[linux-elitists] SJW FTW
rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Dec 5 22:24:19 PST 2015
[Just seeing Don's Sat, 5 Dec 2015 21:52:21 -0800 comment. As I'm
sipping Internet through a thin satellite-link straw from a ship,
I may be a long time commenting. Off the top of my head: I still
see just discussion of ideology, which personally I find meaningless and
makes me reach for my wallet. I find actual deeds meaningful and
gaseous policy language to be junk or worse.]
Don, following is a little background for Eric's recent rant(s).
As it happens, he and I were on... opposite? No, different sides
of a dust-up, not in hackerdom but rather science fiction literature
and fandom, that blew up spectacularly in August 2015.
To summarise the summary of a summary, in the late 2000s / early 2010s,
there had been squabbles in and around the Science Fiction Writers of
America (SFWA), a malnourished trade guild of professional SF writers,
for several years on largely symbolic issues of sexism, racism, etc.
SFWA is a private group limited to professionally published writers.
Its members vote the annual Nebula Awards. My wife Deirdre has been a
SFWA member; I am not.
We outside SFWA were somewhat amused by the SFWA antics, in which there
was bad behaviour on both sides and rage-mobbing of the organisation by
mostly pseudonymous outside critics. Shetterly's epub covers this among
The last couple of years, SFWA's teapot threatened to spill its tempest
onto large outside volunteer convention-running group WSFS (World
Science Fiction Society), which votes the annual Hugo Awards for best
science fiction, given during a ceremony at a large five-day party
called the World Science Fiction Convention ('Worldcon'). 2015's
Worldcon was 'Sasquan', in Spokane. The prior year's was LonCon 3 in
London. I was (as usual) one of the volunteer Worldcon staffers at
Sasquan, one of the people who run it and vote in its parliamentary
Sasquan, like the prior two Worldcons, was targeted by ideological war
_against_ 'SJWs' run by a multi-year organised campaign alleging WSFS
had been taken over by 'SJWs' (which is incorrect; I'd have noticed),
and seeking to address a perceived move away from classic Heinlein-ian
SF, through tactical Hugo Award voting and accusing fanatically neutral
and democratic WSFS of being under shadowy ideologue control. In 2015,
this effort succeeded by filling all slots during the 'nominations'
phase of voting (phase 1 of 2) for five of the ~20 categories. One of
the nominees in those Hugo categories was Mr. Eric Raymond, nominated
for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author on
the basis of a single (quite good) short story.
(Note: Because the Campbell Award is for the _entire body of work_ of a
new writer, it would be incredible to win on the basis of one short
story. Even Eric thought this very unlikely, and he was right.)
A great deal of Internet noise followed during 2015. During the August
Hugo Award ceremony, it turned out that traditional Hugo voters rose up
spontaneously to swat down the anti-'SJW' campaign, electing to grant no
2015 award in all five of the affected categories. Further, WSFS
regulars (including me) are in the process of amending the nominations
algorithm to fix the exploit leveraged in 2015. (Web-search 'E Pluribus
Hugo' if interested.)
Eric seems to have walked away from this experience angry about 'SJWs'
foiling his gang at Sasquan (my inference; I might be wrong). If I may
presume to speak for Worldcon convention-runners, we walked away with a
different impression: We're royally annoyed at a time-wasting ideologue
sideshow that made our lives difficult and had nothing to do with the
Hugos. We're also thoroughly cheesed at the notion of our being in the
thrall of a non-existent political cabal, when we're in fact a model of
transparent process and are also highly focussed on pragmatic concerns,
having no time for that other bullshit, and when we've weathered
political storms Eric has never dreamed of. (Web-search 'Breendoggle'.)
That was a long walk to arrive at a point, so I'll try to make it
worthwhile: I see WSFS as analogous to management of a typical open
source project. We're strongly devoted to being welcoming and mindful
of diversity. At the same time, we also have a job to do, and the job
comes first. Worldcon-conrunners' first-level response to people saying
'The Hugo Awards have no credibility any more because the voters vote
only for left-wing message fiction' is to say 'Gosh, feel free to create
your own Real SF Award, then.'
Which is why you should not be surprised when I say that the proper
remedy of the disgruntled open source complainer -- irrespective of
tenets -- is to remember he/she has the right to fork, and to kindly
shut up and code.
It's not that Worldcon-conrunners are hostile to 'SJWs' -- or to
self-appointed enemies like Eric. It's just that we have a job to do.
Somehow, I think open source leaders, once they study a few of the
rage-mobbing, CoC-urging incidents like the 'djangoconcardiff' one,
and the GitHub CoC debacle, will come to a similar conclusion.
And I think they'd reach that conclusion sooner if Eric hadn't made this
results-focussed position look needlessly partisan through his recent
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