I enjoyed being a judge so much for the ERS blog awards earlier this year I decided I might try my hand again.
This time I’m to be the token male for the inaugural Campaign for Gender Balance Blog Awards.
I’m not going to express my own views about who I think should be nominated here as it obviously would be appallingly inappropriate. What I can do however is start a meme, in time honoured blog tradition.
This meme is very simple and largely based on the nominations process. Tagged bloggers are asked to do the following:
- Provide a link to the Gender Balance website (http://genderbalance.org.uk/pages/awards.html) and encourage as many people as possible to submit their nominations that way.
- Suggest THREE Blogs that should be nominated for in the Best Blog by a Woman Lib Dem category, and state why.
- Suggest THREE blog posts that should be nominated for the Best Blog Post By a Woman Lib Dem category, and state why.
- Suggest THREE Blogs that should be nominated for in the Best Blog by a Woman Non-Lib Dem category, and state why.
- Name THREE living women you would like to see blog, and state why. These can be women from any walk of life, not just Lib Dems (although that doesn’t mean they can’t be).
- Tag five other bloggers you would like to do the meme.
I can do the last bit at least, and nominate:
- Lynne Featherstone (who is also a potential nominee, but don’t take this to be favouratism)
- Jonathan Calder
- Antony Hook
- Millennium Elephant (who I’m pretty sure is a boy elephant, but I’ve never asked)
- Iain Dale (just to keep things interesting)
Tag! Of course, anyone else reading this is more than welcome – in fact encouraged – to do the meme themselves.
Is suggesting that, by blogging, you’re putting yourself up to be examined, ranked and voted on by the massed ranks of scarily politically-aware people who make up the Lib Dem blogging community even remotely the right way to go about encouraging more people to come forward and start blogging? I’m somewhat unconvinced. We can all take a reasonable guess at who the likely winners are already, and I have no doubt that they are very deserving. But they’d be just as deserving of praise without an award, without the side-effect of us having to make a list of who our super favourites really are.
I already know who my favourite Lib Dem bloggers are, and they also know who they are, because I generally make a point of telling them privately. Do we really have to play a game where we publicly rank people according to how much we like them? The absolute worst part of the blogosphere to date is the way in which everyone has to pretend to be super best friends with each other in order to try to win the online popularity contest of having the ‘best’ blog, as though the highest aim in life of a blogger is To Be Iain Dale. It’s intellectually bankrupt and I don’t think that encouraging this improves anything. I’ve never voted in or cared about any of the other blogging awards for precisely the same reason; I normally just ignore them, and have only been moved to say anything at all by the fact that the stated aim of this award is to encourage participation, when by definition it can only be won by those already doing quite all right without any help. The only good thing that this award does is get people talking about women’s participation in the blogosphere and I can accept that this end may justify the means, but only narrowly. The cost is to further entrench the idea that popular blogging is good blogging, which is profoundly untrue (as the Dale example shows).
I know I’m basically just repeating Chris Dillow here, but the whole notion of these kinds of awards is childish and unhelpful.
Rob, I think you (and Chris Dillow) misunderstand the purpose of awards. They are ultimately about who wins or loses; the final results are always contentious and that is no accident. They are about getting people talking about a thing, whether its books, films or blogs.
If we’re going to get into name calling though, I think pouting about awards is far more childish than the awards themselves will ever be.
And there’s no better way of getting people to talk about bloggers than by starting a popularity contest? I know there’s no way that you’d admit to any negative consequences of this approach given that you’re already publicly invested in promoting the idea, but, really, do you think that being #1 top blogger is what people should be blogging for? And if not, why would you want to promote that notion? As keen observers of the political process – and Liberal Democrats to boot – we should really be aware that, more often than not, the best person doesn’t win. The most popular one wins, and that’s not remotely the same thing, even if there are notable exceptions.
I’m not name-calling; I said that the concept is childish, because ranking who your favourite super duper buddies are is an inherently childish thing to do, but I didn’t accuse you of being childish. Obviously, by disagreeing with you I’m accusing you of being wrong about something, but I know that you’re a big enough person to take that kind of disagreement in your stride. I’m also not ‘pouting about awards’ – my possession of a Y chromosome already disqualifies me from any possibility of being a contestant, and I’ve never bothered to comment on any other awards, so this is hardly a case of sour grapes, which is the reason one might commonly assume for ‘pouting about awards’.
By way of conciliation, though, I can concede that perhaps we’re both right, from different perspectives. I find it naturally troublesome that awards and rankings tend to skew things in favour of those who do a good job of being popular rather than just a good job of being good, whereas you believe that any such negative effects are outweighed by the positive benefits of publicity for what we both agree is a good cause.
Some straight answers to some straight questions:
To be blunt, no, and tellingly you don’t suggest one.
No. I certainly don’t. But neither do I think that praising someone for writing a good blog is a bad thing.
I’m not – you are! 🙂
Seriously for a second Rob, because this seems to be skipping around the elephant in the room which is that I recently won an award. Do you really think I went out of my way to win? At around the same time they announced the Lib Dem Blog awards I upped the comics content on this blog. I didn’t exactly go out of my way to lose, but I didn’t do anything pro-active to win either and neither – as far as I can tell – did anyone else.
Why should these awards be any different?
Well, first of all, only one of the awards is going to be a popular vote – the rest will be decided by the judges. But being ambivalent about the ability of competitions to reward the “best” doesn’t mean that you should never hold them; it just means you should keep them in perspective.
As I said to Alix last night, I think you are analysing this waaay too much.
Before continuing this argument any further, I should point that I’m only doing so because a) for my sins, I enjoy arguing and b) I don’t expect to convince you but I do think that it’s worth having two sides to the story discussed.
With that said… Well, you’ve got me on the lack of alternatives, so I’ll have to concede that point.
I genuinely wasn’t thinking of the fact that you had recently won an award here. If I wanted to make a really cheap point I would have said something like “Ah, so the people who win awards are in favour of awards – what a surprise!”, but there are some arguments which are too cheap even for me. I could also point out that if you lowered the quality of your blog content (from a purely Lib Dem perspective) but still won then it supports my argument that winning isn’t about quality, and that the existence of the award did nothing to improve the quality of your blogging, but that would be taking a particularly cold and logical view of the situation.
It’s what I do. Unfortunately, I can’t really help it.