Archive of Our Own is a work and its related and I’m really happy that it’s a Hugo finalist

There is no Hugo category quite a broad in its definition as ‘Best Related Work’. The inclusions of Archive of Our Own (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archive_of_Our_Own) as a finalists has caused some discussion about its eligibility. The rules for the category state:

3.3.6: Best Related Work.Any work related to the field of science fiction, fantasy, or fandom, appearing for the first time during the previous calendar year or which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year, and which is either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text, and which is not eligible in any other category.

http://www.wsfs.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/WSFS-Constitution-as-of-August-21-2018.pdf

As a set of bullet points:

  1. Related to the field or fandom. Lots of SF/F in there and by its nature what gets written is out of fanishness. Check.
  2. Either non-fiction or, if fictional, is noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text. The contents of the archive are fiction but what is being nominated is the thing as an entity. Consider the difference between lots of science fiction novels and a library of science fiction novels. It’s the library that’s being nominated, which includes its contents but which is not the same as its contents. Check.
  3. Not eligible in any other category. Obviously. Check.
  4. Which has been substantially modified during the previous calendar year. I think this is the only weak point in an eligibility argument. Obviously lots of new content has been added in the past year but (looking back at point 2) did it change substantially as an entity other than its content last year? I don’t know but my ignorance is purely that: ignorance on my part. Even then point 4 is more of a question for any future nominations for AO3 than something that worries me about this year’s eligibility.

As a thing in itself, AO3 is a monumental achievement and a huge expression of fan activity. It’s this last aspect that I think makes it a good fit for the Hugo Awards which are themselves derived from a similar drive of fannish self-organisation and expression.

What kind of precedent is set by this? No obvious one comes to mind. Arguably, a convention could be nominated or some more nebulous project but then that has always been the case and weirder things have been finalists.

A different question (and something that has also come up when discussing fan writing) is whether the Hugos need their own distinct non-fiction writing categories. Currently Best Related Work is a default category for longer non-fiction and Fan Writer is a proxy for shorted non-fiction, even though neither category are quite that.

In the meantime, fan fiction in itself is something that is always going to be something difficult for the Hugo Awards to award.

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93 thoughts on “Archive of Our Own is a work and its related and I’m really happy that it’s a Hugo finalist

  1. It gets us one step closer to nominating something like the Falcon Heavy Rocket for Best Related Work.

    1. It’s a rocket. You don’t get more “related to the field” than that.
    2. It’s definitely not fiction.
    3. I’m pretty sure it’s not eligible in any other category, although the video of the launch would probably qualify under “Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form.”
    4. It didn’t exist at all before 2018, so the “substantially modified” doesn’t apply. However, since the vehicle is 99% fuel by weight, and the payload and top stage are always replaced, you could probably nominate it again every year.

    This is one of four categories where I always vote for “No Award” and nothing else to signal that I think the category shouldn’t exist in its current form. The other three are “Best Editor: Long Form,” “Best Fan Artist,” and “Best Series.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Greg: Can you think of a way of reforming the category which would make it acceptable?

        It seems to me very reasonable to have a category for non-fiction works. The change to ‘Related’, and the ‘if fictional, noteworthy…’ clause seem to me to make sense, so as to allow in works that are technically fictional but valuable for some other reason, such as guides written in an in-story way, like the Discworld Atlas. The change from Book to Work makes sense so as to allow forms of publication other than print (which is why it was made). But once all those changes have been made, you end up with a rule that can cover almost anything. I’m not sure how that could be avoided.

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      2. I think people have obsessed over making the categories inclusive to the point where it’s almost impossible to nominate for them. Lots of the categories suffer from being overly broad, but this one takes the cake.

        Just go back to requiring Related Work to be a non-fiction text document of at least 100,000 words (or maybe 50,000) that is predominantly about the genre. Examples would be biographies of writers/editors, histories of magazines or the field in general, and books on how to write SF/F. Sure, there will be things that don’t qualify, but so what? Our philosophy should not be “All have won and all must have prizes.”

