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GUFF

Grant started it ...

I've been quiet on this for the whole of the GUFF race because I didn't want to add controversy or whatever and I think that Sue Ann and Trevor winning is a great, and right outcome. And honestly, I really am really happy to be going to Swancon.

The thing is... I felt stupid running in a race with a less than two year old in it - the child is not consenting and therefore was as good as a teddy bear being nominated, and there was something distasteful in that for me. (That a baby is like an inanimate object). Further, I felt that it detracted from the race and what it meant - the other candidates ran on platforms on what they hoped to offer as the winner and on their contribution to fandom. The baby was not even eligible to vote for herself, being not alive in 2006.

I felt stupid because *other* people read this blog who are not in fandom and would ring me up and say, but ... hang on? You're running against a baby? And all I could say was, what everyone says to me, "oh you know what fandom is like" or "that's fandom for you" which by the way doesn't translate to people outside of ... fandom. And does nothing to bring credibility to the scene.

I have voiced my opinion on the matter in private - that the prize is a ticket to London and back, which is not nothing, it's a lot of money to be cavalier about. And I have been told that nominating a baby is "fun" - which in retrospect feels a lot like pointing out someone said something sexist/racist/antisemitic and being told you just don't get the joke. A lot of people encouraged me to run in order to bring fan funds out and made visible to a wider audience. And I was happy to do that till I found out there was a "joke" entry. It kinda made me feel like what I was standing and running for was a bit of a joke, then, too, by extension. And I smiled sweetly and got on with it, but I have felt very uncomfortable about it for the whole race.

Does controversy bring discussion and audience? Yes, but what it doesn't bring is respectabilty and I believe that is something that fan funds should be about - it's about choosing candidates who will bridge the geographical divide, will make new friends, will exchange ideas and forge friendships.

I'm more than happy to stand back and laugh when teddy bears get nominated to run in races. But I am not the sort of person who will take that race seriously. And this is the biggest reason why I have said I won't stand again.

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king_espresso
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:14 am (UTC)
Sometimes in fandom, a joke candidate is a social-adjustment mechanism that prevents, or attempts to prevent, people from taking themselves too seriously. Doesn't always work, but there's no harm and just a little fun in it.
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)
Yeah, I guess apparently I take things too seriously, then. I kinda do when something involves other people's money. But maybe that's just me.
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random_alex
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:39 am (UTC)
I agree wholheartedly; the 'joke' candidate bringing the race into disrepute. As someone said on Grant's thread, if there's going to be a joke candidate then there should be an obvious eminence gris that people can *actually* consider in voting. I was a bit appalled to see a toddler nominated, to be honest. How could anyone take it seriously? And if it's not meant to be taken seriously - why would I put my money in, and why would people take time and effort to send someone o/s, on a platform that sounds lie it *should* be taken seriously? The connecting of international fandoms is an awesome idea and will help all of those stop being parochial, which is surely what scifi is all about anyway, on some level...

(Disclosure: friends of GJ, don't know the winners, don't have an opinion about the race itself other than that it seems like a good idea in theory.)
cassiphone
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:51 am (UTC)
I must say I just found it confusing. I didn't get whether it was a joke candidate who would not be allowed to win, or what.

This is the first time I have ever voted in a GUFF election or really felt like I had any stake in the outcome, because I believed in GJ's platform. But yeah, if I hadn't known and trusted GJ I would have been severely put off contributing a paid vote when there was a candidate so obviously not to be taken seriously.
nyssa_p
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:50 am (UTC)
Well I see you and Sue Ann; I know about the contributions you guys make to the industry and fannage. Because I know you guys are proactive, I know that you'd be a good representative and worthy. I can't see how "teddy bears" can contribute and bring back something to this community.
ex_benpayne119
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
...
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ex_benpayne119
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:59 am (UTC)
>which in retrospect feels a lot like pointing out someone said something sexist/racist/antisemitic and being told you just don't get the joke

I dunno... I think that's perhaps a bit unfair.
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC)
That if I don't get that it was fun, *I* am not fun? That's what that comment says.
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ex_benpayne119
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
More generally, my opinion is: let the people who vote decide if a candidate is stupid. It's their money after all.

