Are changes really afoot in the Irish Blog awards? In 2007 the nominations were voted on for the short list and the award winners were judged. In 2008 the long list, the shorter list and the final short lists were all judged. Why the change? No one really knows. And the sad truth is people are made wary of asking because if you fall foul of the main man, you'll find yourself blamed for making him ill by such occult means as applying to attend the event. For the record, I think that by in large the right people have won over the first few years of the awards but that doesn't mean they won for the right reasons. The vast majority of people who are blogging have no idea what criteria were used, who chose them, and how any inconsistency in judging was resolved.
I posted some simplistic analysis a while back on some of the problems that can arise from having annual awards with nominations only at the end of the year with the intent of simply highlighting that the individual posts nominated might not have been the best examples of each person's work. Instead of someone thinking, hhmm that could be something of a difficulty, maybe we're not seeing the best posts being nominated, how can we solve this problem. I was castigated and it was incorrectly stated I had contacted blog nominees informing them that they were ineligible.
We were all told that there was a crying need for judges but I'm aware of people who had been blogging longer than the awards have been going who never even got an acknowledgment to their offer to judge. A case of knowing the wrong people rather than the right people? People were apparently sent blogs 'as Gaeilge' to judge despite a self admitted lack of even the basics in the language.
An all powerful committee presiding over events isn't necessary by any means but some quite basic, and clearly transparent rules are at this stage. Best posts to take one example should be those from one date to another say 01/01/0X to 31/12/0X encompassing the preceding 12 months and not some make it up as you go along effort temporally dribbling back and forth into previous and future years. Set some minimum requirement for how a nomination is to be accepted, tell the public what the criteria are going to be for each category. And do all this well in advance. Anything done in secret is going to lead to suspicions no matter who is doing it.
As for the end of year Best Post problem, my suggestion still stands that a dead letter email address for Best Post that all Irish bloggers could have embedded it in their layout would be one really simple means to overcome the end for year bias in the current system. The inbox wouldn't need to be looked at until the year but we might just get better spread of nominees. Or at the very least have a degree more confidence that nothing really good from the early part of the year doesn't get missed out.
As regards the suggestion that previous winners should be barred I would think that a bad solution to what may be a temporary problem (remember Real Madrid won the European Cup 5 times in a row and the Kerry Ladies footballers won the initial 9 All-Ireland titles). I have mentioned it to a few people that those who make the short list each year should perhaps form the basis for an "Academy" type scenario, so that those passing judgment are peers of those they are judging. One could also give different weighting to each college within the Academy 30% to a public vote, 30% to the Academy and 30% to selected judges and 10% awards a la the Eurovision based on traffic.