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Ursa's Major Issue - Confident self-promotion vs humble passionate skill, and a voting system's favoritism

Edited by GreenReaper as of Fri 10 Jun 2022 - 14:42
Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (12 votes)

UrsaVoting.jpgUrsa, we may have a problem. Or at least so it may seem. Over the past few years the number of people voting in the furry fandom’s popular choice awards appears to be dwindling once again, despite continual growth and booming attendance at our conventions - COVID aside - revealing the growing audience and community beneath this stagnation.

But if less people in proportion are voting, is there a reason for this? One option may be that the system may be lead to some strange victors based on popularity of a franchise or personality rather than other considerations. But is this just a coincidence or could it be how the system was inadvertently crafted?

This article’s goal is to highlight why the current system is so sensitive to favoring artists who self-promote or whose fans rally on their behalf, at the expense of voters that weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces nominated without authorship considerations. It will then propose a small change to make it more fair to both types of voters and creators, without stifling out those who show up with a passion for their artist.

Be wary, this gets long and technical. But if you’re reading this up to this point, I’m sure you knew that’s what you were in for.

A tale of two creators

This year, a single content creator had a goal to win as many awards as they possibly could, ended up getting nominated in three categories, and after a rigorous campaign of self-promotion won them all. Before we go too deep into this article, let me note that I hold no animosity for them doing so. The rules are simple and self-promotion is always part of life. If you want to win a contest based on popularity, sometimes you need to put yourself out there. If there was a fourth award for most avid fanbase, then Garrison should be proud of them because they clearly have dedicated fans. They worked consistently for a long period on their art, and it's good they were recognized for it.

However, this is not the first year that the impact of an artist’s popularity has over the measure of the artistic content has caused issues. On the other side of the spectrum, Kyell Gold won at least one Ursa Major for writing for six straight years between 2005 and 2011. He didn’t go around promoting himself as avidly as Garrison [though publishers took note]; but he has an avid fanbase, to the point where the author felt that him winning with such frequency was taking oxygen out of the room for other authors. So before voting for the Ursa Major’s began in 2012, he publicly stated that he no longer wished to have his works considered. (One of this year's winners has done something similar for 2022.)

That very same year the Cóyotl Awards were founded that allow only Furry Writers’ Guild members to vote on the best written works for the year. But that's probably a coincidence.

But is this a coincidence that avid fans bring in victories, or is there something further that causes this system to be sensitive to it? To understand this we must break down the voting systems and methods of tally further.

A primer on voting systems

Before we can go over how to fix a system that has a bias, we must prove the system has one. We must also understand that there are many different ways you can collect and tally votes, and that you want the outcome to be the one that fits what the people want the best, rather than whatever gerrymandering is. The best voting systems are tailored for their purpose, but also would require less gamification on the voters’ and nominees’ part.

To go over this there are two systems we need to focus on when it comes to tallying the votes for the Ursa Majors: the first past the post method (FPP) and the alternate vote (also known as Instant Runoff voting).

Fortunately for me, instead of writing out these systems, YouTuber CPGrey goes over both of them in two videos which I have linked above. In short, the FPP method has a nasty little side-effect called the spoiler effect. Once people know that, they tend to create competing blocks that in essence eventually radicalize the nominees and voters into two binary fiefdoms in order to provide an external solution to the flawed voting system.

This is what I was alluding to in the Tweet I made referencing the situation. Though in hindsight saying “all democracies” was a bit short sighted, mostly those with these flawed voting FPP voting systems. To be fair, most tweets tend to be shortsighted, and it’s why I wear glasses.

Now, when we think of the ranked system of the Ursa Majors we may think that because we are voting for three candidates that this is actually akin to the Instant Runoff, and that would prevent spoiler effects. But as we will discuss in the next section, it is actually a First Past the Post method that is modified in such a way that it actually makes the spoiler effect worse.

Current system and its bias

Currently the rank system used in the Ursa gives each voter effectively six points to distribute among three of the five nominees: three to one, two to another, and one to the last. However they do not have to give all their six points. They can give just three to one pick and burn the remaining points. However, this and of itself is a vote: three points to one nominee and three points to nobody. So in truth it’s similar to a winner-take-all system where everyone gets six votes to distribute how they wish within those noted restrictions. The ranking actually doesn’t serve the function of ‘ranking’ but just giving votes more weight of a person’s six votes.

This option of burning three of their votes is how self-promoters and stanning fans can effectively gain an advantage in this system. An avid fan of the artist or property will usually opt out of picking three nominees and just give three points to the one they want to see win and leave all the other four nominees to starve. You can see where this happens thanks to the statistics provided by the volunteers at the Ursa Majors.

To note before we get into these examples, this phenomenon happens in all categories in all years to some degree. The examples we are using have to do with the three Garrison nomination in 2021, but if you go back through the data you’ll see it happens all the time. Garrison being so open with their campaign gives us the opportunity to break down how the system gives advantages to those who do self-promote over others. I'm glad they highlighted this flaw in the system then someone with more nefarious intentions.

So let us take the three categories Garrison won for this year as examples. I have added additional information to help illustrate the story the numbers are telling:

Burned Points and their bias

Notice the total number of votes on Published Illustration selected for rank #1 is 275, and for #2 is 187. This means 88 voters in this group decided to burn three of their points instead of giving them to the other artists. In effect, since they are sacrificing those points, it makes their three points more powerful to their chosen person than ones who give them three and then throw points at other artists.

In essence, this gives a leg-up to a voter wanting one item to win, rather than one that takes the time to rank them and use all six of their points.

We can understand this better by simplifying it to a scenario with two voters. Voter A must use all six points distributed by the Ursas’ rules, and voter B must use three points to one candidate and burn the rest. In this scenario whoever voter B picks will win definitively if any of voter A’s points touch their candidate of choice, this has a 60% chance of outcome if done at random. Voter A will only win for their top pick if it agrees with B, a 20% chance that is shared within the 60% above. In the remaining 40% there will be a tie between Voter A’s and B’s top choice. Therefore B’s voting tactic is more powerful in this exchange, they can have their top choice win independent from A’s top choice, but not the other way around.

The decisive victor

We can compare this to a one vote per person system. There will only be a winner if A and B agree on the nominee which will happen 20% if at random. The rest of the time there will be a tie. A and B can win and tie with equal probability, and always at the same time. There is no systemic bias.

The Fair Distribution

Highlighting the Burner’s bias with a Median

The total of votes alone is not enough to dictate which of the nominees benefited from the populist pressures upon the voting system. That’s where the median of the votes can help to further highlight the phenomenon. The lower the number, the higher the probability that the person in question had their fans come in and vote for them as #1 and burning the rest of their votes. Because if a work is competitive in quality, they should have a good proportion of people considering it as their #2 or #3 choices along with those making it their top pick.

This is a bit less reliable when the masses seem to agree upon the order of their votes organically, you can see this in the comic strip votes for this year. Excluding the Garrison entry, voters seemed to definitively rank Foxes in Love for their number one pick, and Freefall as number two. This causes the medians to be much more distinct and not as correlated to the winner by points.

This could also be occurring since comic creators distribute content on a regular basis. Due to this they are more likely to have a fresh presence in the minds of people, so in essence each entry works similar to promoting oneself, which a more static style of content such as an illustration or short dramatic work does not have.

What we see in all three of the Garrison victories is a low median on their work coupled with a high top ranking distribution. As noted before, this happens all the time in the Ursas to an extent. It’s fine that people come to vote to support their senpai. But the person passionate about one person should not have an advantage over those that are analyzing the works on a more personal preference of content level.

Spirit and intent

I do not believe that when this simple system was developed that it was intended to function in this way. More likely the nerd who took it upon themselves to create this voting plan, like most of us nerds, assumed that people voting in this would be as passionate as they are for the arts and would always distribute their three options, thus leading to the best art winning given everyone would use all three of their ranks. They did not think that a person would be passionate for only the artist behind one of the works and only hand out three points to them. However, you can see that this appears to always happen to some extent. From my scan of the data, the number of #1 picks tends to be greater than those who pick a #2 option, is greater than those who pick a #3 option.

I would like to think that the Ursa Majors’ intention was to be awarded to the best content as voted by the fandom as a whole, rather than who make the best content and can run the most effective voting campaign. As GreenReaper responded to my tweet above, not everything is about politics. I would agree, so we need to have a system that does not show favoritism toward being able to art and schmooze. Just the art, thanks.

So what can be done? Luckily for the Ursas I believe how the votes are collected can remain the same, but how they are tallied must change. This is where the Alternative Vote comes into play.

Solution: true Instant Runoff Voting

I believe this was the original intent of the Ursa Majors’ pick-three system, but the way in which it was implemented created the problem mentioned above. It took some ideas of FPP voting and instant runoff voting and bred them together. However instead of mitigating the spoiler effect, it just exacerbated it.

The foundation of this solution is that everyone should have one vote, and one vote only. None of these three votes here, two votes there, etc. This is Highlander, there can be only one. However, the ranks you put in give you an opportunity for your voice to be heard even if your first pick won’t win.

Currently we are saying “I give three votes to A, two votes to B, and one vote to C”. Instead it will change to “I give my vote to A, but if A loses I give it to B, and if they lose I give it to C”.

You could extend this kind of ranking to all five nominees if you wanted to update the way things are tallied, but I think starting off without changing how we collect votes will be the easiest way to change things before changing anything further if desired. Plus I think having a #5 rank may be unnecessarily harsh to the nominees if the results are shared publicly.

In theory what this system would change is that for the first several rounds, the self promoter would win handily. As the other nominees get voted off, though, the secondary votes of those voted off would congeal into nominees that will more than likely not be the self-promoter. We can theorize this due to the median distribution. In the final round, the self-promoter is going to be facing a more humble artist who gathered power from their fallen humble colleagues, and then come out as a much stronger opponent in the final round.

Voters will continue to vote the same way, ranking items 1, 2, and 3. Also like now, the voter can pick one vote they want as their #1 and leave the other options blank. But if said voter has their choice lost in the runoff voting process they simply forfeit their vote being passed on to another choice.

Instead of distributing points, you go through a recursive loop and eliminate the least favorite until only the favorite remains. The loop is as follows:

  1. Take all #1 ranked votes and discover which nominee has the least of them.
  2. Eliminate the nominee found in step one. If tie for bottom eliminate all worst (what if final 2, number of prior top wins in prior rounds?).
  3. For the eliminated nominee. See which voters picked that as their #1 ranked vote.
  4. For these voters, take their Rank #2 votes and transform them into Rank #1.
  5. Repeat the above steps until only one nominee remains (up to 4 times).

Final considerations

Of course one big issue with this is that publishing the results may not be as clean as the currently provided statistics. Basically you’d probably have to show each round of voting in each category, up to the maximum of four rounds, to get an idea as to their ranking and how ‘close’ things were. Also what if there is a tie at any point the process and how that would get resolved, as noted in the list above that may need some additional thought.

But the good news is we wouldn’t need to test this system on live data in a future Ursa. We can use prior Ursa votes as a template to see how utilizing this would impact the results. It would be an excellent way to test how well a system like this would help make things fairer for those not unionizing their votes.

For we should all want a system where we all have a choice and that choice isn’t made with consideration of having to mitigate the possibility of a group of people ganging up prior to the selection process. It should be you, and the vote, without giving an unnecessary edge to artists who can also lead a tribe.

In a system that removes the additional bias toward the confident and self-aggrandizing, the humble may have a chance to breathe, and show a passion for the Ursa’s that may get stifled otherwise. And that is something everyone participating should want, especially since it is about promoting the art.

But if nothing changes, I at least look forward to winning the dramatic short in 2022. Just kidding, fortunately I suck at self promotion.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

It's also kindof hard to vote, as most won't have read/consumed the rest of the media being voted on. That's why I usually abstain from it.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

That kind of hesitancy can also be alleviated with the change proposed, because if you read one book/consumed one piece of media and liked it, you can give it a vote without worrying as much that you're giving it 3 votes simply because it was the only one you read.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

More reason to have the awards, and promote them... discovery.