If a stupid candidate wins, then I guess it proves that the person I consider stupid is more in touch with popular opinion than I am, which is what voting is all about after all, right?

Legislating against kids or bears or annoying people or whatever running seems to me unnecessary. If people want to vote for someone or something dumb, they'll find a way...
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC)
Yeah ... afterall, George Bush wasn't *so* bad ...
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babalon_93
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:33 am (UTC)
I don't think equating Norah and Kylie to a teddy bear is entirely fair. Norah is a part of fandom and has been attending cons for her whole life, she is, in fact, a product of fandom. Kylie has been an active part of fandom for over a decade now (I think it's over a decade), has been to numerous Swancons, Worldcons, and eastern states cons. I think it was made pretty obvious on the ballot that the entry was for both Norah *and* Kylie, and I think they had as much right to be on the ballot as yourself or S&T.

I didn't think they were likely to win, it seemed more likely that on this occasion people would vote for the more experienced candidates, but I sure think they had a right to be there and I don't think it was a joke at all.
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:55 am (UTC)
I disagree that Kylie was as much on the ballot as Norah but that was how I read it, as an outsider. Again, perhaps I just didn't get it. As I said, the experience was much that I didn't feel it was for me, and why I won't be running again. It's just not my thing.
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king_espresso
Nov. 26th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
And just as a frivilous side note, bringing respectability to fan funds is a concept that amuses me, if only because I've won two of them and am anything but respectable. ;-)
angriest
Nov. 26th, 2008 02:12 pm (UTC)
See what you did? You went on a fan fund and accidentally made yourself respectable.
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roberthoge
Nov. 26th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
You campaigned strongly for GUFF, and I don't think you should have felt trepidation bringing it up before the vote ended if you wanted.

But I think most people reading Norah's nomination would have interpreted a vote for Norah as a vote for Kylie. I certainly did.

And if you felt particularly strongly about it you could have withdrawn from the race.
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 12:27 pm (UTC)
I really did feel conflicted about it. I didn't want to run, or be perceived to run, a negative campaign. I typed out several posts on the topic and then deleted them.

Ultimately, I felt that the race deserved a proper go and I didn't want to take away from the winners by adding controversy by dropping out or blogging on the matter.
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angriest
Nov. 26th, 2008 02:11 pm (UTC)
This is awesome. In future I'm going to always make very carefully phrased statements on my LJ and leave all the arguments for yours. : )

I'm one of those people who gets accused of over-regulating fandom, and trying to take the fun out of it, so I quite predictably think some rules need to be added to GUFF, DUFF, FFANZ and NAFF. And the big one is that I honestly don't think it's appropriate nominating anyone/thing beyond adult human beings for a fan fund. It's a grant, for goodness sake. it's a donation of actual money - and a sizeable amount of it - for someone to travel to another country, experience foreign SF fandom and represent their own community overseas. An adult can do that. A child can not. A toddler certainly can not.

Yes fandom can decide for itself who should and should not win GUFF, but fandom sometimes needs to take a good look at itself and realise that when we happily put a two year-old in direct contention on a ballot against three grown adults, that's the kind of thing that non-fans point and laugh at us for.

And please everyone understand, because I know how this fan-based discussions can build up really quickly, none of this is intended as a slight against Norah Ding or Kylie's campaign for her. It was perfectly within the rules of GUFF for them to do so, and comiserations to them on not winning. My problem is with a lack of rules that allows it to happen in the first place.
girliejones
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean about arguments! I think this is a very civilised discussion!


but fandom sometimes needs to take a good look at itself and realise that when we happily put a two year-old in direct contention on a ballot against three grown adults, that's the kind of thing that non-fans point and laugh at us for.


This is precisely my point. I don't want to be anywhere near the pointing and laughing. I was this time, I didn't like it, and that's why I won't be getting involved again.

