End the Hugo Award 5 percent rule

The 2013 Hugo Award nominees have been announced and overall it's a strong list. I'm particularly pleased to see so many authors I know and stories I love make the final ballot.

However, there is one irritation — only three short stories are Hugo finalists in that category, while all the other categories have five finalists. This is due to the Hugo five percent rule, which states

3.8.5: No nominee shall appear on the final Award ballot if it received fewer nominations than five percent (5%) of the number of ballots listing one or more nominations in that category, except that the first three eligible nominees, including any ties, shall always be listed.

Cheryl Morgan has an excellent post about the rule and why it was established. She also invites the SF/F community to have a discussion on if the rule needs to be changed.

I personally believe the rule does need changing. This is the second time in the last few years where the short story Hugo category has run afoul of the rule (the other being in 2011). The changing nature of short story publishing — where there are more short stories being published in many more online magazines and venues — means it's harder for any particular short story to meet the five percent rule. It also wouldn't surprise me if other categories begin having similar issues with the rule in the coming years.

The Hugo Award are intended to promote and honor the best works of the SF/F genre, not be a slave to statistics and rules from three decades ago. I know the rule was well-intended when it was created, but it is not helpful in this current age.