You can choose a topic or question from the list below:
- What are the Kerths?
- Who runs it?
- Who dreamed up this idea, and when?
- So if Leanne started it, where the heck did the K-Com come from?
- Where can I check out previous years’ Kerth awards?
- How do you decide on how to do things?
- Are the Kerths officially affiliated with any other FOLC sites or lists?
- Not even the Archive, the Lois and Clark Fanfic Message Boards and the LCFic email list?
- Hang on, Annette owns the Annesplace archive and the Fanfic Message Boards, and is one of the list owners for the LCFic e-mails list. Kaethel, Elena and Annette are part of the admin team at the fanfic boards. Yvonne and Tricia are part of the moderating team at the fanfic boards…
- So does that mean that Annesplace, the LCFic list and the LCFic message boards are officially affiliated with the Kerths?
- Do I have to join the list in order to keep up with all the Kerth announcements?
- Are there any benefits to list or boards membership?
- I might want to check that out. No commitment, though!
- Is it a coincidence that the list and the message boards both have “LCFic” in their names?
- What exactly is a “Kerth Curse”?
- When do things happen?
- Are you trying to make it hard to win an award?
- If it’s so hard, do I have any chance to win?
- If my story is nominated but doesn’t win, should I feel bad?
- What if my stories keep getting nominated but never win?
- You mean I can’t whine about it?
- But if my story isn’t even nominated, it must not be that good, huh?
- Is there one main place to get all the Kerth updates/discussion?
- Are all the rules included in this FAQ?
- What if I’ve got a problem or idea that’s not covered by this FAQ?
- If I have other questions, where can I ask them?
- What general kinds of categories are there?
- What are the categories?
- 10k, 50k, 500k… What’s this “k” thing you keep going on about?
- What if there’s a story right on the borderline of a size limit?
- Um, do I have to know how many “k” I’ve got?
- Why do the categories change from year to year?
- Are there a lot of changes from year to year?
- Why do the categories sometimes change after the nomination period has closed?
- How did you come up with these categories, anyway?
- How many stories do you call “a fair number”?
- So if ten is the lower limit, what’s the upper limit?
- That’s still an average of more than 30 stories per category.
- You’re going out of your way to create more opportunities for people to win awards? I thought you wanted to make it hard to win?
- I think I’ve got a great idea for a new category. Is there any chance you’ll adopt it?
- What makes a story eligible?
- That’s it? Just being finished by the end of the year makes it eligible?
- What if I finish my story in time to post it to LCFic or the Fanfic MB, but miss the deadline to get it on the Archive by December 31? Do I have to wait till next year to be eligible for Kerths?
- What if I posted my story to the MB in December but I’m still revising it based on the comments I received. Do I have to make it eligible this year when I’m not even done with it yet?
- Can a story be eligible twice?
- How do I know what stories are eligible?
- What if I don’t want to participate at all?
- How many stories are eligible in a typical year, anyway?
- And there are how many ballot slots?
- How come some categories have more or less than five slots?
- What are Kerth quizzes?
- Yes, but what do the quizzes consist of?
- How they you pick what stories to feature on the quizzes?
- When do the quizzes start?
- Where can I find them?
- The quiz team forgot to include a story that really fits well in this category!
- But can I tell them about that story?
- Isn’t that a form of campaigning?
- I don’t remember all the stories and I only recognize a couple of them. Is it worth my while entering?
- Some people are using Google to find what story the quotes are from! That’s unfair!
- So what happens at this stage?
- When does this happen?
- Who can nominate stories?
- What if I think the story’s so great it should go into a couple of categories?
- What if I don’t know exactly what category best fits the story I’m nominating?
- They’re all so good, and it’s so hard to choose. Can I nominate more than one story per category?
- Okay, I know what stories I want to nominate in some categories, but some other categories don’t interest me in the slightest. Do I have to nominate in all categories?
- Can I nominate my own story?
- Who sees my nominations?
- Who sees my votes?
- What is the “three category limit” on the ballot?
- If a story is nominated in more than three categories, who decides which categories it actually makes the ballot in?
- You guys don’t play favorites, do you?
- So, what do I need to do to be a qualified Kerth voter? Register on the message boards, write a story myself, or what?
