What was ‘best’ about it?

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I’m coming late to the Annual Irish Blog Awards Post Mortem Car Crash, but there are a number of basic points. (1) there is a process but no one knows what it is, it’s the Coke secret formula and KFC magic recipe. (2) any criticism of the process or awards winners draws the wrath of the clique down upon you.

The questions that anyone would ask about a winner is what ‘Besty’ quality did they have that made it the best? How might a blog seek to be ‘best’ next year or is that trying too hard disqualifies? What made it best? If it is simply to be taken on trust that some judges, somewhere, somehow made this decision then I think that’s a worthless process no better than the one used to select popes. “We thought he was the popeist candidate so there!”, and what qualities does a person need to be pope? “Err… he needs to be popelike” and so on ad infinitum. They were the best because they were the best but we can’t exactly tell you what the best is.

A poster on Head Rambles raised a couple of interesting points which I responded to and which in the best traditions I’m going to recycle here. There are rumours that judges were being ‘approached’ one year but that needs to be viewed with a somewhat jaundiced eye. I suspect those claims originate from around the same time he was claiming that he was himself being ‘harassed’ by people when that was not the case. I know this because I was one of the people he claimed was harassing him (by reading his blog apparently!). It was a stressful time for him with the hassle of organising the awards along with the diagnosis of his MS so flying off the handle isn’t entirely unexpected but false claims are false none the less. So I’d not use claims from that time as support for the idea that judges for the final rounds must be always anonymous. Indeed, I recall reading last year that the scoring sheets for the Web Awards were to be made public and than thought that the same might happen with the blog awards in response to the points raised last year but that idea seemed to fade away too.

“Also, if you publicise what specific aspects are being judged, you risk a previously ‘blah’ blogger fixing these specific things for the judging time period, which isn’t fair!”

The problem is that aren’t people meant to be judging the blog over the course of the year, it’s the best blog from 2009 not the best blog for June and November of 2009. And certainly not that people would up their game for the Jan-Mar of 2010 when their content is meant to be off limits for the judging period. I thought, as I’m sure do most, that blogs were being judged on what they had done not what they were doing right now. Problem is we’ve been down this road over inconsistency about dates and what criteria is used before and nothing has been done about it.

I would, also, have thought there would be more than 4 aspects that a blog would be judged on, not 15 or 20 cos people have lives and a limited amount of time but surely more than 4. There is so little information in the public domain about what the process actually is. I can think of more than that off the top of my head, it’s a blog not newspaper column so allowing comments and interacting with those commenting should count for something, that’s 2. Frequency of posting, one brilliant post a year shouldn’t win you best blog, best post sure but not best blog. Relevancy to the topic for the categories should be a factor not an overarching one but important. The Look and Design of the site, ease of access, and that’s 4 before we get to the quality of the writing.

Competitions that have judges typically make them known, at a minimum after the fact but normally before. The current IBA process is like e-voting, you the punter, have to just take it on trust that the inner workings are fair to all concerned. The work of judging is hard and time consuming yet I think it does a disservice to those who do it that the same effort appears not to be put into ironing out any flaws that people point out in the process. It’s a great night out for loads of people, and it would seem to me that the bulk of the work goes into that with the process of how the awards themselves are decided is a comparative afterthought. And that’s the pity.

As for the response of the core of the IBA clique (and this again proves there is one) they are by now well practised with their default arguments that if you’re not involved as judge or organiser you can’t criticise the process, that anyone making any complaint is automatically a begrudger or just jealous, that’s it’s all just a bit of fun (so why seek press coverage then, the Puck Fair committtee isn’t sending out press notices about the Bonnie Baby competition), or the new one that if the critic is male “your a misogynist.” The process is a mess and that’s not because beaut.ie won, it was mess last year when someone else won for 2008. I’ve no idea if Beaut.ie is the best blog from last year, I don’t know why Beaut.ie was selected or why they shouldn’t have been last year, and after all this I still don’t. Which is a pity.

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