…is an interesting question. Greg H raised some points on the past post that sent me digging to double check what the process is said to be.
Firstly we have the official rules page ( https://web.archive.org/web/20180722193700/http://application.dragoncon.org/dragon_awards_terms_conditions.php ). Unfortunately, although entitled “Dragon Award Official Rules”, these are primarily website/application terms and conditions. However, there is some pertinent info:
“HOW TO NOMINATE: Go to awards.dragoncon.org during the Nomination Period and submit nominations including your complete name and your primary e-mail address (“Entry” or “Entries”). One (1) nomination may be submitted in each of the categories. One (1) set of nominations is allowed per person. All Entries must be received by 11:59 P.M. ET on July 20, 2018.”
One nomination in each category and only one set of nominations per person. What happens to those nominations is not addressed in this paragraph. With the voting section there is a more clear statement of process with the nominations:
ONLINE VOTING: One (1) vote in each category is allowed per person. The most popular Entries, as determined by number of nomination submissions during the Nomination Period, will be featured on the Website between 9:00 A.M. ET on August 1, 2018 and 11:59 P.M. ET on August 31, 2018 (hereinafter, “Voting Period”). Voting shall occur in a manner as determined by DRAGON CON. [empahsis added CF]
I think that does imply that it is a straight count of nominations that have been deemed legitimate. Although, the determination of the winners based on the voting is less clear:
“SELECTION OF WINNERS: All decisions regarding the voting process and selection of winners shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion, shall be final, and shall not be subject to challenge or appeal”
Obviously there is voting but how the votes turn into winners is another question. Greg raises the question of whether they make use of Survey Monkey’s polling skills – which would be kind of neat (i.e. treat the voting like a survey) but who knows? As far as I can see there’s no commitment in the rules to use the VOTES to determine the winners.
Which takes us to a different page, the more informal page entitled “The Process” (https://web.archive.org/web/20180722194716/http://awards.dragoncon.org/the-process/ ) A lot of this page is fluffy promotion but there are two salient bits:
There are two administrative periods, nominations and voting:
- Nominations will open in October or November of every year. The nomination period will last until middle to late July. You don’t have to nominate in all fifteen categories at once; nominate just in the category you choose and return later if you’d like! But choose wisely, you only get one nomination per category and it cannot be changed later.
- Your nominations are gathered and reviewed to create a final ballot. Ballots are issued in batches twice a week during the voting period, during mid-week and at the beginning of the week for anyone that registers after voting has begun. The initial batch of ballots will be released in early August by our ballot provider SurveyMonkey. You must not be “opt-out” with SurveyMonkey or they will not issue you a ballot. You can “opt-in” with SurveyMonkey at this URL: https://www.surveymonkey.com/optin.aspx. The winners will be announced at Dragon Con, always held over the Labor Day weekend in Atlanta!
Point 1 is definitely what happens and is the public part of the process. Point 2 tells us the mechanics. Nominations are “gathered” and “reviewed” to “create” a final ballot. I think this is a clear commitment to base the final ballot on nominations recieved but in what way is unclear. The number of nominees per category is mutable. It isn’t at all clear that the works with the most nominations go on the ballot. I think it would run counter to the spirit of what is written in the rules for them to include on the final ballot a work that recieved zero nominations but otherwise this does seem to give the carte-blanche to pick and choose nominees.
Point 2 goes on to describe the mechanics of voting with Survey Monkey but…there is a missing step between getting ballots and the winners being announced. What do they do with the ballots? I guess calling them “ballots” does imply the winners are determined by the ballots but 🤷♂️?
The process is a black box and perhaps a “close elevator door” button. Now, that’s sort of OK, so long as people get that DragonAward nominating/voting may be a kind of advisory role. Perhaps in a world of rule-gaming trolls, this is the only viable way to run a free online participatory vote?
The opaque nature of the process should influence how results are interpreted but as I’ve said before about any awards – the actual proof is in the longterm provision of the pudding. An award that produces interesting results via bizarre or opaque rules > than an award the produces dull results by a transparent process BUT ONLY if it actually produces interesting results.