- That’s it?
- Where do I vote?
- Okay, I’m at the form. Now what?
- They’re all so good, and it’s so hard to choose. Can I vote for more than one story per category?
- Really? She uses a pin?
- Don’t tell the authors, but there are whole categories that really don’t interest me at all. How am I supposed to vote in those?
- Can I vote for my own story?
- Can I vote more than once?
- What information is released about the results?
- Why don’t you identify the runner-up?
- Well, what about releasing vote counts?
- Is vote fraud really a big problem?
- So what’s this about “ballot-stuffing”?
- How can you tell?
- Can I vote more than once?
- Can I use a different email address to vote a second time? A third time? A tenth time?
- Even if it’s not to vote for my own story?
- Can I get my husband, my wife, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbor, my cat, my goldfish and my vacuum cleaner to vote?
- What if I accidentally nominated or voted twice?
- Can I tell all my FOLC friends to nominate and/or vote for my story?
- I hear lots of people raving about one of the stories in the category and saying it’s certain to win. Is there any point in voting for anything else?
- My friend is really pressuring me to vote for his/her story. Do I have to?
- But is it okay if I want to vote for my friend, just to make her/him happy?
- So I guess if there’s an author who gets on my nerves, I shouldn’t vote against them, either?
- What’s so wrong about getting friends to vote for me?
- How exactly can the K-Com tell whether an unknown e-mail address is from a FOLC or not?
- What might happen if you decide there’s been deliberate ballot-stuffing?
- I heard that one year, an author’s Kerth awards were revoked. What’s up with that?
- Why weren’t those Kerths then given to the runner-up?
- Okay, so the K-Com won’t let anyone steal an award. But how do I know that you’re not rigging things?
- What if I don’t trust you?
- So, once the voting period is done, what’s next?
- Do they tell anyone else?
- What do you mean by “ceremony”?
- You have a stage?
- What happens on stage?
- What would I need to do to be a presenter?
- I’m having a hard time picturing this.
- Ooo-kay… well, I tried to read it…
- What if I don’t know anything about IRC?
- Yeah, maybe. But what if I can’t get online, or I have other plans. How will I know what won?
- So, is there any real prize attached to these awards?
- Okay, I think that’s everything…but what if I think of something else?
What are the Kerths?
They’re awards for great writing given to fanfic stories in various categories. Stories win Kerth Awards based on fan voting; stories get on the ballot based on fan nominations.
Who runs it?
The event is coordinated and directed by the Kerth Committee (K-Com): Kaethel, Yvonne Connell, Annette Ciotola, Elena and Tricia Walpole, but we certainly couldn’t do it all by ourselves. We’ve also got our dedicated quiz team (Wendy Richards, Julie Stars, Rachel, Sara and Chris Carr), the former members of K-Com (Erin Klingler, Pam Jernigan and Kathy Brown) to help us with their experience, and the wonderful Archive staff (LabRat and Lauren). The award ceremony itself wouldn’t be possible without all the FOLCs who contribute entertainment (jokes, wav files, etc) and/or volunteer to present awards. Thanks, FOLCs!
Who dreamed up this idea, and when?
The original Kerths, in 1998, were the brainchild of Leanne Shawler, who had seen a similar set of awards in another fandom. Many, many fans contributed ideas to the project, coming up with the idea for an online ceremony to mimic the Oscars, complete with commercial breaks. And generally, whoever had the bright idea ended up in charge of doing it.
So if Leanne started it, where the heck did the K-Com come from?
Pam Jernigan organized the IRC awards ceremony that first year, and Erin Klingler served as MC. The next year, Leanne had moved on, so Erin took up the job of running the awards. Kathy Brown, and later Annette Ciotola, were added due to their positions as EIC of the archive and owner of Annesplace. In 2005, Erin, Kathy and Pam announced their retirement. Kaethel, Yvonne Connell, Tricia Walpole and El volunteered to organize the awards. Annette took on the website maintenance.
Where can I check out previous years’ Kerth awards?
Lauren at the archive has included a “Kerth Award Winners” section of the Archive’s themes page with links to ballots and winners from 1998-2005. For some years, there are also links to transcripts of the online ceremony.
How do you decide on how to do things?
