Dragon Award Nominations Are Open Sort Of

Yes, it’s that time of year when I look at the Dragon Awards website and wonder if anybody is paying attention other than me.

Currently the nomination page is open and says…odd things.


Welcome to the third annual Dragon Awards! A way to recognize excellence in all things Science Fiction and Fantasy.

It’s the FOURTH annual Dragon Awards – yes, that does make everybody reading this feel old but its true. Also, no way am I doing 2018 all over again.

Nomination Deadline: July 20, 2019. We encourage you to get your nominations in early.”

OK, seems reasonable.

“Nominations should be first released between 7/1/2017 and 6/30/2018.”

Sorry? That’s the old nomination dates. Are we really doing 2018 again?

“If you do not agree to the rules and confirm your email, your nominations will not be processed and you will not be added to the voting process.”

The “rules” link just takes you to the generic Dragon Con page. So you must agree to the rules but we can’t tell you what they are.

The last entry on the News page is from 2017 http://awards.dragoncon.org/news/

ETA Also the “Register Vote” link just takes you in circles. You get to the nominations page by clicking a news article from 2017. I assume the voting page will be in a dusty chamber behind a locked filing cabinet with “beware of the leopard” written on it.

On the candidate FAQ page:

What is the Nomination Period for this year?
Nominations may be made from now through 11:59PM EDT, July 20, 2018.

84 thoughts on “Dragon Award Nominations Are Open Sort Of

  1. It all makes sense if you’re living backwards in time (but of course, at that point, you’re mainly nominating the entries you know will win, because you remember them winning). Either that or someone has a time machine they’re not telling us about. (William of Occam interjects to remind me that people being either (a) ignorant of how to update HTML; or (b) too lazy to do so, are also options. William of Occam is a spoil-sport).

    Liked by 2 people

  2. <facepalm>

    You know, it’s just really painful to watch them make the same mistakes over and over again every year, never learning from them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. They are still doing zero social media, so they don’t even get the QA of the website that would happen if people actually went and visited. The model still relies on ‘We’ll ask Larry to promote it at a convenient time’

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wonder if the Red Panda Fraction will be making lists of eligible works again this year. Without that, it’s really too much trouble to figure out what is and isn’t eligible.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So no pressure, @greghullender. I’ve been planning to do so over the holidays, but if Dragon*Con can’t even be bothered to update the Dragon Awards info… I think the fun has gone out of it for them since the winners in 2018 were pretty normal.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, the whole point of encouraging broader participation is to take the fun out of it for them. Then either they’ll abandon it entirely or else other people will take it over and clean it up, making it an award like other awards.
      But I don’t think that’ll happen this year. So if you’re still up to it, I, for one, would be very happy to make use of your work–and thank you for doing it!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. They haven’t actually been able to win a Dragon Award since the first year. Year 2 saw a lot of broadly popular books win and Year 3 saw various Kindle Unlimited publishing team efforts (apparently, using the term “writing factory” makes certain people really furious) take several categories.

        Also, I wanted to second the thanks to the Red Panda Fraction for their eligibility spreadsheet.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. If the Red Pandas want to encourage participation and create tools to help people find works to consider, good for them. But I’d say the main point isn’t to take the fun out of it for anyone. I mean that’s what the puppies said they wanted to do to the Hugos — encourage that silent “majority” to vote to upset the “cabal.”


      3. @Laura, I’m not saying to take the fun out of it for them. Our goal has become to normalize the Awards, despite the problems with independent verification that the voting isn’t being gamed. By doing so, they will not become a platform for right-wing politics.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. @redpanda
        I was objecting to Greg saying that was the main point… I know that’s not your intention. I applaud your efforts to help people figure out eligible works.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Lol, why can’t it happen this/next year? Surely, someone on the Dragon.con staff could take this over, dump the Puppy pal who has been incompetent to run it for three years and clean it up into a proper award. Of course they destroyed their literary track staff in 2018 but certainly there must be a few left. Anyone with basic website knowledge would be better than who they have now. Or hey, give the Red Pandas the job — they’ve been pretty competent so far and definitely helped make a change in the third year of awards.

    Maybe what’s needed is for all the non-Puppies to start doing a massive social media campaign for the Dragons. That would so freak them out. But it would be a little dicey when the website is a mess and people can’t actually register or still have to avoid leopards lurking in closets.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Grin. Now I think you’ve come around to my way of thinking on these awards. “Love them to death.”

      I came to that position after watching what happened to SP4 when a bunch of people (in good faith) went to the SP4 site and nominated their favorites and ended up being about 50% of all the SP4 nominees. And, to their credit, the SP4 folks didn’t try to delete any of that; they handled it all exactly as they had said they would, even though it meant that authors and web sites they hated ended up in their “slate,” with the result that almost no one used it, and Sad Puppies died with it. We had loved them to death. (Yeah, I know there were other factors.)

      The beauty of the strategy of loving something to death is that no one has to do anything bad; we merely help them promote their award, encouraging broad participation from as many fans as possible. We don’t ask anyone to vote dishonestly. What could be more wholesome that asking people to turn out and vote for the works they truly loved? As the SP4 history shows, they might not even object to that, even though it’s clear the results won’t be what they had in mind.

      Could it be gamed? Sure. With the secrecy they’ve got, they could just ignore all the votes and create a list by hand. Or someone could write a program to generate fake nominations in bulk. But the results of the previous years (both nomination and final voting) strongly suggest that that didn’t happen. It’s like with SP4: they appear to be honoring their promise. Could that change? Sure, but for the small effort on our part, I think that’s an acceptable risk.

      But, as you say, the point is moot if their site doesn’t work. Maybe it’ll be fixed by the time Red Panda is ready for us. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m of two minds on it. I’m talking about promoting the awards in general on social media more than trying to drag a bunch of authors specifically into it. Because that isn’t what happened with SP4 or for that matter, Dragon Awards Year #2.

