A Better Blog Contest

Filed as Editorial on August 16, 2011 1:37 am

A better blog award is one that highlights actual excellence in craftsmanship and the depth of one's knowledge on a subject matter.

There’s always one or other “blogging contest” going on around in the world, some are sponsored by “Big Money” and launched with obvious “Brand Promotion Agendas” while others promote “Presumably Good Causes”.

I’ve said previously, in general, joining a blogging contest is a good way to promote your blog and network with other bloggers.  You not only get a chance to build a wider readership for your audience, but you also get a chance to meet more established bloggers who can actually help you become a better blogger.

The right attitude in joining a contest, any contest, is to become more aware of what your capabilities are and learn how to improve them.  It is not so much winning that matters but finding and taking away lessons that you can help you achieve your own personal blogging goals.

However, it must be said, that some blogging contests are rigged in such a way that it essentially becomes a vehicle for establishing “no go” zones around certain brands.  Moreover, it can be a palliative remedy for what really ails people’s perception of the brand — bad service and bad practices.

Australia based blogger BenignO points this out rather well in The Establishment Blogger:

Thing is you never know who or what the subject of your next blog post will be.

What if one day we find out that the sponsor of the award trophy we so proudly display on our bookcase at home operates sweatshops that employ children in the slums of Guangzhou to manufacture the container van-loads of trinkets it imports every year and sells at a 200% margin in our neighbourhood malls?

So much for the big rare lightbulb that would have interrupted an agonising stretch of writer’s block.

In short, by routinely selling out, we paint ourselves into a creative corner with the let’s-not-go-there zones we surround ourselves with everytime we get in bed or play ball with Big Corportate, “generous” politicians, or agenda-laden “sponsors”.

(Note: Underscoring is mine.)

The funny thing about one particular blog award is that the nominees for its vaguely named awards are a balanced mix of maturing celebrities, social media consultants whose clients include big name politicians and huge mainstream media corporations, and one or two relative unknowns.

What’s rather disconcerting about the blog is that it has some people that I actually respect and admire hitting up other people all over Facebook and Twitter for votes like panhandlers.

I am rather disappointed that the brand didn’t come up with awards that would actually highlight a blogger’s craftsmanship and knowledge about their blog’s subject matter rather than the some times false acclaim of being the most popular blogger.  Thing is, in terms of popularity, how can one even begin to imagine going up against a world renowned and multi-awarded celebrity?!

Perhaps the brand’s blog award’s mechanics could have been designed in such a way as to level the playing field and aid the promotion of merit rather than popularity.

A better approach, I guess would be to do it this way:

  • Have all the nominees or contestants start off with a new blog under a pseudonym.  Bloggers joining the contest may not divulge their blog’s name or their pseudonym.  The bloggers will have to write original content that has never been published in their blog or column before. Bloggers may not use their real social media accounts to promote their blog or blog’s content.  The Bloggers may not promote each other’s blogs and they will not be known to one another.
  • The judges will not know who the bloggers are and the bloggers will not know who the judges are.
  • The bloggers will be given 3 to 6 months to develop the blog in terms of PageRank, Backlinks, sharing statistics, visits, and other parameters that can be measured using Alexa, Google Analytics, or any credible website analysis tool.
  • The bloggers will be rated for content, which should include an appraisal of their knowledge of the subject matter as well as their grammar.  They will also be appraised for critical thinking by being assigned to blog on topics that will be assigned to them.
  • Bloggers will also be assigned topics that are out of their usual range of topics to see how fast and how well they can learn a new subject matter.
  • Bloggers will also be assigned to cover live developing events and subjected to situations where their ethics will be challenged.
  • Their ability to influence online discussions should be measured using specifically designed parameters such as attribution or citation by relevant authorities on the subject matter, relevant context for anchor text/back links, and other such parameters that may be devised.  The Holy Grail, perhaps, would be to induce a real world event or development.
  • They will also be rated by how well they can configure the blog’s platform so that it conforms to relevant website standards.  The bloggers can gain an award for platform design and configuration.
Anyway, this is just a thought and I am putting it out here so that when people join a blogging contest, perhaps they’ll take some time to think about what they’re really competing for.  They may be so amazed by the cool and vague titles of the awards being given out that they fail to see they’re being exploited to promote a brand.

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