September 7, 2009

BBAW: Awarding the Best or a Popularity Contest?

(Warning: this might tick off some people, which is not my intention. My intention is to initiate a discussion about this because I really want to understand. Please keep it civil. Thanks.)

The BBAW Shortlists are out! Check them out here.

My first response was excitement: did my favorite blogs get shortlisted? Did I get shortlisted?

Then I began reading the lists. Over and over I saw the same names. What is this? I thought you could only be shortlisted in one category, but clearly not. Forget that I was not shortlisted, because I did not really expect that (although, I admit, it would have been very cool). What bothers me is that it seemed like the same blogs were shortlisted many times over.

Here is my problem with this.

One: you can't be the best at everything.
Two: just because someone has a lot of followers or has been blogging for years does not necessarily make them the best at something. It does not necessarily mean they aren't the best, but you see my point.
Three: Some of these blogs I feel don't even fit into the categories anywhere near as well as others do (that are and are not shortlisted with them). It doesn't make any sense to me.
Four: Nominating was fair. Voting will be fair. The making of shortlists seemed during the making like a popularity contest, and now I feel that this has been confirmed. (I know I am not the only one who feels this way, despite the reassurances on the BBAW site.) (Perhaps it is like Ann Kingman told me on Twitter, that it has a lot to do with the 5 posts that were submitted for judgment.)

Now, with that said, there were many blogs on there that were different, I saw a few blogs I was not familiar with, I saw some that I actually nominated (yay!), and I saw a variety of blogs included. I am not saying there were not a variety by any means.

My concern is that there were those handful of blogs that were in 3+ categories. That was the issue I had when looking back at last year's winners. The same blog had won over and over again. What is to prevent the same thing from happening this time? Perhaps they deserve it, but I just feel that it has the feeling of when someone sweeps the Oscars. The other hard workers and wonderful bloggers and terrific blogs do not get an award as recognition. (For the record, I am not a fan of any awards shows where people win in all categories.) I feel that people should be recognized for their best features and then leave something for others.

Perhaps I am missing the point of awards. Maybe the point is to sweep across all categories. Maybe I am too much of a pre-kindergarten teacher where everyone gets an equal chance. I don't know. Maybe I am looking for more of a People's Choice Awards than an Oscars-type Committee Awards.

What do you think?
Am I blowing this so far out of proportion that even the universe can't find my point?
Do others like the idea of a committee (who works hard, no doubt about it) making the shortlists?
Do you think some blogs were overlooked that would have fit much better into the category (whether you nominated them or not)?
Do you think the bloggers who are nominated should submit 5 posts or should the people who nominate them give proof?
Do you care whether certain blogs are shortlisted for more than one or even two categories?

I am completely open for discussion about this. I am not trying to start anything, but just really want to understand where others are coming from and try to improve my perspective if necessary. And Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted, especially those who fit into their categories. I wish you the absolute best of luck!


  1. well the blogs that have more than 1 nomination, for the category blogs like Best Historical Fiction or Best Graphic novel, one where there is a specific niche, you could only be shortlisted for one topic. the other categories like Most Chatty, Best Design, those were done by popular vote. as to a blog not seeming like they fit in the category, maybe not overall they seem like they don't fit, but the 5 links they sent in HAD to match that category otherwise there's no way they would have been shortlisted.

  2. I'm going to put my two cents in!

    Some of the blogs on there I just love, others I think are okay and I'm definitely going to be looking into the ones that are unknown to me.

    I do have a problem with some of the blogs in the categories. For example isn't a new blog. It wasn't created this year. I just adore Doug's blog, Scifiguy. He was the first person to comment on my little blog, so this isn't a comment against him, just that some of the blogs shortlisted might not be in the right category. Maybe this category should be for blogs that were created in the last 12 months?

    Anyway I agree with you, congrats to the blogs that are shortlisted, they do deserve it, but I have some reservations.

  3. Hi Rebecca,

    I don't know if you remember last year, but one blog won in several categories which is why we made the rule you could only be shortlisted in one review category. The Everything Else categories are more the fun categories and also the things that make up a blog. For example, they give opportunity for a kidlit blog and a romance blog to have their features run up against each other.