Within the K-Com, we usually reach consensus fairly easily, but in a pinch, Kaethel is the one who gets the final vote. There’s also been *lots* of public discussion over the years covering all sorts of aspects of the awards, and we’ve cheerfully adopted lots of good ideas.
The K-Com may not end up agreeing with every suggestion made, but we do promise to discuss and consider each idea. However, we’ve found that it can be impossible to please everyone, so, in the end, we make the decisions based on our best judgment.
Are the Kerths officially affiliated with any other FOLC sites or lists?
Annette and Elena maintain the official Kerth Website. You can still visit Erin’s website for previous year’s awards. Those are the only official sites.
Not even the Archive, the Lois and Clark Fanfic Message Boards and the LCFic email list?
We’re grateful for the cooperation we get from the lcfanfic archive crew, but that’s it. As for the Fanfic Message Boards and LCFic email list, we use those to post information about the Kerths. There’s no official affiliation to them.
Hang on, Annette owns the Annesplace archive and the Fanfic Message Boards, and is one of the list owners for the LCFic e-mails list. Kaethel, Elena and Annette are part of the admin team at the fanfic boards. Yvonne and Tricia are part of the moderating team at the fanfic boards…
Yes, but that’s mostly coincidental. We just happen to love fanfic and have a bad habit of volunteering for things.
So does that mean that Annesplace, the LCFic list and the LCFic message boards are officially affiliated with the Kerths?
No. It does mean that Kerth announcements and discussions are more likely to take place in one or more of these sites, but nothing more.
Do I have to join the list in order to keep up with all the Kerth announcements?
No. You don’t need to be a list member in order to read the list messages or a boards member to read the Fanfic Message Boards.
Are there any benefits to list or boards membership?
Nothing tangible, but the list is where the Kerth quizzes and most discussion take place, and you need to be a member to post to the list. You can still send quiz answers or suggestions in e-mail, of course. Same goes with the message boards.
I might want to check that out. No commitment, though!
Well, the homepage for the list is here, and the one for the MBs is here. Check it out!
Is it a coincidence that the list and the message boards both have “LCFic” in their names?
No, we did that on purpose, but the management of the two is separate. It’s just a very succinct way to say “Lois and Clark fanfiction.”
What exactly is a “Kerth Curse”?
We prefer to call it the “Kerth Blessing.” In four out of five years, a member of the K-Com has been nine months pregnant at ceremony time. It began in 1999, when Pam was having early labor contractions during the ceremony. The next year, it was Erin’s turn to be in labor. The year after that, it was Kathy. And then Erin went and did it *again.* So far, we have four “Kerth babies” between us. The new K-Com has no intention of keeping up with the curse for now, though.
When do things happen?
Behind the scenes planning starts in December.
The eligibility list is compiled, quizzes are planned, and category lists are tweaked. The list of eligible stories and the category list are posted in early January, and Kerth quizzes are posted to the LCFic mailing list. There is a “reading period” of a few weeks before nominations open. Nominations are collected over a two or three week period, generally in February, and two weeks after the nomination period closes, the K-Com announces the official ballot. There is a week or two for voting in March, and then the polls are closed. One or two weeks later, the awards are announced in a ceremony on IRC, traditionally on the last Saturday of March or the first Saturday of April.
Are you trying to make it hard to win an award?
Yes. We think that if the award was easy to get, it wouldn’t really mean very much. We also think we’ve got lots of fabulous authors here in FOLCdom, so that we can set our standards pretty high.
If it’s so hard, do I have any chance to win?
Yes. Every year, there are stories on the ballot by authors who haven’t appeared there before, and every year, new authors win awards.
If my story is nominated but doesn’t win, should I feel bad?
No! You’ve had a story nominated, and that means a lot. It’s pretty tough to even get on the ballot, and all the stories that make it there are very good. It’s an honor to have been nominated in the first place, considering how many terrific stories never even make it onto the nominations short list.
What if my stories keep getting nominated but never win?
You’re still doing pretty darned good. The fact that your stories keep getting nominated should tell you an awful lot about the quality of your stories.
You mean I can’t whine about it?
Oh, you can always whine. But keep in mind, we’re making this tough, so even getting on the ballot is an accomplishment.
