Sad Puppies

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Sad Puppies, aka Puppygate, refers to a series of efforts to influence the nominations for the Hugo Awards begun in 2013 by pro Larry Correia and others, and the resulting feud.

Although it had always been considered poor etiquette to “campaign” for the awards, Correia announced that he wanted to get some of his work on the Hugo ballot at LoneStarCon 3, the 2013 Worldcon, encouraging his followers to join and nominate him. Correia's novel missed the ballot by 17 nominations.


Spurred on by his near success and airing his belief that "Liberals" and "Social Justice Warriors" had been creating secret slates for years with the aim of suppressing works by pros professing conservative (mundane) politics, Correia announced a slate called "Sad Puppies 2" for Loncon 3, which successfully put works on the 2014 Hugos ballot in the Novel (1 work), Novella (2 works), and Novelette (2 works) categories, although none of them won, and one of its nominees finished below No Award.


In 2015, for Sasquan, Brad Torgersen, whom the second campaign had successfully placed on the Loncon 3 ballot, took over duties for "Sad Puppies 3", creating a nearly full slate of five nominees in each category of the 2015 Hugos.

More dangerously, Vox Day, whom the second slate had also placed on the ballot in the prior year, formed his own slate, called "Rabid Puppies," which mostly overlapped with the Sad Puppies 3 slate, but also placed Vox Day and his works into several empty Sad Puppies slots.

Both campaigns were highly successful in using weblogs and social media to encourage their followers to join Worldcon and nominate their choices, placing Puppy nominees from one slate or the other on the final ballot in every category but Best Fan Artist. All of the short fiction nominees were Puppies. Four categories had only one non-Puppy item nominated, four had only two non-Puppies nominated, one category had three non-Puppy nominees, and one had four of its five nominees non-Puppified.

There was also much angry rhetoric about real-world politics.

Following the announcement of the Sasquan Hugo ballot, several individuals, including Correia, came forth announcing that they had declined their nominations for various reasons, usually (with the exception of Correia) because they did not approve of the Sad Puppy tactics or their stated (or perceived) ideology. Further, at least three announced nominees removed themselves from the ballot and were replaced by other nominees and two more removed themselves from the ballot after the ballot was finalized, either in protest against the Sad Puppy tactics or because they didn't want to be involved in the politics and vitriol now surrounding the Hugo ballot. Three more Puppy nominees were declared ineligible and replaced by other nominees.

As can be imagined, all fandom (and pro-dom) was Plunged into War. The end result was that in the five 2015 Hugo categories which consisted entirely of Puppy candidates, the winner was No Award. In nine more categories which had non-Puppy winners, the Puppy candidates placed below No Award. The Sasquan WSFS Business Meeting approved three proposals, E Pluribus Hugo, 4/6, and "December Is Good Enough", intended to diminish the ability of a slate to dominate Hugo nominations in the future.


As expected, the Rabid Puppies once again put forth a slate for the 2016 Hugos. Sad Puppies 4, on the other hand, in response to the angry reaction of Worldcon members in the previous year, was run as a solicitation of recommendations of which the top 10 in each category were promoted for nomination. Many of the recommendations on the SP4 list were made by fans who were not Puppies.

As had occurred in 2015, with the exception of one finalist in each of several categories which had widespread fan support, the only Sad Puppies recommendations which made the ballot in 2016 were those which also appeared on the Rabid Puppies slate. However, many of the people who had bought memberships in the previous year to oppose the slates participated in nominations, resulting in an increase from 2,122 nominators in 2015 to an unprecedented 4,032 nominators in 2016.

And once again, a couple of the slated finalists removed themselves from the ballot in protest at being used for the benefit of a political campaign. The increased participation and the withdrawals resulted in at least one non-Puppy candidate in 13 of the 17 categories. In 2 of the remaining 4 categories, one or more of the Rabid Puppy picks were also fan favorites; consequently, only 2 categories went to No Award in 2016, though most of the Puppy picks placed below No Award.


In response, WSFS Business Meeting members ratified EPH and 5/6, nominations rules intended to prevent others from using the Puppies’ tactics; these rule changes were implemented beginning in 2017. In addition, the deadline for becoming a member of the upcoming Worldcon (if not a member of the previous Worldcon) was moved up from January 31 of the current year to December 31 of the preceding year, to prevent the ability of people to buy memberships en masse once the Hugo nomination period begins as the result of campaigning by slates.

In 2017, the Rabid Puppies once again put forward a slate, but because of the the rules changes, had only one entry in each category. The Sad Puppies had fallen apart at this point, and did not conduct any sort of campaign. Members of the Puppies who were eligible to nominate due to their 2016 memberships again participated, but due to the rules changes, their influence was limited to one finalist in each of 11 categories and 2 finalists in the two Artist categories (plus an episode of Game of Thrones, which was eliminated from the ballot by GRRM in favor of 2 other GoT episodes which also made the ballot). All four of the Puppies' Artist finalists were disqualified as being ineligible (ironically, all four of them would have been eligible had they appeared in the opposite categories). Of the remaining 11 Puppy finalists, three were fan favorites; the rest placed below No Award. All 18 Hugo categories had winners in 2017.

Rather than spend more money on memberships to participate in voting for a handful of their favored candidates, the Rabid Puppies wandered off to other, more easily-manipulated targets.

However, the intrusion of mundane politics would continue to have an impact on fandom, leading to the decision of Discon III in 2021 to disinvite one of its gohs.

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