1. Is it your contention that the status quo ante was fine, and the Hugo awards were given out purely by merit?
The awards are basically a fan popularity contest of the work itself. I'd contend that they reasonably closely reflected that reality. I've no doubt that Tor 'campaigned' for a few works, but mostly to Tor fans who also probably had read the works. After all, Tor are the "cool kids" and fan favorites, who, no surprise, are actively involved in fandom.
2. Do you know anything about statistics? I don't know much, but these numbers do look kind of suspicous to me.
He doesn't provide enough data for me to see what he's calculating variance upon. My own perusal leads me to believe (no statistics) that Tor is popular, and uses its fan presence to promote Tor works, but I'd consider that politics as usual... Degree makes a difference.
3. The Sad Puppies guys say that they are striking back against a system where SF works were judged more by who wrote them and which politically correct buttons the works pushed, rather than on actual merit. The SP guys say that their slate includes works by conservatives, and liberals, and white males, and minorities and women...
I am not going to comment on the quality of the SP slate. I think some of it is good. *However*, my claim is that when success on the ballot has nothing to do with the works themselves, and everything about the statement that the slate stands for, the Hugos are suffering damage. Until this year, I think the awards and nominations were going to at least a close approximation of the fan favorites in each category.
Once we're voting for statements, we might as well have one Hugo: The Fan Statement. Now we can vote on "Women have ruined everything" vs. "Troglodyte men are the problem" vs. "I just watch TV" vs. "SF *is* literature!" and save actually having to read!
4. ..would you at least agree that if the claims of the SPs were all true, that their games would have been a legitimate response?
It depends on what you mean by their claims - they vary pretty wildly. I don't think self-promotion is out of line - this is a fan popularity contest after all. I don't think recommending works is out of line. I think the Tor secret cabal only exists to the extent it mobilizes people who like Tor works, of which there are a sizable number among fandom.
Do I think SP games were illegal? No. Do I think it's a legitimate response? No. Party politics work, sort of. American politics is a clear example that (1) once started, no one not practicing party politics can win and (2) it produces a toxic atmosphere that is utterly incompatible with an amateur organization.
Looking back on winners, no-one had a lock. Tor was heavily represented, but Tor *is* a fan favorite, and the only house that's deep. deep, deep into fandom. A look at the books themselves indicates (to me, anyway) that people nominated works they liked rather than a philosophical statement.
(I don't get the problem people have with Scalzi. He's tremendously popular, and his works are populist in nature. He's a natural fan favorite, and I'd expect him to dominate the Hugos in much the same way that Bujold did, and for similar reasons.)
Honestly (especially now that GamerGate is getting into the picture), this smells far more like a response to last year's winners (who showed a bit of the triumphalism that one would expect from a group that has finally made quite a showing for the first time) than deep concern about books.
5. Do you approve of the organized "No Award" campaign?
Reluctantly, yes. If voting slates is seen to be effective, then the Hugos are dead. Next year, we'll see 3-4 slates, and we'll all be told that voting for books is a waste, we *must* vote for a statement. That's a permanent enough problem that I'm willing to see worthy submissions not win this year.
To me, the quality of the books/editors are immaterial. The books I personally like no longer have a prayer. But that's not a cause for rage, it's simply that they aren't fan favorites anymore and tastes have changed. To decide that I'd rather see the Hugos destroyed than fans get to choose works I don't care for is more narcissism than I can muster.