The World Science Fiction convention/awards were attacked again. How can its unusual governance structure deal with this?

The activities of the World Science Fiction Society, the unincorporated club which chooses the location of the annual World SF Convention (WorldCon) and the annual Hugo awards, have once again encountered a scandal, the 3rd in the last 8 years, and people aren't quite sure how to repair the damage and/or fix it long term. Below, I'll discuss many of the possible and proposed approaches.

You can skip ahead past this description of the odd way WSFS works.

TL;DR (Very Long) Folks could try to make what happened harder to happen. They could also try to make it more obvious and detectable and harder to cover-up. They could look for more general approaches to allow faster response to any sort of attack, not just this one. They could also install deterrents to make it less likely people would try things again.

For those unfamiliar, a good analog to the WorldCon might be the Olympics. The structure is somewhat different, but this can aid in understanding. The Olympic movement and its trademarks belong to a global organization called the International Olympic Committee. Cities and countries form local committees which bid for the right to host a future Olympic Games. The IOC picks a winner, which then does all the logistics of running the games, which move from city to city. At the games, awards (medals) are given. While all the work of holding the contests and finding the winners of the medals is done by the local committee, the medals are awarded in the IOC's name. (You win an Olympic Gold, not just a Paris Gold.)

There are a variety of other roaming events, where cities bid to host, though most, like the Olympics, have a much stronger master organization. For Science Fiction, the master organization is different. WSFS is an unincorporated club. It has no officers, and just one standing committee which handles its trademarks. Its members are defined to be the members of each year's convention, and they meet just once a year, at that convention. At that multi-day meeting, they can have member votes (only of those who attend in person) and the only real lasting thing they can do is amend their set of rules (called a constitution) and doing that requires ratification of the change at the next meeting a year later. The organization can do very little and must do it very slowly.

This is by design. The members don't want a permanent executive. This is a volunteer organization, run by fans and for fans. Each local convention figures it out on its own (though usually with experienced volunteers helping.) The convention wanders to give different groups a chance to try their hand at it, and as an excuse to travel for those who can and bring the event to different populations for those who can't.

The society votes on two other things -- what works will win its annual awards, known as the Hugo awards, and what group and city will host the convention two years hence. Once the society picks a group and city to run it, that group does all the work. It runs a convention (which is entirely its own business) and it also conducts the awards and site selection votes on behalf of WSFS.

All of this takes place in a bizarre mix of strict adherence to (and argument about) the rules and friendly laxity. There is no formal contract between WSFS and the local committees it picks, though in the past everybody has complied with WSFS' constitution as the implied agreement. The rules are full of loopholes, which has caused consternation. Anybody can buy a membership with cash, for example, and just take over if they have enough cash and people, but generally it's a friendly environment where everybody shares goals and people don't try to break the system. Generally, but not always.

When Chengdu, China won the bid to host the 2023 convention, there was some controversy, but that's mostly for another discussion. As winners, they would then do all the work to make things happen. When it came to the Hugo awards, things went very badly. A subcommittee of 9, with some westerners with experience together with some local people, oversaw the awards. Below is a list of what is both known and alleged to have gone wrong.

It should be noted that the award process consists of two phases. First, members of the current and past convention can submit lists of potential nominees. A complex formula is run on these to create a final ballot with the top 6 nominees in each category. Sometimes a candidate may be eliminated at this stage because of various rules. For example, a book published in an earlier year is usually not eligible, but nominators may not have been clear on what year it's from. Members of the current convention then can vote by ranking those 6 as they like (plus "no award" which means they don't think any are good enough.) Another algorithm, similar to the way ranked ballot elections are done in Australia and elsewhere, picks the winner.