        If there’s one thing we should have learned from the Puppy fiasco it’s that categories where there are too many choices for things to nominate are vulnerable to disruption–intentional or otherwise.

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  2. Changes to the archive in 2018:
    Emoji and extended character sets: https://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/11871
    Changelog: https://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/11702
    New Open Doors projects: https://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/11704, https://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/11779, http://www.transformativeworks.org/p-k-all-the-way-is-moving-to-the-ao3/, http://www.transformativeworks.org/elusive-lover-is-moving-to-the-ao3/ (and more)
    Reached 30,000 fandoms: http://www.transformativeworks.org/ao3-celebrates-30000-fandoms/

    But the biggest change, which IMHO would qualify on its own, is the change to the search and filter options: https://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/10575
    They added an “exclude from search” feature, so you can remove the stuff you don’t want to see. (You could before, but it was complicated and required typing the exact term into a small text box. This allows exclude to work just like include, with autofill based on canonical tags.)

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    1. Just so you’re aware, Hugo Admins actually have a standard for how much has to be added to something for it to be considered a new or different work. I think it’s a certain percentage, like 30%, but right now I can’t find the reference I remember seeing.

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    2. I really appreciate this info. This is the aspect I’ve been struggling to wrap my head around. As someone who wasn’t familiar with it, I didn’t see how I could look at the culmination of a decade old site in 2019 and consider it as a 2018 work.

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  3. I’m not at all convinced that it belongs in this category. But I’d love to see it get some acknowledgment, like maybe a special one-time award.

    I’m torn.

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    1. I agree that a special award would make more sense. The problem is that a special award wouldn’t be a Hugo, and the name ‘Hugo’ has a cachet which the name ‘Worldcon’ doesn’t. Perhaps we should give the committee the power to award special Hugos. But then there would be Hugos not voted on by the membership, which I think would be seen as a problem. (And you couldn’t really have special Hugos voted on by the membership, as it would be a public yes/no vote, which would be very embarrassing.)

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      1. One of the aspects of the Hugo compared to other awards is playing out well here I think. The finalists provoke discussion but it is a discussion with a definite outcome: nominate or not nominate, vote for or not vote for and of course ‘no award’ or ‘not no award’. Provocative finalists enable this kind of broad debate.

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  4. Various works of fanfic have been shortlisted. Two works of Lovecraft fanfic were nominated in 2017, for instance. But we know what Camestros means.

    But I’m not sure, now, why there would be difficulty in nominating fanfic. I thought the reason was that it would shine a light on potentially illegal activity. It’s not a settled matter that it’s illegal; and even if it were, giving an award to something illegal is not itself illegal; but nevertheless it would, as pointed out the last time we discussed this, stir up a hornet’s nest. But I would have thought that the nomination for AO3 did the same – and yet that’s not an objection I’ve seen.

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    1. The fact that it exposes fanfic to the light of scrutiny is one reason why some transformative works fans would, I think, be reluctant to nominate their favourite fic, but there are other difficulties too. For instance, volume: for best novel alone, there are 18,000 works just in English which were eligible for nomination this year. For short story, there are almost 60,000. Sure, following Sturgeon’s law 90% of that is stuff which is patently not Hugo standard, but you still have to wade through a lot of reasonably good content to find the Hugo standard stories. And it’s not always easy to find the good stuff – you can filter by kudos (“likes”, essentially) or bookmarks, but some surprisingly badly-written stuff can float to the top there.

      And then you have the problem that the vast majority of people who read any given story are people in a particular fandom already, which significantly cuts down your potential readership. Even if you think that the best fic of the year is in a well-known fandom like Doctor Who, or Harry Potter, or the MCU, you’re going to have to do some work to get that read by a decent proportion of Hugo nominators – let alone have them nominate it.

