The question of program philosophy and criteria for whom we have invited to be on Worldcon Program has come up a couple of times lately. While we have talked about this in bits and pieces, we've never summed it up in one place.
There are no hard and fast written criteria for who to put on program, anymore than editors have hard and fast criteria for what stories to put in a magazine or in an anthology. They want to create a good magazine, so they try to pick a good mix of good stories. We're tying to do the same - create a good mix of program ideas and add to that a good mix of program participants.
We spent many months discussing ideas and potential participants in a number of venues - in an online mailing list, at convention brainstorming sessions and in meetings. The people we invited were people whose names kept coming up as being good on Program, and as being the sort of people an audience enjoys listening to. We do not know everyone, and we're sure we've missed a few good people, but we feel we found a good cross section by talking to many people and by listening to many opinions.
Membership in any organization does not guarantee a program invitation. There are well over 1,000 people in these organizations, and only about 450 people (writers, artists, editors, scientists, fans) wind up on Worldcon Program.
We also have budgetary limitations, which means we had to reduce the number of participants typically invited, in an effort to help balance the budget.
Jim & Laurie Mann
Millennium Philcon Program Division Directors
PS: To attempt dispell some myths:
Reading IRS documents on this subject can be extremely useful. Particularly IRS Pub 463. Here is what the IRS has to say about convention attendance for the self-employed:
You can deduct your travel expenses when you attend a convention if you can show that your attendance benefits your trade or business. You cannot deduct the travel expenses for your family. If the convention is for investment, political, social, or other purposes unrelated to your trade or business, you cannot deduct the expenses. You cannot deduct nonbusiness expenses.
Your appointment or election as a delegate does not, in itself, determine whether you can deduct travel expenses. You can deduct your travel expenses only if your attendance is connected to your own trade or business.
Convention agenda. The convention agenda or program generally shows the purpose of the convention. You can show your attendance at the convention benefits your trade or business by comparing the agenda with the official duties and responsibilities of your position. The agenda does not have to deal specifically with your official duties and responsibilities; it will be enough if the agenda is so related to your position that it shows your attendance was for business
There were a very few people (about 8 of them) that could not take "no" for an answer vis a vis Program participation and did their damndest to fight with us over our decision. The vast majority of people we had to turn down were much more understanding.
Pre-con, we were too busy to get involved having long debates with the folks we turned down about why they were turned down. Our choice was either to spend our time developing a good Program for the audience or to fight with people who felt they had some sort of "divine right" to be on Program. We chose to not fight with these people.
Post-con, I really don't care. One thing I've learned from many years in fandom, is that there are a core of very loud people who do not care about the truth. I'm not going to waste my time fighting with them. I urge people to not feed the energy beasts and simply ignore them.
Conventions have the right to invite whom they want to invite to be on Program. Period.
People who worked very hard building the Program shouldn't feel offended or insulted by anything people say about this issue. Fact is, Program got mostly positive comments during the gripe sessions, and received about eighty letters from particpants and attendees who really liked the Program.