Monday, December 19, 2005

The Weblog Awards: The Good

The 2005 Weblog Awards are over and, now that it looks like I've "won" the Best New Blog category, I want to close the book on my real feelings about these awards. Yes, I ridiculed them at the start and I'm willing to admit that I may have even tossed out some unwarranted vitriol towards these particular awards.

I say this especially after a post on Saturday by Weblog Awards organizer Kevin Aylward, in which he articulated very statesmanlike thoughts on the awards and their place in the blogosphere. These awards have not been great fun for me -- more on that in "the bad" and "the ugly" to follow – but they've at least ended on a civilized note from the host at conservative blog, Wizbang.

"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," wrote Aylward over the weekend. "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."

Aylward also addressed the discourteous comments made by some other Wizbang writers including one who expressed "...sympathy for the left side of the blogosphere."

"They have a remarkable ability to organize themselves behind a cause, to rally overwhelming support and utterly dominate elections," wrote Jay Tea. "Unfortunately, it only seems to hold true for things like the 2005 Weblog Awards, where they managed to run away with several of the top prizes. When it comes to things like real elections, they are utter and complete failures. For example, I think Kos has a perfect 0-18 record for backing losing candidates."

Said Aylward in his Saturday post: "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."

Despite my original negative comments about the contest being sponsored by a conservative blog and the fact that the nominations seemed slanted toward the Right, my main problem with the awards is really more with methodology, than ideology. The Weblog Awards allowed people to vote once a day, for 10 days and, given my day job in computer security, I can tell you that there was no shortage of ways that a knowledgeable person could pump up the results.

But more than the possibility of fraud, I continue to question the value of an award where victory is far more predicated on getting people to vote early and often than on the quality of writing or the thoughts routinely expressed on the nominated site. It's a numbers game, pure and simple.

Did I really have the best new blog? Probably not. I can think of five or six sites off the top of my head that were more deserving than mine -- and they weren't even nominated. Some of my competitors may even have better efforts on a day-to-day basis. I just happened to get broader support at this place and time.

To those of you who voted for me because you read my blog and because you appreciate my work, I truly appreciate it and I thank you. That matters to me in a huge way.

And Kevin Aylward's final act of inclusiveness and graciousness – despite what I'm sure was a trying experience for him – coupled with some changes in voting methodology may mean a legitimate future for the Weblog Awards.