Just What Does DragonCon do with Dragon Award Nominations?

…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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.







46 thoughts on “Just What Does DragonCon do with Dragon Award Nominations?

  1. I think that Occam’s razor says that it’s a) a straight count of noms but b) they may act on obvious ballot stuffing, for unclear values of “obvious”, “act”, etc.
    I have some suspicion (b) may have occurred because some of the usual suspects aren’t above paying for fake online supporters but they haven’t had any results that weren’t explainable by enthusiastic self-promotion meeting low participation.

    More complex explanations are also possible, but I’m prefering the simple until proven otherwise.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A principle of least effort would suggest they probably want to go with a simple count of nominations but a couple of things occur to me:
      1. Nomination data will be messy & cleaning it takes effort.
      2. Who do they have to keep happy? Sure, long term they want credible authors being nominated but currently if the SF Right walk away from the Dragons, then the Dragons have no constituency left.
      There’s no rule or reason why whoever is managing the nomination count shouldn’t just be eyeballing the list of nominations and picking out the frequent & familiar without formal counting. So if Random P Author ballot stuffs their self published book nobody has heard of, they’ll probably just ignore it but if Vox Day ballot stuffs then they might ignore the more obvious stuffing & assume he had enough organic votes to get on the ballot.

      The irony of ballot stuffing is that it is the simplest way of checking on the process: if you know you got a huge number of votes (& you think you’ve disguised your stuffing sufficiently ) then NOT getting a nomination would alert you that you were excluded. “Yeah but you couldn’t complain because you cheated!” Well you or I couldn’t but then we wouldn’t cheat in the first place. Vox? The various Scrappy Doos? Absolutely and without shame and they would present it as political.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Doing it by MK1 eyeball would be pretty fallible unless you were very conscientious. I’ve always assumed a bit of fuzzy matching helped with the bulk of matching, and then you’ve got to deal with stuff like “the sequel to X” “book 3 of trilogy Y”.
        But yes, they could be doing a really basic job that’s prone to conscious or unconscious bias.
        I guess this is where a reputation for probity from running an award for decades comes in handy.


      2. They just need a plausible set of nominees. I don’t think I could predict the nominees but I think I could create a list that looked plausible (…and I might…)

        Put another way: the finalists as a set of data can’t exclude the ‘they just eyeballed a list’ hypothesis nor the ‘they carefully counted then tweaked’ hypothesis nor the ‘carefully counted all ballots’ hypothesis but the first one is the easiest thing to do and there are zero repercussions if that’s what they actually do.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, here’s another approach that’s much easier to do: count the votes and produce a ranked list of the top 20, say. Then, from the top down, delete any that look “suspicious.” That could be as simple as a team of (say) three reviewers who simply delete anything they never heard of.

        Here’s another: start with the “organic” top 20 list, as above, but then rerank them according to their Amazon sales rank. That’ll let you discard very low-selling works that were gamed onto the ballot by crafty self-published authors (or crafty small presses).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I agree. With no data ever released, any list that’s reasonably plausible can’t be gainsayed, and is even easier than my assumption of them counting properly! Not to say that they *do* but you state their problem neatly – there’s no way to tell that they *don’t*

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Sure, long term they want credible authors being nominated but currently if the SF Right walk away from the Dragons, then the Dragons have no constituency left.

        Who are the SF Right in this context? If you mean VD and associates, I think the Dragon organisers have already annoyed them, by allowing more popular authors to beat them in the final vote last year. (This doesn’t mean that VD will go away, since he enjoys causing disruption.) If you mean actually successful authors who are right-leaning, like Correia (or Weber etc.), they can presumably get on the ballot without stuffing.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. VD is a realist (and other things) – he knows he’s unlikely to win Dragons but the first year means that his publishing house can claim to be Dragon Award winning and getting nominations means they can claim to be Dragon Award finalists. It’s small change but he’ll take it. The main thing is seeing it as territory around which he can mobilise action by his followers if they somehow offend him (but he’ll decide what counts as being offended).


      7. Well, certainly the easiest thing to do would be to make a fake web site that only pretends to collect votes and then present your own list that you had all along. Maybe by taking the top 20 from the Amazon sales rank charts and picking your own favorite 5 or 6. Of course you’d have to figure out the categories . . . this might not be all that much easier, come to think of it.


