mask

I guess you can tell what I think about the Annual Weblog Awards judging by the title of this post. Looks like with each year it’s getting worse, but nevertheless its popularity of an Oscar-like award for bloggers has increased exponentially.

It is understandable why the spot on the Bloggies site is so coveted – it can bring a much needed recognition to an unknown to big masses blog. Most of us regard Weblog Awards as a great opportunity to discover some outstanding blogs that we otherwise wouldn’t have heard about. The problem is that it’s rather our hope to find new interesting blogs on Bloggies, when in fact year after year the same old “faces” and names show up in the final nominations list.

Could someone please enlighten me why Dooce and PostSecret are so popular? Why Digg is nominated for the best community weblog? How come that none of the five Best Photography of a Weblog nominees talk about photography? Why was the Best Web Development Weblog category removed from the 2008 Bloggies? Is it because nobody seemed to understand what the requirement for that category (“Weblogs completely about Web design and development”) actually meant, and for two years in the row Problogger was nominated for that, and actually winning that spot in 2006 (beating “456 Berea Street”)?

best-designed blogs
Do you know what’s common between Gizmodo and Consumerist, Deadspin, Defamer, Fleshbot, Gawker, Gridskipper, Idolator, io9, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Valleywag, Wonkette? They all sport the SAME theme, same design, and apparently all belong to Gawker Media. But then why Gizmodo is the only one who got the nomination as the best-designed blog? How can it be the best, if there are fourteen (14!) other blogs that are designed exactly the same way (with the exception of a few colour changes)?! What’s so beautiful about the design of Engadget? Is it the number of ads on the site, or is it the “ground-breaking” three-column layout of the blog? I could probably guess how Dooce ended up being next to Web Designer Wall and Design*Sponge (the only two blogs who truly deserved to be in that spot) – it must’ve been the cute face of the puppy that decorates Dooce’s header. Other than that I don’t see anything outstanding in the design of this site that would make it the best-designed blog in the entire blogiverse. Can you see something that I failed to notice?

If you’re wondering why am I so bitter about these Awards, no it’s not because Inspiration Bit didn’t get into the final list of nominations (I’m sure there are many other blogs that deserve to be nominated more than mine does). I’m disappointed in the 2008 Bloggies, because I got a taste of what was happening behind the scenes, before the final list of nominations was posted on January 22. I was chosen to be one of the 50 people who were selected to be on the panel that chooses the Bloggie finalists. I didn’t get an opportunity to judge all nominated categories, only the random ten, Best Kept Secret and Best-Designed Blogs being two of them. I’m also dismayed seeing I Love Typography being nominated only under the Best Asian Blogs category. So if John, didn’t move from UK to Japan, his amazing blog on Typography (that gathered over ten thousand loyal fans and subscribers in less than four months) would’ve not gotten any nominations?!

Guess who was among the Best Kept Secret blogs? Lifehacker. How many of you have never heard of this blog before, or how many of you think that it’s “The best underrepresented weblog”? Fortunately, it didn’t end up in the final list under this category, but it looks like the best kept secret blogs are only the personal ones. I don’t really have any problems with that – personal blogs are supposed to be secret. But then wouldn’t it be more appropriate to change the caption from “The best underrepresented weblog” to “The best personal weblog”, and have a separate category for the “The best underrepresented weblog”?

Now guess which two sites were among 30 other sites nominated for the Best-Designed Blog category, but fortunately didn’t make the final list either? Myterritory.com, that’s not even a blog, and perezhilton.com, with the ugliest blog design ever. Other six of the 30 sites in this category were the blogspot blogs. How many beautifully designed blogspot sites have you seen? Here are just some of the sites who were among the 30 nominees for the Best Designed Blog award. You be the judge:
- maciekblazniak.blogspot.com
- fruityoaty.com
- popsugar.com
- withnowheretogo.blogspot.com
- awardsdaily.com
- sparklette.net (be patient with this one – it takes a few minutes to load the homepage – you’ll see why)
- annierhiannon.blogspot.com
- There were also these two well-known for their design sites: Veerle and Pearsonified.

In Conclusion

I think one of the problems with the Bloggies is a very short period of time – less than 5 full days – given to the panel of 50 people to judge and nominate over 300 sites in 10 different categories, while giving 9 days to chose one of the five nominees for each category. Wouldn’t you agree that it takes more than just a few minutes to decide whether or not a blog that you’ve never visited before deserves the title to be the Best in its respective category?

Now, after looking at the final list of nominees in the 2008 Bloggies Awards I’m discouraged with the fact that I haven’t really discovered that many new outstanding blogs, and I’m pretty tired of seeing the same old names getting several nominations for no other reasons but being famous. What about you? What are your thoughts about the 2008 Bloggies?

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19 Insightful Bits in response to “The 2008 Bloggies – A Joke Or A Smack On The Face?”

