Today Parents Magazine ended the many months of anticipation and hectic voting to choose its 2011 Best Blog Awards. The overall winner was no other than the indominatable (and rather delightful, but I might be biased, since we’re friendly) Liz Gumbinner of Mom 101. When she discovered the happy news, she said on Twitter, “So wow, @Parents Magazine voted me best all around blog. I’m kind of blown away. Thank you.” (She addressed missing @ParentsMagazine in her next tweet.)
What went into the contest? Parents Magazine stated the following:
These days, the influence of a blog, especially a blog written by and for parents, is undeniable. That’s why we decided to recognize the best bloggers in the blogosphere with our first-ever Parents Blog Awards. We asked readers to nominate and vote for their favorite blogs in 12 parenting-related categories.
While the blogging was vigorous this year, (Parents Magazine states that over 33,000 votes came in), I found it pretty interesting that I heard very little about this contest, even though I’m familiar with nearly all the nominees and winners.
Why? Because most bloggers are no longer participating in popularity voting contests. ***Author Note: About half the winners of the Parents Magazine contest were selected by the editors, NOT by voting, and Liz of Mom 101 was one of those winners.
In the early days of the blogosphere, before SEO (search engine optimization), blog awards were an honest way to recognize other bloggers. A handful of online publications had more elevated awards that were carefully thought out, and individual bloggers also created and gave out awards to honor their friends and favorites.
But it wasn’t long before vanity blogger award contests cropped up; SEO agencies sprung into existence and suggested that running a blog award contest was an excellent way to create inbound links and buzz from the original site – not to mention drive massive inbound traffic.
It took a few years, but eventually bloggers began to set aside their vanity (hey, it IS nice to be nominated after all) and began to realize that incessant begging for votes did their blogs no favors. I spoke with a handful of bloggers and asked their opinions on the subject.
I hate that I feel like they’re a big sham, but I do. Basically they’re meant to drive traffic to the contest site, nothing more. – Tina of Rock On Mommies
It doesn’t matter how many times my mom, and my second cousins aunt vote for me, it does not mean I am the ‘best’. Voting should be conducted by an independent panel of judges who are in no way showing bias in their decision making. – Tonya Staab of TonyaStaab.com
I’m not comfortable with asking my friends and family to vote, often numerous times over an extended amount of time, for something that will ultimately only benefit myself or my family. I would rather my being chosen for an award, honor, or job be based upon my merit rather than the amount of support or votes. – Amanda Henson of High Impact Mom
Being one of the people who WAS begging for votes and stressing I can say that I’d rather NOT ever do something like that again. It made me feel like I needed to bother people to validate me when my readership and decent stats should be enough to tell me that I AM validated. It helped me to re-focus on WHY I blog in the first place. – Clarissa Nassar of The Posh Parent
I don’t claim to know what Parents Magazine’s motivations were for running this contest; I’m hoping their primary objective is to honor the bloggers selected (and fine bloggers all, too). But it will be interesting to continue to watch the impact these voting contests have on the blogosphere in the future. If the bloggers refuse to play, will they go away?
I’m going to head something off at the pass here: there are many that feel that Babble’s blogger awards fall into the vanity voting category. That’s because there is some widespread confusion about the nature of Babble’s awards. The intial Top 50 lists are incredibly carefully selected, after months of work by a panel of judges. There is literally no way to rig the voting; I know this because I participated in some elements of the judging on the Top 50 Dad Blogs list. As much as I have my obvious personal preferences, there are plenty of checks and balances in place to make sure that no single judge has any major influence, and Babble picks judges they believe will be fair.
AFTER the announcement of the Top 50 lists, a section appears on the blog to nominate those that were left off that list. And while those nominated bloggers may be considered the following year, the voting that happens is just for fun and doesn’t impact the original or future lists in any way. Just for the record.