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robinpen
Nov. 26th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
Well then, next time I'm nominating my arse for Guff. Yes, just my arse. It's been in fandom a long time, it's even sat on a few committees. It can dance, make a noise, it can wobble and enjoy a good room party. It's smooth and quite lovely, though a little hairy, but it can crack a good joke and appropriately join in on a seesion of filking. And like many an arsehole fan, can stink out a business meeting. Naturally, if my arse won I would have to accompany it, but it's my arse that will have won. So vote. Vote 1 for my arse.
king_espresso
Nov. 26th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
Only when it learns to fart La Marseillaise.
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crankynick
Nov. 26th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
My initial interpretation (and granted, I tend to look at most election with a more jaundiced eye than most) was that Norah's nomination was a fairly cynical ploy to attract the 'joke vote' to a candidate that would otherwise have had little chance of winning the popular vote.

I have no idea whether this is true or not, btw - but the situation certainly allows the interpretation, and I don't think that's a good thing for GUFF or fandom as a whole.
exp_err
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
I feel like an outsider in this, but if Norah was intended as a joke candidate, I didn't realise it. I thought (and stoill suspect) that Kylie genuinely wanted to go, and to take her daughter.

As I understand it, GUFF is an opportunity for someone to attend an overseas con when their finances otherwise mightn't allow it. Voters decide who is most deserving of that chance - based nominally on their contributions to fandom, but since there aren't (as far as I know) any specific duties associated with winning, based really on whatever voters think counts (generally, I imagine, personal connections).
callistra
Nov. 26th, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Yes, she did, and she had plans in place for the fund-raising as well.
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splanky
Nov. 27th, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
I’m glad you have said you won’t run again. Now I have seen your response to the GUFF race I don’t believe you are a suitable candidate to represent a fandom I am part of. In comments you have made online and in person you have managed to insult and upset me, my family, and my closest friends. That indicates a lack of diplomacy that I hope no GUFF delegate would ever display.

I am sorry you felt stupid running a race against my daughter. It is a race I never expected her to win, and I don’t think anyone else did either. I put her forward for nomination because I believed I had not done enough in Australian fandom to run on my merits, and I thought nominating my daughter would indeed be fun and give me the opportunity to do some work in a good cause while gaining experience if I ever should decided to nominate myself. The administrators did not have a problem with her nomination and in fact cited a precedent where a toy sheep won a fan fund. Fandom is not always serious. That is not something that is going to change.

Norah is a person and far from an inanimate object. She has been attending cons ever since she has born and has friends amongst UK fandom. GUFF had even played a role in her very existence, and this was a chance for me to give something back. If by chance she had won I would have taken the responsibilities as an ambassador seriously. I would have been her spokesperson and had plans for fundraising and other GUFF responsibilities on her behalf. I would have told you this if you had cared to ask. My information was also on the ballot.

Norah’s candidacy was a bit of fun. More to be taken as something not completely serious than as a joke. I had fun raising awareness of GUFF on online forums. I had fun working with you for the fundraising morning tea. That gave me a really good feeling of fandom coming together for a good cause. When between us the candidates could arrange a forum where we could all work together to get up and present our individual cases I thought we working together for the greater good. To find out your feelings about this now leaves me with a very sour taste in my mouth.

I worked out that Norah’s candidacy raised over $100 for GUFF. I’m sorry you think this is a joke. Perhaps when people questioned you running against a baby you could have pointed out that the baby had to pay money to even nominate and had therefore already been a positive part of the process.

I hope you venting this has made you feel better because it has left me very upset. I was delighted to see Norah had got six votes, far less than you did. I was so pleased we raised awareness of GUFF and got votes (most probably for you I might add) from people who probably would not have voted at the morning tea. And now I’m left wondering was it worth it? Was the $100 we raised enough to make up for being compared to not just a bad joke, but a racist/sexist/anti-Semitic one? I’m not sure that it was.
angriest
Nov. 27th, 2008 01:13 am (UTC)
If I have in any part of this conversation or the one on my own LJ made you upset (or your family and friends), then I am genuinely sorry - I've been trying to make clear through this whole thing that this has never been my intention.

I do still maintain that these fan funds should be restricted to adult nominees, but that is absolutely just my opinion and everyone else is free to differ.