    2. From the beginning, my assumption have been that the main reason to use a 3rd party tool like SurveyMonkey is that some of (b) “act on obvious ballot stuffing” is done automatically by Surveymonkey and not by the award committee. That is, I’m assuming Surveymonkey does basic analysis of requests in order to recognize if someone is running a script against a survey, and either discards those submissions outright or marks them as suspect and give the customer the option of discarding them.

      If that’s true, then much of that is as opaque to the award committee as it is to voters. SurveyMonkey will hold the details secret as a defense both against competitors and against people who want to manipulate surveys.

      But I admit that I don’t actually know how SurveyMonkey works and if this kind of filtering is a service they deliver.


  2. As I suggested elsewhere, one approach to try to catch fraud is to start with a one-IP-address-one-vote system, which you give each IP address just one vote and divide it evenly among all the ballots cast from that IP. Then, taking that result as the ground truth, go back and give every IP address a confidence score based on the Bayesian probability. Use that for the final weights. Something where someone generated 1000 ballots for a work would end up with a probability score of nearly zero.

    It wouldn’t catch people who vote three or four times, but maybe that doesn’t matter. You’d have to believe that that behavior was something only people on one side do, but if you think that sort of petty vote fraud is fairly evenly spread, then it ought to cancel out. Or you could combine the process above with something like EPH, but treating each IP address as a person. (That would generate more diversity, at least, although it might be a bit harder to rationalize.)

    That doesn’t prove they’re actually doing anything smart or sophisticated at all, of course, but it does demonstrate that it’s not a slam-dunk conclusion that their results have to be a sham.

    Empirically, we saw last year that a number of normal SFF works got onto the Dragon final ballot. This wouldn’t happen if it were just a front for Vox Day. As we learned from the Hugos, he’d be quite happy if all the nominees came from Castalia house. The fact that they’re not suggests that some sort of process is in play.

    Anyway, the point of the discussion was to try to decide whether it made sense for honest, well-meaning fans to try to nominate and/or vote for the dragons. My interpretation of the data is that the answer is “yes.” Sure, there’s a chance it’s all rigged, but the effort is also small, and there’s an advantage to not letting the alt-right claim that this is the real award and it shows the majority of fans actually support them.


    1. The weight by IP is an interesting idea.

      I thing the organisers definitely don’t want the awards to be a Vox Day front. I suspect that the intent was more Baen than Castalia- hence some of the opaqueness is an anti-Rabid firewall. At the same time they don’t want to antagonise Vox either.

      Is it worth nominating? I don’t know.


      1. That’d seriously disadvantage:
        * Users in APAC (now mostly out of IPv4 addresses, thus having people on distinct IPv6 addresses sharing only a few IPv4 egress points)
        * Users primarily on mobiles
        * Users primarily voting from the office (or public libraries, or Starbucks or other public hotspot)

        How large a fraction that is of the intended userbase… It is no longer even close to a safe assumption that a single IPv4 address has any stability to the identity of the person (or process, or system) on the other end of the layer-7 session. I mean, it never was, but it is vastly less so today than 20 years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s obviously way more thought than the awards people ever put into it, and way more effort than they would ever expend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I suspect that the results will be dull in any case. Even if the process is entirely fair and and the results reflective of real popularity, they will be dull. That is inevitable in an award that seeks to reflect the market – the works that win will be the ones everyone is already familiar with.


  4. If you’re looking for yet-another posting topic, you could try breaking down the different scenarios according to whether it would be worthwhile for ordinary fans to vote anyway. E.g. “Made up list, clearly no point in voting.” “Organic list, with low-selling items pruned, worth voting as long as you’re planning to vote for works that actually do sell.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good idea! There’s a general point about designing awards there as well. Also a question about relative participation – a big scrupulously Democratic Award wouldn’t be worth the effort to vote in (because as an individual you will have limited influence)


      1. camestrosfelapton: a big scrupulously Democratic Award wouldn’t be worth the effort to vote in (because as an individual you will have limited influence)

        Yeah, a lot of people participate in the GoodReads Awards, but the results generally only marginally coincide with my taste, and it’s not as though I have an emotional stake in them, the way that I do in the Hugo Awards as a member of Worldcon. The opaqueness of the Dragon Awards and how finalists and winners are determined does not invite me to become invested in them. Whereas with the Hugos, a lot of the fun comes after the ceremony, when the nominating and voting stats are released and I can see how my choices fared on the longlist, and what other works had a lot of people recommending them. The purpose of the Hugos is not to create a Reading List, but it still has that practical effect — one which I use and appreciate.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Democratic awards need to incentivise voters through ease of voting and some sort of hook . Goodreads gets good participation, but they have an audience who are naturally interested and they make it very easy by populating the initial shortlist. (So much so that write-ins are basically doomed).

