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Who gets to pick what's on the Hugo ballot?

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I just posted this as a comment on Scalzi's blog entry about the Hugos, and figured I ought to post it here (lightly edited) as well. I know I've said all this before, but I think it's worth repeating.

In various contexts, I feel like I'm seeing people say “Well, there was a bunch of good stuff on the ballot this year, so Beale(/Vox Day) has already lost; and he had no serious negative effects this year, so all is well and we can ignore him.”

It's true that the ballot (except for a couple of categories) had a bunch of worthy stuff on it this year. But I think it's really important to note that, regardless of whether we liked what was on it, the ballot was largely determined by Beale.

Which is to say, there were plenty of other worthy works and people that didn't make it to the ballot because Beale didn't happen to put them on his slate. (Graphic Story is a great example of that—the stuff that got pushed off by the slate is excellent.)

Nearly 80% of the items that Beale put on his slate ended up on the final ballot. In most categories, his slate determined at least three and usually four or all five of the items in the category.

That's partly, as Scalzi noted, due to Beale having populated some categories of his slate with already-popular work; there are plenty of slated items that I'm certain would have been on the ballot regardless. And in a few categories, three or four non-slate works or people made it through, which is great.

But overall, Beale essentially got to decide what works and people the voters would be choosing among.

And that seems to me to be fundamentally harmful to the integrity and value of the Hugos. Even if every item he slated was something that I loved, I would still feel that he was tainting the award by using a slate to determine most of the contents of the ballot.

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