  4. A blog could only be shortlisted in ONE niche category but could be shortlisted in as many other "Everything Else" categories as they qualified for. This was pretty clear on the nomination page from the very beginning. So a blog can not be both the best graphic novel blog AND the best YA blog. But hey, if they have the best giveaways and the best design, then yes, give them kudos to both.

    Bloggers submitted five posts that best fit the description of the category. They could not shortlist if those five posts did not match the category for which it was nominated. No other posts were looked at or used to determine scores.

    I'm writing up my post now about my own BBAW shortlists and will be including the five posts that I submitted to the panel so others can see exactly which posts I was judged on and make their own voting decision.

    Did a blog maybe fit better in another niche category? I'll be honest and admit that I feel I'm a better fit as a general review blog and not exclusively a kidlit blog but dang I do have a TON of kidlit posts and playing the number game, the average score from the judges was higher for kidlit than general review, so that's where I was shortlisted.

    Even I was surprised with some of the blogs that made and didn't make the shortlists. It's difficult to recognize so few bloggers when there is amazing talent out there. Will BBAW awards ever be perfect? Maybe not, but if we are discovering some new blogs and recognizing those who put so much into theirs, then I'll have fun with it.

    And I see that Amy left a comment while leaving mine. This all feels redundant now!

  5. I just started going through the short listed blogs and while I don't mind blogs getting multiple nominations I do wish we could see the 5 posts provided. A few of the ones I looked through don't look like they fit the category well so I was a little surprised(not saying they are bad blogs.) It may just be the posts I read through.

    I do know a lot of the bloggers who were on the committee are pretty tight with each other so I wonder if that might have swayed them to pick those blogs over others. I am curious the ratio of shortlist blogs that are also committee members vs non-committee/helpers. But I think they did the best they could since who else would judge the blogs other than fellow bloggers.

    I don't want to complain though since I know this is a ton of work and I appreciate all their efforts. I would have liked to have a chance to help out but I really felt like the group that organizes these types of events are pretty set with each other.

  6. I see it a little bit of both... I think it doesn't seem fair for one to be on a bunch of different lists b/c then it does seem like a popularity contest BUT if they really are one of the best in more than one category, well then they deserve it.

    I want to say I trust the judges to make good decisions on the shortlist but also realize that the well known or "popular" ones will tend to probably be more well-liked anyway.

    I do think the person nominated should have the option of submitting their best 5 posts but would definitely benefit in asking the people who nominated them what those posts would be.

    In all, I'm not really sure how I feel. I do wish there were a few more blogs I knew, but maybe next year I'll know more.

  7. Really good posting. It is great that someone is writing about this topic. I agree with you with the fact that it is impossible that you are good at everything. Some of my favorite blogs were overlooked and I would have liked to see them on the lists. I am too looking for more of a People's Choice Awards. :)

  8. Good question!! For me, some of these blogs that were shortlisted are actually both popular and one of the best in their area, so they are ultimately the same!! Sometimes I feel it comes down to the ultimate question of what came first . . . the chicken or the egg!! I am not familiar with others, so will not speak to those.

    I think that BBAW is still in their early years and addressing these concerns can let those in charge know what may be able to be improved for next year, so I applaud you for addressing this very issue. At this time, I feel like I need to explore the shortlisted blogs a little more to form an opinion on this matter.

    All in all, I think that the process seems to be pretty fair for only being in its second year (though I will admit that I do have strong reservations about self nominations). I can only see the process improving for many years to come because of these such issues being addressed!! Thank you for doing just that!! :)

  9. All I know is that some people must have somehow found 5 damn good posts to submit, because I sure don't feel they should have been shortlisted. I think the five post thing is kind of weird, since five posts don't make a blog, but I also don't see another way to judge the blogs, because no one has time to search through a blog's entire archive.

  10. I was so new to the blogging community that this year when BBAW started, I didn't nominate anyone. However, I've been going through the short lists and voting and I will say that I noticed some odd category placement and I do feel that some of my fav blogs were overlooked. I really am too new to have noticed anything else untoward. Oh, well...maybe next year those that were overlooked will get their chance...I hope so!

  11. I just wanted to say that this process took a village and I'm sure many hours to volunteers. I know, for a fact, that there were definitely some, if not ALL of the, panelists who were really objective and true to the process. I served on a panel and I gave top scores to some blogs that I'd never seen before... and the scores were given because they were just excellent blogs and fit the criteria. I ALSO gave top scores to a couple of blogs that I have a subscription to. But, you must keep in mind that I subscribe to over 200 blogs... so, it would be hard for me to miss one or two blogs that I'm a fan of. They were destined to cross my judging/panel path.

