Given the events described elsewhere, I would like to humbly propose a new movement, running alongside but independently of Sad Puppies. The purpose and end goal of this movement would be to increase fan involvement in the Hugo awards by ‘flooding’ them with new fans.
The basic rules would be as follows:
1) THIS MOVEMENT NEITHER HAS, NOR PROMOTES, A SLATE FOR NOMINATIONS NOR VOTES. One of the biggest and most frustrating complaints this year was the use of a nomination slate by the Puppies. The fact that people were invited to only vote for the works they agreed with was ignored. So I’m taking that out of the equation here. No slates. If someone claims to have an official slate for this movement, they are a liar and should be denounced as such.
2) NOMINATE/VOTE FOR WHAT YOU LIKE. Did you think a book, movie, play, TV show, whatever was amazing? Is it science fiction and/or fantasy? Go nominate it for a Hugo! Are you a huge Gravity Falls fan? It’s listed as fantasy, so go pick the best episodes from this year and go nominate them for a Hugo! Do you think Jurassic World was the greatest movie made in 2015? Go nominate it for a Hugo! I hear there’s a Welcome to Night Vale novel coming out later this year; I don’t really know much about Welcome to Night Vale, but if it counts as science fiction or fantasy, and if you read it and it tickles your fancy, go nominate it for a Hugo! Go vote for whatever eligible works you’ve read/watched/whatever and thought were good enough for an award!
3) RECOMMEND OTHER FANS NOMINATE/VOTE TOO. This one can be done even by people like me, who can’t currently spare $40-50 for a membership, but people who get a membership can do it too! Just go find the other fans of the things you like (which I can’t imagine would be hard to do) and let them know that there’s an award that they can nominate their beloved show, movie, story, artist, or whatever for! Don’t be pushy or obnoxious about it, of course, just inform and invite fellow fans to join in your efforts or make their own selections!
That could even be our motto: Vote and Promote What You Love.
4) MEMBERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION ARE 100% VOLUNTARY. Other fans of the works you like DO NOT have to consider themselves part of the movement. Being fellow fans who want to promote the things they love via an award is more than good enough. Our task is NOT to enlist others to the movement (though if they want to join, that’s fine too); it is to encourage fellow fans to take part in an award that claims to represent them. At the same time, if you consider yourself part of the movement but start to feel burned out or overwhelmed or have other concerns come up in your life, it is perfectly okay to step back or drop out of the movement. It happens to everyone, and we understand. Provided you don’t burn any bridges on the way out, you will be welcomed back whenever you’re ready.
5) BE MATURE AND POLITE IN ALL POSSIBLE REGARDS INVOLVING THE MOVEMENT. I shouldn’t have to even mention this, but this is the Internet, and sometimes it’s easy to get carried away. Please try not to say or do anything we’ll all end up regretting. Trust me on this, if nothing else.
6) BE BRAVE AND STAY CALM. If the Puppy movements have taught us anything, it’s that any success on our parts will result in the movement being attacked. Expect this and prepare accordingly. If you don’t feel you can, that’s all right; remember, you don’t have to be part of the movement to vote and promote what you love.
7) VOTING WITHOUT READING/WATCHING IS NOT OKAY. Obviously this goes for nominations as well, but if you’re voting for the things you like, it’s kind of implied. But what if none of the things you wanted got into the final ballot? The answer is simple; give everything your honest vote. That means reading stories, watching shows and movies, and looking through artwork, then deciding which of them most merits the award. Again, I shouldn’t have to mention this, but the anti-Puppies knew no bounds in making their displeasure known, so I’m making it official. Either vote in all categories fairly, or don’t vote at all.
It’s likely these rules will be added to as necessity arises, but they seem like good ground rules for now.
Next year is MidAmeriCon II; an attending membership costs $170, a young adult membership (if you’re attending but will be younger than 25 at the time of the convention) costs $90, and a supporting membership costs $50. Yes, trust me, I’m aware that’s a lot, but for what it’s worth, any of those memberships means you can nominate for 2016 and 2017, vote for 2016, and it’s traditional to get a voter packet containing the finalist works, either in whole or in part. If you’re not sure about anything involving the Hugo awards, there’s an FAQ here you can look through, and a list and explanation of the categories here.
So what do you think? I’m considering calling the movement The Grand Order of Water Dogs (or just the Water Dogs for short), both as a hat tip to the Puppies that inspired it and to the flooding strategy. It’s also good symbolism; the purpose of a water dog is to flush out game and bring back whatever the hunter manages to hit. Our purpose is to flush out SF/F fans and bring back nominations (and maybe even awards) for much-beloved works.