        What happened was that people went to the SP4 site to suggest names to test if the SP4 folks would actually take in all the suggestions for a reading list (not nominations for a slate,) which they claimed that they would do in a pathetic attempt to no longer appear as a hate movement that had harassed and threatened a variety of authors for a vague ideological goal for several years. And that testing did indeed end up having a bunch of major authors who weren’t conservative white males on that list. But a number of those authors did not want to be on SP4’s reading list even if it wasn’t supposed to be a slate. They had enough of the harassment and bigotry that the Sad Puppies lit off. They wanted nothing to do with the Sad Puppies, their lists or having their names associated with and used by the Sad Puppies to promote the Sad Puppies.

        So they told the Sad Puppies that they wanted their names removed from the SP4 reading list. This would have pretty much decimated the reading list, since the Sad Puppies’ own folks and the Gamergaters they’d recruited didn’t show up much to put names on the reading list. And they didn’t show up because Beale didn’t want them to — he wanted the campaign to move entirely to the Rabid Puppies, his co-op of their group, which it did. And it showed that the authors weren’t buying the Sad Puppies reformed to be nicer claim. So the SP4 people threw a screaming fit at those authors who wanted their names removed from the list. They refused to remove them. They heaped abuse on them. They harassed them, made more conspiracy claims about them and generally made their lives highly unpleasant for weeks, which then did call up the right-side robots who further harassed those authors.

        So the “love them to death” that people did by putting those authors’ names on the SP4 list resulted in several of those authors being harassed and hate stalked further. It wasn’t really a good thing. They could have not put the authors’ names on the list and ignored the list and the SP4 list still would have died all on its own.

        Unlike anything the Sad Puppies are trying to put out, the Dragon Awards do have the potential to eventually become a regular award because it is an official DragonCon award that DragonCon staff will have to deal with if they want to continue the awards. But in year #2 of the Dragons, people did go in and vote for non-Puppy, non-conservative authors and the people who run the awards and decide who will actually be nominated were apparently stung enough by the mockery over their year #1 nomination slate that they went along with some of those votes. But two of the authors who had been most slandered and harassed by the Sad Puppies — Jemisin and Scalzi — wanted off that nomination list, as did another woman author. They did not want Dragon Awards. And the Dragon-Puppy award runners threw a screaming fit and told them that they could not decline the nomination and remove their names. So the love em to death of the people who put the authors on the nomination slate again caused those authors to be subjected to harassment and organized hate campaigns by Puppies. This time the screaming fit had some blowback, the award runners backtracked to be presentable, and Scalzi agreed to stay on the nomination slate if the Dragon award runners would at least pretend to be professional and let the others and future authors decline the nominations if they wanted. Once that was in place, the love em to death strategy has a chance of working. Before that, it caused more harassment for authors.

        Which is why when the Red Pandas first showed up talking about doing a voter rec list, we advised them to contact all the potential authors and get their consent before putting their names on their rec list. Don’t be like the Puppies, don’t force them and expose them to harassment and threat. And I think they’ve more or less done that? So basically, love em to death will only work in certain circumstances and under certain procedures. At this point, given what is going on with DragonCon regarding the awards, given that authors can now decline the nominations, and that the Puppies very quickly lost their rigged promotion system for the awards, pushing the Dragon Awards into real awardom could possibly be hastened. But it will happen naturally on its own unless DragonCon cancels the awards.

        It could all be over very simply if the DragonCon staff simply took the awards away from the incompetent Puppy shills and made it a regular part of the programming, cleaned up the website and ran it properly as a real set of awards, but that doesn’t seem to be their style. And this again shows that all these convention problems come down to specific people in charge deciding that they do not want to be bothered with certain types of problems or problem people, even when it’s costly for the convention and even when they have set procedures for dealing with those problems. But one can hope.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. @Greg —

        I do see your POV, but over all I still say it’s probably best to not encourage widescale voting.

        Here’s the thing: we do know that the ballot boxes are easily stuffed, we do know that the Dragon admins specifically reserve the right to throw out the votes and pick whatever winners they like, and we don’t have any accountability of any sort to show that such things are not happening.

        Therefore: widescale voting tends to lend respectability to an award that has shown no evidence of deserving any. In fact, widescale voting is likely to simply provide a smokescreen for whatever shenanigans may be going on behind the scenes. “Look at all the votes we’re getting!”, the admins may shout — all while ignoring those votes to pick whatever winners they like.

        As long as they fail to actually publish the vote tallies or show evidence of one person/one vote restrictions, there really is no accountability.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I just don’t see any reason for this “love to death” when they have a separate award. Let them have it. Or let them try to have it. It just doesn’t matter.

        Right now I think it is kind of cool to have a special award for Kindle Unlimited. It was kind of unexpected, but I like one for a new demographic.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Halfassed as usual. Although, considering they haven’t bothered to get ANY better over 4 (!) years, perhaps “half” is the wrong percentage.

    But why should they, when Larry does the work for them and the Scrappies are still so keen on finding something, ANYTHING they can win? And nobody else cares at all.

    If our pals @Red Panda Fraction bother again, I’ll use their excellent spreadsheets. I’d no idea that small adorable raccoon-bear things were so good at databases, but then they do have a browser named for them which presupposes a bit of math and computer savvy.

    @Greg, if they bothered to promote it to their actual attendees, the nominations and winners would look at LOT different. Like, there’d be PoC and the yaoi/slash would flourish.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. @Laura ‘that’s what the puppies said they wanted to do to the Hugos — encourage that silent “majority” to vote to upset the “cabal.”’

    The puppies were trying to get Hugo Awards dishonestly. I’m proposing we make the Dragon awards more honest. I think that’s a material difference. They’re a small minority trying to pretend they’re the majority. We really are the majority, so we don’t have to be dishonest, and I wouldn’t propose otherwise.

    @Kat Goodwin ‘I’m talking about promoting the awards in general on social media more than trying to drag a bunch of authors specifically into it.’

