Welcome to the Business Meeting of the World Science Fiction Society. Every member of this Worldcon is a member of WSFS, and every attending member of this Worldcon can attend this meeting and participate in the government of the Society. WSFS Business Meetings are run under formal meeting procedure ("parliamentary procedure") as codified in our basic manual of rules, Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th Edition, and as modified by the WSFS Constitution and Standing Rules (see the Souvenir Book), and traditional customs and usages of the Society.

Head Table Staff

The Business Meeting officers at the head table are:

Chair (2004: Donald Eastlake III): Presides over the meeting; decides whether motions are in order; does not participate in debate; only votes when his vote could affect the decision (usually to either break a tie or to make one).

Deputy Chair/Parliamentarian (2004: ): Assists the Chair by keeping track of the parliamentary situation; presides over the meeting if the Chair is unable to do so, such as if the Chair wants to participate in the debate; does not make "rulings" as Parliamentarian -- only the presiding officer makes rulings.

Secretary (Pat McMurray): Takes the minutes (official record) of the meeting; maintains the official documents of WSFS; prepares the agenda; manages the attendance list.

Timekeeper (2004: Alexis Layton): Keeps track of the debate time and advises the assembly when time has expired.

The Head Table Staff are here to help you. If you have a question about procedure, such as wanting to know if something you want to do is allowed and how to go about it, obtain the floor (see below) and ask.

General Procedure

The most important general rules to remember are:


Address all motions, debate, questions, etc. through the Chair, even if the question is directed to another member. For example, "Mr. Chair, do I understand Mr. B------ to say that his motion will have the effect of…" or "Mr. Chair, I would hope that the member who last spoke would think of the consequences of…."

Obtaining the Floor

To make a motion, participate in debate, or ask the Chair a question, you must "obtain the floor" and be recognized by the Chair. To do this, when nobody else is speaking, stand up and address the Chair ("Mr. Chair"). The Chair will call on you and you can make your motion, state your question, or debate whatever is currently pending. If several people rise at once, the Chair will recognize one person, and the others must sit down. When you are finished speaking, you "yield the floor" by sitting down. You cannot establish "prior claim" to the floor by standing up before a previous speaker has finished. If you attempt to do so, the Chair will ignore you and call on someone who rises after the previous speaker has yielded. Note that the person who makes a motion is entitled to preference in recognition — that is, s/he may speak first — and that debate alternates between speakers for and speakers against a motion. Debate time is equally divided between both sides of the debate, with time for neutral matters charged equally to both sides.

There are a small number of motions, such as points of order, appeals, and Objection to Consideration that can take priority and interrupt a speaker. If you have such a priority interrupt, make it clear when you rise by saying "Point of Order" (or whatever priority business you want to bring up). Note that "because I think it is important" or "the current speaker has made a factual error" is not sufficient priority to interrupt; you'll have to wait your turn — and use your own debate time — for that.

It is possible to ask questions of someone speaking in debate by interrupting; however, the speaker must agree to yield for the question, and the time spent asking and answering the question comes out of the original speaker's time. For example, if Member X is speaking, Member A can rise and say "Mr. Chair, would the member yield for a question?" If X agrees, then A can ask her question (through the Chair), and X can answer it. All of the time consumed in doing so is charged to X and to the side of the question that X is debating.

Unanimous Consent

For many items of a routine and non-controversial nature, the Chair may say "Without objection, [action] will be taken." A member may make a unanimous-consent request; for example, "Mr. Chair, I ask unanimous consent that we hear the report from X immediately because he has to leave soon." If even one person objects, the Chair must put such motions to a vote; however, we urge people not to object to obviously routine and non-controversial motions solely for the sake of form.


We will not vote by asking for "ayes and noes" because it leads to people trying to out-shout each other. When a vote that would traditionally be held by asking for ayes and noes is called, we will take an uncounted show of hands. The Chair will say, "All those in favor, raise your hands…hands down. All those opposed, raise your hands…hands down."

If the result of the show of hands is inconclusive (and in any case if 10% of the people attending the meeting request it by calling out "Division."), the Chair will take a counted standing vote by the "serpentine" method. In a serpentine vote, all those people who are voting on a give side first stand up. The Chair then indicates the first person to be counted, who says "one" and sits down. The next person standing in that row says "two" and sits down. The count continues down that row until the end of the row then moves to the next row and traverses back the opposite direction. The count continues back and forth until it reaches the last person in the back of the room. Then the Chair calls for the other side to stand and the process repeats. This allows everyone to clearly see who is voting, what the count is, and it means you don't have to hold your arms in the air for a long time while tellers try to get a clear count.

Agenda and Schedule

There are meetings scheduled for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 AM to 1 PM and Monday from 10 AM to Noon.

The Friday meeting is called the Preliminary Business Meeting. At this meeting we will hear reports from various committees, take nominations for the WSFS Mark Protection Committee, and set the agenda and debate time limits for the Main Meeting on Saturday, as well as directly consider any changes to the Standing Rules. This means that any new motions to amend the Constitution may be amended, and may also be dismissed entirely through an Objection to Consideration. (If 2/3 vote to kill a new motion without debate immediately after it is introduced, it is dismissed from the agenda.)

The Saturday meeting is the first Main Business Meeting, where we will debate and vote on amendments to the WSFS Constitution, elect members to the WSFS MPC, and take care of other business not completed on Friday.

Sunday is the Site Selection Business Meeting, where the first item of business is hearing the results of the Worldcon (and NASFiC) site selection and hearing from the winning committees. Also at this meeting is Question Time, where you have a chance to put questions to future Worldcon committees. This meeting will also deal with any business not completed on Saturday.

If there is so much business that we are unable to finish on Sunday, a Monday Business Meeting will be held; however, this almost never happens, and it is likely that all business will be finished by the end of Sunday's meeting.

We expect to call each day's meeting to order at 10:15, and continue until about 12:15 unless we complete all business sooner. You should spend the time before the meeting reading the various handouts distributed before the meeting, because there will not be time to do so during the meeting itself. The time after the meeting is for the use of ad hoc committees that usually are formed during the meeting.


If you have a physical challenge that limits your ability to raise your hands, rise and be counted, and so forth, talk with the head table staff before the meeting to make alternative arrangements to accommodate you.

Procedural Motions

There is not enough space to give a complete course in parliamentary procedure here. There is a separate handout that lists the most important procedural motions and their rank amongst themselves. As stated above, if you have questions about the proper procedure to follow, please ask the head table staff for help.