The Pegasus Awards

Pegasus Awards FAQ

This document was first presented in 2002; to answer questions around a major restructuring of polling and balloting structure of the Pegasus Awards.

  1. The Nominating System
  2. Are commercially released songs, by non filkers, eligible for Pegasus awards?
  3. What are the rules guiding the 'Best Classic Filk' category?
  4. What's up with requiring an audio recording?
  5. Isn't there a problem requiring recordings for parodies?
  6. Why won't the Pegasus go to Preferential Voting?
  7. What does it mean when you say that "OVFF and the Pegasus Committee reserve the right to break all ties"?
  8. How do I know if a song or artist are eligible for a Pegasus Award?

1 The Nominating System

Before 2003, there was no Brainstorming Poll- there were only two rounds of polling: the Nominating Ballot, and the Final Ballot; conducted entirely on paper. The number of Nominating Ballots received each year was quite small and very Midwest-centric. In early 2002 OVFF solicited opinions from the filk community to see if there was a way to increase the number of Nominating Ballots, and strengthen international recognition of excellence in filk. What they found is that it's really HARD to think of who you feel deserves the award each year- something was needed to make the Nominating process easier.

Among the ideas presented was to complete the migration of the system online (the Final Ballot had been online for a couple of years; originally written by Debbie Ridpath Ohi), and in addition to an online Nominating Ballot, add an online Brainstorming Poll. This allowed anyone in the international filk community the opportunity to submit an opinion whenever they were inspired to submit a filker or song. In the beginning, paper polls available at Filk conventions, but it was found that getting these polls back was just as problematic as the original paper Nominating Ballots; and within 5 years paper polls and ballots were discontinued entirely except for at-con voting at OVFF.

In the end, the Nominating Ballot and the Final Ballot are essentially unchanged from the first Pegasus Awards given in 1984. You can still nominate whoever you want to - but now you get a handy list to either use directly, or use to brainstorm other ideas about who to nominate.

To allow time for the polling, the schedule as to when the Nominating and Final Ballots are distributed was altered.

Original Schedule
New Schedule
Brainstorming Poll None November - May
Nominating Ballot November - May May - July
Final Ballot May - October (OVFF) September - October (OVFF)

As you can see, the Nominating and Final Ballot phases were pretty drastically shortened to allow time for the Brainstorming Poll. The Pegasus Committee didn't feel that this would be much of a problem, as 90% of the ballots have traditionally been received within the last week or two that the ballot was open.

2 Are commercially released songs, by non filkers, eligible for Pegasus awards?

The best answer is "It depends".

Technically; the answer is "no, non-filkers are not eligible". However, the definition of who and who is not a filker can be a very slippery thing; and can lead to exclusions that cut off the very lifeblood of what makes us a living, growing community.

Dave Weingart wrote on the newsgroup filk: "Filk is a matter of symbolism and intent. Unless said commercial releases are songs by people who are in some way part of the community, I personally would neither nominate nor vote for them, and would vociferously recommend that others do likewise. They might be good songs, they might even fall under "found filk," but to me they are NOT eligible for a Pegasus, any more than any given Stan Rogers tune should be."

So - what is the answer?

Follow some basic rules of thumb:

  1. Has the composer/performer ever attended an SF or Filk con?
  2. Are you comfortable approaching this person personally to offer a nomination/award?
  3. Would the person you want to nominate be open to a Nomination?
  4. If the composer passed away before SF fandom existed, is their material sung by Fandom?

If the first three answers are 'no'; then this is not a person that should be nominated; no matter how good you feel their song, performance ability, or compositional talent is. For example, Weird Al is not, and never has been, interested in filk. Therefore, he (and his songs) are not eligible.

Question 4 is a kicker. What do we do about Kipling, and other composers in this category? OVFF prefers to think of the Pegasus as a living award; meeting the needs of our ever changing community. If a majority of the community chooses to recognize someone in this category, then we recognize that individual.

When you fill out a Nominating Ballot, you are required to also fill out your name and contact information. In the past, this has been to help ensure that we have "one filker, one vote". Going forward, this means that we may call on you to provide contact information for a potential Nominee if we can't find any other way to contact them.

Remember that at the base of it all; the Pegasus is a filk community award. There are many avenues into our community; and pretty much a person is a member as soon as they indicate their interest (through attendance at cons, filks, friends, music, etc) and intent to hang out with us.

There are also an amazing number of talented folk already in our community who deserve recognition.

So- vote your conscience. :) And that's really the best way to go.

3 What are the rules with the 'Classic Filk Song' category?

Only songs that are ten years or older are eligible for the Best Classic Filk Song category.

The idea is to try to identify those songs that may not have won Pegasus Awards in their past (remember, a song may only win one Pegasus Award), but have stood the test of time and have (in some ways) entered the community consciousness.

And, while there remains no time limit in other categories (yes, you can still nominate songs that are as old as the hills); we hope that this category will help focus newer songs into the floating categories and Best Filk Song category.

4 What's up with requiring an audio recording?

Let's face it; this is a music award. For years, the single biggest complaint submitted to the Pegasus comittees has been, "How can I vote for something I've never heard?".

To address this, OVFF started the Pegasus Nominees Concert series in 1998. With the advances in communications technology and the Internet, we can now make samples of all Nominated songs and Nominees available to help you make YOUR choices when voting- and you don't have to attend OVFF to hear them all!.