        The way they design their initial shortlist is interestingly populist though – a combo of their stats on ownership, # of ratings, and ratings.

        Now that I think about it, Locus try to encourage participation with a similar tactic, but with a “critics choice” vibe instead.

        So I agree, award design (and/or a taxonomy thereof) would be an interesting topic.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The Goodreads award at least counts the votes, right? They may come up with the initial list, but it’s based on their hard numbers, and then they seem to be honest about the totals. So it is a democratic award, even if it leans towards sheer popularity rather than any notion of quality.

      I don’t use it as a reading list either, but I’m confident that it does accurately represent the consensus of a wide number of readers. When I look at the longlist, it’s at least stuff I’ve heard of. Might not be to my taste, but I agree “yep, those look like books that a lot of people really do like” as opposed to “who TF are these people?” Same with the winners.

      I’m looking at last year’s and seeing Andy Weir, JK Rowling, and the Kings pere et fils. Also Hillary, deGrasse Tyson, Maas, Riordan. History was “The Radium Girls”, I’ve heard of the cookbook writer and the mystery winner. So it seems pretty good for “light reading that probably won’t insult your intelligence” and “stuff you could confidently recommend to friends and family who aren’t into weirdo things like you”.*

      Fantasy longlist 2017:

      SF longlist 2017:

      Comics longlist:

      All look pretty reasonable, with plenty of Hugo overlap.

      So yeah. A random site of Big Data is more respectable, awards-wise, than a giant long-running con.

      At least the Dragons serve as a cautionary tale. And they make us feel better about the number of Hugo categories, which are as nothing compared to theirs.

      *Along with “they’re probably spell-checked and don’t advocate genocide”.


  5. “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”

    Do they really just come out and say this stuff point blank? Lol, I now deeply feel for the Red Panda Faction. That’s really funny. I suspect that they look at what the yippers are ballot stuffing, select some of those to keep them happy, pick some major names who got some votes and those are their nominees. And then for the winners, they flip a coin?

    But seriously, why have voting if you’re going to point-blank say that the voting doesn’t matter and you’ll just pick the winners by backroom committee? Why not just announce a list of people they’ve decided to give the awards to as winners — jury panel style? I get having a jury or official committee award, without voting, and I get a propaganda set-up where they claim to run a fair vote and then may rig it and pick what they want behind the scenes, but why have a vote while at the same time openly saying that the vote doesn’t matter at all?

    Again, eventually the system will change because they’ll need it to justify its value to the convention or DragonCon will junk the awards. It already started happening within just a year in who they were picking. But this is currently the Alice in Wonderland awards in the sense department.

    JJ: “The purpose of the Hugos is not to create a Reading List,”

    That is one of the purposes of the Hugos and of all the major awards. One of the main points of having awards at all is to encourage interest in reading, discussion of works, and thereby suggestions for people to try including and well beyond the winners and final nominees. It’s always been considered a responsibility of awards to generate that wider interest in the fiction and is one of the main reasons that short fiction works continue to be included in many awards. That goes for jury panel awards, select group voting awards like the Hugo and wide popular vote awards. None of which the Dragon Awards are apparently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “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”

      From the point of view of running the award, this is a sensible measure for dealing with problems and irregularities. They can’t predict what will happen, so they can’t predict their response. If I were attempting to run an award, honestly and fairly, after the various shenanigans we’ve seen over the last few years and someone suggested putting this in the rules, I’d probably agree to it.

      The fact it gives them license to create whatever list of finalists and winners they feel like is a bonus.


      1. The point of policies for a voting system is in fact to predict what could happen that could go wrong and have a policy in place for dealing with those specific problems. For ballot stuffing and false votes, awards have specific policies that mainly involve discounting and throwing out false votes via publicly specified terms as to how that is determined and adjudicated. (See other awards on their awards policies.) Those policies are set ahead of time, not as they go, and then applied consistently. That’s the idea anyway. That doesn’t fix everything, but it is an actual policy process to try to keep the vote as fair as possible. (And similarly for Codes of Conduct at conventions.)