Hugo Problems

  • When the nominations were published in July, a short note from the convention indicated that the list was of candidates which complied with "local laws." There was only limited reaction, people were not sure what to make of it. There were a few nominees folks were surprised to see not on the final ballot, but that is sometimes how it happens.
  • The awards were presented without much incident. Normally, right after this presentation, the detailed numbers behind the nomination and voting process are released, but the rules allow for up to 90 days to do this.
  • The numbers were released exactly 90 days after. In them, 4 works were listed as ineligible for no stated reason. When pressed, nobody would say anything, but Dave McCarty, the lead administrator said there was an agreement that there would be only one statement, that works were disqualified due to "the rules of the constitution and the rules we must follow." (Note, this is not technically a violation of the letter of the rules, but there is widespread sentiment that it violates the spirit.)
  • In addition, the revealed nomination patterns had a highly unusual distribution of nominations. It was alleged by some that this was consistent with ballot stuffing or manipulation by some party.
  • The math of the complex nomination calculation did not add up. It had been done wrong--some alleged possibly deliberately.
  • Many alleged the 4 unexplained eliminations might be explained by Chinese censorship rules, "local laws" and "rules we must follow" referred to in official statements. McCarty broke silence briefly to claim that there was no official communication from government officials, and he made the decisions on his own. The exchange was very heated, and McCarty went silent again, other than to apologize for the tone of the discussion and admit he had been extremely rude to those asking him questions. All officials of the convention have otherwise stuck to their agreement to remain silent -- a cover-up of some sorts.
  • Three members of the Chengdu Hugo committee, one a very experienced western fan who was co-chair of the convention, were censured by WSFS' one standing committee (trademark protection) for their actions. One of them, McCarty, resigned, the other two did not. That committee also has been unwilling to answer questions or make further statements.

There are also unusual elements which have raised suspicion. Vastly more money flowed at this convention than at any other WorldCon. An entire museum/convention facility was built just to host it, ready just days in advance, in a field where most conventions take place by finding spare convention space on late summer weekends when there are no business conventions. A press release announced that "deals for over 8 billion RMB ($1B)" were done at the convention for the "science fiction industries," while only modest business takes place at other WorldCons. Rumours suggest some staff and attendees were paid (beyond travel expenses,) while at other WorldCons, it's all volunteer effort, and convention workers and almost all program presenters must buy a membership, though it is often refunded if money is available. There is no specific evidence of money causing corruption, but the unusual and huge amounts are a big red flag for many, because big money so often bends motivations. The convention also had as guest of honour a Russian fervent supporter of the war against Ukraine, which raised much opposition in the west, though he did not show up.

While some elements are only alleged, without proper proof or without evidence about who was responsible, many of these things on the list are established facts. One established fact is that everybody involved, who knew or should have known, or came to know the reality, is participating in the cover-up. That includes all 9 members of the Hugo subcommittee, and the chairs of the convention at a minimum.

There has been some suggestion that that perhaps all of this is just some bad mistakes that have been badly covered-up. While it would be positive to learn it was just mistakes and not censorship, the fact that this is positive makes the cover-up strange. Why keep silent and have everybody assume censorship when they might be more forgiving of mistakes? Either way, something needs repair.

So how might we fix it?

Here are various proposals from myself or that I have seen. As always in fandom, some will cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth or even plunge all fandom into war. So be it. I certainly don't propose doing all of these; they are alternatives that some folks think could possibly improve things.

Note that some of these are deliberately light on implementation, to instead discuss the policy issues. Even if you don't think they could ever be made to work, presume they could for the purposes of discussion. Then, if any of them do seem popular, people can get to debating just how or if they could happen.

Repair the specific damage

Fans want to both undo the damage done and assure it doesn't happen again. The main avenues are rules changes (which take 2 years) and gestures and statements, which may possibly be made immediately.

It's very difficult to correct the results. Even though it is known who was disqualified, and in theory known what the real final ballot should have been, there is evidence that the statistics released are corrupted. But even if they were not, you can't re-run the race fairly after receiving a partial result, and definitely not after labeling certain works as having been punished -- they will get special sympathy and attention and could very likely win just for that reason, as a "screw you," and that's unfair to the others.

It is possible to give special recognition to the eliminated works, declaring them fighters against Chinese Censorship. This could be an action done by the 2024 WorldCon.

Any number of public declarations, as well as punishments, could send a signal of "don't try this again." Shame can be brought on China, Chinese censorship, the Chengdu committee, the Chengdu Hugo committee or others. Shame can come from simple declarations at the 2024 WorldCon, or something more dramatic.

Because the system requires 2 years for changes, there is also a danger that specific changes will simply "fight the last war," and while they might plug a loophole they could fail to address the core problem.

Permanent shame and bans

The WSFS constitution could be amended to create an official path to shame offenders, such as the creation of a list of "Enemies of Fandom" with a means to vote people onto it Enemies could be people, organizations or geographic regions. Becoming an enemy could include conditions under which one would leave the list. Being on the list might mean the enemy is forbidden from serving in any WSFS/WorldCon role, forbidden from bidding, possibly forbidden from even being a member/attendee. Or it could just be a mark of shame without a specific punishment.

