Griefer Matrix 3: Griefer Revolutions

This follows on from this and this and Jim Henley’s Hugo McHugoface.

Discussion continues at File770 and elsewhere on what to do to keep griefers at bay. The current proposals are 3SV (& variants) where a longlist is published and voters get to knock off dodgy works and “Moderated Shortlist for Member Consideration” which has a panel identify stuff, provisionally remove it and then asks members to ratify it (it can also add works).

MSMC may seem overly complicated but the feelings against having a panel screen works without some sort of ratification by members is strong. Fear of a hack panel is strong.

However, going back over my list and thinking about the various things griefers can do and why, I realized I had forgotten to add a top level motivation: seeing people running around because of some relatively small effort on their part. If we account for that as a sufficient motivation then my concerns about 3SV not being sufficient increase.

But a panel is not regarded well, for two reasons:

  1. The Hugos have rested their strength on the wisdom of crowds.
  2. Concern about some sort of potentially secretive body that can rig the awards in some way.

So what is the minimum a panel could do and still make it worthwhile and a possible solution?

Admins already rule of eligibility and already have to exercise discretionary power to remove works. Eligibility is defined in terms of what works *should* be but the definitions avoid more subjective elements such as whether a work really is SF/F or not. Now consider extending the notion of eligibility to two other areas:

  1. works intended to harass or defame are ineligible.
  2. works designed to disrupt the voting process (e.g. with names deliberately constructed to be similar to other eligible works) are ineligible.

That’s it. Nothing about slates or block votes or anything else. There are lots of issues these two clauses (assuming they could be enforced) would not stop but they close any opportunity to the worst and most disruptive things griefers can do.

Does there need to be a panel to enforce these rules on eligibility? Probably but there doesn’t need to be a new set of rules to set up a panel nor do admins need new powers. They already have the power to rule on eligibility.

What about the rest of the issues? Well I’d suggest +2 (or rather +N) deals with most of the rest. So long as people have good stuff to vote for there is little to be gained (except point 7. “Finalist label-bogarting” – which is basically just sad). Again this is a power admins have used before without a special panel. Furthermore I can think it can be codified as follows:

  1. In the event of the list of finalists representing less than X% of the total number of voters in participated in the nominations, works will be added so that the revised list represents X% of voters who nominated.

Note that I haven’t mentioned slates. The rule could apply in the case of the legendary/apocryphal over-enthusiastic Doctor Who fans filling Best Dramatic Presentation (Short) with Who episodes. This rules is directly trusting the voters and trusting the wisdom of the crowds – it is just facilitating those so the magic works. It would be include slates because a slate will directly limit the number of fans represented by the set of finalists. For example imagine a slate sweeps a category with these works at these %s.

  1. Dull Dreck,  23%
  2. Dull Dreck 2, 22%
  3. Dull & Duller, 21%
  4. Dreck & Drecker, 20%
  5. Dreck & Dull, 20%

Because of the slate discipline, the slate sweeps the category but as a consequence each works represents approximately the SAME 20% of voters. Ethics aside, this is a problem. Adding more works from outside of the slate increases the number of voters represented substantially – but in a none slate year, it doesn’t!

In total that would give these remedies against various kinds of ‘attacks’.

  1. Extended eligibility checks (stops nasty works and disruptive works)
  2. Plus 2 (limits slates from sweeping, limits griefers from keeping enemy works off ballot)
  3. EPH (limits slates from sweeping, helps keep finalists proportional)
  4. No Award (stops somebody winning a Hugo by default)

It is a flexible set of tools.

Liquids in Glass

More playing. No walruses.


I’ve been trying to get lighting and transparency right so as to create nice liquids-in-glass-jars effects. This picture is a plethora of reflections and refractions – a few too many as some of the features (the meniscus on the liquids, the glowy colors of each liquid) get lost as you look through to the next jar.

Timothy and the Genres

[Camestros] Look what I made you!
[Timothy] Not interested.

[Camestros] But it is the new old-genre. The happening place for aspiring alt-right cat-based publishers.

[Timothy] It’s just not my thing.

[Camestros] Vox is doing one. See The Boycott-Tor-Books guy is writing it. Manly men with guns!  Manly American men with guns!

[Timothy] (sigh) What’s that thing on the cover.