        The Dragons’ statement instead is that they will decide how they will handle things however they feel like it whenever they feel like it throughout the time period and will pick the winners irrespective of votes, no complaining. Their statement says that ALL the votes do not matter, not simply irregularities, etc. It basically says that the Dragons are not a voting award, that votes are at best advisory to the committee running the Dragon Awards, and that the committee then picks the winners (and from other statements, also the nominees from which the winners are drawn.)

        That doesn’t mean that Greg and the Red Pandas’ votes are completely wasted because they do at least apparently look at the votes, or some of them, since they are paying Survey Monkey, and as such, that puts some pressure on the committee members as to how their nominee and winner lists look in what they pick. That pressure is there again because if DragonCon keeps the awards, the awards need to provide asset value to the convention. Small asset value, because it is mainly books which the convention doesn’t care much about, but value over time or it’s not worth continuing. DragonCon doesn’t want to have to deal with best-selling authors A) complaining to them about these awards over time; and B) best-selling authors withdrawing their names from the nominations, which isn’t a good look for them and might get media attention. They need the awards to eventually assemble some appearance of legitimacy with their name on them, rather than be a far right ego boost. Their convention sweep, even if just limited to the book tracks, is much wider than that. (The more that Red Panda can leverage attention to the awards, that does put pressure on it to widen. )

        Which is why someone from the con org should have really gone over the stated policies and fixed them to have at least a semblance gloss of logical voting policy, rather than a temperamental statement that it’s the committee’s toys and they’ll decide who gets them, votes be cursed. That just looks bad, but as people keep reporting, there’s not a lot of upkeep going on with online info/website on the Dragons. I’m just impressed by the blatancy of it, though. You don’t often get a set of awards declaring that yes, the system is rigged, tough cookies, vote anyway just for funsies and give Survey Monkey some nice marketing data. But I guess that’s going to be part of the evolution of the awards. If they last, I’m sure eventually they will be considered corrupt, SJW awards. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Kat Goodwin: someone from the con org should have really gone over the stated policies and fixed them to have at least a semblance gloss of logical voting policy, rather than a temperamental statement that it’s the committee’s toys and they’ll decide who gets them

        The thing to remember about the Dragon Awards’ rules, terms and conditions, is that they are boilerplate sweepstakes T&Cs which appear on contest and sweepstakes sites all over the internet (tweaked very slightly for DC specifics). This says a great deal about the mentality of the person(s) who were behind the creation of the award: they don’t consider it an award, they consider it a popularity contest for whoever can rustle up enough players (whether real, sock-puppet, or bot).

        The motivation behind the Dragon Awards was never the same motivation as that behind the Hugo Awards. It’s not about recognizing truly worthy works. It’s about giving the participants a game that they can try to win by out-botting and out-sock-puppeting each other.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, except that the botting and the sock-puppeting are irrelevant according to their stated terms. They point-blank say that they pick the winners and the voting process is whatever they feel like whenever they feel like including having nothing to do with the winners. So it’s not a popularity contest; it’s not a popular vote that anyone can “game”. The people who run the awards are a committee and the committee picks the winners, not the votes. And that seems to be the case, from what they say, with the nominations as well, though they may give votes more weight in the nomination process. So if you’re popular with the committee running the awards, then it’s a popularity contest but not because of the votes much, seems like.

        The committee has clearly been sympathetic to the Puppy-related contingent and so picked them. The first year was very much that. But whether Flint had some influence, or the DragonCon organizers put some pressure on them to clean it up, or they just got nervous about how it was looking, the second year they made some effort to not make it look quite as much of a clubhouse. To the point where they tried to take authors hostage and not let them give up the nominations. And then it was actually Scalzi — who is supposedly enemy number one — who forced them to accept author withdrawals and essentially in return for that more reasonable behavior agreed to keep his nomination in, they wanted it so bad. So that meant that a lot of weird things were happening that year in the picking selection the committee was making.

        This year, the nominations will certainly indicate where the official committee is in their thinking about the awards and who they’re going to pick as the winners — and how much more pressure, if any, DragonCon is putting on them to have a more asset valuable award. They do seem to pay some attention to the votes, which does make the votes not entirely a waste of time but more as an influence rather than a popularity vote. They aren’t going to be taken in by sock-puppeting because they already are in charge of granting the Puppies favor if they feel it’s a good idea whether votes are scrambled in or not. So the question is, how much will the committee give them this year, the third year? Will the committee pick some indies that are best-selling but not in the Puppy contingent? Will there be an acceleration of best-selling partner published authors, some of whom are open liberals, as there was the second year?