    I’m not proposing a slate. Red Panda Fraction doesn’t produce a slate–just a list of eligible works. I’m simply proposing that we urge people to look through the eligible works and to nominate any work they see that they already read and which they think deserves an award. Nothing more, and nothing less.

    I wouldn’t suggest that RPF ask authors before listing them though. That’s way, way too much work. They could add a disclaimer that it’s purely an eligibility list, that presence of a work on the list doesn’t imply the author would actually accept the award, and that they would remove anything if the author asked them to do so.

    Actually, it’d probably be better to just add a note that the author won’t accept the nomination. That way RPF won’t have to verify the identity of the person asking since real authors will sing out if someone falsely represents them, but they might not notice if their book were silently dropped. Also, it would give the author a bit more publicity. Asking RPF to do more than that is unreasonable. (Ideal might be to ask the author to post an article on his/her web site stating that they won’t accept a Dragon Award and then link to that. That eliminates the question of verifying identity, let’s the author explain his/her reasons, gives their sites a little boost, etc.)

    @Contrarius ‘widescale voting tends to lend respectability to an award that has shown no evidence of deserving any’

    As long as they don’t release any voting or nominating data, they really don’t get any propaganda benefit from widescale voting. Of course a truly huge mobilization on our part would get them a lot of free publicity, but, from what I can see from past results, there are so few people participating that a very modest effort on the part of mainstream fans suffices to normalize the nominations.

    @Hampus Eckerman ‘I just don’t see any reason for this’

    The idea is that it’s bad to have an award for White Nationalist SF/F. Particularly when the promoters are trying hard to propagandize it as the only award that truly represents Fandom. Instead of trying to destroy the award, I’m simply proposing we help make it better represent Fandom. The irony being that, despite their words to the contrary, the LAST thing they want is an award that represents Fandom.

    I agree with you on the value of a Kindle Unlimited award, but, in that case, it ought to be defined that way. It shouldn’t pretend to be something else.

    @Lurkertype ‘if they bothered to promote it to their actual attendees, the nominations and winners would look at LOT different’

    Indeed. The only reason they associated it with Dragoncon was to support their propaganda that their award is more representative than the Hugos, on the grounds that Dragoncon is a much bigger convention. I’m surprised Dragoncon hasn’t leaned on them harder, since this is tied to their name.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Greg —

      “As long as they don’t release any voting or nominating data, they really don’t get any propaganda benefit from widescale voting.”

      Of course they do — because John Q Awards-noticer tends to pay much more attention to voting numbers than to voting accountability. You said it yourself later in your post — the appeal of attaching the awards to the con was in the size of the con. Numbers equal respectability in the eyes of many folks.


      1. I’m posting from my phone right now, so I can’t conveniently look anything up at the moment. But IIRC, the total number of ballots has been released every year — and used as a bragging point by the pro-puppy types. You appear to be confusing my words “voting numbers”, meaning overall size of the voting pool, with whatever term would be most effective to denote “detailed breakdown of voting stats”.


      2. @Greg —

        On a quick look around I don’t see precise numbers, but I do see this mention from Doris Sutherland’s blog:

        “The 2017 Dragon Awards also cleared up a longstanding question: the size of the voting base. During the ceremony, Pat Henry revealed that there were around 8,000 final ballots this year, and around half that number last year.”


        I know that 8000 number was involved in some conversations with puppy types in which they claimed the Dragons are more significant than the Hugos because of the larger voting base.

        I don’t know if the Dragon admins ever actually released the number of final ballots this last time around.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Pat Henry revealed that there were around 8,000 final ballots this year, and around half that number last year.”

        It was my suspicion from the way it was worded that this number actually referred to the number of final ballot votes; i.e., since there were 16 categories, and a lot of voters probably did not vote on all of them, that there were maybe 500-1500 actual final ballots.

        But for all we know, given the lack of transparency on the part of the award administrators, that 8,000 number could be true, or it could be completely made up. I don’t think it can really be taken as evidence of anything other than that the admins were trying to make it look as though the award is getting a lot of participation on the part of individual natural persons (as opposed to large multiples of ballots submitted by a much smaller number of people attempting to swamp the vote in their favor).

        Liked by 1 person

    2. @greg I was objecting to this statement: “the whole point of encouraging broader participation is to take the fun out of it for them.” That reminds me of Brad gloating about “stealing the Enterprise” in regard to the puppy nominees for the 2015 Hugos. I don’t really believe that you think taking the fun out of it for anyone is the main point….just a possible side consequence.

      As you said, there will probably never be any transparency for these awards. We’ll never really know if they don’t just take their sweepstakes rules all the way and pick winners out of a hat.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Whatever the impetus behind the conception of the Awards, it’s pretty clear that last year’s results in particular didn’t met expectations since participants, like the uh… Kindle Unlimited Publishing teams (KUPTs), have to claim ‘moral’ victories by mentioning how loud the audience cheered when they were announced as nominees at the Awards ceremony. In the Meet The Dragon Awards Winners panel, which occurred Sunday afternoon after the ceremony (and which only had 22 attendees and was dwarfed by the Ursula Le Guin memorial panel next door), there was hardly anyone else besides themselves, which they spent congratulating themselves and talking about their indebtness to Correia, who must be mentoring a lot of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. redpandafraction: the uh… Kindle Unlimited Publishing teams (KUPTs), have to claim ‘moral’ victories by mentioning how loud the audience cheered when they were announced as nominees at the Awards ceremony

      … and by claiming that “real science fiction fans” don’t read the winning books, such as those by Andy Weir and Claudia Gray. 🙄

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I had the Author Who Shall Not Be Named (AWSNBN for short) yell at me for pointing out that many of the Dragon Award finalists were popular in the KU ecosystem, but little known outside it, that Real Fans(TM) read the Dragon Award nominated books and not boring Hugo finalists like the NYT bestsellers Ann Leckie, John Scalzi and N.K. Jemisin.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. But, but, the Hugos were dying because the nominees are all obscure SJW unknowns who aren’t bestsellers these days. At least that’s what the Puppies claimed — that the vote was a fraud rigged against the popular authors, who were all conservatives. When it was pointed out that this made no sense for the best novel and many of the nominees, they provided zero evidence that the vote was rigged and started backtracking on the claim.