A sample of the songs are made available during the Final phase. The samples consist of at least a verse and chorus (or whatever part of the song contains enough of the melody that you get a good idea of how it really sounds)- in most cases approximately 1-2 minute's worth of music.

Why sound clips and not the whole songs? Several reasons, actually:

All Nominees are required to submit a recording of their work for distribution. We do everything possible to help facilitate this. There is no requirement regarding the quality of the recording- and recordings are acceptable on almost any media that we can play (which means, sadly, your Edison cylinder recording presents some challenges... we don't have a player. Everything else (vinyl, cassette, MD, CD, etc) works fine. Now, if you need to submit your recording on Edison cylinder, we'll see what we can do...).

One last note- the requirement for a recording submission is limited by law... in other words; if you're breaking the law by submitting a recording, then the requirement is waived. (See the parody statements, next)

5 Isn't there a problem requiring recordings for parodies?

Yep. And here we JUST got done telling you that everyone must submit a recording...

Remember, the goal is to ensure that the maximum number of people possible have a reasonable way of judging between the various songs.

In the case of a parody, where posting a recording might open the writer to legal action; we do not require a sound recording where we are unable to engage with the original composer and secure permission. We may choose to post a parody song sample, but we will immediately comply with any requests to remove said recording from our site.

We do post lyrics on a voluntary basis on the Pegasus Nominees site; but only a recording is actually required. In the case of a parody submission, the lyrics are required in lieu of the sound recording

6 Why won't the Pegasus go to Preferential Voting?

Ok, this one's a toughie.

In 2004, we gathered data for preferential voting (otherwise referred to as an Australian Ballot). The Hugo awards are voted this way.

Essentially, rather than voting for one song or artist out of five, voters listed them in order of preference, with the most preferred song or artist being '1'.

We looked at several different systems of tabulating this data, and settled on the the way the Hugo Awards are tabulated. This had the advantage of available software, as well as being time-tested and fairly bulletproof. Not to mention plenty of fannish precedent...


The Hugo balloting ends quite some time before Worldcon. This allows several weeks of time for data entry into the software so that the winners can be determined.

The Pegasus doesn't have anything near the volume of ballots that Worldcon and the Hugos get; but we also don't have the same luxuries of time that Worldcon has. You can vote until 11:59 the Friday night of OVFF- and we present the awards at the banquet on Saturday night. We have less than 12 hours to determine the award winners, get the information to the engraver, pick up the Awards, and prepare the presentation.

In 2004 we received over 250 ballots. With 6 categories, and 5 Nominees per category, that's 7,500 discrete points of data that have to be entered and tabulated.

About half of the 2004 ballots came in through the online ballot, but the email cutoff date was the same as at-con voting- so we were still receiving ballots right up to the last minute.

We tabulated about 150 ballots after the Pegasus Nominees Concert on Friday night. That's 4,500 discrete bits of data that had to be input into the software. We worked all night.

The end result of this was that several of the concom members (Chair included) were at less than their best for Saturday due to an extreme (even for filkers) lack of sleep.

So, how does this shake out?

That year, there was no difference in the outcome between a straight popular vote and running the results through the Hugo software. This isn't to say that that preferential voting doesn't work- quite to the contrary. It just states that 2004's winners were strong enough to stand up under two different voting schema.

The purpose of looking at preferential voting was to try to equalize the impact of a large singular block of votes (the at-con OVFF vote right after the Pegasus Nominees Concert), against the worldwide online vote.

However, we live in a real world. And the resources to consistently apply this method of vote tabulation is currently beyond us.

Yes, applying more people/computers to the problem will solve it. However, given the voluntary nature of cons and filk; the ability to consistently apply these resources, year after year, is questionable. And face it, would you (yes, YOU) give up your Friday night of filking to sit in a room and punch numbers into a laptop? One year, sure. Two?


We do not consider this topic closed permanently- and we are willing to entertain ideas from the community as to how we could make this tabulation method possible and consistently repeatable (without killing anyone) within the time constraints we have to work with.

But until that day comes, the Pegasus will continue to be determined by a straight popular vote.

7 What does it mean when you say that "OVFF and the Pegasus Committee reserve the right to break all ties"?

You've possibly heard this statement repeated many times.

The Nominations we receive in an average year generally make the first 3-4 slots in a category very clear. But this means that you can have a 4-way to a 10-way tie for those last to positions on the Final Ballot.

When the Final Ballot is decided, these ties are resolved by the OVFF concom, and the selection process is moderated by one of the Pegasus Evangelistas.

Therefore, we use the following considerations in the Nominating vote to create the Final Ballot:

  1. Is the song eligible (i.e. has it already won?)
  2. Is it disqualified due to the 2 on, 1 off rule or the 5-years-off rule?
  3. Does it (at least roughly) fit the category? (in the case of the floating categories)

After that, a weighted set of filters is applied to the eligible list (in order of importance) to create a list of voting suggestions to the OVFF concom at large:

  1. How many votes did it get?
  2. Does this give this person more than 2 Nominations?
  3. Does this make the third (or fourth, or fifth) song from that area in that category?
  4. Is there geographic diversity in the category?
  5. Is there wide geographic diversity on the entire ballot?

The OVFF Concom reviews this list, and votes.

In the end, and in all cases, the final arbiter of what appears on the Final Ballot is the number of votes a song or filker gets.

Generally, a tie in voting on the Final Ballot is allowed to stand.

8 How do I know if a song or artist are eligible for a Pegasus Award?

Please see the answer to Are commercially released songs, by non filkers, eligible for Pegasus awards?

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