2020 Natcon BM minutes

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The 59th Australian National Science Fiction Convention (the Natcon in 2020) took place virtually via Discord, hosted on the Swancon 2020 Discord server, on Saturday, 17th September 2020 at 12:30pm AWST / 3.30 AEST.

These minutes should be considered unofficial, having yet to be approved by the 2021 NatCon Business Meeting.

Agenda

1. Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

2. Business Arising from the Previous Meeting

3. Natcon Standing Committee Report

4. Ditmar Subcommittee report

5. Site Selections

a. Site Selection for the 2021 National Convention

b. Site Selection for the 2022 National Convention

6. Convention Reports

a. 2019 – Continuum 15

b. 2020 - Swancon 2020

c. 2021 - TBA

7. Selection of the Standing Committee

8. Motions on Notice

9. General Business

Additional information

All positions on the Standing Committee of the Natcon Business Meeting will be up for re-election by the meeting. Representatives of bids for the 2021 and 2022 Australian National Science Fiction Conventions should be prepared to address the meeting. Due to the pandemic, the meeting will be held via the Swancon Discord server.

Minutes

1. Meeting Opened

It was determined that a quorum (3) was present. Meeting declared open at 3:50 pm AEST / 12:50 pm AWST.


Attending:

Peter Lyons (chair)

Samara Morgan (minute taker)

Jack Bridges (convention representative)

Doug Burbidge

Jeremy Byrne (observer)


Apologies:

Belle McQuattie Edie


1. Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting

(https://wiki.sf.org.au/index.php?title=2019_Natcon_BM_minutes)

Samara moved to confirm the minutes. Peter seconded. Motion passed.


2. Business Arising from the Previous Meeting

Decided to discuss in general due to time constraint.


3. Natcon Standing Committee Report

Peter: The committee got off to a slow start and only managed to work on some of the tasks assigned to it at the last business meeting. There was success in the critical task of attracting a bid for the 2021 Natcon. Much of this calendar year was overshadowed by the pandemic and the cancellation of Swancon that it caused. The Swancon 2020 committee still managed to perform the two main tasks of a Natcon: the Ditmars and the Business Meeting. For this, they should be congratulated, particularly given the difficulties involved.

We still face many uncertainties in the future of the Natcon: attracting bids, and indeed the holding of conventions themselves. So, it is important that the incoming Standing Committee work with existing and future committees to address these issues. It may be worthwhile for the Standing Committee to have online meetings rather than leave everything to the mailing list.

No objections to accept the report.


4. Ditmar Subcommittee report

Peter:

Nomination Process

Nominations were open for a period of 35 days.

lkA total of about 200 nominations were received from about 30 people; a precipitous drop from last year. This year there were no email nominations, and as normal, no postal nominations.

Once again all nominations were processed using the software developed by Peter Lyons. With a little bit of effort, these could be cleaned up and made publicly available via a site such as Github.

Voting

Voting was open for 38 days. Voter numbers were also down, though not quite as precipitously as for nominations. There were 28 voters down from 46 last year.

No postal or email ballots were received. Once again, the ballots were processed using the automated system developed by Jeremy.

Summary

The decline in nominations was pretty much disastrous: it led to a very sparse ballot and questions about the nomination process. Some people suggested that the nomination process should be reopened (with various caveats to preserve those already on the ballot). After consultation with the Standing Committee, the Ditmar SubCommittee decided that overriding the rules in this instance was too much of a risk to the credibility of the awards.

A note has been added to the Ditmar procedure to consider extending nominations if the nomination count seems to be down. However, the typical timetable does not have more than about a week of slack built into it. Nomination and voting turnout has been a perennial problem, and while it could be argued that this year is far from typical, it is probably time for a rethink of the process.

One idea, may be to open the nominations as early as possible - say January 1st - and keep them open for much more than the required 30 days. And similarly, extend the voting period to much more than the required 30 days. Some conventions, however, are relatively early in the year and would only allow for a slight extension to the timetable.

We should also look at the way we publicize the award process. As normal, several announcements were sent out via Twitter and Facebook, and a few announcements via Australian SF mailing lists. For this year, it is difficult to say whether we could have done more, but it may be worth thinking more about the way we do publicity.

It should also be noted that for the last few years, the Ditmar SubCommittee has consisted of only one person. This is not sustainable in the long run. Finally, we would like to thank Jeremy Byrne for providing access to the online systems used for administering the Ditmars.


5. Site Selections


a. Site Selection for the 2021 National Convention

2-4 October 2021, The Rex Hotel, Canberra. See https://wiki.sf.org.au/images/7/74/Conflux_2021_Bid_-_Forging_Tomorrow.pdf for more information about the proposal.

Doug moved to accept the bid. Jack seconded. No objections. Passed unanimously.


b. Site Selection for the 2022 National Convention

No bids.

Peter proposed waiting until the next AGM to accept a bid.

Doug moved that the standing committee be authorised to liaise with convention committees to solicit bidding. Samara seconded. No objections. Passed unanimously.


6. Convention Reports


a. 2019 – Continuum 15

Samara: Convention was held at the Jasper Hotel. It was successful.


b. 2020 - Swancon 2020

Jack: Swancon 2020 was done online due to pandemic.

People who bought membership were given the option to either get a refund or credit for next year. Every member took the credit option.

Moved the venue to 2021, so not a big loss.

Ditmars were done online. Trophies will be distributed next year. Laura will be making these. Pins and certificates are being posted to the chairs. Delayed. The pins and certificates will be posted after the pins are received.

No objections to accept the report.


c. 2021 - Conflux 2021

No one available to report.


7. Selection of the Standing Committee

Jack - 2020 representative. TBA - Conflux 2021 representative. Peter nominated himself.

Jeremy asked who was on committee last year: Elected: Peter Lyons, PRK, Samara, and Edie-Brie Hawthorne. Convention reps are: Jack Bridges and Belle McQuattie.

Peter asked for more nominations. Doug and Samara reluctantly agreed.

Discussion on whether we should co-opt people throughout the year.

Samara asked about the process if there are not enough members. Peter quoted from the rules “In the event of a resignation or other loss of a Standing Committee member, the Standing Committee may appoint a replacement until the next Natcon Business Meeting.”

Motion to accept Jack and [insert Conflux Representative] (convention representatives), Peter, Doug and Samara (elected representatives) as nominations of the standing committee. Passed unanimously.


8. Motions on Notice

None.


9. General Business

Decline in nominations. Peter did publicise more, but due to the pandemic it might’ve helped, but hard to tell. Discussion on social media and getting things posted. Doug mentioned that the conventions can use paid marketing and mailing lists.

Start to ask conventions other than the current natcon / past conventions to make posts. Liaise with the publishers to get more nominations.

Samara questioned nominating earlier in the year. Explained that as soon as nominations open, the eligibility will end for the works.

Doug mentioned the eligibility wiki: 2021 Ditmar eligibility list

Discussion on changing to nominations to 6 months, 2-3 months for voting.

Samara raised that the rules for nomination seem way too complicated. Peter responded that it was assumed that the natcon would always happen over Easter. Maybe look into changing the rules for next year. Samara asked about the process for changing the rules. It can be done at the business meeting; no prior notification required because its not a constitution change.

Peter mentioned that it might be good to have semi-regular meetings to allow for others to do the work as well. Schedule a meeting for a month, but check with the members who are not at the meeting for a specific time. Doug proposed 7 November around the same time.


Meeting closed at 2:12 pm AWST / 5:12 pm AEST.