    One important thing to remember was that the scores were based on the 5 posts that were submitted (or, a set of 5-last published posts). Panelists read 5 posts per blog and gave scores based upon a list of criteria.

    I think the world of your blog and personally subscribe to it. I plan to continue to read it. However, there are many "shortlisted blogs" that I have no interest in and will never subscribe to. So... hopefully your fans/readers (like me) and all our bloggy love mean more than a BBAW award. Maybe next year will be your year to sweep it all!

    On a sidenote, I also wanted to say that I specifically gave my readers the URL's that were submitted for judging. I wanted my readers to see exactly what was submitted that represented my entries. Also, I had hoped that they would cast their vote based on that.

    And... (promise last one)... my feed for your sidebar is wrong. I've had a new feed for a couple of months. My new feed address is

    Congratulations on your awesome blog and the nominations it received.


  12. I was on one of the committees, and when I got my email with the guidelines for judging it said that we were supposed to set aside personal relationships and judge based on the criteria.

    I think I did a very good job of doing that, and I'm hoping that others did too. I'm not going to give details about who I voted for, or which panel I was on, but I will say that four out of my top five choices were blogs that were new to me.

    I love BBAW, and last year I discovered a lot of new blogs because of it. However, I think the downside of the whole awards ceremony is that people are bound to be disappointed. I had heard that there were about 1,000 blogs nominated, and there are probably fifty that were shortlisted. That means that there are about 950 disappointed bloggers out there today. Sure, we're mature and kind and supportive of those that were short listed; we're happy for them and their success. But we're also human and so I'm sure all of us non short list-ers are at least a little disappointed.

    Maybe someday someone will put together a people's choice version of book blogger awards as an alternative. In the meantime I'm going to be cheering on those bloggers who were short-listed, and I hope to discover some more fabulous new blogs this year.

  13. Thanks to everyone who has commented so far! There are things that I did not consider (how the 5 posts were judged not the whole blog, hello) and how that can skew things. Plus, I am getting to know what everyone else thinks about the process, which fascinates me. I love hearing different viewpoints and learning from it.

    I was not that upset about not being shortlisted. I mean I am a new blog this year and I am still unknown to many, many bloggers. Plus I never claimed to have great skills. But I love each of you who follow and subscribe and comment because it encourages me to keep getting better all the time!

    My main concern was the other blogs that I feel deserve to be listed and who have posts that surpass those who are listed. However, it could be they withdrew the nomination and I didn't know it. Could be the 5 posts were not chosen well. Could be just a preference thing.

    And Sheri- I have changed your feed on my Google Reader but forgot on the Blogroll. I thought I had fixed it but obviously not! I'm on that right now! I heart your blog, too. :)

  14. Kudos to you, Rebecca, for having the courage to put this out there. I know that the panelists/judges/committee put in a tremendous amount of time and energy.

    I did have a bit of a problem with people announcing that they had been nominated to begin with. I know everyone was excited and wanted to be able to thank those that had nominated them. But if I had been a blogger that had not received a nomination, it might have felt a bit like having your nose rubbed in it.

    And for those that don't blog, who only come to our blogs to get information about books, it might have gotten a little tiresome to keep reading posts about BBAW.

  15. I think there is a great chance for those of us who think that some great blogs were left out to use that Monday BBAW discussion topic to highlight those blogs. I am already thinking about the ones that I want to get on my readers' radar.

    As for the awards, I think I have a problem with the "best giveaways" category and ones that depend on either the blogger's financial situation or their cozy relationships with publishers. These don't celebrate the actual blog or community participation. I would like to see the awards keep their focus on the strength of writing.

    This is definitely a process that will improve over the years and I'm sure that all feedback is appreciated!

  16. I just wanted to clarify that when I said the committee seemed to already be a pretty set group I didn't mean to be critical. I know a couple of them on Twitter and they are really nice but it can be hard and a litle intimidating for some newer peeps who are a little more introverted like me to feel like we have a voice. :) I know, more of my issue than theirs.

