GreenReaper (greenreaper) wrote in ursamajorawards,
GreenReaper
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My thoughts on the UMAs

Firstly, thanks for setting this group up, and welcome to the furry LiveJournal community. I think with a little promotion this group will be far more popular than the current mailing list-based solution.

To get the ball rolling, here's my thoughts on a few issues that I'm aware of (some from the discussion archives):

There have been calls for more diversity and perhaps more selection in nominations. Specifically, some feel the UMA should become a juried award, at least with respect to one of the two processes of nomination and voting. I agree that choosing nominations or voting by a panel of judges is a valid idea (perhaps similar to the process used to determine the guest of honor at conventions), but I feel it should be pursued by a separate group. As fursuittourney has shown, there is room for more than one award in the fandom.

I also feel limiting the number of nominations or the people/works which may be nominated in any particular year is contrary to the spirit of the awards. If an ongoing work or creator continues to be popular, it/they should continue to win. Conversely, allowing creators to choose to withdraw one or more of their nominated works (or perhaps those nominations with fewer nominees) is a reasonable idea that should be implemented in 2009. This choice both encourages diversity and benefits nominees, as it is quite likely that multiple nominations will spread the vote too thinly for any one work to win (switching to Single Transferable Vote might also address this problem).

The nomination of Dream Field's Softpaw and spin-off Finding Avalon is controversial - though perhaps more-so inside the awards committee than outside. The irony is their work is well-presented, popular, and perhaps even profitable. I understand they did $4000 of business in their first showing at Anthrocon (2007), equivalent to at least 200 purchases. They have a loyal and dedicated fanbase willing to donate money to their survival. The publishers eagerly encouraged them to vote, and they did - and, I hope, not just for Softpaw. If they win, the UMA will have merely achieved what they set out to do - highlight notable works in the field of anthropomorphics that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Besides, if you start picking groups to exclude, who'd be next? Macrophile artists? Rubberfurs? Talk about a slippery slope.

Transparency is good. I fully support posting all possible information on the level of support for each nominee, the number of votes cast, etc. Not much more to say here.

One idea that I've not seen before, but which might be worth considering: Why not allow nominations to occur throughout the year, rather than restrict them to a one-month period after everyone has forgotten the works concerned? The current system seems inherently biased towards those works published at the end of the year. (You could still do a big promotion prior to closure to ensure those same works don't lose out.)

Lastly, a perennial issue. The awards are becoming outdated as the focus of the fandom shifts. The committee should know how I feel about this from my email "Change for the Ursa Major Awards?" sent 27 March last year. Most people will not nominate or recommend something for which there is no category - the fact that some do anyway is a sign of how badly progress is needed. The UMA is a popular award, so the solution is obvious - add an explicit field to the form for people to nominate and vote on a missing award category, and take serious consideration to implementing the top picks in subsequent years. My picks would be "best anthropomorphic website", "best anthropomorphic costumed performance" (or make it clear that this can be included in "Dramatic Short Work"), "best anthropomorphic costume" and perhaps "best anthropomorphic audio production", but I'm sure you could rustle up a few more. In the interim, you could set up a form on the award page (once published) to get an idea of what people want for next year.

So, there's what I think. What about you?
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