Candidates could be all members of the Chengdu Hugo Committee, for example. All of China could be put on the list "until such time as China scores in the top 50% of nations on the RSF World Press Freedom Index"

Placement on the list could be done at a single business meeting, with the next meeting able to remove it, but after that requiring 2 meetings to remove a name. (This is similar to the amendment rule, except entry on the list is immediate.)

Specific rule changes

Bidding requirements could demand that any bid be in a country which scores sufficiently well on some objective censorship score, such as RSF's World Press Freedom Index Political component. China, KSA, Egypt and Uganda all score poorly here and would likely be banned from bidding.

Alternately, bids from these countries could be allowed, but would require that the bid indicate that Hugo awards will be administered by a different named entity, one based in a country which has a satisfactory score. For example, China could bid but would need to name a Hugo subcommittee in a place like Europe or North America or similar. The bidder would still need to state that if it is to hold a Hugo ceremony (this is technically optional) that it will be done according to the results of the external subcommittee.

Another bidding change: Currently, bids do not explicitly agree they will follow the WSFS constitution in running their convention, it is only implied. They should be required to pledge this.

The constitution could indicate that the only reason a nominee may be excluded is a reason enumerated in the constitution. This will create an irresolvable conflict for those who feel local law requires otherwise. A requirement could be included to disclose when this or related problems happen, though that does little to solve the underlying problem, it just makes things more public.


There could be some requirement for audit of any voting results by an independent party. (Suitable independent parties could be the Hugo and Site Selection committees of the previous or next WorldCon.) Such groups would receive a copy of all ballots and votes, for use in an audit. Ideally this means any mechanism by which votes and ballots are submitted automatically sends them to both the main party and the auditor. The auditors need not do any work unless something is suspected, though random audits are also valuable. Auditors would normally first bring up any discrepancies in private, but would publish them if they can't be resolved.

To implement this, it could make sense to have a very minimal permanent establishment whose only task is to maintain the web site or software that receives ballots, and then forwards them to the current committee as well as to the audit committee (or just keeps a log for them.) All validation and processing of the ballots could remain as it is now. There is a good argument that there is no point in reinventing the wheel each year on the technology (and indeed, software is re-used informally) and that could be formalized in the interests of audit.

(The current constitution requires accepting votes by postal mail, but so few exercise that right that even if we really want to keep it, it's not hard for the group maintaining such a site to take paper and scan it.)

Resist cover-ups

Some people are more angry at the lack of information than the malfeasance and censorship. As such, rules for more transparency could help. The audit ability above might suffice.

It's not clear why all ballots could not be made public, stripped of the nominator's name, at the end of voting. There is some privacy risk on ballots which are unusual enough to identify a person. That could be reduced by redacting any nomination which got less than some threshold of votes, so all that is published is votes that mattered. Location of the nominator could also be included (broken up into regions so each region has some minimum number of ballots. This provides an extra audit, as people can look for their ballot to be sure it was counted. Buying voting is already possible so this doesn't weaken that. Voters could be allowed to put on a private code that would be published to identify their ballot -- or their name if they don't care, though for full privacy you can't have everybody but one person in a region use their real name.

If this were done, it would be much riskier to play games, and everybody could audit the results.

There could also be rules demanding details on any decisions on disqualification. Glasgow (2024) has already promised to do that. Though even if the Chinese had cited the Chinese laws used to exclude the victims of their censorship, it would not resolve the core problem, but it might make it harder to do.

Encourage whistle-blowing

All involved have agreed to silence, and for some the cover-up is as frustrating as the scandal. The reason for the conspiracy of silence is unknown. Some elements of the voting process require secrecy, especially during the process, and this may make it easier for a cover-up to be implemented. Instead, an ethos could be promoted that if something is going wrong, it is your duty to whistle-blow, not to be silent That to not whistle-blow is to be complicit. Of course, every whistle-blower had to balance what legitimately needs to be kept secret to protect the interests of WSFS and what should not be hidden. It should be clear though, that some things which are generally not disclosed are kept secret just to enhance the validity of the award calculation, but they are not national security secrets, and should not be hidden at the expense of the integrity of the awards themselves.

Do little or nothing

Some things have already been done. McCarty, the Hugo administrator, was censured and fired (resigned under pressure) from the Mark Protection committee and may be a pariah in the community after this. Ben Yallow, who was both a Hugo administrator and co-chair of Chengdu, who has a very long history of high activity in the community, is hiding, was censured but did not resign from his MPC seat. He has pulled out of or been removed from some upcoming positions. The Chengdu representative on the MPC was also censured. Even Rob Sawyer, who was guest of honour at Chengdu and had nothing to do with these particular events, has taken a significant reputational hit for his appearance as guest of honour and an unwitting appearance at the launch of the business venture.