[Camestros] A walrus – you LIKE walruses. They’ve got whiskers.

[Timothy] The other thing. The cow thing.

[Camestros] It’s a horse.

[Timothy] Horse, cow, same difference. Stupid animals that poo everywhere.

[Camestros] Never mind that, you can be the new Louis L’Amour!

[Timothy] You have no idea who that is. Tell me one thing about Louis L’Amour.

[Camestros] He was maybe French? I don’t know. Does it matter?

[Timothy] You’ve never actually read any Westerns have you?

[Camestros] Um, No, but I’ve seen piles of movies.

[Timothy] So you want us to become the Brad Torgersen of Westerns?

[Camestros] Ah, fair point and yeah, horses are stupid.

[Timothy] Yes they are. They are indeed.

It’s Brad v Damien!

In the red corner, Damien G Walters: Guardian author, hate figure of Larry Corriea, writer of a really annoying piece called ‘The 8 Tribes of SciFi

In the blue corner, Brad Torgersen: Ex-Sad Puppy leader, not very good picker of books, writer of an even more annoying piece on Walter’s piece called ‘Herping Your Derp

I can find Damien Walters somewhat annoying. I can find Brad Torgersen somewhat annoying. Brad discussing Damien, discussing a insubstantial taxonomy of science fiction/fantasy sub genres? No, please, please make them stop, no.

Damien’s original piece was weak but I guess it was meant to be light hearted and not to be taken seriously. However, the division of SFF readers into eight groups seemed very arbitrary and shallow.

Brad has locked on to the piece and attempts to pull it apart. Go for it Brad! It is, after all, a wet paper bag of a piece.

Here is Brad quoting Damien:

Consider Damien G. Walter’s assertion:

If you want to make the world a better place, you need a space to imagine what that place might look like. From George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, way back to Thomas More’s Utopia and even further,

It’s been said before, by better men than me. But somebody really needs to remind 21st century Western progressives that Orwell was writing cautionary tales, not instruction manuals. 1984 remains a chillingly current examination of the power of the tyrannical mindset. Reading 1984, one is reminded of this observation, by C.S. Lewis, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

Nobody — and I mean absolutely nobody — should want to live in the world of 1984.

Brad?! Brad? You had one job Brad! Look, we’d even made it easy for you!

Where to start?

Firstly his quote from Damien is deliberately selective. Here it is with the second sentence COMPLETE.

If you want to make the world a better place, you need a space to imagine what that place might look like. From George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984, way back to Thomas More’s Utopia and even further, writers have fantasised about the possibilities of progress, both good and bad.[CF: my empahsis]

It is a clumsy lead in sentence prior but reading the full sentence, it is clear that Damien is talking about both DYStopias and Utopias. Brad isn’t short of space on his blog – stopping a sentence before the end is intentional.

Brad then spends much of his post implying that Damien (and leftists in general) haven’t actually read Orwell. I can’t claim that every Guardian reading British leftist has read 1984 but I haven’t met one who hasn’t. Both Animal Farm and 1984 have been standard books in UK schools for decades.

The real question is whether Brad has read it. Brad launches into the notion of 1984 being about a tyranny that is so awful precisely because of its good intentions and follows that up with a quote from C.S.Lewis.

Problem is that isn’t 1984 at all.

Some select quotes (mainly from O’Brien part 3 Chapter 3 explaining reality to Smith)

  • We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.
  • The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites.
  • Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.
  • The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy — everything.
  • We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science.
  • There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.

To misquote Brad: Or maybe Damien Brad hasn’t read any Orwell at all?

Blog and other things Round Up

Alexandra Erin has returned to the fray with a new Puppies review children’s books parody and there is also a blog post on writing it

Ursula Red Wombat Vernon has playing with book covers at her LiveJournal (no Walruses sadly)

‘Ugh’ at Obsidian Wings explains how the US Federal Government ends up regulating school bathrooms against bigotry

Abby Howard’s gloriously oddly spooky The Last Halloween has reached the end of Book 1 and also has kickstarter for physical version

A late Easter cartoon

James Nicoll Reviews…Blake’s 7 Sarcophagus by Tanith Lee, a 1980 3rd Season episode of the infamously clunky-but-interesting BBC show