        In contrast, the Dragon Awards come right out in the rules and say the votes don’t count, the election isn’t an election and the contest is rigged by the award runners who get to hide all the data. And even with that, the Dragon Award runners still WANTED John Scalzi and N.K. Jemisin on the ballot so badly that they tried to hold them hostage and then begged and wheedled.

        KU successful authors may be not as well known but they do have very solid fanbases and those fanbases come to conventions, so I guess the Dragon Award runners thought it would be good to have some of them, especially if they are Puppy sanctioned. But it is going to be interesting in the next year because now there are factions marketing for the awards. Bribery of the award runners may be high.


  9. The arguments against participating in the Dragon Awards have some validity, but since it’s our hometown convention, we’re more driven by emotion than logic.

    So I’ll put together an eligibility list this year. It should be much easier since I can start by using this helpful list with publication dates to start with (https://www.sfwa.org/forum/reading/1-novel/).

    @Kat Godwin It would be hard to get consent from authors before I put them on the list. I don’t think anyone got harrassed last year from it. If anyone does, then I hope they let me know.

    The only problem with the list last year is that I put it together very late and had trouble with the permissions so that people could add works to it. Putting it up in January should give me time to work out the kinks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Well initially you folk were doing a recommendation list with a specific ideological goal against the Sad Puppies. Therefore, authors on such a rec list would be exposed to harassment from the Sad Puppies and considered Red Panda allies without having consented to be dragged into the political battle over the Dragon Awards. This is what the Sad Puppies did to a number of authors regarding the Hugo nominations, which put them in very bad positions where they were trying to withdraw.

      But an eligibility list is not a rec list, so you wouldn’t have to secure the authors’ consent to be on such a list, since you aren’t claiming they are allies in your cause in being on such a list. It doesn’t sound like anyone has confused you highlighting their eligibility with claiming that they are part of your political group. As long as you are not speaking for the authors’ views (claiming them for your “team,”) then it isn’t an issue. But anyone trying to enlist any type of creator in a campaign should always get the author’s consent first to be a part of that campaign.

      Greg, as I said, I’m of two minds. There is that urge to have people just swamp them and try to take it over so it can become a real award, but there are drawbacks to this at this particular juncture. The Dragon Awards are not a real award yet because DragonCon refuses to make them be real awards, not from a lack of voting. The votes, as we discussed previously, don’t count, whether they are Puppy votes or other people’s votes, except as a possible influence/suggestion box for the people who run — and decide — the nominations and award winners. The total number of votes is irrelevant, since the only people who count are the people who (incompetently) run the awards.

      But IMAGE counts, and it is there that concerns of lots of non-Puppies voting giving the awards respectability count. Not respectability to the world, but respectability to DragonCon staff that the Dragon Awards are now accepted (not necessarily popular, just accepted as a regular award.) The first year of the awards produced a plethora of Puppy nominees, quite a few hardly known. And that looked bad, even if no one was paying much attention. DragonCon staff clearly didn’t like the appearance, which is why the people who run the awards not only decided to put Scalzi and Jeminsin on the ballot, but tried to keep them there when they wanted off. But once the people who run the awards and decide them did that and again in Year #3, that looked okay enough that DragonCon staff did not replace them despite their enormous incompetency.

      So love-bombing the Dragon Awards with votes for popular, non-Puppy authors doesn’t make those votes count in the election but does influence the award-runners to chose some of those authors for nominations, which starts to normalize the awards. But in normalizing the awards a little bit, the award runners are also calming DragonCon staff’s concerns about them still running (and deciding) the awards, meaning the awards remain not real awards. The awards will eventually normalize on their own, no matter the size of the voting population, because there will be pressure on them to do so as an official award of DragonCon. But if there is too little pressure about making the awards legit, the award runners won’t get booted and the award will remain a false award.

      So I’m not sure what the best strategy is. But until the people who are running the Dragon Awards are no longer doing so, the award won’t be a real award with votes actually counting. I think the Red Pandas’ goal — to alert the actual con-goers that their convention has these Dragon Awards and that con members should go vote on them — is a good one. Because that puts pressure from the convention attendees directly on the DragonCon staff and thus on the award runners to normalize the awards or get booted out of control of the awards. But I totally understand loads of people who don’t want the Dragon Awards to appear to be real when they are not and want nothing to do with them for now, seeing them as a sort of hate platform. It is still going to be several years before the Dragon Awards get anywhere close to being a legitimate award, with or without lots of voters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. @Kat Godwin Thanks for clarifying. We’ll keep plugging away then. I have no problem if people want to have nothing to do with the Awards. I’m motivated by the fact that there is a tiny minority of DC members whose preferences are overrepresented at the Awards.

        There are two quotes I’d like to share with you all from the Dragon Awards this year.

        The first is from David Weber during his acceptance speech for the Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel:
        “Building on what Katharine [Katharine Kerr, who said that the future bestsellers were in the audience during presenting the award for Best Fantasty novel] was saying, I think not only is the future of the genre out there, I hope that the future of the awards process is out there. Because we are in an era when divisiveness seems to be on the rise. And in this instance, I think this is about as an inclusive process as could be imagined. So we are flattered, we are honored, and we especially are flattered and honored because of the process that was followed in the creation of this award process.”

        The last quote is from Charles E. Gannon, who was the MC, and it was the last thing he said during the ceremony:
        “One last word to take away for you… Be here next year, this keeps getting bigger and better and even more inclusive.”

        So you can make of that what you will in regards to the normalizing of the Dragon Awards.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. redpandafraction: So you can make of that what you will in regards to the normalizing of the Dragon Awards.

