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Author Topic: The Awards, should we change the way they are decided?  (Read 18969 times)
Peter Coleborn
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« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2011, 12:12:00 PM »

I understand that the voting figures will be released. But David needs to fit it all in between his day job so please give him some time to post them.
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neilw
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« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2011, 02:18:18 PM »

 Cheryl Morgan contributes her usual amount level headedness and experience.

For fan-voted awards to be respected these days I think that they need the following:

The rules should be posted publicly on the organizationís website
It should be made easy for eligible people to vote
Those responsible for administering the awards should be clearly identified and ineligible to receive awards
Personally Iíd also like to see numbers. People are always complaining about how few people vote in the Hugos, but I doubt that any set of national awards comes close unless voting is open to everyone. If you publish numbers, that puts pressure on to increase participation. It also helps the public know which awards are liable to be hijacked by a small clique.

It may well be that the BFS can clarify some of these issues, and I hope they do. If they canít, or wonít, it will reflect badly, not only on them, but also on all other fan-voted awards.


http://www.cheryl-morgan.com/?p=11772
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Peter Coleborn
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« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2011, 02:51:44 PM »

Stephen, when did the online voting system begin, and when did it replace postal voting? Do you recall?
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Stephen Theaker
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« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2011, 03:23:01 PM »

We've been using a Google Docs voting form since the final round of 2009. Email voting has been allowed since before I joined.

We sent out paper forms throughout the 2010 awards, although mailing problems meant not everyone got the recs form that year. I think there was also a round in the 2009 awards where forms weren't sent out except on request, but I'm not sure (I wasn't the awards admin then).

For this year's awards paper forms weren't sent out: an invitation to vote was sent out by email (my emails from Debbie arrived on April 11 and June 29).
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J Naylor
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« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2011, 03:27:19 PM »

Awards are always difficult.  If they are voted it is often best to use the term "favourite" or "best liked" rather than "best" which has an inherent quality inference.

Awards from within a community often boil down to a cult of personality and almost inevitably end up in acrimony as lobbying groups wax and wane within the whole.

Juried awards are in their own way more susceptible to bias than voted awards sicne who appoints the jury etc can affect the outcome.

A very difficult area and one which would benefit from thoughtful and unbiased discussion concentrating on the mechanics of decision making etc rather than worrying about what is in place or how we got here.

Oh and remember you can't please all of the people all of the time...
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Selina
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« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2011, 04:29:16 PM »

There are many, many different discussions of this on FB but a few things I noticed were that I think someone who is a non-publisher/writer was offering to be the awards admin next year, and that Cavan Scott was offering to organise a round table discussion/articles on the different options for the next Prism.

When David or another committee member gets the time it would be useful for a message to go out to members stating the current Awards constitution (so we all know what it is rather than replying on memory) and suggestions for how members of the society could participate in the discussion of how the awards should be done in future.

Hopefully this will spur people to volunteer more for things rather than any other reaction.

Alas, I cannot offer to do more than the reviews I currently do.
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DavidJHowe
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« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2011, 04:30:11 PM »

I have seen the comments online about this year's British Fantasy Awards, and I am saddened that some people feel so unhappy about the whole thing.

The Awards are and always have been a straightforward vote by the BFS membership and by FantasyCon attendees. These good people send in recommendations to create the Longlist, and then they vote on that Longlist. The top five-scoring entries in each category then go onto the Shortlist, and a final vote is done to determine the winner. One with the most votes wins. Simple as that. It is as completely unbiased as it can be.

People might be interested to see how the voting broke down this year:

BEST NOVEL - 116 votes cast
BEST NOVELLA - 102 votes cast
BEST SHORT STORY - 92 votes cast
BEST COLLECTION - 97 votes cast
BEST ANTHOLOGY - 111 votes cast
BEST NON-FICTION - 90 votes cast
BEST ARTIST - 108 votes cast
BEST SMALL PRESS - 110 votes cast
BEST MAGAZINE/PERIODICAL - 111 votes cast
BEST COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL - 77 votes cast
BEST FILM - 114 votes cast
BEST TELEVISION - 120 votes cast

So that's a total of 1248 votes cast overall (I believe there were 999 votes last year or thereabouts), and there were 140 valid individuals voting in the Awards (I did have to exclude a couple of voters as they were not BFS Members and had not attended FantasyCon either last year, nor were they listed to attend this year).

So the winners were simply those who those that voted thought were worth voting for. Several of the cateories were very close between the votes, with in some cases just one vote separating the winner. I asked Del Lakin-Smith, the BFS Webmaster, who was also looking after the online results forms, to do a double check count and tally to ensure complete transparancy in what the members had voted for. The results were as announced.

There has been criticism that perhaps I should have stepped down from Administering the Awards once it became apparent who some of the winners were (ie my partner Sam, and books published by Telos Publishing, a company that I co-run). It takes a lot of work to bring everything together, and because the voting is electronic and the counting is automatic (and was confirmed by Del) I assumed that everything was fine.

There have been comments about the choice of presenters for the Awards - again, several people who I approached declined, and so I had to go for people I knew were going to be there. I had an early discussion with Sarah Pinborough on this, and she agreed with me that it would be a good idea to go with some lesser known names and faces to present this year. So that is what I tried to do: to use the Convention GoHs (of course) and to also include some people who were less well known. If I was wrong, then so be it, but my intentions were to try and ensure balance in the ceremony.

I am very distressed about the nature of the comments being made online, and the BFS Committee will of course be discussing them and deciding what actions to take going forward.

