A note on the Locus Poll

A couple of tweets I read this morning, referenced by some discussion which took place well before I was awake:

@clarkesworld Have you voted in the Locus Poll this year? http://tinyurl.com/4ajnnst More people that vote = less worry about the subscriber doublevotes

@clarkesworld Besides we really should be supporting the only significant award process in the genre that doesn’t cost you a penny. #locuspoll

This is a sentiment that I fundamentally disagree with, and in a more wordy fashion than will fit into 140 characters. Yes, I can vote in the Locus Poll for free, but everyone who pays gets two votes. I don’t think this makes it a free award, and I don’t want to support the practice by getting lots of people to vote. In fact I would like everyone to stop voting in the poll, so they don’t get to have a large voting base at the same time as treating the opinions of everyone who doesn’t pay them as only 50% as worthy as those who do. (Basically, everything that Abigail said.)

If you want a big, free, popular vote award open to all, how about the SFX Awards? Voting isn’t open right now, so I can’t double-check the rules, but I’m pretty sure anyone can vote on their website without them downweighting your vote based on whether you read the magazine or not.

6 Thoughts on “A note on the Locus Poll

  1. I’m a Locus subscriber and I’m not voting out of principle. The weighting process really is completely ridiculous and unjustifiable.

  2. Neil Clarke on 20/03/2011 at 1:38 pm said:

    The problem with not voting is that Locus won’t notice.

    Locus will notice if each of us convinces a friend to vote. The premise at work here is that by increasing the non-sub votes, we decrease the influence of the subscriber votes. There is also a place on the ballot to leave a comment. I urge everyone to leave a note in there and express their objections to the subscriber vote doubling. Heck, if you against voting as it stands now, only fill in the comment box and leave the rest of the ballot blank. That would be more effective than not voting at all. At least Locus would know you are boycotting and why.

  3. I’m more convinced by your second suggestion than the first, Neil. It seems obvious that Locus has chosen the misbegotten compromise of keeping the poll open to all but counting non-subscribers as half a vote because they want the large voting base. Convincing your friends to vote gives them that base, while the “problem” of non-subscriber votes is solved by giving the subscriber votes more weight.

    While I like the idea of registering my disapproval at the poll itself, won’t that still count as a vote?

  4. liz on 21/03/2011 at 5:36 pm said:

    I think the issue for me is that I’m not particularly invested in the Locus poll, so going out to promote it and persuade my non-subcriber friends to vote is more effort than I want to put in, especially when getting a large voting base seems to be part of the aim. Not voting and leaving a comment seems like a good compromise, except again it might be counted as a vote.

    I assumed Locus must be aware that there’s some opposition to the voting methods, since it seems to be debated every year when the poll comes round.

  5. Neil Clarke on 22/03/2011 at 4:55 pm said:

    If you go back and look at their explanation for doubling the vote in the first place, it’s pretty clear that they weren’t trying to get more internet voters. It was done (after the polls had closed that year) because they had too many internet/non-sub voters and wanted to shift weight back to the subscribers. If enough non-sub people vote and devalue the subscribers, it will press the issue again and some response will be necessary.

    Of course they know that some people oppose the practice of doubling, but if subscribers and non-subscribers don’t step forward and tell them, they’ll have no idea just how much. They can choose to act or ignore that data, but I don’t believe there is a chance anything will change via a boycott.

    You don’t have to vote in any categories to leave the feedback. Votes are counted by category.

  6. No one from Locus has said that they want the big voting base, however their actions clearly indicate that this is the case. Otherwise, why not simply close the poll to non-subscribers entirely? I’m still of the mind that getting more people to vote in the poll creates exactly the situation Locus was after – the cachet of the largest voting base in the field for their award, and the results skewed away from the tastes of internet riff-raff. I doubt that Locus’s staff are unaware of the uproar that has surrounded the poll in recent years (their loss of the Hugo in 2009, even in the wake of Charles Brown’s death, was clearly a response to the original rule change), and they’ve made their stance in response to this reaction very clear.

    However, I might leave a comment on the poll form without voting, if as you say that wouldn’t be counted as a vote.

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