Those Blog Awards…

A revolt is fomenting in the Jamaican blogging (under)world, and I can’t help but question whether it’s a case of sore losers or legitimate grouses.

Jamaica Blog AwardsIn November 2010 I saw a tweet about a Jamaican Blog Awards. That tweet mushroomed into a movement that quickly engendered palpable excitement among the twitterati and in the blogoshpere (which, for the most part, happens to be one and the same). Someone had conceptualised, and put into motion, an awards show for Jamaican bloggers, with nominations in sixteen categories. The awards (JBA) eventually drew nominations for 276 blogs from Jamaica and abroad.

This number was eventually whittled down, and Yaadinfo – having initially been nominated in three categories – made it to the TOP FIVE of two of those categories: Top Blog Post 2010 and Readers’ Choice. We continue to thank our readers and listeners of the podcast for voting (some folks voted every day for about two weeks!) and for your unwavering support.

Corve DaCosta is the man behind the Jamaica Blog Awards, and we commend him for seeing this idea through to fruition. While there has been some controversy regarding who conceptualised the awards, and while I know VERY WELL the importance of an idea and the pain of having it stolen from you, I also know that ideas are nothing if not executed and executed properly. Corve also did (I think) a good job in responding to certain claims – backing up his responses with evidence of email correspondence. Enough of that!

Sadly Corve, in life when you put out one fire, you quickly have to turn around to tend to another.

I left the blog awards feeling somewhat disappointed. Not because Yaadinfo didn’t win any awards – truth be told I didn’t expect us to for several reasons – but because there were several other blogs that I believed were most deserving, and whose owners walked away empty-handed. And that’s really just how it felt being at the ceremony that night – empty. I felt like I came to a party for a clique or private group to which I was not really invited, and it seemed as if they had their party despite the unwelcome guests. To begin with, the gentleman at the entrance was unable to find my name on the list despite Yaadinfo being a finalist in (NOT one but) two categories. I guess I can always brush that off as him being too pressed for time to carefully peruse the list, or maybe a case of bad night vision. Then when the awards began, you could clearly tell by the shouts and screams when nominees were announced, what groups had banded together and were undoubted favourites.

But a few other (worrying) issues have been pointed out to me since the awards. Concerns have been raised about a representative of one of the sponsors commenting on a nominee’s JBA page – this nominee eventually won. There is the issue of the rules apparently being changed mid-stream, as was the case in the announcement at the TOP FIVE Reveal Show that there would be further voting, in addition to a text-in vote. And perhaps most importantly, the matter of transparency: if there was a judging component to the selection of the winners, WHO were these judges? And HOW were they selected? Oh, and this one is a “biggie”: In one category, two blogs were nominated that belonged to ONE individual, both “made it” to the top five, and one was eventually selected as the winner. In my mind, these are all salient concerns, and the legitimacy and life of the JBA would require them being addressed.

My two cents

I believe for these awards to have staying power, the full co-operation/participation of all stakeholders, and be perceived as legitimate, there are some things that MUST be changed for the next iteration.

  • Full transparency in the selection of the judges (maybe even having the bloggers themselves vote from a pool of judges before the process begins)

  • Judges also CANNOT participate in any category in which they may have a blog nominated (this goes without saying)

  • Transparency in the criteria for “Jamaican Blog of the Year” (which we would expect to be different from that of other categories)

  • While anyone may nominate a blog, the top five should be determined by judges only, after which public voting begins. Not only is it difficult to ask readers to participate in two phases of voting, but this also ensures that the top five are selected not based on popularity or who can best mobilise their fans.

  • Voting should be limited, using MAC or IP address, to one per computer (or perhaps require email address for voting and limit votes to one per email address).

  • There may need to be additional categories such as “Travel/Hospitality”, “News” and “Variety” (yes I have a dog in that hunt!)

  • And finally – NO MORE FASHION SHOWS!!! WTH????

Despite the foregoing, I still believe the germination of an idea to its manifestation just two months later was remarkable work by Corve and his team. I know as long as there are awards of any kind, there will be controversy of all kinds, and so I wish the organisers all the best for the future.


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