        So it’s really about who these people are who run the awards and form the committee that picks the winners. If it’s known who all of them are, Red Panda can lobby them maybe. 🙂 Beale and co. certainly do, which is different from simply voting. But eventually, if the awards continue, they will have to switch to an actual voting system. Which will depend in part on how much DragonCon wants the awards to be properly branded with their brand. The more that they do — and the more participation from convention attendees — the more it will move into an actual voting award. At any time, the organizers at DragonCon could dump the people who make up the committee and switch it over to someone else. They can promote it more or ignore it. So it’s really a very interesting case study.

        But it was just very funny because ordinarily you would see them with two options: 1) an actual voted award and 2) a fake voting process with them secretly picking the nominees and winners as they please. They instead have gone with option 3 — a fake and irrelevant voting process that they publicly announce is fake, no secret. Even Russia doesn’t do that with their elections.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’m calling it a committee because we don’t actually know who all is involved. It could be one person, it could be a few. DragonCon told someone to go ahead and do it, so DragonCon is aware who is running the awards with their convention name on them, and that person or persons is using “we” in the instructions, so committee, even if it is a committee of one officially representing DragonCon, is accurate enough.

        When Scalzi was dealing with them, he said “administrators” as in more than one, https://whatever.scalzi.com/?s=Dragon+Awards And logistically, it is likely to be more than one. However, it is possible that it is one person making all the actual winner decisions. But you’re probably at least another year from finding out who. The Red Pandas, as an attendee group, have the best shot at finding out who exactly they are dealing with, if they don’t know already. DragonCon can replace whoever they are at any time.

        It was always clear that the Puppies and Co. had a limited amount of time to score nominations and wins off of the Dragons before things would be adjusted, because these are a named award of a major multi-media convention, however slight and little interested the administrators are to start. But having adjustments start to occur in the second year was a bit of a surprise. Either Scalzi, Jemisin and others got on the nomination ballot due to votes that the committee decided to count, or they thought it would be a good look to put the two most Beale-hated authors on the nomination list — and beg all three authors who were intent on withdrawing to stay. That does indicate that the committee is susceptible to reputation pressures, which is good news for the Red Panda Faction.

        But this is not, from past events, a streamlined operation. If it was, they would not have a blatant statement that they pick the winners and the votes don’t matter. (Plus reminder emails, etc.) Right now, this is something that DragonCon is not really paying attention to, but eventually, if they keep the awards, they will and they’ll want things straightened up. In the meantime, find out who the “deciders” are and put a lot of pressure on them about the vote counting, Red Pandas. Keep up those complaints about the Dragons to the DragonCon administrators and ask who is running the thing. Eventually, if the awards stick around, they’ll evolve. But right now, it’s just sort of a banana peel show. It always comes down to who is running a thing and if they are competent.


      5. But they don’t say that they pick the winners and the votes don’t matter. That’s just your interpretation of their rules, and one that, based on last year’s results, is clearly not correct.


      6. I don’t think last years results undermine that hypothesis at all. It’s just as consistent with the DragonAwards picking nominees and winners that make them look legit & serious. There’s just no way to tell.

        Think about this way – the 2016 & 17 Rabid Puppies slate had a mix of crap, Castalia and legit work. Did the presence of the legit work imply that there was popular input into Vox’s slate? No, because we know how and why he picked those.

        With the Dragons we don’t know how the votes mechanical connect to the nominees or winners OR EVEN what the motivations of the award runners are.

        If the idea is to make a prestiguous award that Baen can win, then having a mix of Baen, plus legit-looking nominees and Baen winning some and legit-looking nominees winning others, is what yu would want and the easiest way to get that is simply to make a list of nominees that has those features.

        Is that what happened? Well, that way lies madness because the more the list of nominees looks legitimately based on actual votes the more the “made up list” hypothesis is confirmed as well.

        What we need is a way of falsifying either hypothesis and we just don’t have enough information to do it.


      7. On reflection I realise that I’m wrong that we don’t have evidence to reject the ‘they just make up a list’ hypothesis. What we might call the ‘Sword & Laser’ nominees in 2016 and the ‘Inkshares’ nominees in 2017 would have been hard to predict in advance and almost certainly came from nomination data.


      8. greghullender: That’s just your interpretation of their rules, and one that, based on last year’s results, is clearly not correct.