      I must head to work now instead of rambling on, but in brief conclusion: if a fic is to be nominated for a fiction category, it’s going to take some degree of organisation to ensure that enough potential nominators know it is worth reading – and trust in the system enough that they go and read it even if it isn’t in one of their usual fandoms (or even in a fandom they aren’t necessarily familiar with). And I suspect it also needs a generational shift – TW fans in the age range of the average WorldCon fan are very much of the “first rule of TW fandom is we do not talk about TW fandom” school – it’s the millennials and gen z who are happy to admit to writing fic and don’t care when creators find out about it.

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  5. I would argue that in its first time on the ballot, AO3 is the equivalent of Liz Bourke’s compilation of their book reviews from Tor.com, or Jo Walton’s compilation of her Hugo Analyses for the years 1953-2000 from Tor.com, or John Scalzi’s compilation of 10 years of blog posts from Whatever. I think that it’s eligible for the sum total of the platform that’s been created and built up since its inception. These sorts of works, along with scholarly works, are the major reason that the category exists.

    I would also argue that it would not become re-eligible in any future years until its interface has massively changed — which will probably be never.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, which is exactly my point — that AO3 as an entity in 2018 was a sum total of functionality additions and changes that had been made in previous years, just as the three books I cited were sum totals of the blog posts which had been made by each of those people in previous years.

        If Jo Walton issued a new edition in a couple of years of her Hugo history, with 2 more year summaries added, it would not be re-eligible. If she issued a new edition with 20 new year summaries added, it would very likely be re-eligible.

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      2. The Archive is, it self, a publication. Just because as a lack of a dead trees edition doesn’t exclude works from Tor.com, neither should this.

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      3. I assume Greg’s point was that they were assembled together through some sort of editorial process and published as a thing rather than the dead tree aspect. AO3 is more of a platform than a publication in this regard.

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  6. While it’s important to make sure categories don’t get diluted or appropriated, BRW lacks any real purity to defend. It’s already a ragbag category. AO3 deserves recognition *somewhere* and I don’t see the harm in this.
    And also on the plus side, hopefully a bunch of fiction fans who didn’t know much about the Hugos will soon know a little bit more, which can’t possibly be a bad thing.

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    1. @Mark —

      “AO3 deserves recognition *somewhere*”

      Agreed.

      “and I don’t see the harm in this.”

      The harm is that works that actually fit the category may be denied a win, and that this could encourage other people to push the envelope farther and farther.

      “And also on the plus side, hopefully a bunch of fiction fans who didn’t know much about the Hugos will soon know a little bit more, which can’t possibly be a bad thing.”

      This is a good point — but should we be awarding things because of the good PR, or because they’re actually the most deserving work that fits within the category?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The test is whether a likely winner didn’t get nominated *IF* at the same time the nominee that pushed it out is a definite non-winner (eg Three Body Problem nearly not making the ballot because of the Pups). That’s hard to judge with BRW as it’s a broad flat field but I can’t think of an obvious potential nominee that would have a better chance of winning than AO3 (which I think has an outside chance)

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      2. If I were a non-fiction author who had an SFF related book out this year, particularly a research intensive non-fiction book (rather than a compilation of previously published essays or reviews) which may have taken years to research and write, than I wouldn’t be happy, if that book had just missed the ballot because of one of the three edge case finalists this year.

        Of course, we don’t know if the three edge case finalists kept such a work off the ballot.There are a couple of likely candidates, e.g. Gary K. Wolfe’s Arthur C. Clarke biography, “Strange Stars – David Bowie, Pop Music and the Decade Sci-Fi Exploded” by Jason Heller, “Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Making of a Masterpiece” by Michael Benson or “Typeset in the Future – Typography and Design in Science Fiction Movies” by Dave Addey.

        On the other hand, it’s also possible that AO3 kept that recipe for Wakandan jeweled rice, which sounds really tasty but shouldn’t be a Hugo finalist in any category other than “Best SFF related dish”, off the ballot.

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      3. “This is a good point — but should we be awarding things because of the good PR, or because they’re actually the most deserving work that fits within the category?”