Also familiarity with one category is all that's needed if you abstain from others... all of the categories will have SOMEONE familiar. I'll bet very few voters are informed on all of them.

You can be the solution and browse/submit new things right now: https://ursamajorawards.org/ReadList.htm

Your rating: None Average: 1.4 (5 votes)

There's nothing better for a DIY fan thing than holding high goals to improve, that said, it's a lot of words for a tiny niche award that's not hooked in to an industry (like the Nebulas, Hugos, etc)... a zine can't compare to the NY Times, and that's just fine. When it's volunteer and personal fan love, keeping it that way has benefits.

Letting promotion have big results is a GOOD thing for every nominee. It tells even the smallest that they too have a chance. In times when one wins that way, you'll probably find that it's mostly because others didn't try to promote. Then it's not so much a prize, as an opportunity to raise discovery.

Now I'm grateful to anyone who felt like tossing any vote to my magazine... on the occasions people picked it I always send a photo with the award back as thanks (which many don't when it's wanted)... and I DON'T PANDER, you'll rarely find messages from me saying "vote for Dogpatch Press", it just links the awards themselves and says to go vote for someone.

This all is why I loved helping in 2014 to spread the Furry Force animation, one of the few (only?) occasions for outside recognition to the award. Secret: it's not as outside as people thought, considering my good old friend directed it... he didn't know I was a furry when it was written and approved and he got the job though, he found out after. Another open secret: a lot of furries are professionals too, and could raise the same notice, there isn't a clean line apart from "the media."

The attention from that is the kind that would sustain the award and encourage other people to promote. Furry Force harnessed a lot of watchers, but now there are furry Youtubers who can compete on a high level. And... it is needed. Promotion may affect the nominees, but also the volunteers who lack support. So perhaps it is not a good idea to think of alternate ways.

About the Ursas needing funding and volunteering... they always have a lack:
https://dogpatch.press/2018/03/16/ursa-major-awards-donations/
https://dogpatch.press/2018/02/23/ursa-major-awards-funding/

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

One thing you didn't touch on in the article (but did in the comment to Crissa) was only voting for one choice because it was the only one that is familiar. That's usually how my votes end up (notable exception is Best Illustration because let's face it, there's the option right there to view them while voting).

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I will admit that it didn't pass my mind when writing the article.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

This sentiment is shared by others on Cross Time Cafe, though like one person there, I recommend checking out the other categories which have work freely available - if you have the time.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Another suggested voting system for Ursa:
(short summary: variation on current system, but with voting chains).

ie. if voter-A votes for ONLY one nominee in a category:
they give (for example) ONE point to that work.

example 2: if voter-A votes for two works in a category:
work A: preference-1 = TWO points
work B: preference-2 = ONE point

example 3: if voter-A votes for 3 works in a category:
work A: preference-1 = THREE points
work B: preference-2 = TWO points
work C: preference-3 = ONE point

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

That one could also work.

The one tricky part about it would be sharing the voting statistics since there would be three kinds of Rank 1, and two kinds of rank two, so you'd need to make those separate columns.

I think I may have included this in a rough draft somewhere, but then thought of how that system could be gamed.

Like if a person wanted to take advantage of the 3 points they could inform people to vote for them and then try and put their other three points distributed equally amongst the others using some kind of method like "If your Ursa Key ends in X vote for Candidate Y for Rank 2 or and Z for 3." to try and divide their other votes but still focus their 3 point vote.

This would not work on the ranked and run off system since they ranked them as number one, their other votes would not impact anything unless their first pick lost anyway.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

I'm not convinced that "median distribution" is correctly represented here by the selection of the "median" value in the table for first, second, and third rank votes. Yes, out of three "values" for a work, it's the middle one. But if a work "really was the best", you'd expect it to get all first-rank votes. The one way you could try to distinguish that is that no other work would get first-ranked votes, whereas in this case it's mixed. But then, maybe that was simply the bias of their fans?

The value that matters, when representing the distribution of votes for a particular candidate, is the median of the individual votes for that candidate. Which in all three cases, would be one selecting it for first place. Now, you could say it should be the median across the distributions of "people who voted in the category", but that falls down because these works also got the highest number of ballots with a vote for them in their respective categories, as shown by "total votes". I tried taking the "median" ballot by dividing the number of first preference votes by two and then counting down from the highest-ranked ballots for each candidate, but because most works didn't get votes on half the ballots, the only non-Garrison candidate that appeared at all was Freefall - and its median vote was third preference, while Carry On's was second. Foxes in Love did not appear at all, because its voter base was not as wide; less than half of the ballots for that category ranked it.

Garrison's works got 44.7%, 49.8% and 47.8% of first-ranked votes - they were close to being the majority winners. They were probably not condorcet winners - victors of head-to-heads between them and all other candidates - which is one thing this voting system (a form of Borda count) is intended to represent. But nor were the others. The competition was divided and support for Garrison's work too strong, so it won - it probably would have won under most voting systems.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Thanks for pointing out the voting system name (Borda count), reading through this page I discovered that this flaw already had a name called the Later-no-help Criterion.

Another page on "tactical voting" basically spells out this vulnerability in the Borda in a more succinct matter. There is also this more detailed section here.

Nothing like writing up and analyzing something that already has been thought about and summarized else-where. But that's sometime how discovery happens.

However these examples I linked above basically infer that people are forced to use all their ranked votes and that all candidates are ranked. If the Borda system does force the person to rank all candidates then doing only ranking 3 of the 5 exasperates the tactical issue whether sought or unsought.

In my mind, the fact that good faith people have problems giving a vote because they don't want to give 3 points to just the one they read and enjoyed, along with the vulnerability and susceptibility to just an ounce of tribal fervor solidifies that perhaps the Borda system is not the best to use for the Ursas.

I will note that we cannot determine majority vote in the Borda system based on the statistics given. that allows variable ranking. Because everyone can vote 1 - 3 times. Could they still have won? That's possible, and I'm not saying that avid pushing and campaigning should be eliminated entierly. I think it'd just be more interesting, and more than likely fairer to an democratic system that is trying to find the best artists (and not, say, politicians) to use the instant run-off method instead of Borda.

The only way we would be able to know the effect on the outcome in these examples would be to run it against the votes that were actually made in the way they were actually made. The publicly available stats do not provide the ability to do this.

hey were probably not condorcet winners - victors of head-to-heads between them and all other candidates - which is one thing this voting system (a form of Borda count) is intended to represent.

The chart in the page you link for Borda count you linked is saying that is not true?

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

It does not guarantee to select the Condorcet winner, but as noted there:

Simulations show that Borda has a high probability of choosing the Condorcet winner when one exists, in the absence of strategic voting and with all ballots ranking all candidates.

My intended meaning was something along the line of "even though they came close to being majority winners, the Borda system might have picked a Condorcet winner instead, if it existed". As noted, the ability to "burn" votes reduces this feature.

I like score/range voting; it permits people to express a view on all candidates, and also if they have an equal preference (above zero). However, if people are not willing to evaluate alternatives - or choose to vote strategically, rather than honestly - it will not help.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

"with all ballots ranking all candidates", which isn't something we do in the Ursas as we only vote on 1,2, or 3 of the 5. So, yeah.

Man, who knew just changing such small things can do so much damage to a voting system?

Democracy truly can be a fragile system.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Yes, but again that's primarily on the voter turnout. For example, if we assumed - which is almost certainly not the case - that every "burned vote" was by the winning nominee's supporters, and we allocated them to other candidates in proportion to their score, it would've made no difference to the outcome, other than to be closer.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

You have no way to determine this.

You need to look at two things when analyzing this, the total of #1 votes ONLY for the winner, and the TOTAL votes for everyone else.

Given this I believe that, for the Dramatic Short you would be correct that they would have won because because Nobody Does It Better recieved 147 #1 ranks and Fueled received 114 votes total, so even if all of them went to #1 for Fueled it would be Nobody at 147 and Fueled at 114.

For the other 2 categories it is more up in the air.

A World of our own got 123 votes for #1, but Ruxa got 129 total votes. If all the items shifted to #1 in the final it would beat a world of our own. This would be very unlikely.

The most interesting one would be the comics. Carry On got 227 #1 votes. Two other nominees total more than Carry On: Foxes in Lover @ 235 and FreeFall at 279.

279 is pretty significantly higher than 227. So in this category it could be much more likely there would have been a different winner based on this method. If you were to choose one category to test it on with the actual data, the comic one for 2021 would be pretty interesting. For the other 2, you may get the same results.

So yes, self promotion still does work, and still would work either way. And I never argued that it should be eliminated entirely, it should just be less effective than it currently is.

People do need to be more aware that they would need to get their vote heard if they want to see a piece win. And one way to get more people to the polls may be putting in a system that people would be willing to vote if they could vote for one candidate and not worry about "ballot stuffing" 3 points and do more damage to the other pieces they didn't give the time of day, as at least two commenters seem to have abstained for this reason.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I was thinking more just "if everyone was forced to use all votes in the Borda count" - but yes, you're right, a complely different system might be more likely to have a different result.

I note, however, that if Carry On had 227 first-preference votes just from promotion, it'd be a little odd that the other two categories do not also have 227 such votes - instead they are little more than half that. I figure either fans missed out that there were two other works nominated, or a number of "uninterested" voters rated Carry On the best (which might be expected to happen under other systems, too).

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

I did notice that. Garrison has been making a comic for awhile so I think their some of their fans focused on that and had misgivings about voting for them in the other categories.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Personally I'd like to see a situation where if a creator wins, they're not eligible to be nominated for another three or four years. And each creator is limited to a single nomination during a year when they're eligible. This is so that we don't keep getting people stacking the vote in favor of a specific creator, and to get new names showing up, because part of the philosophy behind all of this was try to expose the variety of talent that's out there.

Unfortunately this would be completely unworkable. Setting a single-nomination limit would mean some categories would end up short; and there'd be extra work involved in having to contact the creator ("You've been nominated in four slots; choose one of them.") Then people would argue the rules, they'd create under multiple aliases, they'd co-create with someone else, or would stuff the nominations with not-so-great stuff by other people, so that their work would stand out in comparison. Or we'd get the same creators being nominated every year and they'd take turns winning in that category. I don't know; I like the spirit behind the awards but I don't know how to make them more relevant and interesting for the fanbase.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Simple solution for complaints: send the Space Marines! 🐻

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

In b4 FlashGitz

Your rating: None Average: 2.4 (5 votes)

That seems very silly to me. If they're the best at something, then they're the best at it. Why shouldn't they keep winning? At that point you need to decide if you want to show the best of something (or at least the most voted for) or whether you want to show new things. If you just want to show new things then you can stop at the recommended lists or just randomly select from them.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3 (4 votes)

If you wanted me to vote for the Ursa Major awards you should've nominated The Suicide Squad.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

"I don't like 'The Suicide Squad', it's too dark and violent," said the furries sitting down to a 24-hour marathon of Hazbin Hotel and Helluva Boss.

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

Suicide Squad is too dark, the cartoons have way better lighting.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (2 votes)

That just doesn't make any sense!

There's maybe, like, 3 hours of Hazbin Hotel/Helluva Boss content right now.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (7 votes)

I stopped voting for the Ursa Major awards when Andrew Callaghan's report about the Midwest FurFest wasn't even nominated for Best Non-Fiction Work 2020. That was the most faithful & entertaining documentary about a furry convention done to date. But it seems very few people knew about it. The awards are a popularity contest.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RFun58Gt7A

Andrew Callaghan is an absolutely amazing journalist that joins humor, transparency and commitment into his work. He shows people and events as they are: he's gone to conventions of every kind, he'll interview both big shots and social outcasts, he's travelled to Ukraine to show the war.

His latest project is "Channel 5 with Andrew Callaghan" on YouTube.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

In fairness, they say what it is on the front page:

Anyone may nominate and vote for candidates […] These Awards are decided by the fans, not by a committee.

As for the video, it's something of a curate's egg - just what you might expect if you interviewed the guys standing outside the front doors and next to the alien ovipositor manufacturer's table. Sure, it's not negative - at least, not more than some of the interviewees made it, perhaps aided by a few cuts - but it strikes me as a frat boy's overview of MFF; a big party with a few dildo dealers. Maybe things have changed a bit since I visited in 2005 and the next year, but I can't shake the feeling that this coverage largely misses the point.

