Having just concluded the 2010 Book of the Year balloting, I am already looking towards next year where I hope to have a more comprehensive set of awards, tentatively nicknamed the “Copper Cogs.” While this year’s nomination and voting process ran fairly smoothly, there are definite areas for improvement next year. I’ll list some of those here, but I am all ears for other suggestions. Along about October, I will probably ask again, but please make suggestions now if you have some.

More categories

This year we just had “book of the year.” That is fine as far as it goes, but the question of short stories was raised. And, frankly, if we do short stories, we might as well go for broke and add in other categories as well. Off the top of my head, I could see categories for:

  • Novel
  • Anthology or collection
  • Short story
  • Film/television/video performance (is there enough here?)
  • Game (same question)
  • Musical artist or album (which makes more sense at this point?)
  • Fashion store/designer/site
  • Jewelry store/designer/site
  • Artist (perhaps 2d and 3d separately?)

More than open to other suggestions or criticisms here.

Improved Nomination Process

This year nominations were just left in comments, which led to a lot of manual compiling work for yours truly. If there are to be more categories and, I hope, more participants, this needs to be more automated. By contrast, the voting was set up more automatedly and I had the results in seconds. Much nicer. There will obviously still be some need to clean up typos, etc. in nominations, but I am hoping to minimize the amount of effort involved.

In addition, since the number of nominations determined who made the final ballot, we need to have some better security for nominations. We probably need at least a CAPTCHA sort of thing. Annoying, I know, but it would be too easy for someone to game the system otherwise. Honestly, I may require registration with the site to nominate just to keep better control over things. I would rather avoid this, as it may limit participation, but I feel it will be necessary. I did not see anything obviously suspicious on the nomination process this year, but I can’t ignore the possibility next year.

Improved Validation During Voting

While I did not see anything clearly unsavory in the nomination process, I did see some suspicious voting. Things like two votes from the same IP address less than a minute apart. I know that people share IP addresses and that there may be more than one steampunk in a household. That’s fine, but when it looks like someone just hit “back”, changed a couple of lower preferences, and resubmitted, it is hard to ignore. CAPTCHAs, registration, and/or email confirmations are all annoyances, but something will have to be done to stop this sort of thing.

A Name

While I kind of like the “Steampunk.com Award” as a name, one of my friends/advisors is really pushing for the awards to have a less functional name. The current top contented is the “Copper Cog,” which would make for a nice iconic image and is memorably alliterative. I am open to other suggestions. Right now I am leaning towards keeping the name officially the “Steampunk.com Award”, but establish an official nickname. This would be somewhat like the Academy Awards and the Oscars. Same award, but with a formal name and a more comfortable name.

Clearer Criteria

Some people have raised eyebrows at the open endedness of this year’s “book of the year.” I mean, Boneshaker didn’t even come out in 2010! That said, I think we will be keeping the date range open. This allows for things such as books taking off in years other than their initial publication year, and it should be self regulating. Unless steampunk as a genre completely falls apart, Bonshaker will not still be a top nominee in three years. Time passes, other books come out, and things evolve. At least, that is the current theory.

This year there was no specific criteria for what made something worthy to be “book of the year,” but I think this will have to be more defined in the future. It will likely become something like “the book/film/whatever that best represented steampunk in 2011.” Still vague, but an improvement.

Anything else?

If anyone has other ideas regarding these awards, please speak up. I want these awards to be a positive thing for the steampunk community and that can only happen with input and help from that community.

Thank you.