        Clearly the latter, but I wasn’t arguing the former. I was suggesting to anyone who feesl there’s something damaging coming from this nomination that there’s a silver lining they can take away.

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      4. The AO3 nomination isn’t even in the same league of “damaging” to the reputation of the Hugo Awards as the Gollum and Garcia nominations.

        Yes, it’s hard that non-fiction books have to compete against things that aren’t books. But I really don’t think there are enough good-quality things of the “other” classification on an ongoing basis to justify its own category.

        And I would say that the non-fiction books benefited immensely this year from not having to compete with art books. I daresay Vess and Arcana, at the very least, would have displaced a couple of them.

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    2. I must say I find this ‘already a ragbag’ theme, which people keep repeating, puzzling. The vast majority of finalists since the award was created, especially if you discount the Puppy years, have been books, and most of the others have been book-like works in other media. There have really only been two non-Puppy exceptions to this before this year, Wicked Girls and ‘We have Always Fought’. This is clearly in line with the intention behind the award, which was first created for non-fiction books, and then expanded in specific ways to cope with specific circumstances.

      It’s not that AO3, in and of itself, is destroying the purity of the award. It’s that it confirms a growing trend of seeing this as the ‘everything fandom wants to honour’ award, and it’s not fair to non-fiction works to make them share the award with everything else.

      As for the idea of creating a new award for non-fiction, so that BRW can be a pure ragbag, I do wonder if there are six suitable ragbag items every year – indeed there ought to be more than six, if shortlisting is to be an honour in itself.

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      1. “it confirms a growing trend of seeing this as the ‘everything fandom wants to honour’ award, and it’s not fair to non-fiction works to make them share the award with everything else.”

        This. So much. Agreed.

        – Olav

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      2. I kind of think that if “Best Related Work” should mean “Best Non-Fiction Long Form”, then it should be named that. And defined as that. It isn’t.

        I wouldn’t say that AO3 is only a work. I would say it is *a lot of work*. And it is both the work spent and the result that is nominated. I would be very happy to have a specific misc-category and one for Non-Fiction books, but that is not how the categories are made up. Right now it is a common category.

        And if it is not “fair” for Non-Fiction works to share the category with everything else, is it more fair for everything else to not have a category at all?

        I think this was a fun nomination and I seem to differ from many other people in that one of the things I like most is that it was thinking outside of the box.

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      3. Stuff that wasn’t just Serious Books
        Writing Excuses seasons
        Quite a lot of art books
        Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches
        Minicon 34 Restaurant Guide
        Noreascon 3 Souvenir Book
        I agree that the vast majority tend to be books on related subjects, and that’s really where I think the category does its best work, but I can’t deny that there’s been a thread of fannish whimsy running through the category (e.g. the speeches, con books, the suggestions of nominating “Chuck Tingle trolls the puppies”) and I see this as within that tradition.
        I find it interesting that the nomination for The Mexicanx Initiative – technically for it’s website but surely actually for the good work it represents – hasn’t raised an eyebrow. Personally, I don’t think it should raise any eyebrows, but I rather think it’s getting a pass against similar arguments because of it’s insider status.

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      4. Contrarius: But everything you mentioned is a work or site that was created in 2018. AO3 isn’t.

        Not so. Art books are a cumulative repository of works published over many years, just as the Scalzi, Bourke, Le Guin, and Walton books are a cumulative repository of works published over many years.

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      5. @JJ —

        “Not so. Art books …”

        In such cases we are awarding the COMPILATION, which was indeed created in the specified year.

        In great contrast, the “compilation” here — the website itself — has been around for years.

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      6. … but its current compilation has only been in existence since 2018, and since no previous compilations have made the ballot before, it’s eligible this year.

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      7. @Contrarius – fair point, I do think the requirement to be from the correct year is an important one. I’d endorse JJ’s point about the art books though.
        The supporters of AO3 have made some (imo) strong arguments about the overhaul of the site and new features, and personally I’m content with that. OTOH if it comes back next year then I’ll be much more sceptical.