        What I make of that is that they’re as aware, based on what’s been appearing on the ballot in the last 3 years, that the process has been repeatedly gamed by small special-interest groups, but they’re hoping that if they repeat the “inclusive” talking point enough (and it certainly sounds as though they’re being coached or are planning together ahead of time what they will say, doesn’t it?), that people will ignore what they can see with their eyes and instead start believing the talking point.

        After all, these peoples’ works have been appearing on the ballot, and in some cases even winning, so they have a vested interest in convincing the wider public that the award is legitimate. That speech of Weber’s sounds like a whole lot of “methinks thou dost protest overmuch”.


      3. I do not think that word means what they think it means.

        They seem to be saying inclusive as in anybody and all the email addresses they can create. In contrast to the Hugos requiring a Worldcon membership. (Or SFWA for the Nebulas, etc.) Puppies also always talked about EPH as if it were a magic spell created to exclude them specifically.


      4. You can only do what you can do, Red Pandas. As an organization borne out of actual attendees of DragonCon, you have a lot more weight than outside voters with DragonCon staff and their concerns about image regarding the awards. Encouraging convention attendees to vote isn’t so much that their votes count but that their participation and interest means that they are paying attention to the awards as part of the convention and that means that DragonCon has to be more concerned with how the Dragon Awards appear as an official award of the convention, rather than just a bunch of outside votes by anonymous voters they can mainly ignore. So publicity with regular DragonCon attendees I think overall doesn’t hurt.

        And yeah, David Weber basically declared himself poobah of ConCarolinas and that all women, including women authors, could put up with sexual harassment at that convention because he said so. Which again he’s able to do because of the people who were running the con and who specifically tried to have Ringo as a featured guest, and went running to Weber when half their convention authors and vendors rebelled; it’s when people in charge get to flout their own rules and be generally incompetent and damaging to conventions that you have these situations. The quote above from Weber and the Silverberg thing over Jemisin, plus various other incidents is a bunch of grumbly old white men of SFF trying to assert their dominance over younger authors who increasingly don’t listen to them and complain about persistent and discriminatory problems.


      5. I guess the recent examples of David Weber, Robert Silverberg and Gregory Benford showing their backsides is fear that they and the sort of SF they write is about to become irrelevant, as younger authors are simply writing and doing their own thing without regard for what the old guard thinks is right.

        Though I recall Benford already losing his shit, when a Harry Potter book won the Hugo and that was almost twenty years ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Cora: “I guess the recent examples of David Weber, Robert Silverberg and Gregory Benford showing their backsides is fear that they and the sort of SF they write is about to become irrelevant”

        No, it’s not worry over their type of SF becoming irrelevant, which it isn’t anyway. It’s the sense of power and status that they are upset at losing. The ability to act and say as they like with no push-back from other authors or fans they don’t think have the right to raise a fuss, authors who want old, established discriminatory behaviors to go bye-bye and challenge that cultural reputation the old white guys think they have. “Divisive” is just their word for “uppity.” Women are supposed to put up with public sexual harassment and humiliation, such as from Ringo on a panel, and be quiet about it, because that’s what they were used to back in the old days. And they aren’t. Which means that the old white guys are not being treated in the way to which they are accustomed and prefer, and they whine about it — and retaliate.

        And then people who used to put up with their occasional out of touch expressions of bigotry or the conservative bombast in their stories, on the grounds that they were old white guys who wrote some interesting stories in the past, decide they aren’t going to keep doing that and the old white guy authors wonder about how everybody got so “over-sensitive” all of a sudden, which we would characterize as “tired of your entitled and destructive crap.” Because that stuff is discriminatory and blocks more marginalized authors from being able to do their jobs at conventions and in the field, pushes them out. And it makes it harder for vendors because it drives younger fans away.

        The Puppies and the shenanigans with the Dragons are all about wanting to put people “back” in their old supposed deferential places and retaliating when they won’t go there and instead demand that things get more equal, tout suite. I think there was quite a lot of fear when half a convention’s guests and vendors said they would leave ConCarolinas if they made Ringo a featured guest. Not that he was coming to the convention — that he was being celebrated at it, despite his destructive behavior at cons, because they knew it would make an environment hostile and discriminatory towards them. It meant that things were changing. So Weber is now trying to retrocon by playing dictator, and it’s going to be a bad long term impact for that convention. And Jemisin definitely makes them nervous, a black woman author getting acclaim inside and out of the category market, so they keep taking potshots at her.

        There are other old white guy authors who aren’t like that in SFF. It’s not an inherent characteristic, which makes it worse when someone established in the field declares that they won’t have dissent and tries to lay down tired stereotypes to justify keeping discrimination — and unprofessionalism — around. It’s so wearying, predictable and disappointing.

        But in order for the Dragons to be a respectable award — and an effective promotional tool if they want that — they have to make the voting real. Eventually that will happen but for now it’s just a show and a poorly run one at that.


      1. @Lurkertype We have a systematic social media GOTV campaign where we inform people of the nominating and voting deadlines. There’s no way of knowing if that had an impact or not.
        The only way I can think of actually reaching more attendees is to pay people to handout flyers or something like that on the street, which happens, but for cell phone ads or Lyft or Uber discounts. There’s also the deadline, which happens Friday night I think.


      2. I’d actually love to see a Dragon Awards shortlist compiled by actual Dragon Con attendees beyond elderly wargamers and the white dude SFF track.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. We toyed with the idea of creating our own SFF awards, the Peach SFF Awards, since the Decatur Book Festival (Decatur is a suburb of Atlanta) occurs as the same time as Dragon*Con (although it is pretty literary), and sometimes SFF writers appear there such as Victoria (V.E.) Schwab and Malka Older in recent years.


