The controversial 2007 SA Blog Awards

Stii’s post about Stormhoek not making it into the nominations of the 2007 SA Blog Awards has stirred up quite a debate about how blogs make it into the nominations and how the whole process if judged.  A couple bloggers who maintain pretty good blogs were not nominated and have varying views on that (take a look at Colin Daniels’ comment for his views which then sparked off a fairly heated debate in the comments to Stii’s post).

One of the big issues is why blogs like Stormhoek (which Mike Stopforth pointed out is ranked around 9 187 in Technorati), Colin Daniels’ blog, Vincent Maher’s blog and others were not included in the nominations.  Heck, Wired Gecko didn’t make it either.  The voting process has been described as "backpatting" to a "large scale group masturbation" (Jaxon Rice pointed out that a better term is probably a "circlejerk").  It seems that it was necessary to become a "comment troll" to get any attention and be voted for in sufficient numbers to make it into the nominations list (this puts bloggers who don’t comment at a disadvantage and I’ll get to that later).  Another big criticism was the judging process.  The judges are also bloggers, many of whom had their blogs nominated (although I understand there was an effort to ensure that judges didn’t adjudicate categories their blogs were included in) and there is a suggestion in a number of the comments that there was a degree of cronyism as well in the judging process (here and here) (according to Wikipedia, cronyism is "partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to public office without regard for their qualifications" – basically you vote for your buddies because they are your buddies without regard for whether they deserve to be voted for).

Vincent Maher eventually weighed in with a post of his own which I’ll take the liberty of quoting here (hope you don’t mind Vincent):

The crux of the post was that some notable blogs are not notable in their presence, and the comments go a little further and question why the judging panel features stronly in the list of finalists. Here is my take on this, in point form:

  1. The ethical issues and credibility issues about judging competitions was solved centuries ago: the judges are not allowed to enter the competition, neither are employees of the sponsors and family members. Nothing new there, so why not just do it the right way?
  2. The comparison was made between the World Cup Cricket and these awards, but slightly wrongly. This is like the umpires entering a team and lifting their fingers every five minutes while they umpire the other games – see, that’s the right analogy.
  3. Bitterness and genuine concern about legitimacy are two different things. No-one wants the SA Blog Awards to appear like a gangbang but that is what happens when brothers and sisters are caught naked in the bedroom together.
  4. There is already a lot of chatter about the same people showing up on the everyone’s blogrolls and vague sense that what was once respectful backpatting has become large scale group masturbation amongst the local blogger power bloc. What this does is it lends some credibility to those thoughts, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE NOT ACTUALLY TRUE.
  5. Personally, people have been talking shit about me on the Internet since I got on it, I don’t care if I wasn’t nominated and I didn’t make any effort to get nominated. I appreciate what Stii said about me and I will buy him a beer when I see him again, but I am hardly a case-study in this whole thing.
  6. Fighting like little babies is one thing but leaving public coils on eachothers chests is another, so I think everybody needs to calm down and think about the merits of the arguments from both sides.
  7. This smacks of KBS (Kenyan Blogger Syndrome)
  8. I will be going to the awards and I will support whoever wins, but if you want a judge who doesn’t want to enter, I am your man.

I agree that there is room to improve the voting and judging processes.  Perhaps next year people could submit and vote for blogs using a Muti/Digg type system where each person must log in to vote and can only vote on a blog once (just as you can only Muti/Digg/vote on a story once).  The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.  If this sort of system worked then we would probably find that much of the judging process is pretty much taken care of by the community itself and the end result is a set of winners by popular vote.

This, of course, brings me to another challenge.  The criticism that people who are "comment trolls" and who are one of the cool kids tend to be voted for more often.  This is a fair criticism, I think.  The question, I suppose, is whether the local blogosphere is a meritocracy or a democracy?  To me the blogosphere is a community and that means people vote for people they know.  That is one of the basic ideas behind something like Cluetrain and the blogging movement.  And people get to know you as a blogger if you participate in the community, link to other bloggers, comment and network.  The more you do that the more people know you and the fact that you exist and are more inclined to vote for you when the opportunity arises.  Sure you may have an awesome blog that has the best writing this site of the equator but if no-one knows you exist then you may as well not.  There is a similar principle on Google and other search engines.  If you are not on the front page or two then you pretty much don’t exist.

