2013 Natcon BM minutes

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This article includes the minutes of the Business Meeting of the 52nd National Australian SF Convention (the Natcon in 2013), which took place at Conflux 9 in Canberra, in Executive Room 2 of the Rydges Capital Hill, at 12.00pm, 28 April 2013.

These minutes have been approved by the 2014 NatCon Business Meeting.


An agenda was produced, circulated to various email lists and published on the Natcon website.


Chair: David Cake
Minute taker: Peter Lyons

Present: No attendance was recorded, present included Peter Lyons, Dave Cake, Ian Nichols, Sue-Ann Barber, Bill Wright, Nicole Murphy, Amanda Rainey, David McDonald, Rose Mitchell, Ross Temple, Rohan Wallace, Julian Warner, Paul Ewins, Patrick Keuning, Lync.

Meeting Opened 12:02pm

0. Dave notes that the agenda is online.

1. Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

  • Dave apologies that printouts not available.
  • Matter is delayed while Nicole attempts to get copies of the last minutes printed.
  • Dave notes that is available online on wiki site.

2. Business arising

a. Calendar for Ditmar running
Dave reports that we have a loose calendar for ditmar running which now includes detailed instruction for software running etc. Mostly nailed down except for some issues about eligibility list.

Rawish minutes as follows:

  • Dave opened the meeting at 12:02pm
  • Peter Lyons taking minutes
  • Agenda online. Dave apologies that printouts not available, but Nicole goes to print it.

1.Confirmation of minutes. Delayed for printouit

Available online on wiki site

2.Business arising

2a. Calendar for Ditmar running

Dave reports that we have a loose calendar for ditmar running which now includes detailed instruction for software running etc. Mostly nailed down except for some issues about eligibility list.

2b. consideration of linking

Discussed, talked about as being feasible to do drop down list etc, but we didn't do it. We did have some issues – eligibility list is a lot of work, done by creating page and hoping filled in, nominees have incentive and Thomas Bull to our gratitude normally fills it in. Linking has issue with filling in ones which aren't on list. David McDonald cited this as problem for works not on . Talked about problem with a marginal work in wrong category for most of the nomination period, flagging a problem

2c. subcom decisions

Dave clarified what this means: subcom needs to make decision and they should be documented. Some examples cited: Stephanie Smith, chapter titles vs author bio, merging fan artists mentioning specific work but not for artwork/Atheling, non-specific nominations for periodical not for a specific issue. As these are subcoms interpretation of the rules, the business meeting is entitled to comment and change the rules

2d. cultural baggage

We have a page – wiki document on the website – didn't change much this year, as weren't sure what to add. We do have how to run the bm, awards, natcon etc. How much further do we add to this? Open to suggestions on what to add there, and what may be important to future committees. Tim Reddan suggested separate sections. Julian Warner suggested that Rose could write on financial tips, if she wanted to. Possiblities suggested included: typical panels and events at the natcon.

2e. permanent page for the ditmars

Talked about, someone volunteered but was not done. Could help for fixing google hits. A page for someone who is external to the community, eg: publishers wanting to “enter” their work. Want to make it automaintaining, and links to the standard pages. Bill Wright raised issue about the question of PRs as eligible for Fan Pub award. Talked about the various things that were nominated and not having to vote for silly things.

David McDonald asked about removal of Best Achievement awards.

Dave spoke about it as the catch-all, hard to follow award. Paul Ewins spoke about the process of removing the category: proposed at one meeting ratified at next. Bill Wright cited the existence of two achievement awards already.

2f. voters pack

Dave reported that we considered it, decided it was a lot of work, and thought we'd ask bm to consider who would do it, before adding it. Nicole Murphy cited the amount of time required to do it, Dave agreed that it would require more time before nomination close and voting open. Julian Warner suggested putting onus on nominees/publishers to state how their work could be available to the voters. Guidance from the BM? Rose Mitchell cited the delay in the current Hugo packet. Ross Temple suggested keeping the voting open to the convention and having a display of works. Dave noted the problems with “at-con” voting, ie : controversies about “home city advantage”.

Ian Nichols noted an argument for: new fans who have read the work being disenfranchised. Bill Wright noted that the pro argument is to extend the franchise. Dave noted that we have extended the franchise which has hopefully reduced the state bias, and we have electronic voting. Dave noted that the committee's preferred way of having at-con voting is electronic; main argument is getting the awards engraved on time, some conventions have been able to do it, eg: current one's solution. Discussion continue; Dave noted that it's a lot of work to do after the convention is over. eg: Ian Nichols cited the idea of spare awards making their way into fan's hands.

3 Standing Committee report.

There was a ditmar subcommittee not consisting of all SCM – members. Slightly improved process, had some technical hiccups which only internal concern Ballot software is working fairly well, though, produces reports, can be independently verified, but no longer tend to do it. Nomination process still under development, eligibility linking would help us. Rohan Wallace noted that ballot program could be useful for other awards, could it be used for them? Dave noted that the software could be available, would need to ask the original author.