But if my story isn’t even nominated, it must not be that good, huh?
Wrong! The competition for ballot slots is fierce, and sometimes there are more excellent stories than there are spots on the ballot. Keep trying, and maybe next year will be your year. Also, we firmly believe that every author (rank newbie to seasoned pro) has the potential for improvement. If you care to ask, there will be people willing to work with you and help you produce stronger stories.
Is there one main place to get all the Kerth updates/discussion?
Annette and Elena maintain a Kerth website with lists of categories, eligible stories, and important dates. All Kerth quizzes, announcements, “official” discussions, etc will be posted to the Fanfic Related section of the Fanfic Message Boards as well as the LCFic email list.
Are all the rules included in this FAQ?
For the most part, they’re guidelines rather than rules, but yes, we’ve tried to include everything.
What if I’ve got a problem or idea that’s not covered by this FAQ?
There are always going to be situations that aren’t specifically covered anywhere. We’ll just have to consider what might be consistent with the rules we have and use our common sense.
What general kinds of categories are there?
Some are size-related; all stories of the same approximate length are compared, no matter what the topic. Others are topic-related; all stories on the same topic are compared, no matter what the size. Some are combinations of the two, or have other unique requirements.
10k, 50k, 500k… What’s this “k” thing you keep going on about?
That’s shorthand for kilobytes of information in the story file, when it’s stored as ASCII text. It’s the lowest common denominator that almost all word processors can read and create. Often, the file extension will be .txt but that’s not a requirement.
What if there’s a story right on the borderline of a size limit?
Almost always, the story goes into the category indicated by its size. However, we sometimes tweak these a little bit once we see all the nominations. For instance, a 203k story might be bumped down to the mid-length category if it’s disproportionately shorter than all other stories in the original category.
Um, do I have to know how many “k” I’ve got?
Nope. At present, all stories uploaded on the archive are stored in .txt format, and their size is displayed with the story description. Stories posted elsewhere can be sized up when they’re added to the eligibility list.
Why do the categories change from year to year?
Trends come and go in fanfic, so we try to adjust the categories to match the sorts of stories released in that particular year. Some very popular categories (Revelation, Episode Adaptation) have been sub-divided by length. Some less-active categories (Elseworld/Alt Universe, Early Years/Super Futures) have been combined. Also, some category definitions have been confusing, so we might rename them in an attempt to clarify things.
Are there a lot of changes from year to year?
There are some, but for the most part the list stays the same.
Why do the categories sometimes change after the nomination period has closed?
We try not to change things at that late date, but if one category has many heavily-nominated stories, or one has very few nominations, we might consider modifying, splitting, adding, or deleting categories, in order to best fit the nominations that have come in.
How did you come up with these categories, anyway?
This list has been evolving since the first awards in 1998. Kaethel maintains an index all year long with stories uploaded to the archive and the categories they might work with. In December, the committee examines each category and sees if there are enough stories to justify it or not. Sometimes we will split a category if there are really a lot of contenders (for example short and long episode adaptations). So we really work with the trends in fanfic. One year, there might be a fair number of Krypton/New Krypton stories, but the year after, there might be very few, while there are suddenly tons of Holiday/Special Occasion stories.
How many stories do you call “a fair number”?
We’re very reluctant to include a category that has, in our opinions, fewer than ten strong contenders for the award.
So if ten is the lower limit, what’s the upper limit?
Well, there isn’t one, really, but if a particular category has a huge number of eligible stories, we’ll start looking at what might be logical ways to sub-divide them. One year, for instance, there were 225 eligible stories at short story length. To spread that out, in addition to the “Short Story” category, we had sub-categories like Super Short, Comedy, Holiday, WAFFy, Short Revelation, Short Episode Adaptation, etc.
That’s still an average of more than 30 stories per category.
We told you the competition was fierce. But those stories might also be able to compete in topic- based categories like Revelation, Alternate/Elseworlds Story, Best Original Character/Supporting Character, etc.
You’re going out of your way to create more opportunities for people to win awards? I thought you wanted to make it hard to win?