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      8. “The supporters of AO3 have made some (imo) strong arguments about the overhaul of the site”

        The site got a couple of new features. Big whoop. Is it going to be eligible again every year they add some new bell or whistle to the search engine? That’s what their argument would indicate.

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      9. No, because there are standards for what constitutes a substantial change, and “a new bell or whistle” shouldn’t meet that standard. I’m taking the claims that the recent changes are substantial at face value – they seem to think they’re a step change in the usability of the site – but I agree that future years eligibility would require substantial changes.

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      10. Cora: I think Writing Excuses belonged sufficiently; it was the sort of material that would historically have appeared in a book.

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      11. Hampus: The definition of the award says ‘either non-fiction or, if fictional, noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text’. So yes, it is defined as non-fiction. (The qualification is obviously not relevant in this case, as it is designed to let in some fiction in special cases, which everyone insists is not what is happening here.)

        ‘Non-fiction’ is an expression with a recognised meaning: it doesn’t just mean ‘anything which isn’t fiction’. A rocket or a cake is not fiction, but no one would normally call it a work of non-fiction. People constantly complain about work at Tor,com qualifying people for Fan Writer, though it obviously fits the formal definition, on the basis of natural assumptions about the meaning of ‘fan’. But the meaning of ‘non-fiction’ seems to me a lot clearer than the meaning of ‘fan’.

        It’s true that the definition doesn’t specify ‘long form’. In my view that is a mistake – the framers thought people would know what they meant, and they were wrong. But the definition as now framed certainly lets in essays and blog posts, as they are works of non-fiction. It doesn’t follow that it lets in everything.

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      12. Andrew M: People constantly complain about work at Tor,com qualifying people for Fan Writer, though it obviously fits the formal definition, on the basis of natural assumptions about the meaning of ‘fan’.

        That’s if you consider “Fan Writer” the entire definition for the category. But it’s definitely not the entire definition. Of course these people are fans, who are producing writing aimed at a fan audience. But that does not make their work “Fan Writing” according to the WSFS definition of the category, which is a far narrower, more-specific definition than “fan producing writing aimed at a fan audience”.

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      13. Andrew M: The definition of the award says ‘either non-fiction or, if fictional, noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text’. So yes, it is defined as non-fiction. (The qualification is obviously not relevant in this case, as it is designed to let in some fiction in special cases, which everyone insists is not what is happening here.)

        I don’t think this line of reasoning is correct. The qualification is very much relevant here. You are reading it as “or, if fictional, noteworthy primarily for its non-fiction aspects” where you have a very specific definition of “non-fiction”.

        But that isn’t what the definition says. It says “noteworthy primarily for aspects other than the fictional text“. And the AO3 platform very much meets that definition. The fanfiction stories are themselves not each individually noteworthy in this regard; it’s the way that the search, tag, warning, and kudos functionality of the site allows the aggregate of its fan-fiction contents to be classified and accessed that’s noteworthy.

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      14. Andrew M:

        Thank you for that quote. I do think you have an argument for why software can’t be called “non-fiction” (i.e changes in emojis and search engine is not non-fiction). The argument could be for the content as a whole (my guess is that there has been a lot of content added in 2018), but even if that made the site eligible, I would not nominate for that.

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      15. JJ: The formal definition of ‘fan writer’ which appears in the WSFS constitution is ‘person whose writing has appeared in semiprozines or fanzines or in generally available electronic media’. There’s no question that this fits writing at Tor.com, which is generally available electronic media. It’s the ordinary language meaning of the word ‘fan’ which casts doubt on this.

        And OK, I’ll buy the argument that AO3 qualifies because it’s fictional, but not noteworthy for that. That would be extremely specific to AO3, though. It would not support a general ‘ragbag’ reading of the rule, which allows cakes and rockets. I’m not especially concerned to exclude AO3: I’m concerned about the view, that seems to be gaining ground, that the category has nothing in particular to do with non-fiction, and is just a general catch-all for fannish things.