      4. Panda, I think you guys have the best angle on saving the Dragons. IMHO, it needs to be saved from within the con. Keep drumming up awareness and interest among the con attendees, as I know you have already begun to do. Get them invested in turning it into something to be proud of. It seems to me that applying pressure from within is going to be the best way to get results.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. @ JJ Yes, it does seem like that, doesn’t it? The thought occurred to me while I was transcribing those passages that due to the lack of transparency with the nomination process and voting that they may continue to put forth unknowns as nominees to give them publicity and then give the awards to authors people actually recognize.


      1. @redpandafraction ‘they may continue to put forth unknowns as nominees to give them publicity and then give the awards to authors people actually recognize.’
        Occam’s Razor suggests we favor a simpler assumption though: they’re simply counting the votes, other than removing things that appear to be obvious fraud. That’s consistent with the results from last year, where we saw a mix of finalists who were broadly popular and finalists whose only qualification was that they worked hard to lobby their fans to nominate them, with actual awards going to the genuinely popular works. This looks a lot like the Hugo Best Novel category during the slating years. The easiest explanation is that it’s for the same reason.
        Whatever they’re doing, even if it’s not transparent to us, I’ll bet it’s transparent to some of the folks who run DragonCon. That’s probably enough to keep them honest–enough that they have to resort to vote suppression in order to rig the vote.


      2. greghullender: they’re simply counting the votes, other than removing things that appear to be obvious fraud. That’s consistent with the results from last year

        Once, again, Greg: the only “consistency” observable from this year’s results is that they released a final ballot of titles, and that they announced a list of winners. There is no evidence of anything which can be determined from the part of the process which is visible to the public.

        I know that you pride yourself on being a logical thinker. I can’t understand why you keep making these incredibly illogical and irrational claims.


      3. @JJ It’s disappointing that you persist with personal attacks. If you have a rational argument, I’ll be happy to respond to it. But I’m not going to engage with you when you’re making personal attacks.


      4. greghullender: It’s disappointing that you persist with personal attacks. If you have a rational argument, I’ll be happy to respond to it. But I’m not going to engage with you when you’re making personal attacks.

        I think that it’s very telling that you call me pointing out that your claims are wildly irrational is a “personal attack”.

        In other words, what you’re really saying is that you’re going to call everything a personal attack, and then you don’t have to try to justify your irrational claims with, you know, actual evidence.


      5. Nice try, but you’re the one making the claim that the results prove something about how the awards are being administered. It’s your responsibility to show your work, and explain how the results prove anything.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Maybe.
        With the nominations I’m confident they are swapping nominees between categories – hard to prove but Robert Kroese’s Dream of the Iron Dragon was promoted for Best SF but was a nominee in Best Alt-History.

        As to simply counting the votes…I think it really depends on whether they are getting spammed or not (or think they are). If there are people buying spam votes and the organisers are having to decide what is a legit vote or not (perhaps based on feedback from Survey Monkey) then the scale of the work increases. Maybe they just quietly disqualify any work that gets flagged spam.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. You say: they’re simply counting the votes, other than removing things that appear to be obvious fraud. That’s consistent with the results from last year

    I say: the only “consistency” observable from this year’s results is that they released a final ballot of titles, and that they announced a list of winners. There is no evidence of anything which can be determined from the part of the process which is visible to the public.

    Unlike you, I’m not making a claim about what was done. I’m saying that there is no evidence by which one can logically deduce what was done.
    1) They may have counted every nomination.
    2) They may have counted only some nominations, based on some subjective criteria.
    3) They may have used the nominations as a guideline and drawn up the ballot based on various criteria of their own, including adding works to the ballot which did not receive a high enough number of nominations to make the shortlist.
    4) They may have just ignored the nominations and come up with the final ballot by themselves.
    5) They may have counted every vote.
    6) They may have counted only some votes, based on some subjective criteria.
    7) They may have just picked the winners themselves.

    Based on what we as the public see, there is no way to know which of these occurred (and again, their T&C legitimately allow them to do any of these).

    You’re claiming that the results prove something. Show your work.


    1. First, the question we’re trying to decide is whether it’s better to encourage or to discourage participation in voting for the Dragon Awards. Do we agree on that much?

      I think we also agree that the Dragon Awards grew out of the same White Nationalist movement that tried to steal Hugo Awards for alt-Right authors, with the goal of creating a tool celebrate that would let them claim that most fans are really alt-Right supporters. Depriving them of such a tool is our common goal. Any disagreement with that?

      The argument to discourage is that the organizers will use larger vote totals to legitimize a bad award, but they won’t let the actual votes affect the results they want to achieve. Thus participating helps the alt-Right and people shouldn’t do it. (Any disagreement on this?)

      The argument to encourage is that although we can’t know what the organizers are actually doing, voting does seem to influence the awards because (other than the first year) we’ve seen nominations and awards go to people the alt-right doesn’t like, most notably the Black Panther movie. Also, we know that the organizers have included people like Eric Flint, who is a leftist who’s spoken out strongly against the Puppy movements. That doesn’t prove they did a fair count, but it certainly suggests that it’s possible that they did.

      So it comes down to weighing the chance that votes really do count vs. the chance that more participation will actually increase the credibility of a bad award.

      That’s a judgment call, but I think there’s zero chance that participating increases the credibility of the award because if you think the organizers are corrupt enough to rig the votes then they’re certainly corrupt enough to lie about how many votes they got–whether we encourage participation or not.

      Therefore, given that there is no downside to encouraging participation, we should do so as long as we think there’s any chance that the votes really do get counted.

      This has been my position all along, and I don’t see anything irrational or illogical about it.


      1. greghullender: First, the question we’re trying to decide is whether it’s better to encourage or to discourage participation in voting for the Dragon Awards. Do we agree on that much?

        Well, you’ve certainly moved those goalposts very nicely — and quite a significant distance, too.

        That may be a question you are trying to decide. But no, you don’t get to suddenly make it my question. Stop using the word “we”. I’ve told you repeatedly, you do not speak for me, and yet you arrogantly continue to presume to do so.

