Ditmar running guide
This article details David Cake's "Ditmar running guide", first distributed in 2007, edited in 2010 to reflect the new Ditmar running system.
This guide is intended as a practical restatement of the procedure set out in the rules, coupled with some practical experience about how to make the process less painful. It is intended both as procedural reference for the Standing committee, and for the Natcon committee.
The Ditmar nomination and ballot procedures are now dealt with by a sub-committee of the Standing Committee of the Natcon, selected at the Natcon Business Meeting yearly. But some Ditmar related tasks are performed by the Natcon con committees.
Suggested Ditmar timeline
- 1 year out
- appoint a Ditmar sub-committee. The Ditmar committee consists of everyone in the Standing Committee who does not exclude themselves from the Ditmar committee. The standing Natcons should ensure that they have an active, involved appointee to the Standing committee.
- The Convention needs to be aware of the Ditmar timeline and responsibilities.
- At least 3 months out
- select someone to create physical awards. This is a job for the Natcon committee. Conventions are free to make a unique award for their convention, or to seek to recreate a popular past design. The trophy design should be identical for all Ditmar categories ("standard trophy" as per Ditmar rule 7.2). Trophies have traditionally featured the 1-4-9 dimensions of the 2001 monolith in some manner, and the southern cross. The most regular creator of Ditmar awards is Lewis Morley.
- The Convention will need to organize printing of nominee and winner certificates - one certificate for each nominee for each distinct nomination.
- Trophies have typically included the name of the award, the awardee and the name of the work; it is regarded as important for the work to be listed for the Professional Categories.
- Before opening nominations
- The Ditmar sub-committee needs to select which members will be counting nominations, needs to set a date, and should organise: an address for postal ballots, an email address for email nominations, and organise a web form if possible. Web form nominations are generally easier to count than other forms, and should be encouraged.
- The Convention should be ready to publicize the opening of nominations.
- At least 9 weeks, preferably 10 weeks or more, from the convention
- open nominations. It can be much longer before the convention is necessary - though it creates issues for future conventions if this forces opening of nominations into the year prior. Announce nominations as widely as possible - mailing lists such as the eidolist and the natcons list are recommended, plus a web announcement, and of course email to a members list if it exists.
- The Convention should update their web site with a link to the nomination form or announcement as appropriate.
- At least 30 days after opening of nominations
- close nominations.
- The Convention should be ready to publicize the opening of votes and to supply a logo for inclusion on the ballot form.
- ASAP after close of nominations
- contact nominees to confirm eligibility. It is strongly recommended that if any problems or issues are found at this point, that the Ditmar sub-committee seek advice from people who have relevent Ditmar experience, especially recent Ditmar experience. It is really helpful if all Natcon standing committee members make themselves available during this week. The nomination ballot count is performed in this period, and can be a very difficult task. Frequently, eligibility questions come up that preferably can be discussed by all Ditmar sub-committee members, not just those doing the count. Note in particular items that are on a professional fiction ballot should have length verified.
- About 1 week after close of nominations
- announce the nominations publicly. It might be advisable to announce nominations a few days before opening of voting and release of ballots, just in case any problems are discovered after public release of nominations. Again it is advisable to release such information widely, and it is advisable to include details of how to join the convention and become eligible to vote.
- The Convention needs to arrange for other physical awards to be available (eg: if Ditmar pins are being awarded the appropriate number need to be delivered by some means).
- some weeks before the convention
- arrange for nominee pins to be available to the convention to hand out to nominees. The Standing Committee list will be able to help with this.
- At least 30 days, usually about 5 weeks, before convention
- release ballots, open voting. The trend is very much towards use of online web forms where possible. The Ditmar sub-committee has a program that accepts ballots on a web form, and then facilitates the counting process.
- The Convention should contact nominees to make arrangements for potential award acceptance and other details for the award ceremony.
- At least 30 days after the opening of voting
- close postal ballots.
- The Convention needs to assist the Ditmar subcommittee in verifying the membership status of voters; this will also be the case for the next year's Ditmars.
- Some small period, 3 days or less later
- close ballots for all forms of voting, count ballots, get A4 certificates printed. A consideration is to make the period of postal voting relatively free from state bias. But in practice, no postal ballots have been received in previous years, and they should not be a major consideration for timing. Ballot counting is now automated - the Ditmar voting program can produce a fully counted, auditable, ballot which can be exported for re-counting by other means.
- The Convention will need to print the details of the winners upon the trophies and print the certificates for both nominees and winners. Note that most categories are awarded to a work, not a person, so the name of the work needs to go on both the trophy and the certificate - it is good to include the name of winners, but it may not always be practical (eg collaborative projects to which several people contributed). The certificate needs to include both the name of the work and the nominee for categories awarded to a work (as well as category), but only name and category for categories awarded to a person (though optional information about nominated work is fine). Information about publisher etc that may be included in the ballot to help voters is optional, and does not need to be on award or certificate.
- During the convention
- The Standing Committee often supplies someone to give a brief introduction to the Ditmar part of the Award Ceremony (normally the Committee chair).
- The Convention organizes the actual running of the ceremony. The Standing Committee can advise on speakers and running order, but there are no formal rules. Note that several parts of the traditional Natcon Awards ceremony are not connected to the Ditmars.
- After the convention
- The Convention arranges for the posting of any awards or certificates that were not able to be presented at the Award Ceremony.
The rules currently do not say when voting must end, it can be at any point before the actual giving out of awards according to the rules. Usually the issue is time to get the awards engraved, which means a few days before the convention.