True, but we don’t want it to be impossible. We’re involved in this because we love fanfic and we appreciate the endless creativity of our authors. We want to give something back in exchange for all the enjoyment we’ve gotten. It’s a balancing act between keeping competition strong enough to make winning meaningful, and “sharing the wealth” by getting as many authors on the ballot as we can.
I think I’ve got a great idea for a new category. Is there any chance you’ll adopt it?
Sure! We’re always interested in new suggestions. If it’s early enough for it to work (December or January at the latest), we might add it into the current cycle. More likely, we’ll discuss the idea for the following year. If we don’t decide to go with it, we’ll at least try to explain why not. In any case, if you have a great idea for a new category, feel free to suggest it to us any time of the year, this way the category suggestion might be added to Kaethel’s spreadsheet and by the end of the year we can see if it’s viable.
What makes a story eligible?
Any story that’s finished and posted by the end of a calendar year is eligible for awards.
That’s it? Just being finished by the end of the year makes it eligible?
Yep! The only essential thing is that we have to be able to find it. The easy way to get on the list is to submit your story to the lcfanfic archive; all stories uploaded before the end of the year are automatically included. Stories posted elsewhere can be added to the list if the author lets us know what and where it is.
What if I finish my story in time to post it to LCFic or the Fanfic MB, but miss the deadline to get it on the Archive by December 31? Do I have to wait till next year to be eligible for Kerths?
No. If you send email to Kaethel giving her the story information and a URL, she’ll add your story to the eligibles list.
What if I posted my story to the MB in December but I’m still revising it based on the comments I received. Do I have to make it eligible this year when I’m not even done with it yet?
No. If you do *not* ask to have it included on the eligibles list, it will not be added, and may be eligible the following year.
Can a story be eligible twice?
No, it can be eligible only one year, and afterwards will be excluded.
What if I don’t want to participate at all?
If you don’t want your story to be included, for whatever reason, just send e-mail to Kaethel, and she’ll remove it from the list.
How many stories are eligible in a typical year, anyway?
The average has been 200-300 stories, but it varies from year to year.
And there are how many ballot slots?
The default is five slots per category. With 15 to 20 categories (depending on the year), that makes room for up to one hundred stories, though very popular stories tend to fill multiple slots, which brings the total down somewhat.(See the “three category rule”)
How come some categories have more or less than five slots?
We adjust this, when necessary, to reflect the nominations. If six stories all have close to the same number of nominations, we may add them all to the ballot. If a category has four strong contenders, with other stories coming in significantly lower, we’ll restrict it to four.
What are Kerth quizzes?
Kerth quizzes were created a few years ago at the initiative of Wendy Richards. The following year, Hazel volunteered to help Wendy, then the year after, it was Meredith Knight who joined the team. This year, Meredith and Hazel retired and fresh blood has been added to the quiz-setting team: Sara, Chris Carr, Julie Stars, Rachel and Wendy will be working together to bring us several weeks of pure fun.
Yes, but what do the quizzes consist of?
For each category, the quiz-team compiles a list of 10 to 15 quotes, then excerpts from stories that would fit in said category, and FoLCs get to try and guess what fanfic each quote is from.
The purpose of the quizzes is to jog everyone’s memories of stories written in the past year that would qualify for a particular category, and elicit recommendations of other stories that would also fit the category.
How they you pick what stories to feature on the quizzes?
Our dedicated quiz team makes every effort to include as many authors and stories as possible. Inclusion in a quiz has nothing to do with a story’s perceived quality, however, as that’s left for the fans to decide.
When do the quizzes start?
Early January, and they run for a few weeks. Usually, one quiz is posted every three days.
Where can I find them?
The traditional place for the quizzes is the Lcfic email list, because the email form makes it easier to gather all the entries. However, links to the quizzes are also posted to the Fanfic Message Boards, and you can email your answer to kerthquizteam @ lcficmbs.com.
The quiz team forgot to include a story that really fits well in this category!
They probably didn’t “forget” the story in question, but since they’re trying to make room for as many stories as possible, they can’t have a story appear in the quizzes five or six times. They also try to include as many authors as possible, and so they adhere to a `one story per author’ rule in each quiz.
But can I tell them about that story?
Absolutely! They encourage you to include your own recommendations in your entry, whether it’s public or private. The list of further recommendations will be compiled at the end of the post giving the results of the quiz and the scores of all the players.
