Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Best blog posts of 2008 - bad dates

Last year I got myself into some hassle because I pointed out that the best post category for the Irish Blog Awards tends to suffer from that old Oscar problem of forgetting about anything decent that came out before the summer block busters blinded us. I'm not sure why people decide to take comments about a matter of process so personally but what the hey, I think process is important to warrant the occasional post.

So how does this year's line up compare? Well not nearly as bad though there is still a marked tendency to nominate material from the very end of the year. And as I noted last year unlike the Oscars people aren't deliberately saving their best work for the year end so this means good stuff is missing out. January is still a weird month for nominations, people really don't know which year they should nominate for. Nothing from 2008 makes it into the '08 list but one from 2009 does. Some clarity around dates wouldn't go amiss.

On the topic of dates, the return of the Swearing Lady was long over due to my mind and she was much missed by all but the rules for nomination were that people had to be actively blogging between July 15th and December 15th 2008*. But Sweary only returned to us the first week of December, and had five posts before Dec 15th so I'm not sure how stands up as active blogging Then we've the curious case of the new Irish Economy Blog which on the short list for specialist Blog and which is a work of real quality and something I hope will long be with us but it didn't start until Dec 23rd.

Update: as pointed out by Philip from Irish Economy the first post was Dec 2nd. Which is still less than 2 weeks before the Dec 15th date.

I'm not saying it's all being made up as it goes along but it sure seems like it to even the most causal observer. It is entirely possible that some people didn't nominate a particular blog because they thought they had to follow the rules. Or maybe the truth is only the little people have to follow the rules.

The numbers month by month for 2008 and then 2007 are

December 15/17
November 11/12
October 5/8
September 7/4
August 5/6
July 6/5
June 5/2
May 5/3
April 6/3
March 5/4
February 6/0
January 0/0

Jan of 2008 had 7 nominations compared to this year's 1.

Sadly, I would say based on this that there is a more than fair chance that many of the posts nominated are not even the best posts the individual bloggers have done this year not to mind the best posts of the whole year overall. The idea of the best post of the month has helped, but it still leaves us with a problem at the tail end.

If I was to consider what should happen here, it would not be feasible at this stage to remove either of the blogs involved from the running for their categories. Instead what should happen is the proposed rules for next year should be posted within the next 4 weeks and people given a chance to provide feedback on them. I would also suggest if no questions were asked about the eligibility by any of the judges for those sections that they shouldn't be judges again. I mean how superficial were the criteria and assessment that no one noticed that the blogs hadn't been blogging?

*A reminder of the rules:

A Blog can be nominated in any category by anyone, but the Blog owner can only accept nominations in one category (with the exception of Best Blog Post) to move the blog forward into the judging rounds. To be nominated the Blog has to have been actively blogging between July 15th and December 15th 2008. Winners of each category will be sent forward into the Grand Prix category where they will compete for the title of “Best Blog 2009″


Philip R. Lane said...

Just a slight correction: The Irish Economy website became active on December 2nd 2008.

Dan Sullivan said...

My bad, Philip. Though the point itself stands, the rules were that blogs should be actively blogging between July and Dec 15th. I've no idea why those dates were chosen but I recall someone making reference to how they would exclude particular people. Maybe it was an accident maybe it was deliberate - fact is no one knows because of the secretive nature of the awards process. The only thing people have to go on is the supposed rules and now it seems they don't mean much either.

I don't think is fair to yourselves or anyone else that there is such amibguity about dates and eligiblity. I think your blog and those on it are an excellent addition.

le craic said...

My head is spinning with all these dates - tbh I don't think it's worth getting too hung up on them or the whole process.

Dan Sullivan said...

I'm an engineer, I like things to work as described or I'll just pick them apart to find out why they don't!

JohnSmyth said...

"The secretive nature of the awards process"?
I think that's being a tad dramatic. Every nomination for Best Post came from either the Post author or a fan of the blog - it's unlikely that even a dedicated fan of a blog is going to go through a year's worth of posts before nominating. AS for the judging process - it's all voluntary, so it's unlikely to be too scientific.

Sign up as a judge next year - it's open to anyone, AFAIK.

It's only meant to be a bit of fun...


Dan Sullivan said...

A bit of drama never hurt anyone. Well, ok there was that bloke in Austria with the stage knife but he survived.

I did suggest last year that there be an ongoing nomination process for the best post and in part the monthly prize is an attempt to do that.

I accept judging is voluntary, and that it won't be scientific but you'd expect that it would have some public criteria and FYI judging is not open to everyone. THe fact is people don't know who the judges are nor what the process is. Nor is nominating or attending, my own nominees didn't make the nomination list (which had no judging) and my registration toe attend made in Dec was 'lost'. Those who are regular here will know why. If you get on Damien's bad side even if it's because he had a mood then you're toast.

Look it's not like we're electing a government or something important here and the night itself is good craic. It's just that it would be nice if it was somewhat more inclusive or objective.

Omaniblog said...

Only this morning have I found out about this controversy. I was shocked to find out that a blog won an Award without having met one of the defining criteria.
I was going to check the facts myself but now that I have it from three sources that this has happened, I have questions about the whole process.

I'm not at all pleased to be distracted by this. I live blogged the ceremony last night and left feeling that a great job was being done celebrating great work.

We live in a country where politicians have said they never read the detail. If we have bloggers saying that they didn't know the rules, we are facing another generation of people without decent standards, I think.

The people at Irish Economy knew when they started. They knew the criterion was that you had to have been blogging actively from July 2008.

They had a duty to disqualify themselves. The judges had a duty to judge according to the rules.

I was a judge in 2007. I began the work of judging by printing out the rules and referring to them all the time. Rather than read all the posts, I randomly sampled. And when I found that a blog had not published on the random date that counted against the blog. On this basis Irish Economy would have got no score for July, August, September, October and November. There is no way it would have made it into the final cut.

I am absolutely horrified that there were people in the room who knew this and let it happen.

If this can happen once, it can happen twice. It sullies all the other winners who should be very very angry.

Is there a chance that we are misreading the facts?

Now I'm thinking that the Awards might need to be audited. Too much power concentrated in too few hands maybe.

I disqualified myself because I didn't blog in July and August 2008. Since September 2008, I blogged about 30 posts per month and probably more. But I still felt disqualified.

I'm going to think more about this and post something on my blog.

Right now I feel so cheated. I hope it turns out that there was a public change in entry requirements that I missed.

Otherwise the least I demand is that Irish Economy hand back their award before they are stipped of it.

What bugs me most is that this is a process controlled by Irish people about 20 years younger than me. I've come back to live among you from UK, and I care about the ethics of this place.

Dan Sullivan said...

I'm going to post later today on some more of the problems with the way the awards were conducted both in the run up and the awarding of prizes.

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