  17. I love BBAW - I think it is a great way discover new blogs and think Amy has done a fantastic job of organising it.

    I think the problem is that only 5 posts were looked at. Anyone can write 5 amazing posts to fit a certain category, but the question is whether their blog as a whole reflects it and in some cases I don't think this is the case.

    Some blogs which I felt deserved to make the short list didn't and I am going to make sure I honour them all in a post on Monday.

    I think all we can do now if vote for our favourites.

  18. I read (and commented on) this post yesterday:

    As far as I can see the UK isn't represented at all in the shortlists and that is sadly remiss. We have some wonderful blogs that are rich is quality, substance, and versatility. Our blogs are worthy of recognition and to see only a handful of blogs that I regularly read represented and none at all from the UK was disheartening yesterday.

    Amy did a wonderful job and I am not undermining that; obviously this type of "popularity" contest is always going to exclude somebody and is going to come across as cliquish.

    I like Jackie's (farmlanebooks) idea of honouring those deserving bloggers who didn't make the cut on Monday.

  19. As one of the chairpeople for a judging category, I want to jump in and say thank you for raising your points of concern. As the process is refined going forward, I'm sure all of these comments will be of value, and in fact, now is the time to start talking about next year.

    One of the biggest challenges in undertaking an effort such as this is communication. Often when awards such as these occur in real life, there is an association or organization to which all members belong, and things like calls for judges and calls for nominations can be sent out through newsletters or other communications vehicles.

    There is no such thing with book bloggers. I do know that Amy and others combed far and wide to find a wide range of people to both nominate and judge -- bloggers, publishers, blog readers (who don't have their own blog). But the way that this "request for judges" had to be made was through the BBAW, twitter, etc. Obviously some people did not see the message or feel comfortable to raise their hands, which is understandable if you don't feel you know the people making the requests.

    So now is the time to step up for next year. If you want to be part of this process, you can. I'm sure Amy or someone is keeping a list. If not, I will start one. I didn't at all feel like part of the 'inner circle' when I stepped up to help, but instead felt that it was a good way to learn more about the book blogging community as a whole, instead of the smallish number of blogs with which I was familiar. I greatly enjoyed the judging and learned of many new blogs that are now in my reader. I highly recommend that anyone who wishes to become involved do so. It is a lot of work, and sometimes frustrating, but also very fun.

  20. Rebecca I'm not ticked off by your comments at all. I think constructive criticism can only help improve the process for the next go round. Nothing is ever perfect so if people don't speak up how are we to know where changes should/could be made?

    Having said that I would be lying if I didn't admit that I feel as though my integrity has been questioned throughout this process. Now, I know I opened myself up for that by participating (as did everyone else) but I think some act as though we just threw all the nominations in a hat and picked names for the short lists. A lot of hard work by a lot of respectable (see the diversity of the panelists listed here at: BBAW Panelists ) people was put into this and just because some panelists (or friends of panelists) names popped up on the lists doesn't mean it was an inside job which I think some (not you) truly believe happened.

    Are awards like this a bit of a popularity contest? I guess it could be I mean isn't it tru that by nature ANY award is on some level a popularity contest? But because a blog is popular does it mean it's less deserving of an award? Does it's popularity diminish it's quality? I don't think so and I hope theat the process by which these awards were judged allowed for that element to be diminished. I know in my assessment I stuck to the letter of the criteria -- I did my best to judge blogs I'd never seen before with the same eye I judged those I frequent. Heck, truth be told I probably made sure to question my assessment of those blogs I frequent more stringently knowing that just this type of perception would arise out of my involvement in the process.

    Anyway, I'm rambling here. Are there areas for improvement? Absolutely, no question! Should there be constructive criticism? Again, absolutely no question! I just wish all of it was as constructive as what you and many of your commenters have presented here.

  21. I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said, other than that I feel a little bad - certainly not because of you, Rebecca, but because I know that there's always another side to these things. I really wish we could recognize everyone, and I... well, I'll shut up now because I'm not sure if I DO have a point.

  22. Is this more of a popularity contest? Yes.

    It would be hard to have it be anything other than that, with the amount of subjective opinions involved and the difficulty of establishing a standard for "best". What is "best"? Who has the right to determine that for other people?

    Did people put in a lot of hard work? Yes, no doubt. But that doesn't change it from a People's Choice (which also would be hard work) to an Oscars.