Suggested that we make it available to those who ask.

Dave noted that we had no broader natcon related issues handled during the year. Julian Warner asked if there were any attempts to pervert the nomination/voting process. Dave reported that there were no obvious shennanigans. Only big problem was the work with just above the word count, requiring some work to determine exact word count for category purposes.

Ian Nichols noted that the eligibility list was not complete and could be a problem. Dave said that it was a community created wiki, and people were encouraged to add to it. Paul Ewins noted that tying the list to the nomination process would be a problem for nominating as people might assume that things not on the list were not nominatable.

4.Site Selection

Only one bid currently known.

To Ian's question, Dave did report that No Award is available

Amanda Rainey gave the bid speech on behalf of Cathleen ? - not convened before but being trained and Kitty Hemsley?. No specific theme yet, but concentrating on a party and bringing in old and new fans.

IN question – hotel? AR – not yet, not the small one though.

IN – guests? AR – not yet, but want diversity.

A small discussion about tradition of revealing guests ensued.

Noted that though Cathleen never convened before, Kitty has and is secretary, there are 2 previous convenors on committee. Some discussion about viability of Ibis Styles as hotel, AR reported that the main reason to go back is money – number of memberships Justin Ackroyd noted that he thought that Swancon's had not beeing doing enough interstate communication and asked about what they planned to do. Sue-Ann asked about state reps. AR said that she would be happy to discuss that.

IN raised the possibility of not awarding it this year, but doing it next year where more information available. Discussion ensued about whether this would be good or bad for convention.

Bill Wright asked if pre-supporting memberships would be available if the bid was won. It was noted that Swancons typically didn't do this and prices not yet available and some discussion ensued on the matter. Noted that Bill Wright needs to plan his schedule this far ahead in order to guarantee attending the convention.

AR reported that GoH will probably not be announced until launch at Swancon 2014.

Dave asked if there were any motions to be foreshadowed if the bid is not accepted.

Sue-Ann noted that bid had only been formed a few weeks ago and AR not on that committee but has done sterling job on selling the bid.

Dave moved to a vote, which was carried by a substantial majority.

Dave asked for conventions reports

Dave read emilly's report on C8 from her email

IN moved that report be accepted and it was.

C9 report was held in abeyance while Nicole arranged for some printing.

David McDonald reported the C10. Have locked in an internaional guest, working on grant which would allow more australian guests. Theme is Carnival of Lost Souls, still exploring hotel options – public transport will be important in this choice. Julia has some ideas on Ditmar design but will be seeking input from designers. In negotiation with Kathleen Jennings for convention artwork. And exploring ways fo making payment easier.

Bill Wright offered to put them in touch with his award makers

IN moved to accept award.

Moved onto selection of the standing committee as Nicole still out of room printing documents.

Dave described the composition of the Standing Committee: reps from current, previous and next convention. Nicole remains on the committee, emilly drops off but was rep for 2 continuums so remains, taking the rep as being kitty for the moment. Current list. JGB nominated, DC would like to be on it, PL also. Dave asked for further nominations.

When asked by PK, Dave reported on the process of the committee and encouraged people to come in.Patrick Keuning nominated. With sufficient nominations the committee was formed.

Dave noted that we skipped over the subcom report as mostly covered and get to after the many motions.

First motion: addition of 1.3 JB/IN

  • Paul asked about the wording suggesting the just the “current and previous” PE/IN moved amendment, passed as amended.

Second: 3.8 JB/IN passed.

Third: 3.10 JB

  • Bill Wright fanzine, Dave noted that it did.
  • IN noted problem with electronic media – eg: series of small reviews.
  • Lync asked about leaving it as body of work
  • PE noted that people tend to nominate everything done this year.
  • DC noted that atheling wording could be used instead.

lapsing for lack of seconder.

“a work or group of related works” BW/IN carried.

Fourth: 3.11 TS/PE

  • Dave spoke about the “Tin Ducks not being special”.
  • RM asked about timing of the Hugo/Nebula vis a vis the Ditmar nominations.
  • Dave spoke about issues which have occurred in this issue.
  • IN asked about the Tin Ducks precluding Ditmar and suggested amending to international only.
  • PE noted that current motion is best as being least prescritive

motion carried.

Fifth: 3.11 JB/PE

  • PE asked about wording alteration to conform, DC noted that JB had already done this presuming passage of previous.

Motion carried.

Sixth: 5.1 JB/PE

  • Discussion on the wording.


Seventh: 5.3 JB/IN

  • IN asked about the merging text being ambigous. Lync noted that the motion was about additon of “1 nominee for category” change.