My take on the Stormhoek thing is that the blog didn’t make it to the nominations list because not enough people knew about the blog.  We know about the wine itself because it has been so prominent in our events and success stories (which, as Rich pointed out, is the right idea because Stormhoek is in the wine business and not the blogging business) but not many of us know about the blog.  For one thing the blog is a niche blog so unless you are into your wine, you may not subscribe or even visit the site.  Secondly, the blog hasn’t been promoted as much as the wine so it has less visibility in the community which translates into fewer people knowing about it which means fewer votes.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t a great blog.  It just means it doesn’t win the popular vote and that is democracy.

So, how do we fix this?  Well, we need to use the tools of the trade, so to speak, to increase the visibility of these blogs (our blogs).  If you want people to visit your blog and come to know you then you need to participate in the community.  You need to comment, leave trackbacks and link to blogs.  Simple.  If you don’t want to do that then you will have to rely on people finding your blog themselves so work on your SEO stuff to get that sorted (decent permalinks are a good start in my humble opinion).

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Paul

Enthusiast, writer, strategist, web developer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad.

  1. Geez, mate! You hit it spot on. That was what I was trying to convey, but in my words it just sounded terrible… Good points Paul.

  2. Geez, mate! You hit it spot on. That was what I was trying to convey, but in my words it just sounded terrible… Good points Paul.

  3. Geez, mate! You hit it spot on. That was what I was trying to convey, but in my words it just sounded terrible… Good points Paul.

  4. Geez, mate! You hit it spot on. That was what I was trying to convey, but in my words it just sounded terrible… Good points Paul.

  5. Geez, mate! You hit it spot on. That was what I was trying to convey, but in my words it just sounded terrible… Good points Paul.

  6. > The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.As it happens, and because of the geeks that we are, Stii, Miguel, IrcMaidon and myself were discussing this last Friday night (See thats how us geeks spend our Firday evenings 🙂 We did come up with a few proposals for how we would do this, for example one suggestion was to have a special dedicated tag, say 'blogs08' that any item wanting to be included in the running has to be tagged with. There are also various schemes possible for getting these automatically tagged once this system “knows” that a domain is a blog. Then the highest ranked items with that tag (or any variation thereof) in the top view at the end of the year could form the shortlist of nominations. So basically the finer details just need to be worked out and agreed upon but such a system, I believe could work very well.

  7. > The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.

    As it happens, and because of the geeks that we are, Stii, Miguel, IrcMaidon and myself were discussing this last Friday night (See thats how us geeks spend our Firday evenings 🙂 We did come up with a few proposals for how we would do this, for example one suggestion was to have a special dedicated tag, say 'blogs08' that any item wanting to be included in the running has to be tagged with. There are also various schemes possible for getting these automatically tagged once this system “knows” that a domain is a blog. Then the highest ranked items with that tag (or any variation thereof) in the top view at the end of the year could form the shortlist of nominations. So basically the finer details just need to be worked out and agreed upon but such a system, I believe could work very well.

  8. Brilliant! I'm looking forward to seeing how this all comes together! The process of adding blogs should start sooner than later so we have time to get them all added to the list.

  9. Brilliant! I'm looking forward to seeing how this all comes together! The process of adding blogs should start sooner than later so we have time to get them all added to the list.

  10. “throwing some words together”… whatever…, those were some great thoughts and an excellent summation of the situation. Whatever happens, this is new ground for all of us so at least we're talking about it, learning and I believe improving.The one concern I have about using Muti for the voting is that in small communities it can be gamed like the logo votes have been. Hopefully as more people use it, this will be tougher.

  11. “throwing some words together”… whatever…, those were some great thoughts and an excellent summation of the situation. Whatever happens, this is new ground for all of us so at least we're talking about it, learning and I believe improving.

    The one concern I have about using Muti for the voting is that in small communities it can be gamed like the logo votes have been. Hopefully as more people use it, this will be tougher.

  12. > The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.

    As it happens, and because of the geeks that we are, Stii, Miguel, IrcMaidon and myself were discussing this last Friday night (See thats how us geeks spend our Firday evenings 🙂 We did come up with a few proposals for how we would do this, for example one suggestion was to have a special dedicated tag, say ‘blogs08’ that any item wanting to be included in the running has to be tagged with. There are also various schemes possible for getting these automatically tagged once this system “knows” that a domain is a blog. Then the highest ranked items with that tag (or any variation thereof) in the top view at the end of the year could form the shortlist of nominations. So basically the finer details just need to be worked out and agreed upon but such a system, I believe could work very well.

  13. > The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.