Some would advance that this, and more like it, might be enough.

Faster ability to respond

Sorely lacking (by historical design) in WSFS is a way to respond quickly to problems. WSFS has no ability to do that. The parent society barely exists, and its only way to change is to amend its constitution, which requires two votes over 2 years. Other than that, individual conventions hold an annual meeting but they have limited power. They can't do things like change Hugo results or change rules, without ratification a year later.

The inability to respond quickly is OK in a friendly situation where everybody works to the same goals and just argues about how to do it. Once you get into an adversarial situation with an actual attacker trying to corrupt things, it makes the organization powerless.

Permanent Hugo and WorldCon committees

Many have suggested there be some permanent entity that is part of WSFS which handles at least the Hugo awards or other aspects for which a local convention might need correction or help. This is a controversial suggestion, as many oppose there being any permanent structure or management in WSFS. There are those who want what is jokingly called the "Permanent Floating WorldCon Committee" and those who fear it.

A permanent committee would have some power to quickly resolve problems. Right now, fans like the idea that each convention is different and full of local favour, in spite of the fact this also means local mistakes and inexperience. However, one argument is that the award voting process is not supposed to be different in each location, it's supposed to be the same, and so is the convention site selection voting.

The danger is that any permanent committee would attract SMOFs -- a very ironic acronym for "secret master of fandom," referring to people who, if they had to choose between running conventions and enjoying SF and its community, might be inclined to pick the former.

One solution might be term limits. After a person had served for a certain time on any WSFS committees, managing the business meeting, or in certain roles at conventions, they would be unable to take other roles, unless nobody else was nominated for a role.

An extremely limited permanent committee with a small set of enumerated powers is safer, but may not be able to respond to an attack. It's a difficult line to maintain. Though there is some virtue in things like a simple technical committee which handles ballot processing and software, but not policy, at least directly.

Do it all with Worldcon Intellectual Property corp. or Mark Protection Committee

A number of proposals have suggested that these two entities could act, as they control the Hugo Award and Worldcon trademarks, and can control who uses the marks and how. WSFS used to own the marks (yes, unincorporated clubs can own things) and had one standing committee which people craved to be on that would send occasional cease and desist letters to outsiders, and handle registration and minor legal matters. The marks were transferred to a non-profit corporation named WIP, whose board is made up of the MPC members.

Making it a WSFS supreme court for the Hugos would be a very large step up in its bailiwick, though it has appeal as this is the only body today that can take quick actions and has any sort of legal teeth. It's not clear (to me) how the marks are licenced. Presumably they are licenced to WSFS, their former owner and the appointing/electing body of the MPC and thus WIP. There is debate if they are licenced to the Worldcons by WSFS or WIP. The WSFS constitution says that the Hugos and site selection are actually activities reserved to WSFS and not done by the Worldcons, though the conventons are delegated to do the administration and logistics of these things for WSFS. In this case, they need no more licence than WSFS has as they are acting in the name of and as agents of WSFS, not as independent entities.

Even so, WIP has some power to declare the marks have been used improperly (even in the name of WSFS) or been sullied, and even to file suit to at least stop further improper use of the marks. That's tricky, though because parties don't need a licence to make accurate references to the marks. If a book won the Hugo Award, its author can say that without a licence because that's just a fact. The main thing you can sue over is somebody unauthorized using the mark to describe their own services or products, in a way that could confuse the public as to the source of things.

The MPC recently decided not to have issue with the theatre at the Chengdu SF museum calling itself the "Hugo Theatre" because it was factually the venue of the 2023 award ceremony. That's possibly too permissive -- a movie theatre that played Star Wars for one night would not get away with calling itself the "Star Wars Theatre." They might give them the option of calling it the "Tainted 2023 Hugo Award Ceremony Theatre," which they would probably pass on.

New response methods

WSFS requires all long term changes to be voted one one year and ratified the next. This meant that when a group known as the "sad puppies" decided to cheat on the Hugo awards by exploiting the fact that people can just buy voting memberships and carry out a bloc vote to overwhelm everybody else, the complex fix for that took two years to come into force. (The fix also involved an overly complex algorithm that leaves most people mystified, because only algorithmic solutions are workable when you can't respond after-the-fact to an attack.)