Ditmar electronic works. IN

  • IN spoke about eligibility lists being so long, thought that some people read only print and some electronic. Discussion about lists duplicated.

IN withdrew

Atheling electronic works. IN

  • IN chose not to withdraw this motion. He thinks that paper works are at a disadvantage, electronic works have won mostly in recent times. DC noted that it is available online. IN said that there are a lot of things not available online, eg: Helen Merrick's hugo nominated work.
  • AR said that IN had recognized an issue, but that this was not the solution.

Motion lapsed for lack of seconder.

Atheling body of work. IN/AR

  • DC noted that this needed to put into form of rules amendment; he also noted that the rules say this.
  • IN noted that eligibility list said different. DC proposed amendment that it apply to eligibility list, IN accepted.

Amended motion passed.

Atheling is a Ditmar. JB/DH

  • IN spoke about the Atheling as being a distinct work, not fan/professional distinction. DC noted that New Talent is similarly not fan/professional distinction. Talk about historical distinctions.

Motion passed

References to Atheling award. JB/DH

  • Discussion about changing in opposite direction
  • To add “for Criticism or Review” after the word “award”. PE/Lync

Amendment passed.

  • New motion is add the words in 3.12 amd 5.2.

Motion as amended is passed.

Conflux 9 convention report.

Nicole Murphy reported membership count 270, greater than projected, so please. Final finances not done, but pre broke either. Though Ditmar ceremony was well received and asked that it be noted that thanks are due for Terri Sellen and DB for running the ceremony. She also noted that voting finished later than liked. DC noted that this was due to subcom not leaving enough time and will have to allocate more time next time. IN asked about availbility of voting forms, DC reported on previous discussion before IN could make it to meeting. DC reported that no postal ballots had been received in recent times. At-con voting does cause problems for convention committee.

PE asked about A4 certs and pins, Nicole reported that this would be done post-con.

General Business.

  • Gillian Polack's offer to help was noted and accepted with gratitude.
  • Trackback functionality.
  • Any other?

Bill Wright noted that DC's chairmanship peformance agreed well with Bill Renton's guide.

DC noted that there is no formal requirement for meeting porocedure but he does try to conform to it.

PE/RM moved thanks for DC performing role over many years and passed by acclamation.

DC noted that all finance/budget

IN/BW moved that a vote of thanks for the particularly beaufiful ditmars be extended to Lewis Morley. Passed by acclamation. (DC ruled BW/IN motion on fund conversion to liquid form was intra veris)

Ditmar subcommittee report briefly noted and put back on committee's remit.

IN asked about badges for 25 natcons. RM noted that question of who would pay for it. DC also noted that membership lists were dodgy except in recent times. PE noted that the Ditmar pins were not very expensive. RW reported that swancon pins about $3 each. DC pointed out that committee had no budget but would be happy to entertain it if someone could step up.

Meeting closed at 2:05pm

Agenda copy

The following is from the 2013 Agenda article, and is presented here to assist in organising the raw minutes. This section should be removed once the minutes have been published.

1. Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

2. Business Arising from the Previous Meeting

a. Continued work on a "[m]ore efficient calendar for Ditmar running"
b. Consideration of "linking [the] eligibility list and nomination system[s]"
c. Continued publication of the eligibility and other decisions of the sub-committee
d. Continued work on "a document detailing all cultural baggage and natcon traditions"
e. Consideration of whether we "make a permanent page for the ditmars or for the natcon (rather than the actual convention)"
f. Consideration of "some kind of voters pack" for the Ditmars, specifically: "[I]nvestigat[ing] the possibility of lia[i]sing with publishers and authors to obtain samples or full [copies] of [D]itmar nominated works, in order to promote more informed voting."

