So why look at Best Fan Writer? Well of all the categories this was the one that had a different dynamic than the others. The winner was the non-Puppy nominated whose nominations was primarily on the basis of this one report: http://laurajmixon.com/2014/11/a-report-on-damage-done-by-one-individual-under-several-names/
Rather than describe the contents of Mixon’s report I’ll quote from the introduction:
Benjanun Sriduangkaew has established herself over the past two years as a well-liked and talented newer writer. As a lesbian Thai woman, she identifies as a member of a highly marginalized community, and there has been quite a bit of excitement in progressive circles around her rise in popularity as a short story writer. She has been publishing SFF since 2012 and is a John W. Campbell nominee for 2014.
In September 2014 she was publicly revealed as Requires Hate, a controversial rage-blogger. Thai blogger Requires Hate appeared on the scene in mid-2011, and has built her reputation primarily by publishing vitriolic reviews of various writers’ books. She has ruffled a lot of feathers, but she too has her advocates: progressives (among them people I hold in high regard), who appreciate that—despite her sometimes over-the-top rhetoric—she unapologetically speaks up for people of color and queer/ LGBTQI people, calling out racist, homophobic, misogynist content in many popular SFF novels and stories.
In short, and without going into the ins-and-outs, Mixon’s report was on the topic of a very different controversy than the Puppy Kerfuffle and one that applied primarily to the left of SF/F fandom. Now notably one of the earliest and most quoted “Puppy Free Voting” guides was by Deidre Saorise Moen (you can read it here http://deirdre.net/the-puppy-free-hugo-award-voters-guide/ ) and in that guide she was somewhat equivocal about Mixon:
Best Fan Writer
Laura J. Mixon — Except Mixon also campaigned for a Hugo Award with emotional blackmail language, which IMHO makes her no better than the Puppies.
(followed by No Award)
On top of that in a later post (here: http://deirdre.net/hugo-awards-voting-closes-july-31/ ) she overtly stated that she was not voting for Mixon. You can read her reasons why and for this post I’m not going to go into them. What makes this interesting is more recent claims that ‘No Award’ was effectively a slate. Now that is somewhat incoherent but I’ll take it to mean that they are claiming people simply followed a voting guide (presumably Deidre Saorise Moen’s) and possibly without reading the works. Indeed I keep seeing this claim that people voted without reading the works but almost no evidence is offered (the closest I’ve seen is this comment http://madgeniusclub.com/2015/08/27/yet-another-post-hugo-post/#comment-62723 ‘Quizzer’ spoke to some people at the con).
So Best Fan Writer is an equivocal category. How did it play out?
4138 votes were cast in this category. That is 1767 fewer votes that the overall total and 662 more than were cast for the next category ‘Best Fan Artist’. So the vote was less but due to general attrition of categories as they become more obscure.
- Jeffro Johnson – a games blogger at Castalia House (Vox Day’s publishing thing)
- Dave Freer – this blogs favorite mad genius and petunia grower
- Cedar Sanderson – a Sad Puppy advocate of sorts
- Amanda S. Green – another mad genius Sad Puppy
Vox Day’s published voting preference was:
- Jeffro Johnson
- Dave Freer
- Amanda S. Green
- Cedar Sanderson
- Laura J. Mixon
Overall the total vote for 1st preference votes for candidates other than Mixon or No Award was 1070. My estimate of the total Puppy vote (sad and rabid) was 1270 (see here). So the drop off in Puppy votes for this category was 200. That means the drop off in non-Puppy votes was 1767 – 200 = 1576. Put another way those 1576 were not die-hard punish-the-puppy voters. I am not saying that those non-Puppies who did vote were out to punish Dave Freer et al but clearly anybody who did intend to vote for purely punitive reasons would have done so in this category AND had a clear indication to do so (if they chose) from Puppy-Free voting guides.
Mixon fell short of 1st preferences to win on first go and the non-Puppy vote split 2057 to Mixon and 1056 to No Award. On the first round Amanda S. Green was eliminated and 37 votes passed to Mixon. That was enough to take her over the 50% boundary and to win (there is an extra play off between her and No Award because that is the rules but essentially Mixon won at the second pass). One of Amanda S Green’s voters apparently put No Award 2nd and this special individual deserves a prize for defying conventional analysis. We salute you mysterious stranger!
So then what? Well an interesting question is what the Mixon voters put as 2nd preference.
1631 put No Award 2nd. This represents a vote consistent with the letter of a Deidre Saorise Moen’s voting guide but not the sentiment (which would be to put No Award first).
60 put Jeffro Johnson 2nd. Johnson seems like a nice person but his apparent association with Mr Day may not have done him any favours. 60 put Dave Freer second. I didn’t but I feel I should have done on reflection as this blog has certainly gained from his writing.
34 put Cedar Sanderson second and 48 put Amanda S. Green second. Another 224 put no preference after Mixon. That makes 202 + 224 = 426 voters who did not follow the Moen Puppy-Free Voting Guide to the letter or spirit.
Did those 426 voters matter? Probably not. Without them Mixon would have had 1631 votes. The race for first place would have taken longer but it is impossible that No Award would have picked up enough preferences as the Puppy picks were eliminated as can be seen by the final runoff contest in which it only picked up 1173 in a straight head to head battle with Mixon.
So what have we found? It is a mixed bag of unpredictability to some extent. We can’t wholly rule out mindless voting but we have the 1500 non-puppies who simply chose not to vote in this category despite the opportunity to ‘punish’ notable Puppy supporters. We also have 400 Mixon voters who preferenced Puppies 2nd.
What else can we see? In the final run-off between Mixon and No Award all preferences from the other candidates are reallocated. In that run-off 117 people who voted for a Puppy candidate for 1st preference also put No Award as a preference over Mixon. I think that is an interesting choice but I’m not sure what to make of it. A cadre of ‘anybody but Mixon’ voters? I would have thought the supporters of the person discussed in Mixon’s report would have just voted No Award? It is a very similar number to the number of people in the group I call ‘The didn’t get the memo rabids’. This group was the people who voted for Vox Day in the Best Editor Long Form. Are they the same people? In some ways voting for Vox Day’s 1st preference and then voting for No Award would fit Vox Day’s claimed strategy of wanting No Award to win, but who knows?