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      16. If nonfic had its own category/ies, I have no problem thinking of plenty of “related work” possibilities.
        A convention. A costume, or set of costumes. A game: board, card, RPG, or video game. Sculpture. Multi-media fiction that doesn’t quite fit into text, art, graphic novel, or presentation. A meme like “slenderman” or “talk like a pirate day.” A store. An object, or set of objects. A Kickstarter–Mystery Science Theatre 3000 was (is?) the largest video ks ever.

        Moving BRW away from nonfiction books & documentaries could open up a world of F/SF related works that currently aren’t even considered, in part because nobody knows where to put them.

        (Also, the Hugos are going to need to figure out where “video games” belong soon, because the next generation of SF fans grew up with them as just another form of media. There are some amazing stories that are only being told through gameplay.)

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      17. Again, though, the Hugos don’t need to have an award for everything related to SF/F, and many of these categories are very ill-suited to the way most Hugo nominators seem to work. For “Best video game,” would people really be willing to spend $50/game and invest 50-100 hours just to decide whether a particular game was award-worthy?

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      18. @Greg —

        “For “Best video game,” would people really be willing to spend $50/game and invest 50-100 hours just to decide whether a particular game was award-worthy?”

        On the other hand, maybe a video game category would attract new voters, who might then vote in multiple categories?

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      19. Elf: Also, the Hugos are going to need to figure out where “video games” belong soon, because the next generation of SF fans grew up with them as just another form of media. There are some amazing stories that are only being told through gameplay.

        You may not be aware, but video games have already been considered repeatedly and exhaustively in terms of the Hugo Awards, and I don’t think it’s likely that they will become a Hugo category any time soon, if ever. The Hugo Awards trialled a “Best Interactive Videogame” category in 2006, and had to drop it from the final ballot because participation was so low.

        A great deal of discussion on this topic occurred in 2016 on File 770; I encourage you to go read the comments to understand why such a category is really impractical for the Hugos and why it’s not likely to get created. Reasons include inability to provide copies of all games on all platforms to voters for evaluation, the eligibility issues caused by a game being released in one format one year and a different format in another year, whether updates to games can be considered “new” for the purposes of nomination, how significant an update has to be for it to make the game “new”, whether there are actually 15 or more new, award-worthy games released every year to make a viable nomination longlist, and the fact that there are a number of videogame awards already which do a much better job of recognizing them than the Hugo Awards ever could. Even people who are huge videogame players acknowledge in these discussions how difficult it would be to overcome these issues with a Hugo Videogame category.

        There’s a post here, and this comment has links to several other discussion threads.

        I think you will find that there is not a lot of appetite amongst the majority of WSFS members to create a Best Videogame Hugo. It’s helpful to remember that not everything to do with SFF and fandom actually needs a Hugo Award category.

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      20. Every year since I started paying attention to the meta Hugo discussion, someone’s complained about one or more of the Related Work finalists being hard to judge against the others because it isn’t a book. Ragbag seems about right (and I like it that way). 🙂

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      21. Sorry, wanted to add — Best Series has already added an excessive amount of work and expense. Best Video Game would be even worse: System exclusives, AAA game costs, the sheer time investment. I’m a gamer, but the Hugos are a fan award and the categories have to be practical. People have to be able to get hold of the works and experience them in order to vote. (Also a problem with Editor Long.)

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      22. I really can’t see Best Video Game working – aside from anything else any sensible vote for Best Video Game would be about gameplay primarily rather than the SFFnal content. The point of recognising games in the Hugos would be as a medium that contributes to the field of Science Fiction and Fantasy – which they clearly do but getting at that aspect would be hard.

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      23. Agreed – the Nebula for game *writing* makes sense because it’s judged by writers. As a fan I’d just be judging on how much fun it was.

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      24. Expense is a concern I have about Art Book. Much as I love them, buying one is an very infrequent splurge. Of course, we don’t know whether it will become an ongoing category yet. But I know my library is never going to have many (or necessarily any) new SFF art books. Even trying to see if I could get a peek at a couple of this year’s finalists in a bookstore is proving challenging. And I can’t see us getting too much in the voters packet.