    As it happens, and because of the geeks that we are, Stii, Miguel, IrcMaidon and myself were discussing this last Friday night (See thats how us geeks spend our Firday evenings 🙂 We did come up with a few proposals for how we would do this, for example one suggestion was to have a special dedicated tag, say ‘blogs08’ that any item wanting to be included in the running has to be tagged with. There are also various schemes possible for getting these automatically tagged once this system “knows” that a domain is a blog. Then the highest ranked items with that tag (or any variation thereof) in the top view at the end of the year could form the shortlist of nominations. So basically the finer details just need to be worked out and agreed upon but such a system, I believe could work very well.

  14. > The first challenge will be making sure that all the blogs that people might want to vote for are added to the list and somehow categorised but I am sure the geeks could work out the details there.

    As it happens, and because of the geeks that we are, Stii, Miguel, IrcMaidon and myself were discussing this last Friday night (See thats how us geeks spend our Firday evenings 🙂 We did come up with a few proposals for how we would do this, for example one suggestion was to have a special dedicated tag, say ‘blogs08’ that any item wanting to be included in the running has to be tagged with. There are also various schemes possible for getting these automatically tagged once this system “knows” that a domain is a blog. Then the highest ranked items with that tag (or any variation thereof) in the top view at the end of the year could form the shortlist of nominations. So basically the finer details just need to be worked out and agreed upon but such a system, I believe could work very well.

  15. Brilliant! I’m looking forward to seeing how this all comes together! The process of adding blogs should start sooner than later so we have time to get them all added to the list.

  16. Brilliant! I’m looking forward to seeing how this all comes together! The process of adding blogs should start sooner than later so we have time to get them all added to the list.

  17. Brilliant! I’m looking forward to seeing how this all comes together! The process of adding blogs should start sooner than later so we have time to get them all added to the list.

  18. “throwing some words together”… whatever…, those were some great thoughts and an excellent summation of the situation. Whatever happens, this is new ground for all of us so at least we’re talking about it, learning and I believe improving.

    The one concern I have about using Muti for the voting is that in small communities it can be gamed like the logo votes have been. Hopefully as more people use it, this will be tougher.

  19. “throwing some words together”… whatever…, those were some great thoughts and an excellent summation of the situation. Whatever happens, this is new ground for all of us so at least we’re talking about it, learning and I believe improving.

    The one concern I have about using Muti for the voting is that in small communities it can be gamed like the logo votes have been. Hopefully as more people use it, this will be tougher.

  20. “throwing some words together”… whatever…, those were some great thoughts and an excellent summation of the situation. Whatever happens, this is new ground for all of us so at least we’re talking about it, learning and I believe improving.

    The one concern I have about using Muti for the voting is that in small communities it can be gamed like the logo votes have been. Hopefully as more people use it, this will be tougher.

  21. Hi RobThanks for the kind words. I didn't mean to suggest that Muti itself be used but rather something that works like Muti/Digg. The idea is that people will have to log in (so we can only vote on each blog once) and then either vote for a blog or not. Once the vote is logged, it will go into the database. Blogs should be categorised according to whichever categories exist at the time or there should be a set of checkboxes so voters can choose the category for each blog being voted for. The system should also ensure that duplicate entries are not included in the list.I also suggest that there be at least 2 rounds of voting. The first vote will be to identify the shortlist of, say, 10 blogs per category and the second round of voting will result in the winner in each category and runners-up.This process has the advantage of limiting any possible influence of the judges themselves (not that I believe the judges were anything but diligent and honest but some people disagree) and the voting process is driven by the community, hopefully with all the possible blogs being part of the process. The challenge with this year's process is that there was no real chance of a voter seeing a blog he/she forgot about being voted on by other people and deciding to include that blog in his/her vote. This is a bit like a recommendation thing as well.Ok, lots of ideas here for the next year's process so if anyone wants to brainstorm a bit more, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email?

  22. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the kind words. I didn't mean to suggest that Muti itself be used but rather something that works like Muti/Digg. The idea is that people will have to log in (so we can only vote on each blog once) and then either vote for a blog or not. Once the vote is logged, it will go into the database. Blogs should be categorised according to whichever categories exist at the time or there should be a set of checkboxes so voters can choose the category for each blog being voted for. The system should also ensure that duplicate entries are not included in the list.

    I also suggest that there be at least 2 rounds of voting. The first vote will be to identify the shortlist of, say, 10 blogs per category and the second round of voting will result in the winner in each category and runners-up.