Isn’t that a form of campaigning?
No, it’s just a way to remember all the stories that were posted over the past year. It’s exactly like making a post recommending one particular story you liked. Nothing wrong about that. Everyone can post their recommendations, and no-one forces to you nominate or vote accordingly. It would be campaigning if there was pressure to make you nominate one particular story, but the quiz team makes sure nothing like that happens.
I don’t remember all the stories and I only recognize a couple of them. Is it worth my while entering?
Absolutely! The more people enter their guesses the merrier! Sometimes there’s even a competition for getting the lowest score. 😉
Some people are using Google to find what story the quotes are from! That’s unfair!
Naah. This is just a game, and it’s always been an open-book competition. You can check the Archive or Google if you wish, or you can do it without looking up anything if you prefer.
So what happens at this stage?
We collect as many nominations as we can get, and tally them up. The stories with the highest amount of nominations per category then become the ballot.
When does this happen?
We designate a two-week period, generally in February, for people to send in their nominations. These dates are on the website and are publicized as much as we can.
Who can nominate stories?
You can! Just go to the automated nomination form and type in which stories you think should appear in each category. Just make sure you give a name (your real one or a screen name, whichever) and a valid e-mail address.
What if I think the story’s so great it should go into a couple of categories?
That’s fine. When you get to each category you’re thinking of, list the story title again.
What if I don’t know exactly what category best fits the story I’m nominating?
For size-based categories, just take a look at the official list of eligible stories on the official website. The size is listed next to each story-title, and each size-restricted category is clearly labeled, so you can’t get it wrong.
If it’s a more subjective category (like tearjerker or comedy), you can ask around, you can see if the story’s been on any of the Kerth quizzes, or just take your best guess. Even if you guess “wrong,” your nomination won’t be wasted, as we do our very best to take into consideration the total number of people nominating a story when sorting out the ballot slots.
They’re all so good, and it’s so hard to choose. Can I nominate more than one story per category?
Yes, but try to keep it within reason. If you can, try not to nominate more than ten stories per category.
Okay, I know what stories I want to nominate in some categories, but some other categories don’t interest me in the slightest. Do I have to nominate in all categories?
Nope. Just send the ones you know and don’t worry about the rest. Leave them blank in the form.
Can I nominate my own story?
Yes, that’s allowed, if you choose to. Some people do, some don’t, for various reasons.
Who sees my nominations?
Yvonne and Kaethel count the nominations separately to make sure they don’t miss any, then they tally the noms so they can release the ballot within a couple of weeks. The information they see is confidential, and it’s not shared with anyone else.
Who sees my votes?
Tricia Walpole and Kathy MacFarlane are on the receiving end of the voting ballots, as well as the Kerth Coordinator. Kathy was drafted a few years ago as a non-K-Com member to help Erin tally the votes. Tricia and Kathy are our official vote-talliers. As coordinator, Kaethel spot-checks a couple of categories to make sure there’s no error.
What is the “three category limit” on the ballot?
This means that one particular story can appear on the ballot no more than three times: two “regular” categories, plus, if applicable, “best overall.” This frees up ballot slots for other great stories.
If a story is nominated in more than three categories, who decides which categories it actually makes the ballot in?
The nominations staff of K-Com makes that decision, taking into account the number of nominations in each category (not counting multiple category nominations from the same people) and the categories that the story best fits into.
You guys don’t play favorites, do you?
Nope. We all have our opinions about stories, of course, but putting the ballot together is strictly about the numbers, and reflecting what the FOLCs have said they want.
So, what do I need to do to be a qualified Kerth voter? Register on the message boards, write a story myself, or what?
All you have to do is read Lois and Clark fanfic and have opinions. Even if you’ve never delurked to say anything, we would encourage you to participate.
Well, you do have to give us a name – it can be your real name or an online nick, whichever – and a working e-mail address. We send confirmation notices for each vote, and fake addresses bounce back, which can result in your vote being discarded, if we can’t get in touch with you any other way.
Where do I vote?
We generally have an automated vote form posted somewhere. The URL will be posted on the website, the fanfic list, and the fanfic message boards.
Okay, I’m at the form. Now what?