One option is to allow certain parties to respond to problems immediately, but to require their solutions be reversible. Then, when there is more time to deliberate, their decisions can be ratified or (mostly) reversed. When the "puppies" attacked, an easy solution would have been to make a combined ballot of both the slate and non-slate nominees. Because voters rank their choices, they can rank a larger set and the results can be calculated either with or without the slate candidates at a later time. The effect on the results should in theory be zero, and in practice should be very small. This would have been much better than what was done -- effectively the cancellation of most of the awards in the year in question, when a large body of fans voted that no award should be given rather than give one to the slate nominees.

Sometimes you can't figure out if a decision is reversible, and you also need a mechanism that can confirm an action is reversible enough. (Nothing will be 100% reversible.) This would not have worked to deal with a more recent crisis after 1,500 mail-in site selection votes arrived from China with no mailing address; this allegedly caused Chengdu to win the vote. The validity of this was put to the WSFS business meeting, which made an advisory ruling that missing addresses did affect validity, but this was overruled by the local convention chair. The problem is there's no easy way to make a reversible decision, since the winner has to know very soon if they have won.

Reversible Hugos (Update)

The ranked choice voting system used in Hugos makes it very easy to reverse decisions and re-run alternate scenarios. It is sometimes called "Instant runoff" because it is able to calculate what a runoff election would look like after some folk's top choice is eliminated. This means it can also handle conditional disqualifications.

If a Hugo admin wishes to disqualify a work for some subjective reason, instead they can leave it on the final ballot and add the next work that would get on the ballot if the first work is disqualified. Voters see a larger ballot and suspect something is up, but they can still rank all their choices, and after the fact you can run the vote to find out what happens if it is or isn't disqualified.

In that case, and administrator would just register the challenge. They would not have any other option. Then if, and only if, the doubted work wins, the question can be immediately punted up to a special committee which is convened only for this. On that committee are perhaps Hugo admins and con chairs from future and past worldcons, and possibly a random selection of fans who have agreed beforehand to an NDA. Or it could be 3rd party judges or any other set of impartial people, distributed around the globe. They would adjudicate the disqualification. If the work is disqualified, the real winner is calculated and announced at the appropriate time, along with a notice of what happened and why. If the work is not disqualified, it wins, and it's an open question if the existence of this adjudication is revealed or not. (Fans will figure out something was marked for disqualification, but they won't know what work it was, or if it survived without more info.)

In the extreme case of the puppies taking all 5 nomination slots, and a Hugo committee that decided to disqualify the entire slate, the result would be either the result which would have happened with no slate (if ratified) or No Award if not ratified, as happened in the real history.

Virtual WSFS meeting

WSFS members convene every year for a meeting, stretching over 3-4 days, to vote on business. To vote, you must be physically present and attending the current convention. As noted above, for a vote to be ratified, a different group, physically present at the next year's convention, is needed to again approve any significant changes.

In today's world, however, virtual meetings and votes are entirely doable. In spite of that, the few who attend these meetings like it that way, and have resisted any remote attendance by people who are as much members as anybody else. They want only people who are dedicated enough to come in person and take a lot of time away from the actual activities of the convention to have a voice. It does keep the meeting smaller.

Whether people agree with that sentiment or not, it's not clear it applies when there is an emergency. One could convene the members of convention N, virtually or in person, and then a week or month later convene the members of convention N+1 (or N-1) virtually. One could even limit the meeting for convention N-1 to those who physically attended it by providing a special token only to those people. You could even limit it to those who physically attended the business/voting meeting at convention N-1, and almost duplicate the deliberation of the ratification process, but with a shorter deliberation time.

That could have solved even the site voting question. While a site can't wait a year to learn if it won, it can wait a week or a month. Either is enough to have had "time to think about it."

The virtue of fast decisions

Above, I have shown how fast processes might have dealt with recent problems. However, the real virtue is their adaptability to any problem. And the virtue of that is that an ability to respond is a deterrent to an attack. There is much less point to an attack if there's a good risk it will be deflected. The puppies would not have bothered nominating their slate if it would have been quietly dealt with, since it cost them money to buy voting membership.

If the Chinese censorship problem had been detected during the handling of nominations, and it would have been possible to correct it then, it might not even have been attempted, though if it was due to legal forces, that's less assured. It could, however, have been fixed if anybody had been willing to blow the whistle on the fact it was happening. Again, the fear of a whistleblower makes playing games less likely.

Not selling memberships to "outsiders"

Most of these problems resulted from the fact that under the rules, any natural person can buy a membership and vote, and there's not even much checking on who is a natural person. People learning about the system are usually surprised to learn that voting is simply for sale, as it's an obvious security hole and it only really worked because there was a community of trust.