        All that last year’s results prove is that some works appeared on the final ballot, and that some of the works on the final ballot were declared the winners.

        Last year’s results do not prove that they were based solely on the nominations and votes received, nor do last year’s results prove that there was no administrator intervention in what appeared on the ballot, or what was named as a winner.


      9. “All DECISIONS regarding the voting process and SELECTION OF WINNERS shall be made by DRAGON CON in its sole discretion” — That’s a pretty clear statement right there. It says that DragonCon will decide the winners, not voters. And that’s what I found so unusual, that they would make that sort of statement in their rules. Not a “in the event that we determine irregularities in the voting,” sort of policy thing. Just a the decision of the winners is ours statement.

        Again, I don’t think that they entirely ignore the votes, although their stated rules say that they could if they want to. I think they take votes into consideration. How much they take the votes into consideration is the question that Camestros is asking and as he also points out — we don’t know the answer to that question or have any current way of knowing the answer definitely. But it is clearly some influence, some suggestion that they then can weigh. They definitely have some sensitivity to how results look or they would not have allowed Jemisin and Scalzi on the ballot, and they would not have tried to keep Scalzi, Jemisin or Alison Littlewood, who isn’t as well known a writer, on the ballot — by throwing a tantrum and refusing to let them off of it at first. (Which seems to be a Puppy thing.) These instances indicate that votes clearly mattered more in what happened the second year of the Dragons than the first year.

        But that mattering is still at the entire decision and discretion of the people running the awards, not the vote results themselves. And we don’t know exactly what matters to them and how much, except that we know that they do seem to be Puppy-sympathetic from official pronouncements about the awards and such. But that they were also being less so in only the second year. That indicates pressure about how the results look and how much jimmying around is going on with them, from both public scrutiny and probably the administrators at DragonCon a bit. Jemisin and Littlewood pulling their nominations was bad PR for them. So the question is, how are they going to react to that issue this year. If it was simply about the votes, it wouldn’t matter what the award runners wanted; the votes would dictate. But the current stated structure of the awards is that it does matter completely what the award runners want as opposed to the votes.

        But because the votes obviously have some influence, because there are obviously pressures going on about establishing the awards as a more proper official award of DragonCon, I don’t believe, as JJ does, that your votes, Greg, or the Red Panda Factions’ votes are unimportant. I think they are quite important transitionally. Even though they’ve said they’ll decide the winners, even if they discount your votes for their own decisions, they’ve gone to the trouble of using Survey Monkey to tabulate things somehow, so they know that the votes are there and what they are. And that has an effect on what they decide, though we don’t know how much of an effect. And that effect will change from year to year. It will certainly change if DragonCon ends up replacing the award runners with somebody else later.

        I suspect we will see a change in policies for the Dragons over the next few years. In the meantime, though, they publicly state that they have carte blanche. And the attendees of DragonCon actually do have a right to know who these award runners are and to talk to them or the DragonCon administrators about their concerns. Which is another kind of pressure that could have an influence. As they say in Hamilton, “history has its eyes on you.” The more eyes on them, the less inauthenticity there will be and the more the votes will actually count.

        However, I doubt they will ever release the data for Camestros to play with, sadly. 🙂


    2. We knew that the deck is stacked. I’d be more than happy if the results were dull because that means they’ve become normalized, which is why getting out the vote is more important than doing anything else. Since there were supposedly over 8000 final ballots last year as we reported, I hope for a larger number this year.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Godspeed, Panda. I hope the pool of voters widens.
        Hell, if they bothered to tell all their attendees, it would widen a LOT. And we’d probably get a more interesting list.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agreed — I looked in my email inbox a couple days ago and still had the messages about last year’s vote in there, but absolutely nothing from them since. Contacting previous voters and current/previous attendees should be easy.

        Regarding it being a “committee”, I don’t think it is either. The only thing I ever heard about the identity of the administration staff was ONE name, a first name only, who was a friend of Head Puppy Larry’s, during the first year. So we know the fix was in back then.

        It’s very much to the Pups and Elk and their fellow-travelers’ advantage if there isn’t any information widely disseminated. The wrong people might hear about it and the next thing you know, Scalzi and Jemisin are on the ballot. NK doesn’t even have excessive rocket nozzles in her books!


  6. My much shorter response to the title is “WTF they want.” It’s even spelled out in the rules, as Kat said.


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