  1. At last! Someone has actually said it. iIm with you 100% on this one.
    First, I’d like to say something about the design of the awards site: it’s atrocious. I’m not sure how many people actually cast their votes, but I’m pretty sure that if a nominated blog writes about their nomination and emails a few friends asking that they vote, then one could quite easily win a category.

    I’ve noticed about 200 visitors daily from the site, and for that I’m thankful, but who wins what is of absolutely no interest to me. If these awards are ever going to mean anything, then the site needs to be redesigned, and the way in which sites are nominated and voted for, needs to be changed.

    You’re right too about the categories: they seem completely arbitrary. Surely best Asian blog should at least be written in an ‘Asian’ language, not by a Brit who hosts his site in the US, and who just happens to live in Japan.

    BTW, do they publish the total number of votes cast?

    Great post, Vivien. Love these opinion pieces.

  2. Thanks, John.
    I also wanted to say smth about the design of the Bloggies site, I agree – it’s horrendous. And what’s with that image of the music scale, what’s that got to do with the Blog Awards, is it supposed to be replacing the midi sound in our heads of some pompous music, playing in the background while scrolling down the nominations list?

    No, they don’t publish the total number of votes cast, which they should, in my opinion. Also, you’re right – most of the nominated blogs that I’ve visited (especially the personal ones) have posted big – Vote for me, I’m nominated – signs on their blogs. Once again, I don’t mind that – who doesn’t like to win… what I don’t appreciate is the fact of getting these Bloggies awards blown out of proportions for no sound reasons.

  3. I don’t really know much about them but I think there is a big problem in that the most popular blogs will generally get the most votes.

    It will be hard to find new content in a popularity content.

  4. I’ve found out about these awards only last year, but I lost interest very quickly when I saw what blogs were nominated for several categories. I’m sorry to say it, but these awards do nothing than follow the trend which can be seen today in TV shows where millions of people just watch a bunch of teenagers picking their noses, sleeping or trying to get closer to their pretty colleagues.

    And if Perez Hilton deserves an award for design, I’m the greatest designer of all times ;)

    I agree with you, a fair and well documented judgment cannot be done in a few minutes. Maybe the organizers will learn from posts like this one, and improve the next editions.

  5. I agree with you about Dooce, I just don’t get it…maybe because of it’s early following? It’s one that I looked at once but wouldn’t go back to.

    I agree with the previous commenter, blog awards are like a popularity contest. I am not sure how you could put together an objective jury to judge appropriately.

  6. Maybe they should call it the 2008 Bloggie Most Famous Awards. The sad thing is that that is all that really counts…
    and I had a good laugh at sparklette.net header image that took 20 seconds to load on a broadband connection.
    Always love a good rant and I completly agree with you.

  7. I’ve learnt more about these awards in the past three minutes than I have at any other time. Thanks for enlightening me, Vivien.

    To be honest, I wasn’t even aware who won what, or why, and from the sounds of it, it doesn’t really matter (although I’m glad that John got some very deserved recognition for iLT).

  8. Vivien, I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I’ve never paid much attention to the Bloggies in previous years, and seeing this year’s lineup doesn’t fill me with much anticipation. Not in the least.

    It seems as though a lot of these sites are nominated year after year, and to be quite frank a lot of them just… suck. Or make no sense in their appointed category.

    Meh, I won’t lose any sleep over it. It’s just a little disappointing.

  9. Andrew, of course you’re right about the awards being more of a popularity contest. I guess it’s our wishful thinking in hoping to see them to promote quality blogs rather than singing hymns to a bunch of bloglebreties.

    Simonne, you said it, girl! I couldn’t help myself from comparing so many nominated blogs to soap operas, and people’s love to watch and follow other people’s lives.

    One of the categories that I had to judge was the Best Teenage Blog. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t make myself to spend more than a few seconds on all the personal teenage blogs that were listed there. I voted only for a couple of blogs that were covering topics other than oh-so-difficult-life-of-a-teenager. No offense to teenagers, I know many high quality, impressive blogs, written by teenagers, but unfortunately they didn’t get nominated in this category.

    Jenny, regarding Dooce – all it took me is a few seconds of reading her About page and getting insulted by her foul mouth, you can guess that I’ll never go back to that blog again.

    Jacob, maybe even better – call it 2008 Bloggies Most Infamous Awards? It is rather sad, isn’t it?

    David, you’re welcome. You didn’t really loose much from not being aware of them. I did initially cast my votes there this year for the first time, because I really wanted to see some of my favourite blogs to get more recognition they deserve. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. At least, lucky for all us, John lives in Japan.

    Hamish, you’re right – it’s not worth loosing a sleep over it, but it is disappointing… especially the fact that, just like you said, most of the old time nominees suck a big time.

  10. My experience is very similar to yours. I cast my votes there for the first time this year and was one of the 50 on the panel as well.

    I made a gargantuan effort to visit all of those 300+ blogs in the time allotted (skipping over sites like Perez Hilton & Celebrity Baby which just didn’t stand a chance with me) but that didn’t allow me to spend much time assessing the blogs I was unfamiliar with. And it was even more difficult with the random categories. For you, it was the Teens, for me it was Sport.