  23. I'm sure the process isn't perfect yet, but I actually think doing shortlists like this is MUCH less of a popularity contest than last year. Panelists were given some degree of criteria to judge on (and explicitly asked NOT to let relationships with bloggers effect the scores they gave) versus last year when the shortlist was created by the number of nominations one got in the category, which makes it more difficult for smaller blogs to be represented.

    I think Ann is right about the 5 chosen posts making a big difference. I was a panelists for the "Most Extravagant Giveaways" category. There was one blogger nominated who I expected to give a very high score to, based on my knowledge of her giveaways. The giveaways she actually submitted, though, didn't live up to the criteria and I was forced to give her a much lower score than I would have if she had chosen different posts.

    I'm surprised you think that nominations and voting are more 'fair' than the shortlists, honestly. Those are the parts to me that seem to tend more towards popularity contest. Do you think people really check out all the blogs in each category, or do you think they tend to vote for the blogs they know?

  24. Oh, and that's from someone who was nominated for 6 categories, but was not shortlisted in anything. I have confidence that I was fairly judged by at the very least the majority of the judges on each panel and that other blogs were just found to be better.

    (But also, I hope I didn't seem like I was ticked off by your comments. I think it is a good discussion, particularly talking about how to continue to make this process more fair, although I think Amy did a fantastic job already growing this from last year)

  25. It's hard, because of course there are two sides of this. In some ways, sure, popularity will play into this, but in other ways, it won't. I don't know. I'm just sort of sitting back and going along for the ride and seeing what happens.

  26. I was disappointed in not seeing the KidLit community better represented in the secondary categories even in some places I thought were perfect fits - like there can't be a more concise blogger that the one who reviews books in haiku form. But who wasn't shortlisted. And Becky's Book Reviews - who must have several posts a day - didn't make it on the most prolific list.

    If these categories were done just by number of nominations, than that's a shame. Because then I can see how the kidlit/YA community wouldn't be as well-represented because they aren't as tuned in to your community. I think its a missed opportunity in that to better introduce the many different book communities to each other through some of their top blogs.

  27. I think the problem had a lot to do with the 5 submitted posts. Like khy said, 5 posts do not make up an entire blog. I saw one blogger who writes error filled reviews shortlisted in a category. The 5 posts might have been great but the overall quality of the blog, not so much.

    Stuff life that is bound to piss people off. Oh and I'm wondering if there should be some time of rule about how much some blogs or something. One of the noms doesn't even blog anymore.

    Anyhow, I probably won't do a post about this because I am much too blunt. I will just make everyone mad at me. xD

  28. back to the topic at hand...I do think that there were a lot of popular short listed blogs, and yes this bugs me too. Being popular does not mean that someone writes the best reviews, or has the best overall blog. I don't think that I'm going to participate int he bbaws again.

  29. Thanks for initiating this discussion, Rebecca.

    Disclosure: I was a member of three BBAW award panels, and chaired one of those panels. The volunteers on the Awards Committee spent a lot of time prior to opening nominations coming up with criteria and scoring to be used in evaluating nominees for the shortlists. Every effort was made to make the process as objective as possible.

    This is only the second year of BBAW and the awards, and the process changed a bit this year. It will probably change next year too, based on things learned this year.

    There were over 1000 different blogs nominated this year across all categories, with some categories having 100 nominees or more. Personally, I wouldn't want to wade through all of those to vote, so I think it has to be trimmed somehow. If all of the shortlists were based only on number of nominations, I think there would be more of a "popularity contest" aspect to them than what we've ended up with.

    As a few other commenters who were also panelists have mentioned, panelists were asked to put aside prior relationships with the nominees and just judge on the links they submitted. I subscribe to an insane number of blogs, but there were many that I saw for the first time during this process. Also, the scoring criteria sometimes didn't favor a particular blog's strengths, but it applied common standards to all.

    I don't want to hijack your comments section, so I'd better wrap this up. Thanks again for the chance to weigh in on this.

  30. I must admit I was surprised to see certain blogs in certain categories,. For example, Best New Blog had Beth Fish Reads and SciFi Guy. Both great blogs but since they have been going a year you can hardly call them new.

  31. Book Chick City -
    Best New Blog would be a blog started since the last BBAW, which would mean anything a year or less would qualify.

