by Ben Yalow
WSFS is probably the least known and most misunderstood aspect of the Worldcon. In fact, WSFS 'is' what defines the Worldcon, but that aspect is generally invisible to most: of the concom or the attendees, even when they are dealing with WSFS issues.
The World Science Fiction Society, Unincorporated, is the body that is responsible for the rules under which the Hugos are awarded, and the sites of upcoming Worldcons are decided. All attending and supporting members of the current Worldcon are members of WSFS, and are entitled to play a role in those decisions, and attending members have the right to attend the Business Meeting and vote on changes to the Constitution that controls these items
The definition of what WSFS is about is found in the Constitution:
Section 1.2: WSFS is an unincorporated literary society whose functions are
1 2.1: To choose the recipients of the annual Hugo Awards (Science Fiction Achievement Awards).
1 2.2: To choose the locations and Committees for the annual World Science Fiction Conventions (hereinafter referred to as Worldcons).
1 2.3: To attend those Worldcons.
1 2 4: To choose the locations and Committees for the occasional North American Science Fiction Conventions (hereinafter referred to as NASFiCs).
1.2.5: To perform 5uch other activities as may be necessary or incidental to the above purposes.
WSFS also is the administrative entity that holds the mark registrations for the official Worldcon service marks - things such as "Worldcon" or "Hugo Award" are registered marks in several countries (most of the ones that have held the Worldcon).
As you can see, WSFS deals only with the administrative minimums needed for a Worldcon -- all of the other stuff' is optional. Of course, if' a Worldcon chose to have no programming other than the Business Meeting, and, before the con, sent out a press release announcing who won the Hugos, it would still be a WSFS-legal Worldcon, but it wouldn't be a Worldcon in the traditional sense.
Mostly, the concom gets very few demands from the WSFS requirements. The key aspects which effect other things are the Hugo requirements, which frequently play a role in the publications timetables. There needs to be i mailing with the Hugo nominations ballot, and that should come out right about New Year's -- any earlier, and people will start nominating before all the eligible works are out, and any later, and the schedule gets pretty tight. There needs to be a mailing of the final Hugo ballot, and, allowing reasonable times for nominations, that should come out about mid-May. So, unless the stuff goes out in a separate mailing, which costs extra, that schedule tends to drive the last few PRs.
There needs to be space set aside for the Business Meetings, at which the Constitution can be amended, which tie up a few hundred people for a few hours per day. Since many of those people are working on the con, you want to schedule the meetings with that in mind. And you need. somebody to hand: site selection for the upcoming (3 years from now) Worldcon, which needs some tables and some room for lines, but not much else.
In short, unless you care about those things, members and the concom can ignore most of the WSF'S stuff. Of course, anyone interested is welcome to take part - the Business Meetings are open to all attending members.
by Kevin Standlee
WSFS is funny--we have some intense supply and resource needs at critical moments, but we only need most of' them for a short time. For instance, WSFS could really use a computer with word processor and printer for about four hours total during the convention, We also need some medium duty copying (between 200 and 1000 copies) for short periods. The problem we face is that our needs are never large enough to justify purchasing our own computer/printer/copier. Instead, we need to be able to use some other department's resources. Now, while this sounds fine in theory, (and this year the relevant departments --mostly newsletter--were very co-operative) in practice lt could get sticky, as those departments might well need their equipment at the same time, or not even be willing to share it at all.
I call this out to future committees because the department heads involved really must co-ordinate between themselves how to sort out the resource conflicts. If it ever becomes a crisis, WSFS is suddenly going to get substantially more expensive because it will have to get some dedicated resources that will mostly go to waste.
Despite the fact that people submitting new business to the WSFS Business Meeting are responsible for getting their own copies made, in practice you allow them to use the convention's resources if you have them available. That's because you probably would prefer a typed copy of' a resolution instead of' a hand-written one, which is what you get if you deny people access.
Meanwhile, there is the matter of office supplies. Site Selection was sadly short of them, even though I'm certain I'd mentioned our needs. This seems to be a problem with centralised office supply purchases. while there must be an economy of scale associated with centralising supply purchases, it seems like the smaller needs (like the rubber bands, paper clips, ball-point pens, and scissors we needed over at site selection) get lost in the shuffle.
(Fiona: actually there were swathes of these held in the Ops Secure Store, which is the normal UK practise, but apparently not the norm in the US, so next time that needs to be flagged up)
Production equipment: WSFS and site selection are not the only departments that needed equipment for cutting paper. I was told that the "guillotine" type paper cutters are illegal in the UK for safety reasons. The "safety" type cutters can only cut a few sheets at a time and are terribly inefficient. Some area (probably wherever the high-capacity copier is kept) needs to have a paper-cutter of reasonable capacity.
(Fiona: Since this is a Safety issue, and our H+S laws are extremely strict, I suspect the only way round this would be for the WSFS DH to make a separate arrangement with a commercial printer to do machine cutting en masse)
As the tag says, just: a few thoughts...