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

That's been my experience with conventions so far, it's a bunch of looneys having somewhat odd uncompromised fun who in the process find friendship and fulfillment.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (3 votes)

Yes, "Fulfilment" is what I call my favorite novelty sex toy, too.

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (4 votes)

One it the nature of the beast when awards based on popularity or a culture as what happened to the Hugo Awards. A lot times I might burn my vote simply I am not familiar with the nomination, so some promotion of the work is helpful. Also, I may not be interested like Kevin Gold. In fact, it was the year of the Kevin Gold sweep when I lost my interest in the Ursa Major awards.

Thanks for sharing the inter mechanics of the voting; this flaw is way I do oppose multiple vote primary system even as a member of a third party.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Who or what is "Kevin Gold" and why do you have awful opinions about them

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He means Kyell Gold, who as mentioned earlier withdrew fron the UMAs after winning too much.

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i stand corrected I meant Kyell Gold.

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So... you want a voting system set up so that the most popular candidate is less likely to win?

I get what your issue is but I'm not sure it's an issue worth making a complicated voting system for. This is a fairly inconsequential competition with ~1000 votes per year. You may be taking it a little too seriously.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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I'm saying people should get one vote, and not six which will do better at giving each person a more equal say.

And it's not all that complicated, that's probably me over-explaining and not using more technical writing techniques that's making it seem more so than it is.

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The confusing thing is ... how does this effect the outcome of the vote?

In the current system, Garrison won (obviously). In your system, Garrison would also win. In alternative alternative systems proposed by Green Reaper and earthfurst, Garrison would also win. So I'm not sure what this accomplishes.

The only category that might have been impacted by a different vote counting method was movie.

Second, I'm not sure what the correlation is between the voting system and the voter turnout is. Of the two actual comments from people saying they abstained from voting, it's basically anons bitching their favorite didn't win, which, fair enough, I bitched about that all the time back in the day, but my point is they don't seem to be complaining about how votes are counted

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My voting method cannot be determined using the current statistics. There is only one category in my method that I think we could say Garrison would have won which was dramatic shorts. The others do have a possibility of a loss if the votes of those ranked off congeal so they overcome those that ranked Garrison's as #1 in these examples.

I think it's just an opportunity to talk about voting systems and their impacts on outcomes. I mean, yeah, the Ursas are some small things "no one cares about", which I would hope is not true. But I guess it comes down to, if we can't change the way that we vote for the Ursa's for the better, what snowball's chance in hell do large democratic institutions have?

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But it's not "for the better" it's just different.

Like you call the Ursas "the furry fandom’s popular choice awards" but then worry about things winning due to "popularity of a franchise or personality." Something winning a popular choice award due to popularity seems like it's working correctly. So it seems like you don't want it to be a popular choice award, you want it more to be "weigh more toward judging the quality of the pieces."

If that's what you want then opening it up to public voting is the real problem. The general viewing audience votes according to what they like based on content/connections rather than trying to evaluate it by quality. (Don't feel bad, I tilted at that particular window myself, see https://www.flayrah.com/4301/opinion-we-need-more-criticism-furry-fandom and https://www.sofurry.com/view/523530). But if your goal is an award that is based on judging the quality of the piece then scrap the voting and have a select committee of people that are capable and willing to judge on the technical criteria.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Ironically you wouldn't even need to scrap the voting system to insert a vote by committee into the Ursas. In fact the current system can be used in quite easily to self-insert one.

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Sorry, I mistyped. I meant just scrap the public voting, the committee would still vote but it would be votes that are based on quality, not popularity. Or they could deliberate. It doesn't really matter too much, I think.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Look, my second point is really the main thing, here.

I don't think you understand why the voter turnout being low is a problem. You do realize the point of the ALAA is not the Ursa Majors, any more than the Oscars are not actually the point of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (a.k.a. AMPAS a.k.a. the Academy)? It's a case of the tail wagging the dog. The point of the Academy is to incentivize studio employees to not unionize to advance the art of motion pictures and preserve their history. The Oscars are just a fun thing they do annually to help inspire its members and promote it's message. Likewise, the important part of the Ursa Majors site is not the awards, it's the Recommended List. The awards are a fun little annual thing to help promote the list and encourage furries to use and contribute to it.

Now, the Academy originally did at least a little depend on money from Oscar ceremony broadcasting rights and advertisement sales, but it has since invested it's profits so that it doesn't really matter if only people who really want watch the show watch the show, it can afford to throw it's party for itself (and even fund a massively expensive museum that almost certainly will be a black hole for money). I mean, ABC is kind of screwed, but they hopefully didn't think of it as an investment when they bought the broadcast rights, and hopefully thought of it as their contribution to a worthy cause they could afford to throw money at. Hopefully.

The ALAA, on the other hand, is a small, amateur organization run by volunteers. The worrying thing about no one showing up to the "fun stuff" is that if they're not showing up for that, they're probably not showing up for the hard parts of actually maintaining the list, either as volunteers, contributors or through donations. Now, yes, our two non-voters in this comment section did complain about their favorites not winning or even being nominated, but the Suicide Squad fan doesn't seem to realize they can vote for nominees as well as winners, while the random YouTube guy fan didn't even get their choice on the Recommended List, so they kind of missed the point.

And that's the problem. Nobody fucking knows what's going on here. I'm repeating myself from the comment section on the actual Ursa Major announcement article, but it's a lot of complaining that nobody showed up to the party that nobody sent invitations out for. Now, this isn't entirely the ALAA's fault; the furry fandom has an aversion to self promotion which isn't entirely a bad thing, either. Modesty is a virtue. But, like, yeah, Sonious, you wrote a whole paragraph explaining you're really not upset Garrison won, but that was one paragraph in an article that can be (a bit unfairly) summarized as "Okay, guys, here's my plan to make sure Garrison NEVER WINS AGAIN!" (Also, just like to point out, it's beside the point, but still not convinced your plan would accomplish that, but whatever.) I mean, the problem is less that Garrison did anything underhanded or out of line, it's that nobody else did. Like, dronon doesn't even take credit for the Newsbyte archives he does. I mean, there's humility, and there's ... being invisible. Need to find a middle ground, here.

Also, it's also just kind of hard to self promote to such a fragmented group as the furry fandom. I mean, remember all those articles you guys did about what website was going to be the next FurAffinity, i.e. the website all furries were required to be a member of, and I was all like "guys, it's probably not going to be just another artsite" and you were all like "no, FurAffinity is losing ground because it sucks" and I was all like "yes, it is not a great site, but the truth is that you're looking for a better version of the same thing instead of what furries are actually looking for" and fast forward to now and I WAS RIGHT or at least more correct because furry was not looking for another artsite, and the truth is there is no longer "one" furry site to rule them all. You can just be a furry wherever, up to and including Twitter/YouTube/FaceBook/fucking Truth Social/plenty of other non-furry sites. (Also, let's be real, FurAffinity is still pretty big fish in the furry pond, if no longer the only fish.) The downside for the ALAA is, of course, holy shit, if you're a small organization with a small to non-existent self promotion budget (never mind your target audience, as already noted, kind of hates self promotion), where the fuck do you start? I don't know? You could go to conventions and press the flesh (you know what I mean), but, once again, which one? Because you don't have the manpower to go to all of them, or even the "big" ones (because, like FurAffinity, it's no longer just "well, Anthrocon's the ONE", it's just another big fish among a school).

And it's not like you can count on the media, because, well, we're it. And we do promote the Ursas. But the two major "furry media outlets" of Flayrah and Dogpatch aren't even that "big" of fish. Once again, most people are just learning about new stuff on social media algorithms and shit like that. You could possibly game that, if you knew how, but I hope nobody feels I'm judging them by saying I don't think most of the membership of the ALAA is really up on that. (I mean, I'm not.) And, going back to us, us and Patch, I mean, as Patch correctly pointed out, we're basically annual nominees thanks to the Magazine category, so any promotion of the Ursas in general has to be curtailed before it seems like a biased campaign for our organizations.

So, anyway, my point is changing the method of vote counting, if you'll forgive me a trite aphorism (I'm leading up to a punchline!) is a bit like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I mean, the Ursa Majors aren't a disaster, but the I think you're missing the real problem with your solution, and, in any case, the only assured winner is James Cameron, OH SNAP!

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I mean, given how furries will generally pay attention to something if someone nerdily lays out an issue rather than just posting general "everything is normal and fine and here's how you vote" article, perhaps part of the point of an article like this is to draw some attention to the Ursas?

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Fair, but in that case, maybe save it a while, as a better strategy? So people actually get reminded of it when they can do something?

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If anyone were going to change the voting system, they'd need to start now to get it done in time. I don't expect to see changes next year, and I'd suggest any development effort go on improving turnout for nominations and voting (by e.g. emailing people about both of them).

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I mean, that may be another article entirely of something I had thought of a year back but never followed up on. Like, why do we have a furry writer's guild but no furry reader's guild/club?

Our fandom gets a little focused on creators, but what's the point of creating if there is like... no engaged audience?

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What? That seems a bit odd. You might want a group of creators because there's a real need to help with issues and exchange skills. But you don't need American Film Watching Association because anyone can watch a film.

You might have groups that form (like the furry fandom) around specific material but in that case, they already exist. SoFurry groups, Telegram chat rooms on certain topics. That's all there.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Okay, "you just invented furry fandom." is pretty good.

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Well, the point of the awards is in part is to engage them. Like 2cross says, the Ursa Majors are a means to an end - getting people to look at all the cool stuff out there, and encourage more of it to be created. The ALAA has done pretty well at making the awards part work consistently over two decades, but it may have insufficient technical and organisational resources to maximise the benefit from them by e.g. creating a dedicated body of nominators and voters that they keep in touch with throughout the year.

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Wasn't asking the ALAA to do any fan discussion groups or any of that, I think Rauken's point is stronger in here and that those more than likely exist already in some form and I'm just blind to it.

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Precisely my point for a long time: We DON'T have those. We NEED those. We most CERTAINLY need to have a bigger ALAA committee that is engaged, discussing, debating, and voting more often. Currently the few of us left that are regularly active are (quite frankly, speaking for myself at least) old and tired, and (speaking for others) thinking of retiring. Without a robust membership of ALAA, all of this is just "wouldn't it be great if".

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Second that one - if I don't find someone else willing to help with, and eventually take over the Recommended List in the next few years it's going to become academic because there won't BE one.

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With respect to the aside on Newsbytes, one of the reasons I added editor credits on the byline when viewing a story was to show who was responsible for collective works, such as the 2020-21 COVID cancellations and delays roundup. Since the content of Newsbytes roundups are, strictly speaking, not authored by the editor, aside from the formulaic opening and any individual posts, it's fair enough not to list them as the author. Instead they get an editor credit there and on the recent contributors section.

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I'm not saying it's the wrong choice, I'm just saying it is a choice. One that I didn't make, you never pressured me into making a different choice, and that I'm fairly certain you didn't pressure dronon into making, either. Likewise, the more generalized furry aversion to self promotion (both personally and in others) is not entirely good nor bad, but is a thing that effects other things.

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I guess the one issue I take is that: you say yourself that it's a "people's choice" thing - and hence it's a popularity contest by default, whichever way the voting system goes - and as an Australian who loves our instant-runoff voting - I'd wonder whether asking for full preferences etc would discourage people voting further*. But it wouldn't change a landslide of people voting for a fave.

(*Unless they only asked for three preferences I guess - which'd make it no more confusing than the current 3-2-1 probably.)

IRV's not without precedent in award voting, the Oscars use it for Best Picture - but they're drawing from a fixed and known academy membership there. If there was a "most outstanding" as opposed to "most popular" that was voted on by ALAA members, IRV might be suitable - but I think that would take away from the point of the recommended list, to promote and get people to actually read/watch 15, 20 or so good pieces of furry literature and other things, rather than focusing on one winner and seeing the rest get inevitably shunned by many - and I could imagine the "drama" that we are well known for. So the Ursas are in a bind there.