And now for some Q&A:
Q: I don’t understand how this is supposed to work.
A: Well, let me see if I can give an example. Let’s use Gravity Falls from before, and say you’re a big fan and there are one or two episodes that aired in 2015 that you really really think are worthy of nominating. So (if you can get a membership) you put those episodes under Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form along with whatever other eligible shows you thought were great too (if any), and fill in the other categories if there’s anything that fits, of course. For now, though, we’re focusing on Gravity Falls.
Now that you’ve voted, next (or first, if you couldn’t vote) comes promoting! So you go to your favorite GF fansite(s) and get a conversation going about voting for GF in the Hugos. Some people agree with you, and a few of them go get memberships, but some disagree with your choice of episode(s). That’s perfectly all right! Encourage them to go and vote for whatever they thought was better, instead.
Let’s say one person is also a big fan of Over the Garden Wall; that came out in 2014 and so isn’t eligible, but the person who brought it up does follow an artist who does amazing fanart for it, along with other SF/F-related works. Good news! There are artist categories in the Hugo awards! That person should totally consider voting and letting the artist’s other fans know, and who knows, maybe you decide to go check out this artist and end up becoming a fan yourself!
Meanwhile, somebody else mentions a relatively new webcomic that nonetheless has managed to attract a die-hard fanbase. So long as it qualifies as science fiction and/or fantasy, there might be something eligible to nominate! That’s three different groups of fans you’ve introduced to the awards!
And so on and so forth; hopefully you get the idea. And that’s just from one or two entries in one category!
Q: Why are you doing this now? We’re only about two-thirds through 2015.
A: Three reasons: one, I’ll forget if I wait too long to put it down somewhere (like here). Two, so that people who want to join the movement can keep in mind whether they’d want to vote and promote something. That way, they can have a general idea by the time 2016 rolls around. And three, because this post really is just a proposal and I’d like feedback. Four months is a good amount of time for that.
Q: Why are you doing this at all?
A: Because with all the drama and all the media coverage and all the social media coverage and all the everything surrounding the Hugos this year, less than 6,000 people showed up to vote on the final ballot. And any time I tried to talk to anyone about what was going on with the Hugos, I ended up having to first explain what the Hugo awards are. That’s incredibly sad, considering what the Hugo awards are supposed to be, and I’m sure there are a lot more fans out there.
Q: Do I have to be one of the Puppies to be a Water Dog?
A: Not at all! You just have to be a devoted fan who wants to vote and promote what you love.
Q: I already am a Sad Puppy. Can I also be a Water Dog?
A: Absolutely, provided you can follow the rules listed!
Q: I already am a Rabid Puppy. Can I also be a Water Dog?
A: Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s possible. The goals of the Rabid Puppies appear to be diametrically opposed to those of the Water Dogs. If I’m wrong, though, feel free to let me know and the answer will change accordingly.
Q: I can’t stand the Puppies, but I kind of like your idea. Can I be a Water Dog?
A: Absolutely, provided you can follow the rules listed!
Q: Do I have to be a Water Dog to vote and promote things I like?
A: Nope! If you don’t want to be a Water Dog, you don’t have to be one. You can simply vote and promote independently, if you want!
Q: If I’m a Water Dog, can I still put up my own recommended list?
A: Putting up your own list of suggested nominees is allowed, but not encouraged. If you do put up such a list, we will not promote it, nor will it be an official Water Dog slate. Personally, if this goes forward, I won’t even be naming things I would vote for if I had a membership until after the nominees are announced.
Q: Is this some kind of secret society? Can I tell people I’m a Water Dog?
A: No, The Grand Order of Water Dogs is not secret at all! (That’s why this post is public.) You can tell people about the movement, or keep it to yourself unless they ask; I don’t really mind. If they do ask, though, it’s best to be honest about it.
Q: I want to start my own vote and promote movement instead of joining yours.
A: Knock yourself out! The more fans who join up, the better for everyone!
Q: If The Grand Order of Water Dogs is successful, won’t we end up with the Hugos becoming a chaotic pool of thousands, or tens of thousands, or (heaven forbid) hundreds of thousands of fans for all kinds of work, all trying their damnedest to get their favorite works nominated and awarded, all standing a good chance of discovering new works via nominees they hadn’t chosen themselves but are expected to read if they want to vote?
And that’s exactly how it should be.