos use. This means ... that the winner in each category (assuming 5 nominees) could have had the support of only about 21% of the voters. People often complain that the system the Hugos uses means that a genuinely daring and different work will never win, because the system always favors works with mass appeal. This is true, but the system also makes it hard for any one special interest group to force a win against the will of the majority. The smaller the group of voters, the more likely it is that a small group of friends can come to dominate the results.

It's a suggestion worth discussing, although it might well make the bias towards horror worse. The occasional heroic fantasy book that makes it onto the shortlist would stand even less of a chance than it does now.

Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #94 on: October 08, 2011, 09:19:52 am »
Nearly all the discussion has centred around how we pick the winner, but perhaps more could be done about the way the shortlist is built. As we discussed at last year's AGM, the shortlist is very vulnerable to a half dozen people joining specifically to vote, because of how the usual members' votes are distributed so widely over so many books. The members at the AGM felt that if we ended up with lots of new members as a result, that wasn't so bad, but I don't know.

I've suggested above the "Conan" amendment, which would guarantee at least one heroic fantasy nominee every year - does anyone have any other ideas?

For example, do we need to reconsider three points for first choice books? Is that the real source of our problem? Just look at some of the unusual nominees over the last couple of years - the nomination for my own magazine last year is a prime example. I love my little mag, and I'm very proud of the work we've published in it, but it got onto the shortlist as the result of a small group of people who like it, rather than wide support among the membership.

How about something like this as an alternative: rather than choosing our three favourites, let members choose up to ten things they'd like to see on the shortlist. No points, just let everyone choose ten - and make the nominees the five that get the most choices. That would, I think, ensure a broad base of support for every single nominee.

Offline GaryC

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #95 on: October 08, 2011, 10:26:33 am »
Full disclosure: I was BFS Chair 2000-2003 and Awards Administrator 2001-2005. Note the two-year overlap there. I did have a collection and a short story in the running those years and in both cases had to watch them miss the shortlist by a single vote each.  :( Since I left the Committee in 2005, I've been asked to do an informal check of the longlist, or at least part of it - only as regards eligibility (publication date), category correction where necessary for fiction recommendations (wordcount), and picking up errors and typos etc.

Some thoughts on some issues raised above:

Splitting the awards according to genres means more expense in terms of cash and time. Also, how do you decide if a novel is horror or fantasy or SF when some could be counted as more than one? (At the risk of starting the 90s slipstream debate up again...  :)) Also, ensuring that one nomination is heroic fantasy is tokenism to my mind. And why should heroic fantasy be so favoured? Why not urban fantasy, paranormal romance or a YA novel?

The shortcoming of a juried award is finding jurors who are willing and able to do the job and also experienced enough to do a good one. (I'm confident enough of my own tastes in prose fiction, but I know very little about graphic novels and don't consider myself competent to judge them.) Much as I'd be honoured to be asked to be a World Fantasy Judge, I do know that 300 books is about six times the number I'd normally get through in a year, and that would kill my reviewing commitments, not to mention my own writing. As for diversity of jurors, nice idea in principle but it would be hard enough finding the jurors in the first place. Also, this presupposes that male jurors would always favour male writers, and female jurors female writers. I don't accept that I do, and I don't think I'm alone.

You could reduce the workload and have a voted shortlist, at which point a jury took over. That would still give them a reading list of five novels, five novellas, five short stories, five anthologies, five collections, five non-fiction items and five graphic stories - still hefty, and assuming no voting ties, but manageable. Though as we know many novels are very long these days...

(As an aside, one thing I've suggested in the past for Fantasycon is a panel something along the lines of Not the Clarke Awards which is done every year at Eastercon. A group of readers, critics etc talk about the five shortlistees and discuss which should win and which will win, and which should be on the shortlist but isn't and which is on the shortlist but shouldn't be.)

As for voted awards, as Cheryl Morgan says, the BSFA and the Hugos are both voted for and there's always the question of who's been voting for whose friends and how crap the voters' tastes are. They both use the Australian ballot system instead of the first-past-the-post that the BFS uses. It's not difficult to do, though it will add to the counting time. Voters rank the shortlist in order of preference. If the first place has more than 50% of the vote, it is the winner. If not, then fifth place is eliminated and that book's second-place votes are redistributed, and so on until either the winner has over 50% or when you've only got two books left, in which case the one with most votes wins. If there's no overwhelming winner then the winner will be the one *most liked* by the majority of voters. Under first past the post, the winner need only be liked by 20% of the electorate if the opposition is sufficiently divided.

