Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is old content from the previous version of the LexFA website. We’re including it on the blog here so that it can be searched under the Essays and Articles category, and under appropriate post tags as well.
by Cynthia Brantley
There are two basic types of memberships for a Worldcon — supporting and attending. All members (supporting AND attending) have the right to vote for site selection (more about that below) and the Hugos, and get all the Progress Reports mailed to them. An attending membership is required to get in to the convention. Supporting memberships are a lot less expensive.
Worldcon floats from place to place. How a Worldcon gets started, is a group of people getting together and saying, “Let’s host a Worldcon.” Often, there is more than one group who decide they’d like to host the same year. A decision must be made, so a vote is held. Back when I went to my first Worldcon, in 1986, the site selection was voted on two years in advance. Now it’s three, because they started having problems with hotels booking earlier and earlier. There used to be ridiculously detailed rules limiting the location, but it has been simplified. It has to be at least 500 miles (800 km) from the Worldcon where the vote is held, three years before.
So a “Worldcon bid committee” is one of those crazy groups of people who decide they want to host one. To campaign for it, they go around from convention to convention and throw parties. These parties are expensive, so usually the group will offer some incentive to people who are willing to “pre-support” them — give them money before the voting has been done, which they get to keep whether they win or lose. If they win, the pre-supporter usually gets some benefit from having pre-supported. Pre-supporting (or pre-opposing, if you want to help support the parties, but don’t want them to actually win the vote) usually isn’t very expensive. Maybe $5 or $10. * They usually have various higher levels available, too, so you can give them even more money, and if they win, you get more out of it. Of course, they always appreciate donations as well. Worldcon bid parties can be quite expensive and time-consuming, and the bidders usually end up spending quite a bit more from their own pockets than pre-support money could cover.
The vote is held at a Worldcon, but ballots can be mailed in advance. To be eligible to vote, you must have a membership (either supporting or attending) to the Worldcon where the vote is being held.
In addition to that, if you want to vote for site selection, you have to pay the voting fee. This year (in 2001, for 2004) it’s $35. The voting fee buys you a supporting membership for that convention, regardless of which bid you voted for. The bid that wins gets all the voting fees that were collected, to use as their basic seed money. So they don’t know and don’t care whether you voted for them, because they won, and they get your money anyway.
As soon as the site selection voting is complete, all the ballots are counted, and the winner is announced. So suppose you voted. You automatically have a supporting membership. You want a full attending membership. That’s where conversion comes in. The best rate for converting a supporting membership to an attending membership is always offered immediately after the site selection is announced, and many people convert right away.
There are two basic theories on supporting memberships. For people who go to Worldcon occasionally, like me, they’re just a stepping stone to an attending membership. If I don’t think that I will be able to go to the convention being voted for, I don’t vote. When I have voted, I’ve always converted the supporting membership to attending. Financial advice on conversion in this case is, do it. If you’re not sure you can go, the memberships are transferable, and given how the price on them skyrockets, you can always sell it. I’ve done that at least three times now. To be fair, I usually split the difference between how much I paid for my membership (including voting fee) and how much they’re going for at the time I sell it, to come up with an asking price. When I sold our memberships last year, I sold them over the Net, and they were both gone the same afternoon.
The other theory: A lot of people who do Worldcons do them every year, and they just get into the cycle of voting and converting, so they always have their memberships lined up for the next three years. If they know they can’t make one, they keep the supporting membership, so they can keep up with what’s going on (the Progress Reports) and vote, so they’ll have their membership for the con three years hence.
I never keep a supporting membership without converting it, because if I can’t go, I sell it, and attending memberships are a lot easier to sell than supporting.
One more thing — sometimes a group of people decides to put up a “hoax bid”. They usually just throw parties using the hoax bid as the theme, whenever they feel like it. Doesn’t require any real commitment. But you have to be sure that your hoax bid is far enough out of the realm of possibility that somebody doesn’t say, “Hey, that just might work!” It happened with the Bermuda Triangle in ’88 bid, when they started the whole thing as a hoax bid, and then somebody said, “We could get a cruise ship!” and the next thing you know, it’s on the ballot. It came in second after New Orleans, but beat the real bids of St. Louis and Cincinnati.
Some of us in LexFA had a hoax bid running, for Alpha in ’99. That’s Moonbase Alpha, of course. It just had to be done. But the bid committee for that one scattered to the four winds before we could do much with it. Dar & Anna moved to Seattle, and Oliver went back to London, and John and I found ourselves here in New York. We ended up doing three bid parties, at Rubicon, Rivercon, and Bucconeer. It was fun, and if we ever feel inclined to do another party, we will. One of the advantages of a good hoax bid, is that there’s no reason to stop throwing the parties just because the election is over. Just throw a time machine into your literature, if you have any literature. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter; it’s all for fun.
If you want to read the formal info about site selection, this is it: http://www.worldcon.org/bm/const-2000.html#article4
If that link breaks at some point in the future, try this one: http://www.worldcon.org/
Have fun at your first Worldcon, and maybe I’ll see you there!
* Pre-supporting rates have changed in recent years; they’re NOT $5 or $10 like I said earlier.
This is the deal for this year’s vote, as far as I can tell:
Boston has two basic rates available. $12 pre-support rate gets you a pin. Whoopee. I wouldn’t bother with that unless you feel like supporting their parties, and want to be listed as a supporter. If you just want to support their parties and don’t care about the listing, then donate to your heart’s content. It doesn’t seem to have any bearing on your final membership cost.
$75 to Boston, PLUS voting, will get you a full attending membership, a pin, a T-shirt, and their newsletters. So you could spend $110 total, and if Boston wins, you get a full attending membership. Not TOO bad. If Charlotte wins, you have a supporting membership, and you’ve donated $75 to a failed bid. (Or you have a rather expensive T-shirt, if you choose to look at it that way.)
Charlotte has more deals, that cost more, and this weird thing about “credits”. $20 basic pre-support rate gets you a “half credit” towards converting to an attending membership if they win. Whatever that is. And a listing in their publications and on their website, and a subscription to their newsletter. For an extra dollar, you can be listed as “opposing” or not listed at all.
$40 gets you “a full credit” towards conversion, so I assume that means if you spend the $40 and vote, and they win, you’ll have an attending membership. And a laminated “pre-supporting” badge, and their newsletters, win or lose.
I guess a half credit probably means you’d only have to pay half the conversion fee, but half of what?
So if you wanted a guaranteed attending membership to whichever con wins, and also wanted to guarantee donating money to the losing bid that you’d never see again, you could spend $150. $35 voting fee, $75 to Boston, and $40 to Charlotte, and you’re set. And you get pins and newsletters from both, and Boston’s T-shirt, and you get your name on both lists.
On the other hand, you could get a new attending membership for Philcon for $145 until September 30, 2000 — less than a year before the convention.
This article copyright July, 2001 by Cynthia Brantley. All rights reserved.
Permission granted for use on the LexFA website.
Anyone else who wants to post it, ask me first:
cbrantle at suffolk.lib.ny.us