    This process has the advantage of limiting any possible influence of the judges themselves (not that I believe the judges were anything but diligent and honest but some people disagree) and the voting process is driven by the community, hopefully with all the possible blogs being part of the process. The challenge with this year's process is that there was no real chance of a voter seeing a blog he/she forgot about being voted on by other people and deciding to include that blog in his/her vote. This is a bit like a recommendation thing as well.

    Ok, lots of ideas here for the next year's process so if anyone wants to brainstorm a bit more, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email?

  23. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t mean to suggest that Muti itself be used but rather something that works like Muti/Digg. The idea is that people will have to log in (so we can only vote on each blog once) and then either vote for a blog or not. Once the vote is logged, it will go into the database. Blogs should be categorised according to whichever categories exist at the time or there should be a set of checkboxes so voters can choose the category for each blog being voted for. The system should also ensure that duplicate entries are not included in the list.

    I also suggest that there be at least 2 rounds of voting. The first vote will be to identify the shortlist of, say, 10 blogs per category and the second round of voting will result in the winner in each category and runners-up.

    This process has the advantage of limiting any possible influence of the judges themselves (not that I believe the judges were anything but diligent and honest but some people disagree) and the voting process is driven by the community, hopefully with all the possible blogs being part of the process. The challenge with this year’s process is that there was no real chance of a voter seeing a blog he/she forgot about being voted on by other people and deciding to include that blog in his/her vote. This is a bit like a recommendation thing as well.

    Ok, lots of ideas here for the next year’s process so if anyone wants to brainstorm a bit more, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email?

  24. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t mean to suggest that Muti itself be used but rather something that works like Muti/Digg. The idea is that people will have to log in (so we can only vote on each blog once) and then either vote for a blog or not. Once the vote is logged, it will go into the database. Blogs should be categorised according to whichever categories exist at the time or there should be a set of checkboxes so voters can choose the category for each blog being voted for. The system should also ensure that duplicate entries are not included in the list.

    I also suggest that there be at least 2 rounds of voting. The first vote will be to identify the shortlist of, say, 10 blogs per category and the second round of voting will result in the winner in each category and runners-up.

    This process has the advantage of limiting any possible influence of the judges themselves (not that I believe the judges were anything but diligent and honest but some people disagree) and the voting process is driven by the community, hopefully with all the possible blogs being part of the process. The challenge with this year’s process is that there was no real chance of a voter seeing a blog he/she forgot about being voted on by other people and deciding to include that blog in his/her vote. This is a bit like a recommendation thing as well.

    Ok, lots of ideas here for the next year’s process so if anyone wants to brainstorm a bit more, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email?

  25. Hi Rob

    Thanks for the kind words. I didn’t mean to suggest that Muti itself be used but rather something that works like Muti/Digg. The idea is that people will have to log in (so we can only vote on each blog once) and then either vote for a blog or not. Once the vote is logged, it will go into the database. Blogs should be categorised according to whichever categories exist at the time or there should be a set of checkboxes so voters can choose the category for each blog being voted for. The system should also ensure that duplicate entries are not included in the list.

    I also suggest that there be at least 2 rounds of voting. The first vote will be to identify the shortlist of, say, 10 blogs per category and the second round of voting will result in the winner in each category and runners-up.

    This process has the advantage of limiting any possible influence of the judges themselves (not that I believe the judges were anything but diligent and honest but some people disagree) and the voting process is driven by the community, hopefully with all the possible blogs being part of the process. The challenge with this year’s process is that there was no real chance of a voter seeing a blog he/she forgot about being voted on by other people and deciding to include that blog in his/her vote. This is a bit like a recommendation thing as well.

    Ok, lots of ideas here for the next year’s process so if anyone wants to brainstorm a bit more, feel free to give me a call or drop me an email?

  26. Nice summary Paul.

    Believe it or not I do believe we are doing a lot right at the moment and there are some real dedicated guys out there who are in it for the right reasons. As always, there is much room for improvement and I hope this starts to happen sooner rather than later 😉

  27. Nice summary Paul.

    Believe it or not I do believe we are doing a lot right at the moment and there are some real dedicated guys out there who are in it for the right reasons. As always, there is much room for improvement and I hope this starts to happen sooner rather than later 😉

  28. Nice summary Paul.Believe it or not I do believe we are doing a lot right at the moment and there are some real dedicated guys out there who are in it for the right reasons. As always, there is much room for improvement and I hope this starts to happen sooner rather than later 😉

  29. Nice summary Paul.

    Believe it or not I do believe we are doing a lot right at the moment and there are some real dedicated guys out there who are in it for the right reasons. As always, there is much room for improvement and I hope this starts to happen sooner rather than later 😉

  30. Nice summary Paul.

    Believe it or not I do believe we are doing a lot right at the moment and there are some real dedicated guys out there who are in it for the right reasons. As always, there is much room for improvement and I hope this starts to happen sooner rather than later 😉

  31. Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment.

