Joining a “Blog Award” or “Blogging Contest” can be a great way to discover other blogs, network with other bloggers, and even if you don’t win, it can enrich your own blogging experience. This is especially so if it is a genuine contest or a search for what is the “best” blog in a category and not a corporate promotions gimmick dressed up like a blogging contest.
It is only by closely looking at the criteria and the judges that one can get a sense of whether a “blogging contest” will result in real acclaim.
Then again, if you really think about it, what kind of criteria can be devised for a literary form that is still in the process of evolving with the technology that makes it possible?
Two or three years ago, word about a blogging contest made its rounds and the contest was described as the a search for “influential blogs”. Just by looking at the mechanics for winning the contest, one could immediately see that it was a mash up between a popularity contest and a back-linking campaign for a site and the sponsors of the contest.
Here’s part of the mechanics for the influential blog contest:
Write a blog post and pick your choice of ten (10) emerging influential blogs.
Any blog in the world can be picked.
You can update the same post entry up to (date). However, please inform us of any changes.
Old blogs who move to a new domain are disqualified
Blogs who remove their archives just to fit in the cut-off date are disqualified.
Include a link to this post to help spread the word and encourage others to participate.
To be included in the raffle, links to the following sponsors should also be in the entry.
Post a comment and let us know about your entry. Only one entry per blogger.
Now here are some questions you might want to ask: Will the winner of this contest really deserve to be recognized as “influential”? If so, in what sense would the blogger be “influential”? Moreover, is it a raffle or a contest?
Influence, in blogging as well as in other online activities, can only be estimated and ‘back links’ are just one of several elements that indicate a blog’s influence. As far as back links are concerned, any SEO expert will tell you that it is the anchor text, the context of the anchor text, relevance, currency, traffic, PageRank and type of site that determines the quality of a back link. A thousand back links from a thousand dead PageRank 1 blogs isn’t going to be as useful as 10 back links from an active PageRank 7 or higher
If you are at all interesting in improving the number and quality of links to your blogs, there is a better and more ethical way method for link building.
In any case, the lesson here is that you have to be careful with how you name a contest and its awards. It goes without saying that the criteria for the contest should match the name of the contest and its awards.
Going back to the idea that blogging is an emerging literary form rendered in an evolving medium, there is basis for saying that there can be no common set of standards for an activity that is still being defined.
There are long held criteria for literary forms such as poetry, essays, feature articles, news reporting, and what-have-you. When such works are submitted or nominated for an award, they are essentially finished work and can be judged based on fixed attributes.
However, blogging as a literary activity, grew from the practice of computer programmers as well as scientists to record developments on an ongoing project and the need to share these records in order to confer with colleagues. It evolved along with the growth of its users and the development of technology. But even in its current state it is still, essentially, a method of recording an ongoing activity and sharing records of that activity.
In a way, it could be thought of as a conversation and the resulting written work is essentially incomplete if it is taken out of the stream of interactions that gave rise to it in the first place.
So, when you hold up a blog and say that this blog is the “Best Blog in Fashion” or the “Best Political Blog” or the “Best Food Review Blog”, what is one really holding up as the best? Is it one entry or the entirety of the blog which should include all entries as well as the blogs which probably compelled the writing of those entries?
Then again, there is the false notion that whatever is established as a matter of convention or common practice should be recognized as the standard for judging a form of expression. But what if convention or common practice are, in fact, wrong to begin with and what is being held up as the best is just what panders to the whim of those who judge it so?
Finally, the main point that must be stressed here is that there is a prevalence of “blog contests” that are merely corporate promotion tools and it is a shame that those who organize it as well as those who join it are deluding themselves with false acclaim.
If at all, you’re better off submitting an entry into an online writing contest.
Paul Farol is a Filipino writer and blogger currently based in Manila. He is currently a media practitioner and is involved in community development projects in Northern and Southern Luzon, Philippines.