Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Tons More Fun In the Awards – An Appeal To Every Lib Dem Blogger!

You’ve probably noticed that in August there are few elections taking place, so the political blogosphere gets excited over competing not for votes but for gongs. Awards are always fun, either to revel in or to bitch about, as you pretend not to be thrilled if you’ve been nominated or loudly proclaim you’re not remotely bothered if you haven’t, but I have a suggestion this time to make the Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year Awards more interesting for everyone. And who can make them more fun? You, fellow Lib Dem Bloggers, all of you, I’m appealing for your help.

You see, most of the categories in this year’s Lib Dem Blog of the Year Awards are fairly easy to decide on – at least for all of us sending in nominations, though the judges might have a harder time of it – and most of them aren’t likely to expand anyone’s horizons. Yes, it’s possible that you might see a blog nominated you’ve not previously read, but it’s more likely that when it comes to “Blog of the Year”, “Best New Blog”, “Best Blog From A Liberal Democrat Holding Public Office” or “Best Non-Liberal Democrat Politics Blog”, you’ll already be familiar with each of the shortlisted nominations and have a good idea of which you like. These categories will rightly reward consistently outstanding bloggers and publicise them to people who don’t read blogs that often, but if you read a lot of political blogs, those awards won’t do anything to change your mind. In short, each of those could tend to be a bit partisan rather than opening you up to something you didn’t know.

“Best Use Of Blogging Or Social Networking By A Liberal Democrat” is a bit more challenging to think about, though it sounds a bit technical. But it might well fit into the same sort of category of award as the last heading, that of “Best Posting On A Liberal Democrat Blog”. For me, this is by far the most interesting category. And before you suggest it, yes, it is the only award I’d shortlist myself for, but as – if anything – this post aims to massively increase the competition, I’m not blogging here out of self-interest. I just think this category has the potential to offer all sorts of interesting postings and ideas that have either been forgotten over the last year, or were overlooked at the time, and I simply like to read really good posts. So…

Q. How Do You Find the “Best Posting On A Lib Dem Blog”?

There are a lot of terribly good Lib Dem blogs out there. Some are prolific, some post rarely but in depth, but one thing’s for certain; even if I stuck just to some of my favourites (say, the ones in my sidebar), there’s no way I’d be able to read every post in the last year by each of them. Now, obviously if you can remember a particular post that was brilliant, send it in. But if you need reminders, or want to nominate several (I know I will), how do you come up with a list without having to read everything everyone’s ever written?

Lib Dem Voice, which each week publishes a list of the “Golden Dozen” ‘Best of the blogs’, has this week been putting up a countdown of the most popular hundred posts of the last year. That’s very useful, and I’ve rediscovered quite a few and read others for the first time, but I don’t think it’s ideal for composing a list of the ‘best’.

You see, what the “Golden Ton” does is list the hundred blog posts which received the most click-throughs from Lib Dem Blogs Aggregated in the last year. So, even more than the weekly Golden Dozen – which is a mix of factual click-through measurement and picks of other interesting posts which didn’t ‘chart’ – this isn’t necessarily a measurement of quality. It might also be a list of the blog posts with the most provocative headlines of the year, for example, or the most tantalising first hundred words, with no way of telling whether people were disappointed that the piece itself might not live up to the excitement of the title or the ‘trailer’ (and how many movies would you rate differently if that’s all you had to go on?). It has no way of recording blogs that get readers from different sources, or ones that people are so keen on that they’ve bookmarked them for daily reading while they might only read occasional posts on another blog that therefore gets more hits through the Aggregator (and no, I don’t have a stat-counter, so I have absolutely no idea how many people read mine, nor their route).

The Golden Ton isn’t even through being published yet, and already one person’s attacked it for being too factual, while another’s asked whether we couldn’t see an alternative list that wasn’t dominated by posts about last year’s Leadership Election. I know that, as with my posting that was shortlisted last year, the pieces I’ve written that have so far appeared in the Golden Ton aren’t ones I’d have particularly chosen. I’ve had several entries in the Golden Dozen over the last year, and the two that hit the ‘number one’ spot really, really aren’t ones I’d choose as my best. But that’s the trouble – a factual ‘chart’ ought to be entirely factual. Once people start saying ‘leave that out, it wasn’t my best’ or ‘put this one in instead’, it’s down to individual preferences, and there’d be far bigger rows than there are when people are just complaining that cold statistics don’t make them happy. The Golden Ton, then, is a fascinating piece of work and well worth reading, but it’s a list of clicks based on all sorts of preferences at the time, and couldn’t possibly be a definitive measurement of ‘worth’.

A. Get the Bloggers to Pick Out Their Own Favourites.

OK, fellow Lib Dem blogger, if you’ve got this far, then this is what I’d like you to do.

Please, over the next couple of weeks – no later than, say, the 25th of August, so people have time to make up their minds before the Awards nomination deadline – can you read back through the last year on your own blog and pick out your favourite pieces you’ve written?

I’d love to be able to just go to every blog and have a look at the cream of them. I know it’s blowing your own trumpet; I know it’s hard work; but isn’t it the best way to make sure people notice what you’ve been really good at, and to show off to everyone just how brilliant Liberal Democrat Bloggers are in general? Of course, people will still nominate plenty of pieces you don’t think are your best because everyone’s tastes are different, but come on, isn’t it worth you looking at the lot and offering some hints? No-one else will.

I’ll have a go at a list of my own in the next week, and run the risk of people pointing and laughing at the solo egomaniac. I don’t know what I’ll pick out yet, but hopefully there’ll be something interesting. But really, I’m much more interested in yours. If you’ve been featured in the Golden Ton or the Golden Dozen, will you pick the ones that were popular clicks at the time, or the perfectly formed piece that you suspect no-one actually read? Rather than relying on the charts, think of this as your very own compilation, with no-one there to tell you you have to pick the ‘hit singles’ rather than the ‘album tracks’ you love.

It’ll be embarrassing if no-one does it but me, but I can take embarrassment; more, it’ll be disappointing not to look at blogs I like but perhaps haven’t got round to reading all of and be able to say, ‘Blimey, they’re right, I missed that one in November but it’s smashing’.

If you write a Liberal Democrat Blog, then go on – treat yourself, and the rest of us, and pick out a bumper selection of the entries you think are your best. It’ll make the awards much more fun for all of us, and you might just learn something, don’t you think?

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

And in at number 12 on The Golden Ton for 2008-9.

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OK, I quite like this one:

And this one, though it is somewhat off-message

and the comments digress wildly.
Excellent! Thanks, Joe - I'm just about to go out, but I'll read them later.

I did mean to suggest you put them on your own blog, though, rather than 'everyone come to me' ;-)
As requested, Alex.

You see, Joe. This is how it’s done :oD
I've done my list! It's on
But why didn't you do yours Alex?
Oh - they're permanently fixed down the side - I see:@)
Hi Jo - as I've said above, I'll be doing mine shortly... I've just got a bit to read ;-)

And the links at the side are some of my personal favourites, true. Though as they go back two and a half years, they may not all be eligible!
PSA: You've been shortlisted in a certain category in my blog awards, which will be decided by public vote. Just so as you know.

Also: more than one person has voted for you so far. Better let Richard know what a hot property he has on his hands ;)

Also: I swear I'm going to get around to doing this at some point soon. It's not like I haven't had some tabs open for days now...
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