If one has to accept that the awards themselves, like any other online public votes, is going to be a popularity contest and not always a true indication of "best" - I don't see why 3-2-1 (or I'll be totally heretic, even just one vote) is any less suitable for that? All I'll say though is, I'd agree that 3-2-1 only works if everyone actually uses all three votes. Hmm.

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It is a popularity contest. There are few enough voting at this point that it doesn't take a very large voting block to win. The question then becomes "Why are so few voting?" My take is that the vast majority in the fandom just don't see the Ursa Major Awards as important or relevant. It's bad enough to have categories outside the fandom that the winners will never even know they won or care if they did. Worse, there are fandom categories where the winners in the fandom often wouldn't give a crap if they won or acknowledge it. As much as as the ones running this want these awards to have the same level of prestige as say a Hugo award, they don't. Many of the winners don't care, most of the fans don't care. It's like a yearly ego circle jerk with the results being about as important as what ended up on a certain famous pizza.

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Most awards are circle jerks yes, I mean, you're literally praising people who won.

Just in a more plutonic way.

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My reaction to "people don't care about these awards" arguments has always been -- okay, but why do people care about ANY awards? If we DO want them to be like the Hugo Awards, what would that look like? It's terribly easy to slip into circular logic: "People don't care about these awards because they don't matter." "Well how do you make them matter?" "People have to care about them."

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Awards people care about are from entities they respect in endeavors that have respect as well. Said awards are seen to have real value in winning them. Ask the authors what sales did on works that have won Hugos. The last in person Worldcon (2019) only had 6500 attendees with around 2/3 of those voting for the Hugos. And yet it's considered the most prestigious award in the science fiction genre. I've bought books in the past solely on the basis that they won a Hugo. Mainstream sci-fi and fantasy are seen as valid and mature genres. Even the best writing we produce, and there are some really talented authors in our ranks, is usually looked at as 'fanfic' even by us furries.

How to fix this? Well for starters, dump the categories for works not produced by or for our fandom by intent. That means no Disney films or such on the list. Get one ore more of the larger furry cons to step up and get behind the awards in their promotions and such. At the same time, you need to be prepared to pay for a visible space at said con(s), preferably with as many of the nominated works available as possible. Even being nominated for a Hugo is a big deal. Make it a big deal for the Ursa Majors. Don't ask the cons to foot the bill, at least not initially. Finally, only allow those buying a membership at said con(s) to vote. If you want people to care about voting and the result, make it seem exclusive. Imagine if even 2/3 of just one of the largest four cons voted. If attendees at other cons feel left out, they will put some pressure on their favorite con to back the awards as well. Give the cons an upside to supporting you and they will. As it stands, there is none, but there is potential for drama when something like the ballot box stuffing that happened this year occurs. Speaking of that, it needs to be addressed so it can't happen again. Take that for what it's worth.

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I'm sorry, but the Hugos? Really?

I mean, by your own standards, they suck. First of all, yeah, no poorly addressed ballot box stuffing controversies there. Second of all, you know they have a movie category, right? Like, they call it "Dramatic Presentation", but it's movies (Long Form) and TV shows (Short Form). And Disney does all right there. They nominated fucking Frozen, too. Shang-Chi, a Marvel Disney movie, is nominated this year. And I was actually shocked to find this out myself, but the Ursa Majors are actually way better at not being so darn American, at least in the movie categories; we nominated Hayop Kai!, while the Hugos have not nominated anything I hadn't heard of in the last 20 years. In other words, I've watched movies in the past solely on the basis that they were nominated for an Ursa Major. But not the Hugos. And even you point out, for something as large as the fucking science fiction fandom, they're not pulling in large participation numbers. It's almost like, huh, maybe not many people actually care about them that much, either.

I mean, your comparison to the Hugos is basically "the Hugos are a prestigious award because I think they are, and the Ursa Majors aren't a prestigious award because I don't think they are". I mean, honestly, given the size of the fandoms we're dealing with here, the Ursa Majors compare pretty positively, and in some ways better. You say "it's considered the most prestigious award in the science fiction genre." Well, the Ursa Major is considered the most prestigious award in the furry genre. Which also makes your argument come off as "science fiction is a legitimate genre worthy of respect and consideration while furry isn't", which, I mean, yikes!

Also, your solution for the Ursa Majors to gain a higher level of prestige is to, uh, buy it. Setting aside the multiple comments from ALAA members here saying "hey, guys, you know we're the organizational equivalent of paycheck to paycheck over here, right" which you managed to miss your spot check on, I mean, that's just tacky.

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Mostly, what they said ^^^

Beyond that, I would like to politely disagree, Crim. The point of the Ursa Major Awards (and in a bigger sense, the ALAA) was never just to celebrate furry fandom -- the idea was to PRESENT furry fandom, show the best of what it has to offer to the larger world. And yes, that means paying attention to when furry characters show up in 'mainstream' media -- the awards being our way of saying, "Hey, we see you! Thank you for throwing us a bone!" To overly worry about gatekeeping is to keep your ghetto as a ghetto.

And for heaven's sake, who the heck is gonna be the judge of when a creator or creator's work has become "too big" or "too mainstream" and can no longer be considered "part of the furry fandom"?

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If that was the point then by any measure I can think of, it's a complete and utter failure. The majority in the fandom don't even care about the winners much less anyone outside of it. With so few voting, it's complete hubris to claim the winners are "the best of what it has to offer". And something I suppose we could debate is whether a character is 'furry' if there was no intent for it to be connected to our fandom in any way. Disney, Pixar, etc don't care about us, don't cater to us directly, and wouldn't be affected in any way if every member of the fandom suddenly lost interest in 'funny animals' and went on to other interests.

The last part is apparently based on your misreading of what I said. My point was the few authors in this fandom who've broken into mainstream publication, never refer to the furry fandom in any way when promoting said works. Find me a book published by one of the large publishing houses that says anything about 'furry' in the forward, on the cover, or anywhere. Heck, Mercedes Lackey included references to both locations and characters from FurryMuck in a couple of her books. She and her husband are very much fans and yet nobody outside the fandom has a clue.

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Actually in the eyes of many people, Disney was doing some severe "wink wink nudge nudge" in the direction of Furry Fandom from the get-go in their marketing of Zootopia. And, in spite of many misgivings about Disney, many fur fans were more than willing to return the favor -- and remain so. This is the ideal: To bring the worlds "in" and "out" of the fandom closer together, not push them apart. Yes, it is a slow process. I'm old. I'm willing to be patient.

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If you want to get a job on the Disney animation team, best not have any traceable ties to the fandom. If they find out after the fact, you're likely to be fired. I've seen work by furries that rivals what Studio Ghibli has done on a good day, but Disney wouldn't touch them.

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I have heard many stories about that in the past, but less and less of them in the present -- especially since there are now many open furries who work on the OTHER side, actually HIRING talent. Given what some of the out LGBTQ-etc folk at Disney and Pixar look like and act like, it would be kind of silly to worry much about someone being a furry fan. And please keep in mind -- Disney ain't the only game in town any more. By a long shot.

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Oh, that’s just straight up bullshit. Now, it is true you might wanna cut down on the porn, but that's how you know the "pros". If you're on e621 and an artist's tag gets no Es and few to no Qs, they're probably working as an animator and/or illustrator somewhere outside the fandom. I know an artist by the furry name of Pointed Fox worked on Zootopia. It’s his main claim to fame (well, that, and a nice, recognizable style of character art). And it's not exactly what you're talking about, but the artist I did an article on because they have an Epic Games "creator code" draws very explicit furry porn of Fortnite characters, furry porn which he is essentially being paid by Epic Games to create.

The whole "animation studios automatically blacklist furries" is very 2000s Portal of Evil/Crush!Yiff!Destroy! rhetoric. Dare I even say, that ol' furry boogeyman ... the BURNED FURS! *ominous thunder crash accompanied by musical sting on the soundtrack* That was kind of their main bit, right? That's what the name means; they got "burned" for being furries. Which, I mean, seems a bit like sour grapes. Just because YOU didn't get the Disney job doesn't mean they hate furries. They maybe just don't like YOU. (Seeing as how most of the Burned Furs were, you know, kind of assholes, not unreasonable to think they might not have the, uh, people skills a big corporation is looking for.)

Also, I mean, sour grapes the other way, you know, maybe the reason furries are getting to Ghibli levels of creativity is because, like Ghibli, they're independents working outside the big corporate entities. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Disney, but, like, you hear the creative process behind Zootopia, and it sounds like torture, man. Byron Howard is a hack, and I mean that in the nicest way possible, but he has two Oscars because was able to subsume his own creative vision to the company's, not because he's an auteur (that was Rich Moore ... the guy who left Disney). It works, but not for every creative.

But, actually, you sound like me a decade ago, if I'm being honest. I think you really want to review a movie. You certainly seem to have a good base of knowledge from what little you've allowed us to see in your sporadic comments. Not kidding at all, you got an upcoming movie you feel like you want a shot at, you tell me here, I'll back off (I mean, no promises someone else won't swoop in).

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nobody better tell joaquin baldwin

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Ironically, I do have one thing to complain about the Ursas this year; uh, next year, can you guys, like, announce when you're going to do the announcements?

Cause I was gonna do a companion piece to the Oscar Best Animated Feature for the Ursa Majors winners, but I didn't know when my deadline was, and I missed it. A top 21 just doesn't work as well ... so I'll save it for a top 25. See in you four years.

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You are absolutely right, and we should do that.

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So, a few observations.

First, my novel Kismet was marketed in both furry and non-furry versions by the publisher, and what I discovered is that non-furry audiences that bought it or received it for review immediately scoped it as furry and seemed to like it anyway. This includes positive reviews in Analog SF and in Green Man Review by Cat Rambo, then-president of SFWA. “Furry” used to scare people away, but by and large it just doesn’t anymore. When Crim writes,

Even the best writing we produce, and there are some really talented authors in our ranks, is usually looked at as 'fanfic' even by us furries.

…I would quibble with that by changing “even by us furries” to “especially by us furries.” I mean, a few years ago, the SFWA’s fantasy novel story bundle included Kyell Gold’s Black Angel, which is what turned Cat Rambo on to furry fiction. Kyell and I also attended a novel writing workshop run by the Hugo and Nebula and World Fantasy Award-winning Kij Johnson, who accepted us knowing that we were working on furry stuff. (Kyell’s novel was in fact an early version of Black Angel, and I did not know one of my bucket list items was “amazing literary sf author whiteboards water metaphors for otter sexuality” until it happened.) The people who are most convinced furries will never break out of a furry ghetto are [checks notes] furries.

Having said that, while the Hugos are certainly more prestigious than the Ursas, that’s not because they have multiples of thousands more people voting on them. The Ursas are open to everyone; the Hugos cost money to vote for, though, and that gating—which is intentional—has a real effect. If we go back to 2013, for instance—before the Sad Puppies inflated interest in the awards—the Ursa Majors received a mere 856 valid ballots, and the Hugos received…1848. More than twice as many, yes, but nonetheless worth noting.

I’d argue that what the Hugos have over the Ursas is this: first, simply longevity; second, the imprimatur of the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon). I’ve long thought, and I think may have even argued on the UMA mailing list long ago, that the Ursas would benefit from being hitched to a specific convention and requiring a similar modest financial commitment for voting and nominating privileges. I understand the arguments against that, but I think it would go at least some way toward reducing the “brigading” effect that creators with engaged fan bases can easily bring to bear. (While The Wayward Astronomer may be a fine novel, for instance, it’s hard not to suspect that it won the 2017 UMA for Best Novel over not just my Kismet but Mark Engels’s Always Gray in Winter and perennial Ursa favorite Mary Lowd’s Otters in Space III chiefly because it was a Dreamkeepers tie-in novel and fans were told to go vote.)

Crossie observed that this is “a lot of complaining that nobody showed up to the party that nobody sent invitations out for,” which…definitely has some real truth to it. Even if the Ursas don’t tie themselves to a convention as explictly as the Hugos do, they could really stand to put some effort into promoting their existence in the fandom and, well, trying harder to make the awards a Big Deal. They should have an awards ceremony at a big furry convention like Anthrocon, for instance. Live stream it. Live tweet it. Take out ads on Fur Affinity. Promote it with furry YouTubers and VTubers and whatever tubes the kids are using these days I don’t know I’m old goddammit.