The community seeks to be very welcoming to newcomers. There's a modest group of people who are active in the community but never come to the conventions, yet want to vote. The appearance of the 1,500 to 2,000 votes from China, effectively all of which came from people who had never been part of the community or attended the convention before, was still accepted by many because of that desire to welcome new people. Indeed, it was a common technique of cities bidding to hold the convention to encourage their local fans who had never been involved in the WorldCon to buy a voting membership and support bringing the convention to their city, but that usually would mean handfuls of votes, not thousands. Some alleged the Chinese votes were fake, just some entity with lots of money "buying the convention" but this was hard to prove. The official statement was that the 2,000 voters were students and Chinese fans who pooled their money ($100 is a lot of money for a Chinese student) to make it happen. Embracing the very large Chinese SF community is generally seen as a good thing.

It should be noted that all the group sizes, outside China, are modest. Hugo awards nominating is usually done by less than 1,000 people, and perhaps 2,000 voters. Site selection is usually under 1,000 voters -- at Chengdu it was less than 200, in part because it was uncontested.

The challenge is to find a way to distinguish community insiders and people who genuinely seek to join the community from outsiders who simply want to exploit it for their purpose. There's no easy answer to that question that doesn't exclude some genuine people, but big problems have resulted because outsiders can just buy votes if they want to spend money -- about $50 to vote on Hugos, and an extra $50 to also vote on the location of the Convention, though that $50 gets sent to the winning convention and gives the voter membership rights so it has other value.

That brings up another strange flaw in the voting system. As noted, anybody can vote for site selection if they buy a supporting membership (around $50) and pay the voting fee (also around $50.) The winner gets all the voting fees, both what their supporters paid and what everybody else who opposed them paid. As such, if somebody were (and this is technically within the rules) funding locals to vote for them, and they knew just how many to buy, they could do it at very minimal cost.

Legal clarity

The organization also needs more legal clarity. The terms of the agreement between WSFS and the conventions it appoints need to be more explicit and clear. The current WSFS constitution says the WorldCon (the local convention entity) does most of what goes on at a convention, but the Hugos and Site Selection are officially the actions of WSFS, though it delegates the logistics and administration to the WorldCon. It's a bit confusing and might not handle legal scrutiny well.

That WSFS is constitutionally the party that awards the Hugos, using the WorldCon as its agent, has many advantages for trademark law and also if WSFS wants to exercise authority over the Hugos and the people administering them. This should be made more clear.

Update: McCarty decided his job was to embrace Chinese rules

In an interview, McCarty revealed that he feels each convention should run its own awards in its own way. He feels he was appointed by the Chengdu convention to run the Hugos the Chinese way-- a culture where self-censorship is strongly ingrained -- and not with the free-speech ethos normally present in WSFS. He decided to do Chinese style Awards at a Chinese event, not to bring free-speech ethos to the event. Here it suggests that the above proposal, of making it clear that the awards come from WSFS (the global community) and that the local convention only does logistics for them, might have better guided him.


  • When all is done, there should at least be the appearance that they did not get away with it, to deter future corruption and censorship.
  • The best solution is not a specific one, but a general one that allows the organization to respond quickly to problems and threats, without removing its intentional slow pace of change, and resistance to control by "SMOFs."
  • Auditing and more transparency are a good start, with an ethos of whistleblowing.
  • Put term limits on all WSFS officials.
  • Clarify and codify the structure of WSFS and the contracts.
  • Pick one way or another to allow WSFS to respond immediately to threats. I like the idea of actions that can be reversed, but some path should be chosen.
  • Do find some way to stop Hugo administration from being under the influence of censorship states, including China.


The Constitution does not make clear when a Hugo winner officially gains that status.

This ought to be tidied up

Though I don't think there has been much debate about it, and most people treat it as happening when the award is announced. What is it that depends on when the award is given, would you say, that it needs this definition of the moment. What changes at that moment?

Maybe worth pointing out that there is financial value resulting from being declared a Hugo award winner, both to the author and their publisher, both of whom are likely to sell more books as a result. So there's a financial temptation there to cheat. While hopefully authors and publishers in the past have sufficiently valued the "community of trust" in the SF field to shy away from any such thing, the Chengdu situation has brought the fragility and gameability of the Hugo award rules to the attention of many. Another good reason to tighten up the rules, to make it hard for anyone to buy a particular work onto the short-list.

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