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  7. I made a comment, but it seems to have disappeared.

    I find the ‘already a ragbag’ theme, which keeps being repeated, puzzling. The vast majority of finalists since the award was created, especially if you discount the Puppy years, have been books, and most of the others have been book-like works in other media. There have really been only two exceptions to this before this year, Wicked Girls and ‘We have Always Fought’. This is clearly in line with the intention behind the award, which was created for non-fiction books, and then expanded in specific ways to cope with specific circumstances.

    It isn’t that AO3, in and of itself, is destroying the purity of the award. It’s that it is confirming the trend of seeing it as the ‘anything fandom wants to honour’ award, and it’s not fair to non-fiction works to make them share the category with everything else.

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  8. I’ve seen an argument that it’s the software that’s nominated, not the content. File 770 quoted a tweet saying that a couple of days ago.

    I hope the packet will clarify how to judge ao3.

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    1. My interpretation (and it is only that, although I have posted a few things I’ve written to AO3) is that’s what been nominated is “the software”, “the site”, and “the phenomenon” (to the extent there’s a difference between “the software” and “the site”, but that is sophistry to which I will not sink).

      I think it’s a worthy finalist, all things considered.

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  9. 3. Not eligible in any other category. Obviously. Check.

    I assume this have been covered somewhere in this discussion but I haven’t seen it:

    Why is AO3 not eligible for Best Fanzine? (Or semi-prozine if there’s too much money involved for Fanzine?)

    As far as I can tell, the core function of AO3 is that it’s a website where fans publish fannish writing. To me, that’s pretty much the archetype of a (modern web-based) fanzine. It covers a particular subcategory of fannish writing, but most fanzines have some kind of focus so that shouldn’t in itself disqualify it.

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    1. Hmmm, I think this is a valid point re fanzine, given that the appearance of websites in fanzine is established.

      I’m pretty sure it’s fully non-profit, fanfic is very big on making sure they’re never accused of profiting from others IP.

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    2. Johan P: Why is AO3 not eligible for Best Fanzine?

      It is, and if you’re wanting to get the fanfiction content of AO3 recognized, that’s where you would nominate it.

      The people campaigning for this nomination weren’t doing it for the purpose of having the fiction itself recognized. They were doing it for the purpose of recognizing the entity, as a place which fosters fannish activity and interaction between fans, which is why it was nominated for Related Work.

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      1. Drawing that distinction between “content” and “entity” means that AO3 is eligible to be a finalist on both Best Fanzine and Best Related Work, in the same year. That seems … odd.

        And AO3 would not be alone in having this dual eligibility. Many fanzines have multiple contributors and/or a healthy comment field. Even fanzines that almost exclusively publish text written by the a single editor exists in a kind of dialogue with fandom at large, and thus fosters fannish activity and interaction.

        And if we limit the nomination very narrowly to just the software, my question is how that software is related to genre. The archive software itself does not have an obvious connection to SF, that relation only appears when the content of the archive is taken into consideration.

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      2. JJ – As someone who nominated AO3 for Related Work (after some thought about whether it should be nommed for that or fanzine, I went with RW because that’s where people seem to have nominated it last year), I am slightly worried about that line of argument.

        The “and which is not eligible in any other category” rule implies that if we accept AO3 as a fanzine, we should therefore consider it not eligible for Related Work. And arguing that AO3 qua Related Work is a different entity from AO3 qua Fanzine seems to be at best splitting hairs. Where does one draw the line? Could, in 2017, one have nominated File770 as a fanzine, and File770 as a related work to recognise the community and culture which built up around the Puppy Round-Up Threads?

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      3. Joe: The “and which is not eligible in any other category” rule implies that if we accept AO3 as a fanzine, we should therefore consider it not eligible for Related Work… Could, in 2017, one have nominated File770 as a fanzine, and File770 as a related work to recognise the community and culture which built up around the Puppy Round-Up Threads?