I also think there was maybe a misunderstanding over the nature of Norah's bid - whether it was a joke bid that people weren't supposed to take seriously, or whether we were supposed to take it seriously. It was often (for me, at least) quite difficult to immediately read the intention behind it. That's the nature of jokes - sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.

I think you should seriously consider running for one of the fan funds yourself - you've been in fandom for a long time, lots of us know you and like you, and I think you'd make a fabulous ambassador for Australian fans. I can understand if recent experience has turned you off the idea, but I hope down the line you might give it some thought.
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baby_elvis
Nov. 27th, 2008 08:08 am (UTC)
Hi, we don't know each other really, but I thought I'd way in anyway? Hope that's okay.

Is your underlying concern that GUFF and fandom in general is not taken seriously when these things happen? This paragraph seems to imply that;

'I felt stupid because *other* people read this blog who are not in fandom and would ring me up and say, but ... hang on? You're running against a baby? And all I could say was, what everyone says to me, "oh you know what fandom is like" or "that's fandom for you" which by the way doesn't translate to people outside of ... fandom. And does nothing to bring credibility to the scene.'

I wonder what you mean by 'bring credibility' and why you want fandom to have it? Would you have been upset if someone with a long history in something like furry fandom, which rarely provokes anything but bemused contempt from outsiders, had run for the race? Do you think this would have diminished the idea of the fan fund?

Your own work in Australian SF is absolutely incredible; you've done so much to promote SF in Australia. But I suspect some areas of fandom would not consider your work to be fannish at all, but rather semi-professional. They might think that you would have represented Australian writing, writers and publishing really well, but not the fans themselves. Would you find that view offensive or exclusionary? (btw - this is not my personal view
).

Hope it's okay to put my two pennies in, Gina.


baby_elvis
Nov. 27th, 2008 08:14 am (UTC)
Whoops! 'weigh in'.
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kremmen
Nov. 27th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
I felt stupid running in a race with a less than two year old in it

Why? None of what you've said makes me understand why you had a problem with it.

the child is not consenting and therefore was as good as a teddy bear being nominated, and there was something distasteful in that for me.

So, what do you think of Renaldo, who not only competed in a fan fund but won?

I felt stupid because ... all I could say was, what everyone says to me, "oh you know what fandom is like" or "that's fandom for you"

You could have just said that someone had put up a baby as the nominee, and that obviously her mother was behind it, just as a couple had put up a toy sheep in the past.

I'm really amazed by this issue. When Norah was nominated, I thought "what a cute idea". It was self-evident that a vote for her was a vote for splanky, who has been to a number of overseas cons and would clearly be able to perform the role if Norah won.
girliejones
Nov. 27th, 2008 10:38 am (UTC)
I had a problem with it essentially because the baby was not consenting and thus the nomination felt manipulative. I felt stupid because instead of running in a race against two fans (or three really) and discussing the pros and cons of each candidate, I constantly had to explain why I was running against a two year old. And it felt to me, which is why I felt stupid, like the race was silly if a two year old was a serious contender. It felt like it took away from what we were doing.

So, what do you think of Renaldo, who not only competed in a fan fund but won?

As I have previously stated, I feel like this is not the kind of thing for me. I didn't know, maybe, that I would feel this way, being in a race with a contender that was not serious.

I'm really amazed by this issue. When Norah was nominated, I thought "what a cute idea". It was self-evident that a vote for her was a vote for splanky, who has been to a number of overseas cons and would clearly be able to perform the role if Norah won.

But the thing is, firstly, you know Kylie. Many of us coming to this from other areas of fandom do not and do not know of Kylie's credentials. And secondly, as Kylie has said herself in comment to this post, she did not feel like she had enough to stand in her own right. So then, if she does not feel she would win standing on her own, why does putting the baby forward enhance that? It can't. So therefore it renders the action a joke.
(no subject) - kremmen - Nov. 28th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - girliejones - Nov. 28th, 2008 06:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crankynick - Nov. 28th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kremmen - Nov. 28th, 2008 06:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crankynick - Nov. 28th, 2008 06:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kremmen - Nov. 28th, 2008 07:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crankynick - Nov. 28th, 2008 07:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - girliejones - Nov. 28th, 2008 06:05 am (UTC) - Expand
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