    When I saw the shortlists, let’s just say they were disappointing.

    But I did learn a few things being on the “inside” so to speak, and as the Aussie blogging community is currently thinking about setting up our own awards, I hope that there are things that we will do better.

  11. Lani, thanks so much for your input. Glad to see that I was not the only one who had a frustrating experience judging the nominees.
    Good luck with the Aussie awards, you’ve certainly got some very talented bloggers out there!

  12. jen

    Four years ago I came across the bloggies and was able to find a couple of blogs that I still read today and it got me blogging soon after. Since then, though, the Bloggies seems to be a popularity contest and pretty much the same old blogs keep getting nominated. I tend to ignore these awards nowadays and have just glanced through to see who’s nominated.

  13. Thanks for dropping by, Jen.
    Gosh, four years ago… I can’t even imagine how different was the blogiverse back then… I bet professional blogging hasn’t been “invented” yet ;-)

  14. Hahaha, you know what this reminded me of? Nominating the Homecoming Queen in high school… total popularity contest, instead of being focused on quality and discovery like it should be. When I saw Dooce in the category for best design I was stunned. What design?! (I think you’re right about it being the dog pic, btw!) The ones you’ve been showcasing throughout your redesign articles are a bazillion times better! I feel your outrage, Vivien, and I’m right there with you (as are many others it seems from the comments!).

    I just came across the Bloggies this year and what a disappointment. Lifehacker… BWAHAHAHA. Whatever! I’m sorry but if you have more than 1,000 subscribers you are not a secret! At least they ban a blog from winning a category more than 3 times. PostSecret? Ok, cool idea, but icanhascheezburger is way better ;) Yeah, and I’m glad John moved to Japan just so iLT can get more traffic. If his blog isn’t a smashing success with an awesome design, I don’t know what is.

    I don’t think there’s a practical way around the one with the most votes wins. Ideally it would be something like a percentage of the readership so that if you have a blog with 10,000 readers that gets 1,000 votes and a blog with 700 readers that gets 500 votes, the one with 500 wins because more of the readers voted… but that won’t work. I can’t see any other way than most votes wins, unfortunately. I think the reason many of these blogs made it to this round is recognition; the people like you and Lani who were overwhelmed by the number of blogs to look at in such a short time just picked either from the first few on the list or the ones that were a recognized name (as in heard others talk about them before).

    The first thing that wouldn’t go amiss in improving this contest is disqualifying blogs that do not meet the requirements (unfortunately there really are no requirements for the categories). Like you said, as much as Darren is a valuable asset to us bloggers, his blog is not about web development!

    I definitely didn’t like Heather’s (Dooce) foul mouth either. Did you read what she said about her daughter on her FAQ page? I know she was joking, but I don’t think that’s something to be joked about >:(

    Ok… so I was watching the Sparklette site load and my progress bar really did move backwards!! NO JOKE! I’ve never seen that before… omg. And sorry, but puke with the girliness of that blog. Ick.

    So can you tell I got a little worked up over these too? It was disappointing at best.

  15. I took one look at the awards last year and never went back – for the same reasons you state in your post. I mean, good Lord, just look at those nominations you linked for “best designed blog”! Some are horrendous, and wasn’t Chris Pearson nominated last year?

  16. That sparklette site crashed my browser, so it obviously deserves special recognition.

    I love how you pointed out that 14 sties all had the same theme. Maybe the whole internet should move to that theme! Haha.

  17. @Lauren – huh, yeah, I see the awards got you a little worked up too ;-) No, I didn’t go to Heather’s FAQ page, her About page was enough for me to stop exploring her site.
    Regarding PostSecret or ican – I might go there once or twice (which I already did, and don’t really expect visiting them any time soon), but these are not the type of sites I would subscribe to and visit on regular basis.

    Yes, it’s hard to judge these types of contests, but it’s not impossible. Obviously the organizers didn’t really think through all the details carefully, or they just don’t care. In my opinion, if a blog wins one year, it should not get any more nominations the next year, if it’s still around and doing well the following year, then welcome back to the game. Perhaps I’m going a bit overboard with this, but that’s how we will have a chance to see new blogs and new stars there. As much as I like Jack Nickolson and Meryl Streep, I would get bored seeing them winning Oscars year after year.

    That’s interesting how the progress bar of your browser moved backwards on sparklette, and how the site crashed Jacob’s browser.
    Jacob Carter, it’s nice to see you here.

    Hi Adrian. Yes, you’re right, Chris Pearson’s site was nominated last year, but it didn’t win – it lost to Gizmodo, which we see once again nominated for the best designed blog this year. I was actually blowing off some steam at the last year’s awards as well.

  18. Hi Vivien,

    You don’t think myterritory is a blog? I think it is certainly a photo blog, even if unconventional… and that’s the category I was going for, if any! (btw, i did encourage my visitors to vote for Veerle as well).

    Eric

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach programming, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on