Each category is listed with a drop-down menu. Click on the box to open up the menu, and click on the one you want to vote for. When you’ve gone through all the categories, click the button that says “submit.”
They’re all so good, and it’s so hard to choose. Can I vote for more than one story per category?
Sadly, no. One way or another, you have to pick one. A popular method was suggested a few years ago by Doc Klein’s LabRat. She takes a pin, closes her eyes, and sticks it into her computer screen. She spends a fortune on new monitors, though, so we suggest you print the list out first.
Really? She uses a pin?
Well, no, not really. But she did suggest the idea, and you may hear references to people wanting to borrow LabRat’s pin.
Don’t tell the authors, but there are whole categories that really don’t interest me at all. How am I supposed to vote in those?
You do not need to vote in every category, and in fact, if you’re not familiar with the stories on the ballot, it’s probably best to leave that one with –no selection–.
Can I vote for my own story?
Yes, that’s allowed, if you choose to. Some people do, some don’t, for various reasons.
Can I vote more than once?
No. That’s ballot stuffing and is against the rules.
What information is released about the results?
We announce the winner of each category; all other information remains confidential.
Why don’t you identify the runner-up?
We believe that, on balance, it’s better to let all the other stories in a category be considered equally. For every one author who’s pleased to hear that he/she came in second, there are three others disappointed that they didn’t even rank that high.
Well, what about releasing vote counts?
See above. In a survey we carried out a few years ago, the majority of fanfic-reading FOLC have said they prefer that this information be kept secret. It’s a rare author who wants to know that his/her story came in dead last. If an author writes to request it, though, we will tell her/him – privately – the vote count for their own story. We won’t say how many votes any of the other stories got.
Is vote fraud really a big problem?
Not a big problem, no, but instances do pop up now and then.
So what’s this about “ballot-stuffing”?
Ballot stuffing is pretty much what it sounds like: any attempt to rig the outcome by sending in multiple nominations or votes.
How can you tell?
We keep an eye on patterns, email addresses, IP numbers, etc, and if we spot something suspicious, our techie geniuses Elena and Annette investigate. Usually that involves sending out some emails asking, very politely, for clarification of the situation.
Can I vote more than once?
Again, no. That’s ballot stuffing and is against the rules.
Can I use a different email address to vote a second time? A third time? A tenth time?
No. That’s ballot stuffing again.
Even if it’s not to vote for my own story?
Yes, even then, it’s against the rules and all of your votes will be discarded if you try to cheat.
Can I get my husband, my wife, my friends, my colleagues, my neighbor, my cat, my goldfish and my vacuum cleaner to vote?
Unless your husband, your wife, your friends, your colleagues, your neighbor, your cat, your goldfish and your vacuum cleaner are FoLCs, then no, that’s ballot stuffing again. We’re pretty good at figuring out cheaters, so don’t even try. That would result in all your votes being discarded and your story might even get disqualified.
What if I accidentally nominated or voted twice?
As soon as you realize what happened, send an email to Kaethel and Yvonne, and they’ll eliminate the duplicate.
Can I tell all my FOLC friends to nominate and/or vote for my story?
FoLCs are all big enough to turn you down if you try to pressure them into something they don’t want to do. In any case, we don’t recommend you try. A determined campaign (especially one including intimidation) might be judged to be ballot-stuffing.
I hear lots of people raving about one of the stories in the category and saying it’s certain to win. Is there any point in voting for anything else?
Absolutely. Vote for the story you think is best. It wouldn’t have made it onto the ballot without a fair amount of support, so there aren’t any “shoo-ins.” We are often surprised by which stories win, in fact.
My friend is really pressuring me to vote for his/her story. Do I have to?
Nope. Nominating and voting are both secret, so your friend will never know what stories you nominated or voted for.
But is it okay if I want to vote for my friend, just to make her/him happy?
These awards are supposed to focus on the individual stories, not the authors. So, please go with the stories that you honestly feel are the best, regardless of who wrote them.
So I guess if there’s an author who gets on my nerves, I shouldn’t vote against them, either?
We understand the temptation, but this is about the stories. Plus, it’d be kind of juvenile, don’t you think?
What’s so wrong about getting friends to vote for me?