        I still contend that what’s been nominated is the very unique platform which facilitates fannish activity and not the fiction. If I wanted to recognize the fiction, it would only have been eligible in Fanzine, and that’s where I would have to nominate it. AO3, as a platform separate from the fiction content it contains, is not eligible in the Fanzine category — because the Fanzine category specifically recognizes content.

        And sure, you could use that argument to nominate File 770 — except that the File 770 platform is boilerplate WordPress, and there is nothing special or unique about it; hundreds of SFF blogs use it. The AO3 platform is a very special custom interface found only in that one place, designed very specifically to support fannish activities in ways that WordPress is not.

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      4. @JJ “the File 770 platform is boilerplate WordPress, and there is nothing special or unique about it”

        The shoggoth and the time machine disagree 🙂

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    3. AO3 is not a fanzine because it’s not curated to be read as a complete set, in much the same way that a bookstore or library is not “a very large anthology.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. ^ Agree with this. It’s an archive, not a fanzine; there’s no curation. If people want to nominate the fic, meta, art and vids within the archive, Fan Writer and Fan Artist are the categories to do that, or the fiction categories.

        (And I do, when I find stuff I think is good enough.)

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    4. I’d say AO3 is not a fanzine because it doesn’t have the equivalent of issues. Here’s the definition for fanzine:

      Any generally available non-professional
      periodical publication devoted to science fiction, fantasy, or related
      subjects that by the close of the previous calendar year has published
      four (4) or more issues (or the equivalent in other media), at least
      one (1) of which appeared in the previous calendar year… [stuff to distinguish it from semiprozine and fancast]

      Regular blog posts are comparable to fanzine issues. Or, at least, that’s how the category has been interpreted.

      I’m glad AO3 made the ballot because I know people have been pushing it’s nomination for a while. So now we can have this discussion. Controversial nominees are what evolve the categories. StarShipSofa winning fanzine led to Fancast. Wheel of Time’s nomination was a factor in creating Series. Watchmen winning Other Forms in 1988 eventually led toward the creation of Graphic Story. (Other Forms was in addition to Non-Fiction Book that year. Talk about grab bag — the Wild Cards series was one of the other “Other Forms.”) Of course, we need to start pruning or refining categories instead of just adding them. I’ll be very curious to see the stats from Art Book this year.

      I don’t know that AO3’s nomination will lead to people thinking of related work as the place to put oddball things more than they already do. I remember seeing people talk about nominating the dress that Amal El-Mohtar wore to the Hugo ceremony because it was inspired by her winning story “Seasons of Glass and Iron.” I could understand the creator in Fan Artist, but not the dress itself in Related Work.

      It did make me think about other websites that don’t qualify for fanzine. I know Worlds Without End is in the process of doing a major site overhaul. There are other resource/database/community sites. I’ll probably stick to nominating non-fiction books myself though.

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    1. Thanks for sharing that, Mark. In the end, the Hugos are what fans decide they will be. And admin isn’t going rule against anything subjective — and that’s good. I do wonder if people plan to continue nominating it. And if future admins would rule on whether it had changed enough.

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      1. Laura: In the end, the Hugos are what fans decide they will be. And admin isn’t going rule against anything subjective

        Unless it’s Fan Artwork, in which case they’ll make rulings which directly contravene the actual WSFS Constitution. 🙄

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      2. Ugh. That qualifies more than a lot of things that have been in the packet before. Honestly, that’s probably the most widely seen piece of work she’s done and what got her on the ballot.

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      3. Yes, it disqualifies two of the Finnish Fan Artist Finalists from 2017, and all of the Puppy Fan Artists from 2016. 😡

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      4. Yup, looks like I’ve been doing fan artist nominations wrong all this time. Most of those I’ve nominated would have had nothing they could put in the packet. It’s like they think the proposal which was brought to last year’s Business Meeting passed when it didn’t even get passed on to this year.

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