3. Natcon Standing Committee Report

4. Site Selection for the 2015 National Convention

a. Swancon 2015

5. Ditmar sub-committee report

6. Convention Reports

a. 2012 – Continuum 8
b. 2013 – Conflux 9
c. 2014 – Continuum 10

7. Selection of the Standing Committee

8. Motions on Notice

  • Motion
That an additional paragraph, 1.2, be added to the rules, to read:
1.2 Finalists and Winners are determined by a popular vote. Finalists are nominated by Australian fandom in general, and winners are voted on by members of the National SF Convention, where the awards are traditionally presented.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
Based on enquiries to the Ditmar Subcommittee, the Rules as they currently stand do not provide a clear picture of the Awards. This small addition attempts to cover some basic knowledge which fans take for granted.
  • Motion
That 3.8 of the rules be amended to read:
3.8 Artwork: An artwork is a single work or series of related works of art in any medium other than text.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
This is a simple change to the heading for the rule (removing "Best") for consistency.
  • Motion
That 3.10 of the rules be amended to read:
3.10 Fan Publication in any Medium: This award is for a work in any medium first published, released, or made available for public viewing in the eligible calendar year. The writer or artist must have received no payment. Eligible works include, but are not limited to, a periodical, journal, fanzine, ezine or webzine.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
This involves the addition of "a" before "work" to ensure that it is clear the award is for a single work (ie. "a publication").
  • Motion
That 3.11 of the rules be amended to read:
3.11 Best New Talent: The Best New Talent award recognises excellence of achievement in any field of the genre by an individual who has not been nominated for a recognised award three or more years before the year the award is held. Recognised awards include but are not limited to: Australian SF ("Ditmar") Awards, Aurealis, Hugo and Nebula Awards. An individual is only eligible for two consecutive years.
Proposed: Terri Sellen
The removal of the specific mention of the WA awards is consistent with the absence of other smaller awards from the list, the Chronos, the Vogel, the Ledger etc. However, this does not preclude the Ditmar subcommittee from deciding that a Best New Talent nominee is ineligible because of having received three Tin Duck and two Chronos Award nominations over the last three years, for example.
  • Motion
That 3.11 of the rules be amended to read:
3.11 New Talent: This award recognises excellence of achievement in any field of the genre by an individual who has never been nominated for a recognised award, or has only been nominated for a recognised award in one or both of the two calendar years prior to the year for which they are a Best New Talent nominee. Recognised awards include but are not limited to: Australian SF ("Ditmar"), Aurealis, Hugo and Nebula Awards. Once nominated, an individual may only be nominated once more, in the year following the first nomination.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
This is simply an attempt to make the language of the rule less convoluted, to change the heading for the rule (removing "Best") for consistency, and to change the beginning of the rule explanation, to remove redundancy. (Note that this suggested wording presumes the removal of the reference to the Tin Ducks per Terri's motion, but this motion is not intended to re-address that issue, should the preceding motion fail.)
  • Motion
That 5.1 of the rules be amended to read:
5.1 Number of finalists: Normally, the five nominees receiving the most nominations shall appear on the final ballot. In the event of ties amongst these first five nominees, up to seven may appear. However, if such ties would result in more than seven nominees appearing, none of the nominees involved in the tie will appear.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
This is an attempt to generalise the language relating to ties in the nomination count. Note that even this wording does not consider the possibility of a tied vote for the top eight nominees (which would result in the elimination of the category), but such extraordinary circumstances could be dealt with at the discretion of the subcommittee.
  • Motion
That 5.3 of the rules be amended to read:
5.3 Minimum finalists for categories: In order to appear on the ballot, a category requires at least one nominee. At the subcommittee’s discretion, in the event that there are fewer than four finalists in the Novella or Novelette and Short Story categories, these categories may be merged into a single category called Short Fiction.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
The addition of the first sentence simply makes clear that a single nominee, plus "No Award", is sufficient to include the category (as has happened twice in "Best Fan Artist" in recent history).
  • Motion
Given the proliferation of electronic publications, that a separate Ditmar be given in each category for electronically published and hard-copy published texts.
Proposed: Ian Nichols
  • Motion
Given the proliferation of electronic publishing, that separate William Atheling Awards be given to electronically published and hard-copy published works.
Proposed: Ian Nichols
  • Motion
That the rules for the Atheling Award be amended to make it clear that a body of work can be several works by the same author published in the same year in the same journal/magazine/newspaper, etc.
Proposed: Ian Nichols
  • Motion
That the William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review henceforth be considered a Ditmar Award for all purposes.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
Seconded: Donna Hanson
The "William Atheling Jr Award for Criticism or Review" has historically been regarded as "not a Ditmar". I, personally, think the time for this distinction has passed, particularly as it's not represented in the current rules (nor even in the wikipedia article for the Atheling), and the distinction has long since lost meaning to all but a few.
  • Motion
That all references to the William Atheling Jr. Award in the Ditmar rules be changed to use the preceding format.
Proposed: Jeremy Byrne
Seconded: Donna Hanson
I'd like to see the "Jr" officially changed to "Jr." (the Ditmar rules appear to be the only place on the internet where that's not already the case), because I'm a pedant, and the descriptive subtitle removed from the one place it appears in the rules, because it's redundant. This motion, should it pass, will simply result in the dropping of "for Criticism or Review" in 2.3, and the addition of a dot after the "Jr" in 2.3, 3.12 and 5.2.

9. General Business

  • Gillian Polack volunteers her time in a "grunt labour" capacity
  • Consider trackback functionality to alert wiki editors to online publications of Ditmar-eligible material. (Note that Mediawiki 1.19 removed trackbacks from core, but the code could be retrieved and bundled into an extension.)

10. Additional information

  • All bids for the 2015 National Australian Science Fiction Convention should be received by the Business Meeting chair (David Cake) before the start of the meeting, and representatives of the bid should be prepared to address the meeting.
  • All positions on the Standing Committee of the Natcon Business Meeting will be up for re-election by the meeting.