  32. As a relatively new observer, the nomination and shortlist process struck me more as a mutual admiration society than a popularity contest. Much of it seems to reflect blogs that link or frequently refer to other nominated blogs.

    Perhaps it is simply the focus of many of the blogs, as evidenced by the shortlist for Best Book Published So Far in 2009. Two YA books out of five for Best Book of the Year???? And the other three are two historical fiction novels and a gothic work. Not that there's anything wrong with those genres, but not a broad selection. (Of course, since I've read none of them, perhaps I am just ignorant.)

  33. Florinda, is the information about scoring on the BBAW website?

  34. I think awards by their very nature are popularity contests to some extent. But just because you're popular doesn't mean you don't deserve to be. No, some of my favorite blogs didn't get shortlisted, but there's always individual blogger awards that we can give to each other to show how much we enjoy those blogs, right?

  35. Great discussion here, Rebecca. I think BBAW is wonderful, and all the bloggers behind it.

    I must admit, though, that I didn't vote in a few categories because some of those had only shortlisted blogs that I didn't think fitted the category, even if I did like and read the blogs shortlisted. I just didn't think they fit. I would be lying to myself if I voted in those.

    Another thing, there were only very few blogs shortlisted that had the same tast in books as I. Most of the rest are really wonderful bloggers but I don't share their reading tastes that much.

    I think, like Tim above said, this has to do more with what the focus of most bloggers are, and what genres most bloggers read. For example, I also haven't read any of the 5 best published books.

    Not to say this is a bad thing but that it just focuses more on one or a few genres mainly. And I completely understand.

    Of all the many, many bloggers whose reading tastes appeal to me, only about 3 to 5 have made it in the shortlist.

    I don't really mind, one way or the other, because I know that the bloggers who've been shortlisted have been so wonderful in the book blogging community and they deserve to be recognized, whether their book tasts appeal to me or not. Most of them are just so nice people overall and I'm happy for them. :)

  36. I was interested in the response to this question as I had interpreted it as you could only be shortlisted for one award ... but I guess it was just for the the "niche" categories and the Everything Else ones you could be shortlisted in more than one.

  37. I'm going to try to answer your questions from my perspective - that of a BBAW awards panelist and chairperson, and BBAW participant and fan.

    1 - No, you are probably not blowing this completely out of proportion. A lot of the judging process probably seems shrouded in mystery, but much of that was in an attempt to keep things as confidential as possible.

    2 - Well, I don't know if it's the best method, but I DO think its better in most cases than a popular vote. At least this way, lesser known blogs are judged on the same criteria as "the big ones", giving them as level a playing field as possible.

    3 - I have a hard time agreeing that blogs were overlooked. If a blog was nominated in a category, it was judged. I know this, because I spent HOURS locating posts from blogs that didn't respond by the deadline, in case they were on vacation or their notification letter was lost in the internet, so that every blog that was nominated (and was a legitimate book blog)had a chance to be judged.

    4 - I would have LOVED to have the person nominating the blog submit "proof". Some of the people who nominated didn't provide urls, or any sort of contact information for the blog nominated, so again we spent hours just figuring out how to contact some blogs to let them know they were nominated. As a panelist, I'd be happy to put more of the responsibility on the person nominating the blog - you should have SEEN some of the completely non-related-to-books blogs that were nominated in some categories. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to weed out blogs that didn't have any business being there. Even if you don't think a certain blog belongs on a certain shortlist, you can at least be thankful it's a book blog - not everything nominated was!!

    5 - That's a hard question. I think that the major review categories should be one per person, and that is the way the rules are currently written. I'm not sure it bothers me if a person is shortlist in Most Eclectic and Best Giveaways, let's say, but I can understand why it's worrysome that some blogs are popping up over and over. I'm sure it's one of the issues we will discuss for next year.

    I apologize that this is so long, but do want to add one more thing. It makes me a little sad that so much emphasis is being placed on the "awards" portion of the week, when that's really just ONE portion of BBAW. I know that I participate because I LOVE this community that I've chosen to be a part of, and the opportunity to find new blogs to discover. I participate because I want to celebrate the joy that book blogging has brought to my life, regardless of whether or not I get an award for it.

    Again, sorry for the length, and the cheesiness at the end. Thanks for hosting this discussion, and listening so openly to ALL the responses!