        I’m not really interested in the motivations of the Dragon Awards organizers. It would be nice if they got their shit together and ran the awards in a way that did those awards credit, but they’re on their fourth year now, and it’s still a total clusterfuck shining exemplar of incompetence — despite the fact that many people, including this blog’s host, have posted lists of a number of fairly simple ways for them to greatly improve how the program is run. They obviously don’t care about having a legitimate awards program with a reputation for excellence, because if they did, they would have made a bunch of those improvements.

        Which leaves the question of why they’re still running the awards for a 4th year, if having a legitimate awards program with a reputation for excellence isn’t their goal. It’s pretty reasonable to conclude that it’s so they can hand out participation trophies to their friends.

        I find it interesting to observe and analyze what goes on with the Dragon Awards. I’m not invested in the awards in the way that you obviously are, so my observation and analysis are not colored by what I want to see, in the way that yours pretty clearly are.

        You can engage in all of the magical thinking about the Dragon Awards that you want. Just stop claiming that the results prove anything — something which is extremely irrational and illogical — because every time you do, I am going to point out that there is no evidence for your claims, and you are just confabulating what you want to see rather than describing what has actually happened.

        And stop using the word “WE” when you address me. YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR ME. Seriously, how hard is it for you to understand this?


      2. @Greg —

        I roughly agree with most of your points, but then you run off the rails when you say this:

        “That’s a judgment call, but I think there’s zero chance that participating increases the credibility of the award because if you think the organizers are corrupt enough to rig the votes then they’re certainly corrupt enough to lie about how many votes they got–whether we encourage participation or not.”

        Nope, no, nein, nuh-uh.

        Remember — the Dragon Award rules very specifically allow the admins to disregard the votes if they so desire, and the rules also do not actually mention anywhere that winners will be decided by majority vote. So it would not be “corrupt” of them to pick whatever winners they like — it would simply be non-transparent. In contrast, actively lying about the size of the voting pool *would* be corrupt. It is relevant here to point out that, in at least two of the three years, the admins *have* released ballot totals — but they have never released any breakdowns at all. This is a rather obvious example of less transparency in one stage (the breakdown) than in the other stage (the overall totals).

        And, again, this is important because more people pay attention to one than the other. It’s a handy bit of misdirection — “hey, look how many votes we got! We’re a great big reputable award, we got thousands of votes! No, don’t pay any attention to that big black hole where the vote breakdowns ought to be, that hole means nothing! Nothing to see here, move along!”

        Even the Goodreads awards includes the votes each book got. The Dragons choose not to. Things that make ya go hmmmm.

        And yes, your continued insistence that Occam should lead us to believe everything is hunky dory does seem rather Pollyannaish and irrational. That’s not a personal attack — it’s a critique of your claim.

        It seems to me that Occam actually tells us that when one award acts differently than another award, there’s probably a reason for the difference. Without more evidence we can’t tell what that reason is — but the difference is there nonetheless.


      3. @Contrarius ‘So it would not be “corrupt” of them to pick whatever winners they like — it would simply be non-transparent.’

        No, I’d say it would be a lot more than that. I tried to find the actual rules just now but couldn’t. However, all of their materials on the site, referring to submissions as “ballots,” talking about votes–all of those create the impression that a vote is being taken. If, in fact, they’re merely picking the winners they like, then they are massively deceiving the people who’re voting. Perhaps “corrupt” isn’t the right word, but “dishonest” certainly applies. So I’ll stand by my claim that it would be no more dishonest to lie about the vote totals than to ignore the votes entirely and just create their own lists.

        ‘And yes, your continued insistence that Occam should lead us to believe everything is hunky dory does seem rather Pollyannaish and irrational.’

        That’s a straw man argument. There is a very big difference between “X is more likely than Y” and “X is absolutely certain.” I suppose it’s debatable whether twisting someone’s words into nonsense and then using that as a basis to call them names is a personal attack or not. It’s certainly not very nice.

        That aside, the big thing (for me, anyway) is what the results look like, and, as I said above, the results leave open the possibility that they’re playing it straight. That’s not the same as proof, of course, but I have never claimed it was. I think of everything in probabilities, and, based on the things we do know, I think there’s a decent probability that if a lot of fans voted for the Dragons, the nomination lists and final results would reflect that more or less accurately. I also recognize that there’s a chance that it’s all a charade and that nothing we do would affect the result at all. In that case, though, I think nothing we do would affect their claims either.

        Accordingly, I think the course of action that has the greatest probability of achieving the desired result (i.e. frustrating the alt-Right) is to make a low-key effort to encourage fans to nominate and vote for the Dragons.


      4. @Greg —

        “ If, in fact, they’re merely picking the winners they like, then they are massively deceiving the people who’re voting.”

        Again — the rules very clearly and specifically allow the admins to do that. At most, it would be a sin of misdirection — allowing the unwashed masses to believe something through implication while actually specifying something else entirely in their rules. And, in fact, that’s exactly what their rules do. But falsifying the ballot totals would be an active sin of commission — an entirely different level of dishonesty.

        You’re a logical guy, Greg. Occam tells me that a logical guy should be able to see the difference here. Like JJ, I am becoming more and moe puzzled about why you continue to refuse to acknowledge something so obvious.

        “the results leave open the possibility that they’re playing it straight”

        So what??? Nobody here has said that there’s any proof of malfeasance. As we have reiterated over and over and over, the problem here is that there’s currently no way to tell the difference. And there’s no number of ballots that will overcome that problem.

        You go right ahead and keep pouring your votes down that black hole if you feel like it. I’ll stick to awards that care enough to hold themselves accountable to inspection by the voting public.


      5. The Dragon Awards have always been up front about being a promotional tool. They clearly state that creators should drum up their fan base to get out the vote for them. I have no issue with whoever wants to do that. Good for self-pub and small press who are their own marketing department anyway. Maybe that’s why the awards have never really promoted themselves — they see it as the creators’ and fans’ job. (Of course, they don’t help by screwing up the website somehow every year.)

