Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making Yourself Heard: You're Maybe Doing it Wrong?

Quoting from the most recent issue of Locus, Sean Wallace reports on the voting statistics of the Locus Awards (results here), which, as we discussed a few months ago, have for the second year running persisted in their policy of counting non-subscriber votes as half of subscriber votes.  The language is muddled (and continues to spin the unequal vote-counting policy as a response to alleged "ballot-box stuffing" in 2008), but a quick calculation gives us the following results:

YearTotal VotesSubscriber VotesNonsubscriber Votes% of Nonsubscriber Votes
2008101238572662 72

The good news is that the overall number of votes has remained low, and that the significant drop in nonsubscriber votes between 2008 and 2009 has not been reversed.  The bad news is that there were more nonsubscriber votes in 2010 than 2009, and that their percentage is creeping back up to its 2008 levels (though this is also the result of the steady drop in subscriber votes over the last three years).  I'm not sure that this sends the right message to the award's administrators--the short passage Wallace quotes certainly suggests that they think this year's numbers are something to be celebrated.  If they believe that participants in their poll will tolerate being treated like second class voters, they'll have no reason to reverse this misguided and insulting policy.


SF Strangelove said...

As I noted on my blog post about the Locus Awards, the information in the July 2010 issue of Locus indicates that the subscriber results and the non-subscriber results are quite different. For instance Kim Stanley Robinson's "Galileo's Dream" wins for best science fiction novel in the subscribers results. There are two remarkably different sets of results that would be worth comparing, but they don't report them separately. As you've noted, weighting the votes differently makes no sense.

There are other problems with the Locus Poll, such as leaving "The Windup Girl" off the pull-down menu for best science fiction novel. Since the only way to vote for it was by write-in it came in much lower, 15th place, than it might have otherwise.

Anonymous said...

The drop in nonsubscriber votes in 2009 can be attributed to the controversial move to double-count subscriber votes, which turned off a lot of people, and who refused to participate. Either way, ideally you would need to see previous years to see if there's any trends actually going on.

John Kessel said...

Your math is wrong for the 2008 votes. The non-subscriber votes were 71.7% of the total votes, not 62% as you say on your chart.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

Sigh. You'd think that would be an easy mistake to avoid, wouldn't it?

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