The value of the award is that your story has been recognized as outstanding by the majority of fanfic readers. If you cheat your way to the top, you’ll still know that you haven’t really won, so what’s the point?
How exactly can the K-Com tell whether an unknown e-mail address is from a FOLC or not?
In general, we can’t. Therefore, we assume that all votes are valid unless we have other reasons to investigate more closely. We assume that FOLCs will play fair, and we are only rarely disappointed.
What might happen if you decide there’s been deliberate ballot-stuffing?
We give every benefit of the doubt that we can, but if we decide there’s something fishy going on, all the suspicious nominations and/or votes will be discarded. In extreme situations, the story may be disqualified entirely.
I heard that one year, an author’s Kerth awards were revoked. What’s up with that?
That was a very carefully-investigated case of plagiarism, which we do not want to reward.
Why weren’t those Kerths then given to the runner-up?
Three reasons. First, that would mean identifying the runner-up, which we choose not to do. Second, if the vote had been held without that one story, the votes for it might have gone to a story that originally came in third or fourth, so we don’t feel we can say what the results would have been. Lastly, when we asked about it, the majority of authors have said that they’d prefer not to get a second-hand Kerth.
Okay, so the K-Com won’t let anyone steal an award. But how do I know that you’re not rigging things?
It all comes down to trust. We’re doing our best to be as open as possible about the way we work. Some information has to remain confidential, and that’s where you just have to trust us. We do our best to be absolutely fair and accurately relay the wishes of the FOLCs, but we do have to make judgment calls all along the way. If you don’t trust us, there’s no way we can prove that we aren’t cheating, since that would mean sharing a *lot* of information that we and most writers would prefer to keep confidential.
What if I don’t trust you?
We’d be very sorry to hear that. However, we all need to remember that, in the bigger scheme of things, the Kerths are pretty unimportant. If you enjoy the process, we’re happy to have you. If you don’t, you may be happier spending your energy on something else.
So, once the voting period is done, what’s next?
Tricia and Kathy tally the votes, Kaethel spot-checks a few categories, and they come up with a list of winners.
Do they tell anyone else?
Nope. Even the rest of K-Com doesn’t know until the night of the ceremony.
What do you mean by “ceremony”?
The awards are first announced in a live chat on IRC. We typically have one chat channel called #KerthAwards, which is moderated and serves as our “stage,” and another called #KerthChat, where everyone can talk, cheer, and throw confetti. People watch proceedings in the awards channel, and react in the chat channel.
You have a stage?
Yep. The only people allowed to speak in the awards channel are the moderators (K-Com members and possibly a few volunteers), the fans who present awards, and the winning authors.
What happens on stage?
Volunteers present the awards by making a speech, listing off the nominees, and then announcing the winner. If the winner’s there, he/she gets to come up on stage to say a few words.
What would I need to do to be a presenter?
Shoot us an email, or let Annette or Elena know you’re interested. All you need is a basic familiarity with IRC.
Ooo-kay…well, I tried to read it…
It makes more sense when you’re actually there. Really.
What if I don’t know anything about IRC?
Just ask around; there are lots of people who will be happy to help you get started. There’s a good basic guide on the Archive’s FAQ page. Every year, we get people venturing onto IRC for the first time in order to watch the ceremony.
Yeah, maybe. But what if I can’t get online, or I have other plans. How will I know what won?
As soon as the ceremony is over, the list of winners will be posted to the fanfic list and to the fanfic message boards.
So, is there any real prize attached to these awards?
Other than the esteem of your peers? Not much. However, your story will have a “winner” graphic next to its description on the fanfic archive, and Julie Stars will design a very cool graphic of an award plaque for the winners. The winner of the “Best Overall” category gets a personalized e-mail address “@lcfanfic.com”.
Okay, I think that’s everything…but what if I think of something else?
Just contact the members of the Kerth Committee or post a message to either the fanfic list or message boards. We’ll be happy to help!
The Management (Elena, Annette, Yvonne, Tricia and Kaethel)
Originally written by Pam Jernigan, with great assistance from Kathy Brown, Erin Klingler, Annette Ciotola, and all the helpful FOLCs on the list and boards.
Updated by Kaethel in January 2006.