(Also, maybe maybe maybe update the web site to not have quite so much “state of the art for 2004” vibe?)

Going back to the thesis of Sonious’s article, though (gasp), I do think that the Ursas could absolutely benefit from moving to the instant runoff vote system that the Hugos used to use, if not the “E Pluribus Hugo” system that they currently use (which is specifically designed to minimize the effect of “slate voting,” something that so far the Ursas don’t seem to have been directly subject to). This wouldn’t solve the problem given above with the Wayward Astronomer example, but Sonious is in general technically correct here. (As they say, the best kind of correct.)

Oh, also:

Find me a book published by one of the large publishing houses that says anything about 'furry' in the forward, on the cover, or anywhere

Lawrence Schoen’s Nebula-nominated Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, published by Tor, explicitly mentions its Coyotl Award win on the cover in later printings, and mentions the furry fanzine that the original story came from in its forward. (That Barsk wasn’t even nominated for an Ursa Major is arguably another mild indictment of the awards. When the Coyotl and Ursa nominations wildly diverge, it often seems to be an indicator of the “popularity contest” nature of the Ursas coming to the forefront.)

— Chipotle

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You make a very good point. Nothing adds cachet to something like the idea that it's somewhat exclusive (even if that's an illusion). The issue then becomes; are there any larger furry cons that would want to host the Ursa Majors exclusively knowing the drama that could easily bring. Those not going to said con would whine, smaller cons not asked would whine thinking they should have been considered, etc.

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Maybe it would do the fandom some good to not worry about such things before they even do anything.

We mock deer getting stuck in front of a car's headlights. But more often then not these days I'm seeing a mass of people getting stuck in the headlights and doing nothing for fear of judgement of doing anything.

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Time out, though; we're kind of drifting here. You started this conversation with a graph showing not enough people were voting and now you want to restrict the pool of voters further? Exactly what problem are we solving? Are the Ursa Majors too popular or not popular enough?

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Don't know how you were reading my comment, so I'll break it down:

Crim stated "Large cons could host the Ursa Major's [the awards, not the voting itself] but it could 'bring drama'"

My response was, "Why are we not doing something, especially if it's better than doing nothing, simply because something negative *could* happen?"

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That's why I'm calling time out! Crim has proposed the "pay to play" plan, which Chipotle more or less proposed separately, which does not solve the problem of "low voter turnout", because they're not interested in that problem, they're more interested in a lack of perceived "prestige" for the award. Which is also not the problem you set out to solve with your voting method change propositions.

In answer to your question of "Why are we not doing something?", well, you need to be clear which problem I need to be doing something about (and really, honestly, that there is a problem to begin with).

And finally, the Ursa Majors, uh, already are hosted by large conventions. The last two years have been a bit different, because the world has been a bit different. So, that's not even doing something; it's just reverting back to pre-Covid norms. Since I am very aware that you know this, I just assumed you were saying "well, why not" to the "pay to play" parts.

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When the Coyotl and Ursa nominations wildly diverge, it often seems to be an indicator of the “popularity contest” nature of the Ursas coming to the forefront.)

Simple - it's kinda like the Nebula Awards and the Hugos. The former are juried, the latter popularity based. Both have their uses in figuring out what you want to read...

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To be super pedantic (and I apologize in advance for it), neither the Nebulas nor the Coyotls are juried awards! They have voting pools restricted to guild members, but they’re still voted awards. The World Fantasy Award is juried—its nominees are selected by convention attendees like the Nebulas, but the final awards are selected by a panel of judges, who also have the ability to add nominees to categories if they think the attendees missed something important. It’s the “decision by a small panel” that’s the key.

Furry does have a juried award, the Leos. Like the Coyotls, they’re just for fiction. Like the Ursas, they don’t do a great job of self-promotion. :)

— Chipotle

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Thanks, I was not even aware of the Leos, and by your definition you're right about the Nebulas... but at the same time what IS a jury panel but a particularly small voting pool? :)

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I happened to find this article while looking through the Recommended List on the Ursa Major awards web site. Now I understand why my comic strip has not appeared on the list this year.

Apparently, Sonious was upset that I managed to win three different categories in 2021.

I've been trying to win Ursa Major Awards for years. I was thrilled beyond belief the first time I won. Even though most people I mention it to say, "The what awards?" I still feel like it's an honor to be nominated and a delight to win.

Since 2016, I have won for Best Novel, Best Short Story, Best Short Subject (with Frank Behring), Best Illustration (and I was frankly shocked to win that one, I felt the other nominees were all better than mine), and twice for Best Comic Strip. If you notice, these are all different categories. It's not like I won Best Comic Strip nine years running, or had all five short story positions in a single year. I actually have a rather small fan base compared to a lot of comic strips. I'm pretty much the ONLY cartoonist who actively campaigns for the Ursas.

And you know what that means? It means I give the Ursa Major Awards FREE ADVERTISING with every jokey little comic strip I publish asking for people to support my work. And it IS work--the vast majority of creators nominated don't seem to have a clue that they've been nominated. I treasure each of my little trophies--I'd be happy with a framed certificate, actually--and I wonder what the folks at Disney think when another plastic trophy shows up at headquarters from some...who are these people, again?--organization.

Doc Nickel, who draws The Whiteboard, refuses to campaign because he doesn't want to give free advertising away. Mark Stanley, who draws Freefall, has no interest in winning. I know both these men personally and they've told me as much. They helped me out last year by recommending their readers vote for me, because they know how much it means to me. I've also been there with Jenner, who draws Doc Rat, and Bill Holbrook, who draws Kevin & Kell, at Anthrocon a few years ago--and they had no idea they were nominated, I had to tell them that the awards were being announced that afternoon.

So the UMAs have a publicity problem. That's why only a couple hundred people vote for them. Believe me, I wish more people would vote, although that would probably let me out entirely. And I too resent that it's a popularity contest, especially when Housepets! is in the running.

I know some artists who have turned their backs on the Ursas because they never get nominated. So you have people who desperately would like to be in the running, but aren't because they have no fanbase visibility, or there isn't a category for their particular genre; and then other artists who dominate the list year after year; and still others who have no idea what the Ursas are, and don't care about winning them at all.

I've been doing what I can for YEARS to get the word out about the UMAs. I've been drawing my comic strip since 2004. It may not be the best art, or the best story, but I'm proud of it and I'm glad that I've been able to win these awards with the product of my imagination. I get no money from it (well, okay, I have a Patreon). I don't have books or figurines or posters or T-shirts or coffee mugs or video games or any other peripherals to sell at my non-existent web store. Fred Patten was astonished that I was the only nominee who did not have a book version of my work available. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media, other than Fur Affinity, a nearly dead Deviant Art site, Webtoons, and our own little "family" of The Cross-Time Cafe. All of this shameful promotion I am accused of rallying came from these pisante sites, and my own comic page, which is on it's own web site, not some comic aggregator where I would have lots of cross-traffic.

It's ironic that Sonious takes me to task for self-promotion, when I've been wracking my brain for YEARS for ways to increase the viewership of my comic strip, which has been steadily decreasing. I'd like to make money by cartooning, because sitting indoors at my drawing desk sure beats getting up at 3 AM to deliver lambs in the middle of winter, which is my "real" job, as a farmer. At 56 that physical activity is getting kinda old.

So I am very sorry if my achieving a hat-trick at the 2021 Ursa Major Awards has stuck in some craws. Maybe if the competition had done a little personal self-promotion...or even knew they were nominated...they might have beat me instead. I had to tell Nomax one of his pieces was up for "Best Illustration." He'd never heard of the UMAs, either. Neither did my brother-in-law, who has been in the fandom since before there was a fandom.

And you know, I was sitting next to Bucephalus/Uranium235 when his short story, "Uri's Bittersweet Story"--based in my universe, and written with my collaboration--won; he had a grin on that practically split his face in two. And Frank Behring was over the moon when his video won. He's disabled, and this was a huge thrill for him. I paid for an extra trophy so we both could have one, knowing that the Ursa staff are pretty shoestring. I even paid for the postage to help them out. There are indeed people who are delighted to have their works nominated, and to win.

What have the Ursas done for me? Well...nothing. I have six pretty trophies on my shelf. My readership has not shot up, I have not been asked to be Guest of Honor anywhere, and I get polite blank stares when I mention the contest. At the end of the day, bragging rights aside, I've done more for the Ursa Major Awards than they've done for me.

So maybe, just maybe you should consider the benefits of self-promotion, instead of complaining about it when someone manages to win in more than one category. If you want the truth, I was SHOCKED that I won all three categories. Shocked, and grateful to the people who took the time to navigate the Byzantine ballot system, and cast not only a nomination for my works, but then to go back and vote for them.

I also want to add, in closing, that I have nothing but respect for the folks I've communicated with at the Ursas. I regret that I only got to email Mr. Patten once before his passing, but Kay Shapero and Goldfur have always been very helpful in answering any questions I had. Those folks are running a volunteer organization that deserves to have better recognition in the furry community. If you want a more equitable competition, you can start by actively promoting the awards. As my late father used to say, "He who whispers down a well about the things he has to sell will never reap the golden dollars like he who runs around and hollers."

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*WHISTLE* Wow... I have nothing that I can add to all that... Other than to say that we intend to continue trying to get the Ursa Major Awards -- and all of our winners and nominees -- out in front of as many people as possible. The more people who see them the more the awards "matter", and the more they "matter" the more that people will see them. We know how that works. Most assuredly, any help toward that effort is more than appreciated by those of us who volunteer our time and resources to make the Ursa Major Awards happen.

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Disclaimer that I can only comment from the perspective of a visual artist on this.

Anyone who had the experience of competing in the Neopets Beauty Contest can attest to the issues that come with "popularity vote" based contests involving a craft: The emphasis always ends up falling on who spends more time begging for votes rather than on the quality of the content. That's going to be an issue with the current system regardless of how many folks in the fandom are aware of the Ursa Majors.

And those who spend an ungodly number of hours on their work aren't going to want to spend a ton of time advertising for an "award" that is essentially meaningless (no offense).

It speaks volumes just how little impact these awards have on visibility when a piece of content that won first has only received 100ish likes and 1,500ish views on youtube to-date, versus the second place in the same category that has gotten over 500,000 likes and 6 million views (and rightly so).

There is, of course, a time and place for high-school election flavored contests. That said, the quality of entries and the people who care enough to bother voting (not to mention bother to track down the winning content that I notice aren't linked on the winners' page) is bound to reflect that.

At the end of the day it depends on what the actual point of these awards are.

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Some well-placed thoughts, perhaps, but I'm not certain from what you said which of the gazillion points brought up above that you're leaning toward as an alternative. I ask again: If these awards "don't matter", which awards do? And why?

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If you were a visual artist, what do you think would make it worth it for you?

If the only actual achievement is "I had more internet friends willing to just vote on my say so without actually looking at my content or any of my competitors'", would you be satisfied with that?

Can you say with good conscience that you could watch the 2021 award ceremony as someone new to the fandom/the Ursas, and not be completely thrown off by some of the results?

This isn't my production, and whether a course correction is wanted or needed isn't my call to make; it's yours/the folks' who run the Ursas. I'm just throwing out a perspective for whoever to consider or ignore.

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Definitely consider. The trick is coming up with a clear path forward based on all the things being considered.

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For an award to mean something, it has to be awarded by a group that means something to those receiving the award. It also needs to be chosen by those with some claim to having some expertise. As it stands, getting a best in the art show staff award at a major convention probably means a lot more than getting an Ursa Major award would. They are people who've seen a LOT of art and are maybe not so likely to let relationships or self promotion sway them. An award based on a fairly small number of randos on the internet who may well vote for friends without ever even seeing the other entries is not going to be seen as having much value. One possibility would be to change the way nominations work. Instead of being an open vote, have a panel of those who've been in the fandom a while chose the pieces up for nomination. Perhaps best in show pieces from the major cons would get an automatic entry. At least that would stop some of the self promoting to get pieces nominated. Look at the Oscars. They aren't chosen by random people on the street. They are chosen by those with a great deal of knowledge and love of the motion picture medium. Often films many of us haven't even heard of get nominated because they were well done even if they didn't get a lot of hype.