    Hi Colin, I believe it completely. My partner in chili, Victoire, was/is one of the judges and I know some of the others so I really don’t believe there was anything underhand going on there. The judges may be influential in their own right but I genuinely believe they were doing the best job they could.

  32. Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment.

    Hi Colin, I believe it completely. My partner in chili, Victoire, was/is one of the judges and I know some of the others so I really don’t believe there was anything underhand going on there. The judges may be influential in their own right but I genuinely believe they were doing the best job they could.

  33. Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment.Hi Colin, I believe it completely. My partner in chili, Victoire, was/is one of the judges and I know some of the others so I really don't believe there was anything underhand going on there. The judges may be influential in their own right but I genuinely believe they were doing the best job they could.

  34. Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment.

    Hi Colin, I believe it completely. My partner in chili, Victoire, was/is one of the judges and I know some of the others so I really don’t believe there was anything underhand going on there. The judges may be influential in their own right but I genuinely believe they were doing the best job they could.

  35. Hi Vincent, thanks for your comment.

    Hi Colin, I believe it completely. My partner in chili, Victoire, was/is one of the judges and I know some of the others so I really don't believe there was anything underhand going on there. The judges may be influential in their own right but I genuinely believe they were doing the best job they could.

  36. Hello there, Wired Gecko. Good article, I thought it was strange that my stupendously briliant website wasn’t nominated this year.

    Many evenings were spent crying myself to sleep, trying to figure out why.

    This makes perfect sense, and I can now get on with my life again.

  37. Hello there, Wired Gecko. Good article, I thought it was strange that my stupendously briliant website wasn’t nominated this year.

    Many evenings were spent crying myself to sleep, trying to figure out why.

    This makes perfect sense, and I can now get on with my life again.

  38. Hello there, Wired Gecko. Good article, I thought it was strange that my stupendously briliant website wasn't nominated this year.Many evenings were spent crying myself to sleep, trying to figure out why.This makes perfect sense, and I can now get on with my life again.

  39. Hello there, Wired Gecko. Good article, I thought it was strange that my stupendously briliant website wasn’t nominated this year.

    Many evenings were spent crying myself to sleep, trying to figure out why.

    This makes perfect sense, and I can now get on with my life again.

  40. Hello there, Wired Gecko. Good article, I thought it was strange that my stupendously briliant website wasn't nominated this year.

    Many evenings were spent crying myself to sleep, trying to figure out why.

    This makes perfect sense, and I can now get on with my life again.

  41. Shaun, I feel your pain. I went through many boxes of cheap tissues when I saw Wired Gecko wasn’t nominated but then I remembered that it is all about the children … I mean, all the bloggers and the sun came out again!

  42. Shaun, I feel your pain. I went through many boxes of cheap tissues when I saw Wired Gecko wasn’t nominated but then I remembered that it is all about the children … I mean, all the bloggers and the sun came out again!

  43. Shaun, I feel your pain. I went through many boxes of cheap tissues when I saw Wired Gecko wasn't nominated but then I remembered that it is all about the children … I mean, all the bloggers and the sun came out again!

  44. Shaun, I feel your pain. I went through many boxes of cheap tissues when I saw Wired Gecko wasn’t nominated but then I remembered that it is all about the children … I mean, all the bloggers and the sun came out again!

  45. Shaun, I feel your pain. I went through many boxes of cheap tissues when I saw Wired Gecko wasn't nominated but then I remembered that it is all about the children … I mean, all the bloggers and the sun came out again!

  46. hahaha was getting a bit one sided in any cases, just give the best overall trophy to 2oceansvibe and move along.

  47. hahaha was getting a bit one sided in any cases, just give the best overall trophy to 2oceansvibe and move along.

  48. hahaha was getting a bit one sided in any cases, just give the best overall trophy to 2oceansvibe and move along.

  49. hahaha was getting a bit one sided in any cases, just give the best overall trophy to 2oceansvibe and move along.

  50. hahaha was getting a bit one sided in any cases, just give the best overall trophy to 2oceansvibe and move along.

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