Talking about the word British in the award, I'd allow books to be eligible both in the year of their first publication AND in the year of their publication in the UK, with "publication" meaning in the English language.

As for someone's (Emma's?) point about Susanna Clarke losing Best Novel to one of Stephen King's Dark Tower novels, well that's down to the taste of the voters and for the record I think that rather showed the voters to be out of touch as to my mind Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one of the most significant fantasy novels of the last decade. I was Awards Admin that year and voting was very scattered, with King winning by a single vote.

Offline frank

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #96 on: October 08, 2011, 11:45:35 am »
This is to Mr. Howe or anybody in a position to be forthcoming with such information: May I ask which of the books that came first and second had only one vote separating them? May I also ask for confirmation in understanding the following (to clarify I have fully understand the proceedings) - The winners were simply those who others thought were worth voting for, rather than having read all the entries. Forgive my stupidity if I have misunderstood this.

Offline Peter Coleborn

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #97 on: October 08, 2011, 11:47:26 am »
Excellent comments Gary.

I've always liked the 3-2-1 system (ie vote up to three item in preference order). It's perhaps a bit simplistic but could, maybe, increase the number of votes cast three-fold. I guess the Australian system is like that but more scientific.


Offline Rolnikov

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #98 on: October 08, 2011, 12:02:17 pm »
Excellent comments Gary.

I've always liked the 3-2-1 system (ie vote up to three item in preference order). It's perhaps a bit simplistic but could, maybe, increase the number of votes cast three-fold. I guess the Australian system is like that but more scientific.

That's a superb idea. Easy to understand and simple to implement - and uncontroversial, since it's just what we use for the previous round. While I think the three points can let things leap out of the longlist a little too easily, that wouldn't apply to the shortlist, where everyone is voting on the same five things.

Offline Des Lewis

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #99 on: October 08, 2011, 12:13:15 pm »
to my mind Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is one of the most significant fantasy novels of the last decade.

Hear ! Hear! In fact of all time, I'd say.
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Offline Paul Woodward

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #100 on: October 10, 2011, 08:49:45 pm »
Perhaps the awards could be voted on through a ballot box at the FantasyCon, obviously any members not able to attend the Con could  have a postal or electronic vote in advance? Then the results could be posted up with numbers of votes cast etc before the Awards ceremony. I put my money where my mouth is and say I would be happy to be involved in administering the ballot box and count at the weekend.
Voting could then be part of the fun activities at the weekend of the FantasyCon?

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #101 on: October 10, 2011, 09:30:22 pm »
Posting the results would take some of the mystery out of the awards ceremony, so I would suggest against it, but voting at the con is definitely an idea worth pursuing. I've already offered elsewhere to assist in that process.

- Neil.

Offline Jen

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #102 on: October 10, 2011, 09:32:03 pm »
Though, timewise, it might make it a bit tricky for getting the names engraved on the plaques on the awards...  :-*

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #103 on: October 10, 2011, 10:43:01 pm »
Well there are a few options:

1. Just have the award engraved with what it is and the year. The recipient knosw what it was for.

2. Hand out blank satues and get them engraved afterwards.

3. Go old school and use Dymo labels to put the winners on. They'd be quite unique then.

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Offline disrepdog

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Re: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?
« Reply #104 on: October 11, 2011, 06:45:12 pm »
All excellent points Emma.

I've thought a tiered price with an opt in/out for publications a good idea but it may be that that will cause the end of the publications due to lack of funds.

I get what you say about men vs women and their reading preferences so a jury has to be carefully selected, but still think a couple of BFS members on a jury could be good. (btw I'm clearly an exception as despite being a woman I read epic/military fantasy, sci fi, horror and am never likely to pick up a paranormal romance   ;D)

On the subject of engraving the awards then I think it's reasonable to leave it to the winner get their name engraved if they want. They keep the ward so as you say they know it's theirs. Thus enabling voting to take place at Fantasycon which I think a great idea if we don't have a jury system.  I'd be willing to count votes and am numerate  :). As a mother of children who win sporting cups and trophies getting them engraved is no big deal and not expensive.

I also think that reducing the number of awards could increase their worth.