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Uh, for a guy worried about the prestige giving abilities of (your words) "randos on the internet", I can't help but note you're awfully anonymous, there.

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Assuming it's a "guy" goes along with why you're virtually invisible and unlikeable

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Probably should've gone with "someone", that's true. More gender neutral.

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Maybe because I don't want my inbox flooded with white knights, whiny assholes, and randos. I don't notice any actual arguments about what I said. To be Frank, the Ursa Majors have been an irrelevant circle jerk for so long, I'm not sure anything could really help them gain back any credibility. None of the established cons would associate with them certainly. The potential drama in doing so would far outweigh any benefit. The vast majority of the fandom at this point doesn't even know the awards exist much less care about who gets one.

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Your inbox will get flooded irregardless, unless you put in a bogus email address you don't check when submitting the comment.

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Well, work on your trust issues. Ironically, the other anon makes a good point; nobody cares. You're not going to get flooded with white knights, etc., etc. I've got my real name up here, and virtually invisible is not unfair. (Also, ironically, you will be getting two emails for every comment here regardless of you anon status or if they're even acknowledging your existence; that will be annoying, we've griped at Green Reaper for over a decade, but not exactly what you're worried about.) Like, we're small potatoes here, and the regulars aren't assholes enough to take stuff offsite (even when we are being assholes).

Anyway, the thing you're missing here is, well, circle jerks are fun. Maybe don't worry about the prestige so much, vote for what you like, support the historical preservation side of the ALAA, and see if you can't start up a juried award for artists somewhere else if that actually matters to you.

Complaining the popularity contest is a popularity contest is also fun, though, so go ahead, but don't expect me to seriously engage with arguments I've already had and don't frankly give a shit about anymore.

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I only get one an hour, per post. I use the subscriptions mechanism, though, set up like this, rather than the notify options at the bottom of the comment form - are a fallback for anon posters (who have no account to subscribe).

If "Comment follow-up notification settings" are enabled on your main account edit tab, disabling both of them and only using subscriptions instead is probably the way to go.

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Yeah, but can anons do that?

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No, they can just untick the box if they don't want notifications in relation to a particular comment, bearing in mind that this will probably not affect notification settings for prior comments they've made on the same page. There's also an unsubscribe link after the fact, but I wouldn't be surprised if it only impacts a particular comment's notifications.

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Apparently other people have problems I've almost never had. I basically never get Flayrah emails. I turned off subscriptions and, unless I forget to untick the "notify me" button on new comments, I don't get any emails about comments here.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Anon: I'm about to throw some truth bombs in here so explosive, I gotta hide my identity!

Flayrah: *instantaneously gets in pointless argument about the comment notification system*

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Let's just finish this:

If someone wins an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (America's top awards for TV, music, movies and stage, respectively), they are said to have won an EGOT, and this is considered very prestigious.

If a furry wins a Coyotl and an Ursa Major, what have they won?

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The admiration of their fans, and their colleagues.

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Not much. A little kudos from a very very tiny part of the fandom who even knows what the Ursa Majors are much less bothers to vote.

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It was CUM. The answer is CUM. It was a CUM joke.

Mink turned my naughty joke into something kind of sweet. You missed the joke because you're an idiot.

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Nope. Just autistic. My sense of humor is kind of sideways.

And you are severely trolling, in several directions at once. Please stop.

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When I was growing up, people were encouraged to strive to achieve things. Being a winner was looked upon as a good thing.

Now we're all expected to get participation trophies, and anyone who makes an effort is condemned for rocking the boat.

I was delighted with my trio of awards. I never expected to get all three categories. If any of the competing artists had wanted to, they could easily have walked away with a prize just my mentioning it to their vastly larger fan base.

If the Ursas have no relevance, then why did these artists' fans nominate them in the first place? The artist may have been completely unaware of the award, but somebody had to put their name in the ring, and more somebodies had to also nominate them, in order for that work to get on the ballot in the first place. So getting an Ursa clearly means something to some people. Otherwise there would be no nominations at all.

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Hi, welcome!

I'd like to start with reiterating that you broke no rules, did nothing out of the ordinary in the scope of awards campaigning, and furthermore were completely open and honest about what you were doing, and so were not in any way underhanded.

That being said, most people absolutely hate your guts right now. Let's just get that out there. Fuck, cards on the table, I hate you a little, too. While there wasn't anything wrong with what you did, there was some rudeness. Like, hey, as awards faux pas go, you didn't slap Chris Rock in the face (that we know of). But might want to do some damage control. Up to you, but I have notes!

You had two main tactical misteps, here. Well, really one big one, and the other was a following consequence of the first. The big one is, maybe you should have stayed in your lane. Like, if you'd just promoted your own comic strip, probably still would've pissed people off, let's be real. Somebody did something similar with a video game a few years back, it was thing for a month or two. But that was different because they deprived Nintendo of another Pokemon Ursa, so like, they gave a shit, right? So you're already starting at a disadvantage, as you are in a category with actual fandom artists. But, on top of that, you got greedy. You went for Dramatic Short Work and Published Illustration. You deprived two more Ursa Majors from going to someone else, who actually had a stake in those areas.

The second main tactical error is your entries in your "extra" categories were crap. They sucked. If that hurts your feelings, remember, hate you. Trying to. It's probably a consequence of swerving wildly outside of your area of expertise, but you (and your "animator" for hire) obviously had no idea what the fuck you were doing in the Dramatic Short Work Category, so that was nice for the losers there. Except, that excuse doesn't even work with Published Illustration, you draw a fucking comic strip, why the fuck did you half ass that one so hard? What the fuck? If you're going to do this, do it. What was that shit? Greedy and lazy. Two of the seven deadly sins, right there! Rude!

Okay, so you made an oopsy, what next? Well, obviously, I wouldn't campaign this year. I mean, get yourself nominated for Comic Strip, no problem there. But, like, read the room. Stick to that category, and maybe very, very, very publicly tell your fanbase, "Hey, I got mine last year, it was fun, guys, but, you know what sounds fun, let's share the wealth! Thanks for the nomination, but I think someone else should get your vote! Maybe try the other nominees, let them have a chance!" And then even if your fans still vote for you (like, they don't collectively read the room), you can say you tried. Remember, publicly; you need receipts! If you win again, even just Comic Strip, you may have to pull a Kyell Gold and just withdraw a few years down the line. Remember, he didn't even promote himself, he just saw the writing on the wall and realized eventually people were going to turn on him if he kept winning, so he got the fuck out of there. That guy can read a room! Be like him!

Alternative, use your apparently rabid fanbase to help the ALAA (the organization behind the Ursas). They are a very cash strapped organization; perhaps ask your fanbase to make a small donation in lieu of voting for you this year. Or in addition to. I would recommend in lieu of, but that's your little red wagon. If they actually fucking do it (and it's kind of easy to get a group of fans on the Internet hungry for legitimacy to donate a lot of money; see this site's current second story down, what, it's fucking true!), then you go from villain to hero.

Alternatively, alternatively, you can just get used to people hating you on the Internet. (It's what I do!)

Well, anyway, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to unsubscribe from the comment notification emails, Green Reaper's got a comment upthread explaining how to do that, otherwise it might get mildly annoying, I don't know. Have a better year!

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There's genuine advice here that could've been expressed without being a raging asshole.

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Well, yes, but that wouldn't be crossie's style. At least he got better at editing stories for conciseness.

I'm still mildly amazed (though, to be clear, not at all displeased) that babyfur-related work taking the top two slots in Best Graphic Story passed with nary a comment. I mean, there was a reason I lead with that; for all its charm, it might have been hard to imagine Incontinent Student Bodies winning in its time.

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For one thing, my collaborator on the video is not an "animator for hire." He is one of my readers who put together a rough cut of the video by chopping up the art from the comic strip and surprising me with the gift. I then offered to re-draw the art in a larger format so he could create a better version of his work. If you cared to look, the award for "Best Short Subject" is in his name first, not mine.

The illustration was nominated by another reader who wanted to do so for 2020, but it appeared after the cut-off date, so he waited to nominate it for 2021. I honestly did not expect to win the Illustration category when I saw the other nominees. Nor did I expect to win the video category, either. But my collaborator was absolutely delighted to have won. It meant a lot to him because he's handicapped. He has an injured back that makes him house-bound. Making amateur videos is his hobby.

I get that being foul-mouthed and snarky is your idiom, but really, it's not necessary. You called me rude for being nominated in three categories. Do you know how hypocritical that sounds with your foul language and arrogant demeanor?

Much of what goes on in my real life is out of my control, and causes me a lot of worry and anxiety. Up until now, my comic strip was my one refuge, the place where I could go and be in control of what happens. I liked telling my story and trying to make people laugh, and being nominated for a little pisante award was a nice bonus for my hard work and dedication.

But since I saw this article, the fun has been sucked out of it for me. I know I am never going to be famous, or have a movie made of my stories, or even get asked to be a Guest of Honor of a third-string convention. I have a weekly audience of about a thousand readers. Woo hoo. Yay me. Getting an Ursa was a bit of gravy in my otherwise dry and flavorless existence.

Now it's spoiled, because someone feels I "got greedy." What would a person have to do to satisfy you guys? Win an award without trying, caring, or acknowledging it six or seven years in a row? Have four of the five slots in a given category? Or work for the contest you're nominated in?

I am not going to apologize for winning. I am not going to apologize for having my works nominated. If you don't like it, then go out and promote the works you'd like to see win. Don't spit on the ones that win because they put in some effort.

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2cross2affliction has a habit of lashing out with inadequacy from being a dull, uninspired hack in the middle of nowhere. Creative people can turn adversity into catharsis with art, but he lacks the ability. He doesn't make anything original and has nothing interesting to say, so he says it loud and nasty.

As far as his hack attempts to be a critic, he doesn't really grasp audience or what a fandom is (why is he even here?) and given a blank canvas with support to write anything at all, he chooses to promote the blandest mainstream gruel like a sycophant. Except people who do that for real get paid, and people who pay them will never see or care what he thinks. The funniest stuff is when he jacks off about the Oscars (a jackoff event itself) like there's a reason to consult him. If there was no tv or movies he'd be writing blogs about royal's poodles that embarrass his parents.

He is a nobody with an audience of nobody, and resents people who enjoy what they do and have followers and friends. If he flips out at you, consider it to mean quality matters and people like that should be kept out of your circles so you keep being happy and entertaining others.

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Thank you for the elucidation, it made my morning! :)

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What I find interesting is how you, 2croas, were able to have a mature discussion until KGarrison some to you directly. Then suddenly it's all swearing and "I hate you," with a bunch of what you admitted is deliberately cruel remarks intended to hurt her. To whit, your entire statement is stimulus one big ad hominem attack and therefore nothing more than hot air and sour grapes. It's too bad, I was actually starting to respect your voice in this discussion, whether I agreed with you or not. All that is gone now, and I see that what really makes you mad is that KG had the remarkable audacity to expand beyond her central work. *gasp!* How dare she actually demonstrate growth as a person! And shame on HER for the actions of HER READERS voting for her other works. Sound we also punish the author of Countess Czhocula for his incredible writing talent finally being recognized, just because he crossed over into the Carry On Universe? That his writing got recognition because he connected it to ask existing fanbase? How many other artists have done the same? Heck, I became a furry back in 2000 because I followed a crossover between College Roomies From Hell and Clan of the Cats, and thence I discovered The Suburban Jungle, then 21st Century Fox and Freefall, and then Carry On, which was originally a spin-off from 21CF. I know many other furry artists have similar origins for their growth, anf furs who found the fandom that way, too. Hell, even superstars Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux owe their fame to the release of Brooks' single, "Much to Young (To Be this Damn Old)" having the line "worn out tapes of Chris LeDoux." Next, you'll tell us that you want to condemn Michelangelo for being so good at drawing AND painting AND sculpture, or DaVinci for his mechanical studies and inventions, centuries ahead of their time, when all me had the right to do was paint Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Collaboration, Expansion, and Skill Development are the hallmarks of a good artist. If you can't handle that, then kids not KGarrison's fault that you lack the maturity to celebrate it!