Back to this discussion ... and the way to suggest and make change to the way the BFS does *anything* is contained within the Constitutions for the BFS and the BFAwards, both of which are linked to on the front page of the site:

BFS Constitution: http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/about-the-bfs/the-constitution-of-the-british-fantasy-society/
Awards Constitution: http://www.britishfantasysociety.co.uk/the-british-fantasy-awards-constitution-ii/

To suggest a change, someone would need to redraft the Awards Constitution to reflect whatever they wanted to suggest. This should then be submitted to the Chair of the BFS, and would then be discussed, back-and-forth, between the BFS Committee and whoever raised it to iron out any remaining wrinkles and to ensure it's watertight (so, for example, what happens if a jury can't be set up for a certain award? Is that award not then presented? How many people should form a minimum jury? What happens if a shortlisted book cannot be sourced from the publisher? Is it then dropped? And so on). Then it is presented to the BFS Membership to vote on - either at the next AGM, or it could be put to a special vote of the membership.

There are other options other than moving to a juried (or part juried) system. We could make the votes totally transparant - ie show on the public website exactly who voted for what. We could open the votes to *everyone* as with the Gemmells ...

Over to you ...


David
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« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2011, 05:18:26 PM »

Just to reiterate, anyone who wants to know who I am feel free to pm me. I am used to forums where your real name is hidden. I am happy to stand up and be counted should a round table discussion take place as has been suggested. 

Thank you David for your post, I now have a clearer idea of things. This was one reason I started this thread. I wasn't passing an comment on who won the awards this year and I am very saddened to read that Sam feels she has to give her award back. She won it on the way the awards are run at the moment.

I just wanted to find out the views of people here on the current system and if others think a change would be a good idea.

I do think a voted for longlist followed by a juried shortlist would be good. I also think Cheryl Morgan makes very good points.

I'd also like to add that I didn't know until Monday that F'con attendees could also vote, not just BFS members and I think I'm not alone in that. If the system stays then there could be 500 plus voters next year if they are all aware they can vote.

I'll also be emailing the committee offering help with next year's awards as someone with no connections to the industry but an avid reader.

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Jen
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« Reply #23 on: October 05, 2011, 05:39:50 PM »

So those awards numbers - are those total votes received for the winner, or just for whatever choice in the category?
And do you have a breakdown of how many votes per item in each category?
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DavidJHowe
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« Reply #24 on: October 05, 2011, 05:55:16 PM »

So those awards numbers - are those total votes received for the winner, or just for whatever choice in the category?
And do you have a breakdown of how many votes per item in each category?
The numbers are the total number of votes in each category (so a sum of the number that each of the five entries in each received) - you don't have to vote in every category, hence them all being less than the 140 people who voted.

I do have a breakdown of exactly how many votes every item got - heck we have the actual online spreadsheet which is filled in automatically as the votes come in, and which was then used to automatically tally them to get the totals. I also counted them all myself to ensure that nothing was awry with anything, and Del checked them as well. It's not possible for the Awards Admin to influence the voting in any way.

At the moment I'm hesitant to reveal the exact numbers as it could be embarrasing for those who came at the bottom each time. I feel that if there was a need to go to that level of detail, we might need to ask all those shortlisted if they minded the exact vote counts being revealed. I think (though am not sure if it actually says this anywhere) that the voting is meant to be confidential, and so I would want to be sure that no further storms would be caused by this information being released.

Hope that helps

David
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Jen
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« Reply #25 on: October 05, 2011, 05:59:22 PM »

Okie doke.   Grin  I was just curious about in depth numbers because the Hugos release theirs... also I am just nosey like that!  Wink 
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Des Lewis
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« Reply #26 on: October 05, 2011, 06:19:55 PM »

I just wanted to find out the views of people here on the current system and if others think a change would be a good idea.

I was banging on about the BFS Awards voting system from 2001 - 2005, mainly on the TTA forum.  Then I gave up.
This was an accident waiting to happen - despite a warning two years ago when a very similar (if less serious, although serious enough to the people involved) situation of 'complaining against the results' happened.

BTW, sorry for querying the identity of 'disrepdog' who suddenly turned up here out of the blue on a then supposedly 'private' forum referring to an arguably 'difficult' Facebook thread that I had just read. Nothing personal of course, as I didn't know then who lay behind 'disrepdog' in that context.  Just wanted to safeguard the 'purity' of any thread set up to discuss this serious issue.

Yours, df lewis - Karl Edward Wagner Award winner in 1998 - an award I'm not giving back! Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: October 05, 2011, 06:35:09 PM »

No worries, disrepdog does sound dodgy I guess. It's my user name all over the place and stems from my love of the disreputable dog from Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy.  Grin

I hope this does all lead to something positive
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Des Lewis
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« Reply #28 on: October 05, 2011, 06:38:29 PM »

I hope this does all lead to something positive

We two at least will make sure it does. Smiley
des
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Stephen Theaker
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« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2011, 06:54:17 PM »

Please could I ask the committee to consider and vote on this change, whenever it's convenient?

The Constitution currently states:

Quote
Recommendations may not be made for the recommenderís own material. Such recommendations will be ignored (though the voterís other recommendations will be added to the longlist as usual).

I propose changing this to:

Quote
Recommendations may not be made for the recommenderís own material or that of their partner. Such recommendations will be ignored (though the voterís other recommendations will be added to the longlist as usual).

It's a really useful rule, I think, but since members can circumvent it for a fiver it's losing its effectiveness. And it means I won't have to yell at Ranjna to stop her recommending TQF...
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