        If they don’t make it too difficult (took me a month or so of back and forth to get a ballot one year), I may participate. I’m not going to encourage or discourage anyone else.

        Regardless of the Puppies ever-changing stated and unstated goals, they really seemed to be about denying Hugos to the left. They wanted to “take back” the Hugos and frustrate the SJWs (insert any of the various other initials and names they came with).

        Basically I’m fine with letting Dragons fall where they may. But I sympathize with the Red Pandas wanting the awards presented at their home con to be more representative of the people attending that con.


  11. Here is a web archive of the rules since they don’t seemed to be on the current site:


    Skimming it, it says something about able to throw out anything they deem suspicious and there’s no appealing their call.

    I thought at some point they had said they were going to release some vote stats, but they never did. Since they do it through Survey Monkey, I would think there’d be some report they could share — don’t know, having never made a survey myself. Makes me suspect it wouldn’t line up with the results, but who knows.


  12. Greg, we had a whole discussion about this when Camestros printed the rules of the Dragon Awards earlier this year in this blog. Those rules specifically state that the award runners will decide who wins the awards, regardless of votes, and that their doing this cannot be disputed or reversed.

    The Dragon Awards are not, by their own admission, real awards. The votes don’t count as votes. Instead, the votes are a group suggesting influence on the award runners in their deciding what books to have as nominees and award winners. The award runners went out of their way the first year to not publicize the awards to the DragonCon attendees or in general and made a complete hash of it because they wanted to give them to Puppy picks. But the DragonCon staff were clearly unhappy at the criticism that received and it’s quite possible the Red Pandas setting up worried them. So the award runners did have to make an effort to have some mainstream, popular — and liberal — SFF authors in the running and getting some awards to improve the appearance of the awards. But the procedure didn’t change — the award runners decide who gets nominated and who wins. It’s a jury award of the award runners pretending to be a popular vote award.

    Essentially, the award runners want to have their cake and eat it too. They want the appearance of a real award and so want established authors to treat it as a real award with a good voting base while it is not and fully under their control. At the same time, they want to discourage non-Puppies from knowing about the award, being able to easily vote in it and paying attention to what they are doing so that they can still throw some nominations and awards to Puppy picks while claiming it’s from the vote. So they run it incompetently and don’t market it to DragonCon attendees.

    It’s a balance that was always going to have a short shelf life with lots of potential for backfires. As happened in Year #3 when the increased profile of the chosen nominees and award winners attracted the Kindle Unlimited authors who used their fan bases to vote and put the award runners in a bind, having to pick some of them. So yeah, swamping the vote can influence what the award runners pick, making the normalizing process go faster. But if all the voters are doing is influencing because the award runners are still in charge and still get to decide who is nominated and wins, then the Dragon Awards remain not real awards and the votes don’t count as actual votes.

    So it’s not just about swamping the votes, which are right now not votes but suggestions that the award runners have to pay various amounts of attention to. There also needs to be a push with DragonCon staff to remove the award runners and clean up the rules so that award runners no longer get to decide the awards and the awards can become real awards. The Red Pandas’ efforts do a little bit of that. But we’re in that tricky period where, because the award runners did pick some non-Puppy pick authors, the awards have more of an image of a legitimate award while not being one, which means the award is stuck not being a real award. It’s not just votes that are needed, since they are of limited utility as they aren’t truly counted. It’s complaints about the award rules that make it fake, the incompetent way the awards are run and about DragonCon staff keeping the same award runners. Essentially, a lot of pressure needs to be placed on the DragonCon staff to clean up the awards. That will have more influence than votes. Clearly respectability is an issue for them, so that pressure could be increased.

    But that will happen even if pressure isn’t applied because DragonCon made it an official award of theirs. Eventually they have to clean up the awards and turn them into an actual vote award, not a award runners get to decide award. The big question is how fast it will occur. Swamping the vote won’t necessarily make it happen faster as long as the award runners have clearly stated rules that they decide who gets slots and wins no matter the vote.


  13. Regarding how seriously Dragon Con takes the Dragon Awards, I recently happened to listen to a recording to a talk given by Michael Anderle, in which he mentioned that Dragon Con sent him a car to pick him and his co-author Craig Martelle up from the airport, because they were Dragon Award finalists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s not good. If the DragonCon staff are willing to spend money on hired cars for finalists, but not spend money on having a workable, up-to-date website, competently running the election and publicizing the awards to the convention and elsewhere, then that explains why they haven’t replaced the award runners who decide the awards. At least some of the DragonCon staff are happy to have the awards be fake and simply have the award runners pick people. Having staff who like a rigged vote has more impact than just neglect.

      And that means that the votes and the Red Pandas are less influential than they might have seemed to be the last two years in getting the awards cleaned up and fairly run. Which means the normalization process of the Dragons becoming real awards where votes actually count may take a lot longer.


      1. I had similar thoughts. Of course, it’s possible that they sent the car for another reason, e.g. because Anderle and Martelle were panelists, but I can’t really imagine any convention guest below GOH rank getting a courtesy car.

        The video is here BTW. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtuzaQfXc08

        It’s long and mostly about Anderle’s business model and I’m not sure where the thing about the Dragon Awards was.


      2. Ultimately, besides GOTV, Red Pandas may just want to try to do a petition to get the award runners changed. Complaints about the rules that award runners pick the winners, that there’s no transparency, and more importantly, that the award runners are incompetent with a messed up website, difficulty in registering and voting, no proper dates given, etc. and it should be turned over to someone else can have an effect. Even if they don’t want to change those things or the award runners, people actively complaining about it, who are involved in the convention itself and might generate press attention, brings pressure on the DragonCon staff to try to do something, even if it’s just a face saving gesture. Exposure and emphasis on the incompetency that damages the awards is likely to have more effect than simply having more votes for the awards.


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