Voting for The 2005 Weblog Awards clocked in at nearly 445,000 votes in 37 different categories., a total which simply amazes me. I want to start by thanking those who’ve sent well wishes and provided occasionally needed moral support.
There’s been lots of comments about The Weblog Awards, most positive, some negative. I want to address a couple of the meta issues from my perch as the host. First it’s worth restating the guiding principles of of The Weblog Awards, since it’s inception in 2003:
1) Open and public nominations
2) Categories that allow blogs of similar readership levels to compete
3) Real time vote totals
4) Quick turnaround of the results
Lots of people had fun with the process and the prospect of expanding their horizons by participating in The Weblog Awards. There’s a great big blogosphere out there and The Weblog Awards helped many people see more of it. I’ve been somewhat surprised and very pleased by the support and participation of blogs from the left side of the political blogosphere like Crooks & Liars, Jesus General, Pandagon, Talk Left, etc. promoting their participation and providing support to me personally. I’d also like to thank the countless number of finalists who’ve sent messages thanking me for doing a thankless job. Most finalists can look at the hoopla and can only imagine the headaches that go with running a contest like this. I’m sure all of them are glad it’s me instead of them taking the slings and arrows.
On the subject of participation, The Weblog Awards are (and have always been) open to all. Everyone is welcome to participate and everyone is invited to vote. If you were late to the process this year, we’ll be firing up things in late October 2006 at weblogawards.org with a call for new categories. Nomination start in early November and voting starts around December 1, 2006.
Regarding participation, there was a minor controversy over the source of votes for one of the finalists in the lowest Ecosystem category. The blog was new (and hence low rated in the Ecosystem), but the blogger was an established online guy. He ended up getting a personal recommendation and link from a the owner of a prominent online forum. I received several request to “do something” about it. I declined to do anything about it. It’s a big interweb and everyone is welcome at The Weblog Awards. Maybe other awards are closed to the general public or open only to specific communities, but that is not and never will be The Weblog Awards model.
One question that often comes up is why the voting period is so long. It’s always been a 10 day contest because that seemed to work as a playing field leveler. It gave the little guy (or gal) a chance vs. the big guy (or gal) in the categories where blogs of dissimilar traffic stats compete. The reasoning was (and is) that a committed little guy (or gal) has a shot against a disinterested or marginally interested big guy (or gal). Maybe that will change in 2006, but so far in three editions of The Weblog Awards the model hasn’t proved to be broken.
That leads me to a complaint I’ve seen floating around that needs to be addressed. It’s no secret that Wizbang is a conservative blog, nor is it a secret that it’s highly ranked in Technorati and the TTLB Ecosystem. Over the past three years I’ve tried to keep that label well removed from The Weblog Awards. The Weblog Awards were never intended to be, nor have I ever purported them to be a “conservative” event. Call me an idealists, but I do believe that it’s possible to engage in such competitions in a spirit of openness to all political leanings. I think the 2005 edition of The Weblog Awards proves that. Conservative bloggers who may have grown accustomed to a dearth of liberal nominees and finalists in The Weblog Awards should probably divorce themselves of the notion that liberal blogs will (or should) stay away because they have their “own” awards (The Koufax Awards). Again back to the bit about everyone being invited…
Denigrating the apparent victories of several liberal blogs in major categories, is in my opinion, childish. I didn’t hear any teeth gnashing in 2004 when Powerline won the Best Blog category, nor should there be a hue and cry when (it appears) that DailyKos will win that award this year. Maybe there’s not a lot of audience overlap between those two blogs, but the fact that each won the top award is testament to their reach and influence. The same goes for winners in other categories. Their votes are no different that anyone else’s vote, it’s just that they have more of them. As a Survivor fan I’m reminded of a familiar refrain in the final tribal councils, “that was the game I was playing.” The Internet is a big place and there’s lots of places to pick up support. I saw it all this year: forums, mailing lists, community sites, grassroots organizations, etc. Collectively this kind of exposure is a good thing for the blogosphere, and at the end of the day “exposure” is what The Weblog Awards is really about.
Next year, to eliminate confusion, I’m going to ask everyone at Wizbang to just stay away from the topic of The Weblog Awards completely – which both Jay Tea and Paul already tend to do without asking. Neither Jay Tea nor Paul are involved in any way in The Weblog Awards – they’re as much spectators as anyone else. Each made one post regarding the awards, which I hindsight I wish were not made. Since The Weblog Awards site is hosted separately, sometimes I forget that what is said here (even if it not by me) is often regarded by others as part of The Weblog Awards. I don’t think of it that way, but in the blogosphere such perceptions can quickly take on a life of their own. Every year is a learning experience; that’s one lesson I learned this year.
Which brings me to my last point.
I’m under no illusion that (even with unlimited time) I could prune the nominations for each category to a list of the 15 blogs that everyone would agree were the absolute best 15 blogs that category has to offer. Under incredibly tight deadlines, I (and the awesome people who help me) do what we can to pick the best slate possible. In the process I’m sure many excellent blogs are overlooked. The fact that you might not like some (or all) of the finalists in a category does not equate to their worthiness to compete and/or win.
Again I refer back to the “open to all” commitment. If you can’t get behind the openness concept I encourage you to find (or create) your own closed or limited participation awards, because that’s not the direction The Weblog Awards is going…