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Oh, dang. I thought I had caught all the typos. My keyboard's latest version is really glitchy, and the tiny find on the mobile page makes it hard to spot them. Please forgive the slip-ups!

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You know what, I'm just gonna blame the CUM anon.

No, really, I tried to make a joke upthread to diffuse the tension, and then Mink made the perfect genuine response, and ... then some anonymous jerk decided they had to take another mean-spirited swipe at me and Mink's Ursa Majors, and was in such an excited rush to do it they missed the joke. Of course, me being angry on Mink's behalf actually led me to hurt him, but, silver lining, him asking me to please stop did, well, stop me, so things somehow managed to not escalate for once. Other, than, obviously, the original snark at Garrison.

Like, I've got anons out the ass just bugging me all the time because I didn't like Sing one time (I honestly think that really might be this particular bug up this particular anon's ass; I mean, I can't be sure, not my first time being a jackass on the Internet, and they are anonymous, but I think the one who likes to call me a "hack" is mad about Sing), so actually thank you so much for not being anonymous, first of all, but also I'm a little on edge all the time. I can't even use Flayrah's rating system to judge whether I'm doing any good because just automatic anonymous one stars on every comment and submission, on even the most innocuous stuff. A little frustrating.

And also cranky, because I don't like this article. I should've put this in the snark comment, but like I feel like, yeah, Sonious went too far, honestly, and it's one thing to call Garrison out like an asshole in the comments, but, like posting a whole article calling for the overhaul of the entire awards system was also a bit much. And yes, there's the paragraph saying this isn't about Garrison, and Sonious, bless his heart, he's a friend and a good guy, probably even believes that, but, I mean, what the fuck else is he talking about. And, the thing is, this is a self-solving problem. I don't think Garrison is an idiot; rude one time, sure, but likely to take the hint and back down this year. Or, fuck, maybe other people will figure out they can do it too, and if everybody does it, it's not a problem. Ironically, just wish everybody would shut up. The awards had a bad year. It happens. Let's move on.

I don't really take back anything I said, though. Maybe how I said it. You can explain to me how there were other contributors to the non-comic strip wins, but it's like Sonious saying this article wasn't about Garrison. It was always about Garrison, and everybody knows it. And as to your objection that I'm saying Garrison shouldn't try new things, well, no, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying if Garrison genuinely wants to get into new things, that's great. However, while "suck" may have a been a bit strong, maybe it's a little early to consider these works "award-worthy". (I also I am not entirely sure where you got the anti-crossover vibe? But I was writing angry; it's quite possible there was a lack of clarity in the writing. Not award-worthy, either.)

More directly to Garrison, I don't think you should apologize, to me or anyone else. Personally, I didn't ask for one. I mean it when I say you did nothing really wrong. (Furthermore, I don't think it'll help; off topic, but between you and me you know even if you say sorry some asshole will be all "you apologized wrong!" and what the fuck does that even mean?)

Other than that, I did like the contribution to the ALAA suggestion, and also, it's bothering me, but it's actually spelled "pissant". I can't help myself.

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I just think that, if you're trying to convince someone of something or give them advice, tone does become important, and that--if you're being genuine in your claims here--if you think Garrison did nothing wrong, it would've helped to take some time to step down from your anger and write a more measured response. I actually AGREE with some of the points you made on what Garrison should do moving forward but the way you said it, I think, really screwed the pooch here and derailed this conversation to the point I can't see it becoming civil again. It does become hard to take you at your word and I think Garrison deserves a more direct, less rambling apology.

(Also, just for the record, and I intend to say this with no harshness, but I'm neurotypical and I didn't get that CUM joke either.)

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Yeah, the CUM joke is where it went off the rails.

And I was worried it was too gross, not subtle.

Though, to be clear, I don't think the conversation started civil. I'm sure Garrison felt attacked by the article, on one hand, and on the other, Mink and Yealurowluro felt their organization was also under fire. And both parties are justified for feeling this way. Like, I'm saying Sonious might not have said anything sucks, but he did imply it. You don't offer to fix something if you don't think it's broken.

Then the comments section is every Tom, Dick and Harry adding their unsolicited opinions on how the Ursa Majors suck. Once again, they may not have said it directly, but it sure was implied. I'm going to be honest, here, but the reason I feel at least a little justified for acting like a dick is because everybody is. This was never a good idea. To extend your aphorism, the pooch was not a virgin.

Also, you see what I mean about nobody accepting apologies? I specifically didn't apologize, and explained in the comment why people shouldn't even bother anymore, and the first comment is literally "you aplogized wrong!" because it's automatic at this point. I agree, the civil thing to do would be to apologize, but once again, I don't take you guys at your word that you'll do the civil thing yourself and just accept it.

Also, fine, #NotAllAnons. But definitely some.

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I happen to know BabyStar was absolutely ecstatic that her "Shine" won Best Graphic Novel. I do not know her personally, but I have read her Fur Affinity journal, and she listed it as the highlight of her year.

For the people who win it, it's a great thing.

If it had no relevance, the people who did not win it would not be sucking on their sour grapes trying to throw muck on the accomplishments of the winners.

If people want to win, they should make an effort to do so. I made an effort. What should I have done, recommended my readers vote for anybody but me? Where's the point in that? They could have looked at the other contestants in the categories. They're not mind-numbed robots who do my bidding. If they were, I wouldn't be broke in obscurity right now, watching my analytics numbers steadily going down.

Instead of dragging me for putting in an effort, why don't you ask the people who did not win, why they put in no effort? Any one of those other works could have mopped the floor with mine if only their artists had mentioned the Awards.

But it's easier to attack me than it is to encourage the competition.

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Babystar did in fact send a very nice letter to the ALAA after her win, thanking us profusely and saying how honored she was. We did not solicit that, but we were honored to get it.

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I'm glad to hear that. She seems like a nice person.

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For those of you who may be unsure--this is a JOKE:

http://www.hirezfox.com/km/co/co1024/comics/co20220309cL.jpg

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Funnily enough, it's not the first time would-be dictators have taken an interest in the awards.

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See? :D

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@Sonious (or whoever has time for this project):

I'd like to see an analysis of the Ursa's RALists (Recommended Anthro List)
and how what in RALs compare with what makes it into list of Ursa Awards nominees.

ie.
1) what type of works are more likely to be in Ursa's RALs (short vid vs video series? etc)
2) what works made it into being a Ursa award nomineee, despite not being listed in UMA's RAL for that year.
3) what type of works are morely like to have made it into shortlist of Ursa award nominees. (does a short vid have a better than then a video series, or vice versa??)

edit: and do paper comics have a harder time getting into either list (RAL or Award nominees) compared with comics available online?

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I (or whoever wanted to do it) would have to use the WayBack Machine to do on an estimated basis this since the RALs are not maintained after the one for the next year starts from at least a user stand point.

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With all this talk here, has anyone noticed something? People are starting to write articles questioning the OSCARS and what is their use and relevancy in modern times. Sheesh.

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https://safr.kingfeatures.com/api/img.php?e=gif&s=c&file=QmVldGxlQmFpbGV5LzIwMjM...

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(The above should be a Beetle Bailey comic for Friday, January 13, 2023, about Beetle getting voted Soldier of the Week--in case the strip changes but the URL stays the same.)

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I think the underlying issue here is that the awards themselves have become somewhat niche in the wider community. That leads to a partial cycle: Since the pool of nominators is somewhat small and narrow in its interests, the pool of nominees starts to see rather obscure picks every year - this is noticeable in categories which don't get much everyday attention in the mainstream furry fandom. (Furries aren't even-handed in the media they seek out; when it comes to content made IN the fandom, art is head and shoulders above other media, partly due to its accessibility and wide selection.)

When it comes time to vote, an unfamiliar voter will see a the nominees in, say, short fiction, and go "I've never heard of any of these stories or authors." This has two effects: the voter isn't as likely to vote on that category, since the time commitment to review all of them is an issue and the genre and content of the nominees may turn them away. And worse, seeing these uninspiring choices may convince the voter that the body of nominating voters is ruled by a clique, with narrow interests that are mostly unique to the group. Think the dissonance between the most popular films and "Oscar bait" ones, which the Academy and other awards committees have had public struggles with in recent years. The same, naturally, will occur once the winners are revealed, except it will put people off from the next year's awards instead.

The goal here then should be to make the awards more appealing to more subsets of furries. Wider promotion and spreading of information of the awards could help, though more important a change would be to overhaul the awards' categories. The most "mainstream" categories could get sub-awards, such as for artwork. Of all creative output produced by the furry fandom, artwork probably has the widest appeal, so published illustrations could get more subcategories. Animations are another area that could use more differentiation, different length animations might need their own categories, loops and other short animations included.

Obviously, more transparency is good, and the Awards have made improvements here in some areas. Apart from the sharing of voting results, the recommendation list now updates weekly, which goes a way towards addressing the issue. But seeing how the nomination round of voting goes will also be insightful - keeping in mind that the Ursa Major staff curates the nominees to a degree, seeing how choices pan out, and how the staff's decisions are made with attached written explanations, will give voters more confidence in the chosen votes.

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Okay, so one of the Best Actress Oscar nominees, Andrea Riseborough, basically just pulled a Garrison on the Academy by basically calling up her friends and asking them to vote for her, and that's kind of funny.

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Sounds like it could work, depending on who your friends are.

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No, it works. She already did it. She's nominated.

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I thought you meant she'd done it in advance of the voting phase, though I see it might be more effective in nominations based on how they're restricted to those active in a specific branch (though 1,300 actors and actresses is a lot). Naturally the BBC had a lot to say about it.

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I guess you're probably not a big fan of political campaigns, either, are you, 2cross?

How do you think people should be nominated for stuff? Wait around for pixies to hit them with wands? Or maybe there should be a smoke-filled room where a cabal of secret Electors look through Patreon and pick the five highest money earners in each category to be the nominees, or maybe they select five people with the highest number of YouTube hits. Clearly those folks are very popular and so they deserve to be rewarded even more for their amazingness.

In order for normal people to get the word out, they have to actually let people know, and appeal for support. The people they contact don't have to vote for them. No one is threatening pets or holding guns to anybody's head. Folks will vote for whoever they want to vote for, or not vote at all.

I suppose it all depends on whether you agree with the winners. I notice that the Wikipedia entry for "Helluva Boss" lists winning an Ursa Major Award--and being nominated for one, so I guess someone who likes that series thought it was a big enough deal to be worth mentioning.

I don't know why I'm even bothering to continue this debate with you. I no longer have the inclination to argue with a jealous hack who couldn't get nominated as dog catcher.

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Okay, first of all, I really just thought it was funny, this time. This wasn't aimed at you; it's literally just sharing information that might be pertinent/interesting to people interested in the subject. Well, okay, maybe it is aimed at some people in this comment section, but it's actually those people upthread who are "well, this would never happen at the Oscars, so the Ursa Majors are somehow lesser than", because, well, it just did happen at the Oscars. Like I said at the beginning, you did nothing wrong with your tactics, and I'm at least partially annoyed and cranky everyone is making it a big deal when it's not. Let's be honest, this is the Internet, I don't know you, so when I say I "hate" you, I'm being honest, but I don't really hate you, it's one of those "parasocial relationship" things where I hate an idea of you I've got in my head, and even then I'm more mad that you started this godawful conversation, period, then why.

I think that, on one hand, Sonious probably shouldn't have written or posted this article, but on the other hand, I understand why he was upset you won. You like to talk about how you are toiling in obscurity and that also we should go and find our own stuff to promote, and the thing is, you just described Flayrah! Like, you have views in the thousands; we make high double digits sometimes! And I'm a movie critic; promoting other people's work is all I do!

