John C. Wright wrote about his experience after the Hugos: “I heard not one comment, no, not one, of someone who said they voted for ‘No Award’ on the lack of merit of the works nominated.”
I might venture to say that that was due to people being polite to one of the nominees, right? If you’re talking to or near someone who was nominated for a bunch of Hugos, you wouldn’t just say, “Well, I voted No Award because all those nominated stories were terrible. Yours too.”
I’m sure Mr. Wright can find ample examples of people voting on merit just by checking out the comments on file770 this morning, and that he’d have no reason to stop by this little blog, but for the record: I read every short fiction submission in its entirety and at least a lengthy excerpt of every novel (except for one which made me angry from the first sentence). I did not consult websites to see what was nominated by a slate (I had seen the slate, of course, but hadn’t checked back in weeks, so my memory was imperfect); in fact, looking back, I thought one of the novels that was not slate-nominated actually was.
Where I voted No Award, I voted based on stories and novels I’d read during the year, books that had won the Hugo in the near and far past, and compared them to the stories presented. I have read slushpiles for magazines, and with little exception, I found that most of the short fiction read like stories I would have rejected. Where I found those exceptions, I voted for them. I did vote No Award in several of the fiction categories because I felt none of the nominees merited a Hugo; in the novel category, I voted some of the non-slate nominees below “No Award” as well.
I did not vote No Award in either editor category, to my recollection; definitely not the long form one, at least.
Mr. Wright (and Correia and Torgerson and allies) seem unable to wrap their heads around the fact that people might not like the fiction they wrote/nominated, despite the fact that they openly disliked a lot of the fiction nominated in previous years that other people liked. As some people have pointed out, stories like Kary English’s “Totaled” garnered more votes than other slate nominees; I thought “Totaled” was the best of the short stories, and apparently others agreed. If you look at the voting patterns, there appears to be a recognition of quality, and while certainly some people voted anti-slate all the way, there are just as certainly some people who read all the puppy offerings and were not impressed.