And last year, Sonious went out of his way to give the nominated short "Fossils" a bit of a push, and you personally (yes, you) made that completely wasted effort. It would have been one thing if it had just, you know, lost. But it steamrolled by your fans, who didn't even care about "Fossils" existence and just voted for your name next to a, well, I'll be charitable this time and call it "not very good" pseudo-animation (and I don't care that someone else was the primary nominee who did the work, we all know it was about your name, let's not pretend otherwise). You kind of hurt his feelings doing that; he didn't call you an asshole to your face, that's my thing, but he probably wanted to.

Should you apologize for that? No, you didn't set out to fuck over Sonious. But, likewise, I don't think Sonious owes you an apology, either, because, intentional or not, you did fuck him over. Yeah, I'm doing the "both sides" thing, here, but I really do feel like, yeah, both sides. Also, there are a bunch of random assholes in this comment section who are using this little clusterfuck to bring up their barely related Ursa Major grievances like, well, assholes, and if I'm acting like an asshole it's because I'm fucking surrounded and I'm not going to apologize if I'm just better at it.

Also, actually, I'm a two time Ursa Major nominee myself. Maybe don't take the fucking random anons at their word.

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And last year, Sonious went out of his way to give the nominated short "Fossils" a bit of a push, and you personally (yes, you) made that completely wasted effort. It would have been one thing if it had just, you know, lost. But it steamrolled by your fans, who didn't even care about "Fossils" existence and just voted for your name next to a, well, I'll be charitable this time and call it "not very good" pseudo-animation (and I don't care that someone else was the primary nominee who did the work, we all know it was about your name, let's not pretend otherwise). You kind of hurt his feelings doing that; he didn't call you an asshole to your face, that's my thing, but he probably wanted to.

Try not to project emotions about how others are feeling. Did the situation inspired me to analyze the system of voting? Sure, it inspired me to write an article.

It was mostly due to how well documented the system was tested along with some disappointment toward those who did work hard on their art (yes particularly the animations) losing to someone who put the bare minimum into campaigning. Self promotion in the fandom is a very tricky thing, as some artists such as Cassady are coming to find. It is very easy for furries to look down on someone who has self-esteem, as unfortunately they're used to being mistreated by those who have it.

But while I take a poke at the systems, I hold no grudges, just think about how I can handle things differently in the future to make things more approachable.

So instead of replying to comments here, I put together a spreadsheet of items to watch and rated them and wrote an article about the dramatic short works. That's why this article exists: https://www.flayrah.com/8847/fur-your-consideration-quick-review-11-short-dramat...

I wrote the article about fossils when it came out, so by the time the Ursas came around it had been forgotten by most.

I figure this is a better approach to things. Show people the good thing in the prior year as opposed to talking about them when everyone else is and then forgotten by the time the Awards roll around. Display the options that people have to vote on and remind them that there are good works out there, not just people you like.

I'm doing the same for this year and probably from here on out. For if the Ursa's purpose is to highlight content worth viewing, then that purpose can be provided, irregardless of the outcome.

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Well, there you go, you learned from your mistakes.

I obviously saw the "Fur Your Consideration" article and saw what you were doing, but I didn't say anything because I didn't think that would, you know, help anything.

As far as "projecting emotion", yeah, sure, whatever, here's the thing, I did the exact same thing. You remember Avatar over Fantastic Mr. Fox, right? So I got pissed about that, wrote a long, rambling opinion piece that didn't help anything, pissed everyone off, and honestly, in hindsight, came off a little "gatekeepy". Then I started reviewing things and doing a top ten year list, and a decade later I'm two for two for Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture currently and holding my breath to see if I can go three for three against tough competition this year. Hell, you've done this before. When the Skyrim expansion won, you did a top five video games for like a year and then wimped out. You got to stick with it, is the thing.

Sonious, buddy, you seemed a little hurt when I defended the short about the gas station. I believe you when I say you don't hold a grudge, and I even believe you believe you didn't "write angry" when you wrote this article. But you did write, by your own admission, "disappointed". You did write emotionally.

Anyway, the point I'm making here is if Avatar: The Way of Water wins this year, then never mind all this shit, just burn it to the ground.

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Emotions are not evil; but managing temper can get you far if you work with either swords or words.

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For the record, crossie was nominated for an Ursa by way of being managing editor of Flayrah over 2014-16, a time when things were at risk of falling apart because I couldn't give the site the time it deserved due to other commitments.

He's written a lot for Flayrah over the years; and after the stress of dealing with carrying the editorial burden (and commenters) as well as his actual job resulted in a meltdown like one of those monsters who got too much determination in Undertale, he returned and wrote a bunch more.

So yeah, he's a hack, but at least he's a persistent one. It'd be nice if he could avoid lashing out in defense of others who don't need it.

I suspect he might actually like that smoke-filled room idea, but only because he has a different concept of what furry should be, leading to frequent disappointment when the fandom gets involved.

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Why has it got to be smoke-filled, though? This isn't the 20th century anymore.

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*Fans self* Guess the modern room has got the Vape-ers.

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I really liked Fossils. It should have won. It was cute and well-drawn.

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Also, I was going to say on the whole "both sides" thing (really "all sides") thing that the only innocent party was the ALAA, but you and your comic still not being on the recommended list is a little sus, so even they're being assholes, apparently.

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AFAIK, the recommended reading list is, like everything else in the Ursas, driven by user submission. That’s in the very first paragraph on the page:

it is open for all Furry fans to recommend what they consider to be the best anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, artwork, games, etc. that they found first published during 2022. It is for fans who want to know what anthropomorphic movies, TV series, novels, etc. others found to be worth looking for. The List is open to anyone to add to, so if you know of any 2022 Furry movies or comic books or comic strips, etc. that you consider worth recommending, please send your recommendations to: (email address)

I’ve already belabored my point about the UMAs, e.g., that unless there’s some kind of (gasp) gatekeeping with respect to at least the final voting round, it will always be subject to Boaty McBoatface-ing.

— Chipotle

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Here's the problem; ironically, thanks to the asshole anons being assholes, I know someone recommended Garrison's strip. Yeah, you follow the link, you find:

I went to the site. It has Recommended Anthropromophics List: Open for submissions. Recommend "Carry On". I'll do it as well. Get a few more folks and we're good for getting you back on the list.

Note my added italics. Unless this poster got really lazy and no one else followed the instructions, it kind of seems deliberate.

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Here's the better question cross, how does KGarrison *know* that their works were submitted to the Ursas recommended list?

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Umm, Sonious, you might wanna read a bit farther down the thread.

Like, we got off on a weird tangent here, I don't know, I'm blaming Andrea Riseborough's Oscar campaign manager and those goddamned email notifications again.

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It's not a tangent. The only way a person can know if their work was submitted to the recommendation list is:

1) They submitted themselves.
2) A close friend or fan submitted it on their behest and told the original creator they did.

The only way Garrison can even cry foul in the first place is that they know for a fact that their work was submitted to the recommended list. Because they do know, it goes to further the face that their care is using the Ursa's to get their name out there rather than letting the Ursas make decisions on the recommendations they make autonomously.

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Because every year, my comic strip pops up on the Recommended list, usually right after it opens for the new season. This year it did not. I found that curious.

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So why are you looking for yourself in the Recommended List as soon as it opens?

And if it is in the blind, maybe the fan who used to put it in stopped doing so after the 2021 Ursa results on their own regard? Or that fan that would usually do it just forgot?

How can you conclude that it was the Ursa's blocking or my article that is the catalyst of this change? Your first post here seems to speak as if you know these things to be true.

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I don't, not technically. I was looking, and there would be my comic strip. I figured the runners up always got moved to the new list.

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As I understand it, every year's list is new. The recommended reading list is strictly speaking independent from the UMAs, it is just hosted on the same site and run by the same people.

As the name suggests, it may originally have been more about individual published works rather than ongoing productions, and for the former it would not make sense to include last year's publications.

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I do feel like you're changing gears here. It's not off-base to wonder why she wasn't on the list after two of her fans said that they would recommend her; even if neither of them are the fan that *usually* does it, both of them just forgetting to do it or changing their minds is a tall order, especially since one of them is a frequent collaborator with her. And her motivations are irrelevant here, considering that Mary Lowd's stories all make the list without fail (and we're talking about Garrison's comic, her main output, not any other category).

That paragraph sounds like I'm trying to implicating the ALAA in something, but...I think the person (a single person) running the Rec List honest-to-god just missed the email. I know this, because I submit a bunch of items to the List every year and sometimes I'll have to re-submit due to them not making the List on that week's update. Furthermore, I've started submitting items to the list-runner's personal email because I imagine the recommend@ursamajorawards.org email's inbox is a trek. So, that's my theory on what happened; greymuzzles with day jobs, running a website and multiple inboxes through volunteer work, missed a few emails and no one tried following up or submitting Carry On again. Nothing malicious, just a case of accidents and miscommunication colliding with inopportune timing. I can't see them intentionally leaving off Carry On, especially since, as I type, there are two single page bara pornography comics from artist Dashthefox under the Comic Strip section on the 2022 list.

So no, the ALAA weren't being shifty but I don't think Garrison's wrong for asking questions either. And, like, her not submitting her own work to the Rec List puts the "using the Ursas for self-promotion" thing into question, right?

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*trying to implicate

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It's not off base to wonder, it is off base to make a conclusion and accuse, which is how Garrison started off her first comment:

I happened to find this article while looking through the Recommended List on the Ursa Major awards web site. Now I understand why my comic strip has not appeared on the list this year.

Apparently, Sonious was upset that I managed to win three different categories in 2021.

https://www.flayrah.com/8645/ursas-major-issue-confident-self-promotion-vs-humbl...

----
On a separate note, I notice the first paragraph of this anon comment I'm responding to is in third person and the second paragraph is in the first when referring to Garrison in both cases?

I do feel like you're changing gears here. It's not off-base to wonder why she wasn't on the list after two of her fans said that they would recommend her;

VS

That paragraph sounds like I'm trying to implicating the ALAA in something

Shouldn't the sentence read "That paragraphs makes it sound like she's trying to implicate the ALAA in something?

Wonder if the poster has ever played Amongus?

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No, because the things I pointed out in my first paragraph on that post could be construed as unfavorable to the ALAA, despite my intention. I probably should have said "not off-base for her to wonder," true.

Fair point on the accusatory tone of that post, which is unfortunate. But between not being on the list throughout the year and only learning about this article long after it was published, I can't fault her impulsive reaction, much as I can't you for getting hurt by that initial comment. Based on the tenor of her recent comments she's cooled down, which I think opens the door for a real discussion?

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*much as I can't fault you

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No, I see my mistake now "That paragraph" was refering to your own first paragraph and not the my post that was above this on the thread, so the I makes sense now, my apologies.

But yeah, to put this to bed the recommended reading list is updated throughout the year, usually after the awards for the prior year are done.

This is a link to the InternetArchieve of the Recommended List prior to me publishing this article: https://web.archive.org/web/20220601004832/https://ursamajorawards.org/ReadList.htm

She is not listed there, if they removed her due to the article she would have been listed on that archieve shot and then gone in the ones after the article. So as you say, a missed email or some other issue could have caused it.

But a person can be nominated regardless of being on the RL or not.

As far as discussion, I think it's gone on for as much as can be helped for now. We can assess that (as noted in the article) Garrison had won 2022, there are going to be people who discuss the results with praise and bitterness (which happens in all contests), and we now know how the system works so that we can be more strategic with our votes in the future (for better and for worse).

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I looked through the article and find it interesting that 2cross in comment #13 said exactly what I've been saying:

"I think most people don't care, and if anything, somebody asking people who wouldn't have voted on anything if they weren't specifically asked to probably kept the total number from going lower.

Honestly, guys, this is how Awards work; the problem is not that one artist wanted the award bad enough they were willing to campaign for it. The problem is that only one artist wanted the award bad enough they were willing to campaign for it.

Shaming the only person who actively gave a shit about the award for giving a shit is not going to encourage others to give a shit in the future."

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Well, this all just took a turn.

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It's an example of one artist caring and doing the work, and one unproductive asshole trying to drag them down out of sheer jealousy.

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I'm sure the other nominees also worked and cared for their creations as well.

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Is this where the actual ALAA person present steps in and asks if we could all just step back and take a few deep breaths...?

Please, do. Thank you. We're all "just" fans.

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