  38. Am I a little disappointed that some of my fav blogs (and mine) didn't make the shortlists? Of course I am. But let's forget that disappointment, celebrate the blogs that didn't make it on Monday's meme, and be happy for those who did make it.

    I do have one suggestion for next year that I think would be helpful, though. I have heard a lot of about "criteria" and "scoring" but all the people nominated had to go on was one or two sentences that described the category. I believe that "reader interaction" or some such was part of the criteria, but I don't think that most people knew that. I didn't. I just chose my best posts, some of which were from the very first month or two I started blogging and so didn't have a single comment on them. I am not saying that that is a bad piece of criteria (though I can certainly understand the argument that popularity=more comments), I just think that that is something that should be more clear next year, as should all criteria and how points are awarded.

    It's possible that bloggers on the panels (the so-called cool group or whatever) may have had a better time choosing which posts to submit and then were more likely to receive higher scores because of it. Then again, maybe not...

    As far as popularity goes on a whole, has anyone stopped to consider that the reason why some blogs are popular and have been shortlisted are a correlation, not cause/effect (i.e., they're just good blogs)?

    And if you don't see your favorite blogs up there, and don't recognize some of the ones listed, it's a great opportunity to find new blogs and make new friends.

    After all, it is Book Blogger APPRECIATION week, not Awards week.

  39. I do feel that one blog should not be shortlisted for more than one category however mutually exclusive the categories are. BBAW is to recognize other blogs and the more no of blogs get shorlisted the better.

  40. One interesting note about the idea of popular blogs being the ones listed - most of the bigger (and often older) lit or book blogs appeared nowhere on the final lists. I'm talking about blogs with monthly visitors well into six figures (Galleycat and Jacket Copy would be noteworthy exceptions.)So what's popular in the BBAW list might not translate into being popular in other ways or with other readers. The whole thing is, as everyone has made clear, very subjective - but as Liz B. noted that's pretty much the nature of the beast.

  41. If it's true that the UK is not represented at all in the shortlist, then I'm sorry but that really is shocking. I can't believe it.

  42. A couple of points in response to JT Oldfield's comments.

    The "reader interaction" that you refer to was called Audience Engagement, and was to be used only in the event of a tie. It wasn't specifically the number of comments or challenges hosted or if they were on twitter or any one thing, but rather, an attempt to get a sense of how much a blogger engaged with his or her readers. For my panel, this criteria did not come into play and was not scored.

    As to the panelists knowing the criteria - the scoresheets were not sent out to anyone prior to the submissions of links. There was at least one and perhaps a few people that were working on the scoresheets and wording of the criteria, but again, with a volunteer effort, someone has to undertake that task. I would be surprised if anyone with prior knowledge was really able to use it to their advantage.

    In regards to Colleen's observation about popularity: though some take exception with panelists judging categories with which they had little or no familiarity, one of the benefits of that is lack of awareness of who the 'popular' people or frontrunners are. I judged a category where I had no idea of who were the "big name" bloggers and who were the ones that had little traffic. That might account for some of the disparity between the highly-trafficked, long-established blogs and the shortlist.

  43. as for the lack of international blogs on the shortlist, well pretty much if they weren't nominated in the beginning round, then they couldn't be judged could they? the judges are not going around looking for blogs to fit the categories. when the original nominations were open, everyone had the chance to nominate what blogs they wanted to be considered. and unfortunately, either people didn't nominate any UK blogs or the people in the UK simply didn't have any connections with BBAW and either didn't know about it or didn't care. it wasn't as if we intentionally snubbed anyone.

    honestly what country a person was from had absolutely no effect on final judging at all. it's just a bit frustrating to keep seeing how we're alienating UK blogs when really it's not our fault that they weren't in the nomination process to begin with. just a reminder for next year, if you want a blog to be considered YOU MUST NOMINATE THEM!

  44. They were in the nomination process to begin with and even Amy has said it is shocking that they don't feature on the shortlists. As far as I am concerned, that is not a fair reflection of the quality that is available across the blogosphere.

  45. Paperback reader -

    my profile name in comments comes up automatically as 'Amy'. I am not Amy from myfriendamy, I repeat I am NOT the Amy who organises BBAW! I am a different Amy who just happens to be from the UK.

    Deborah, your comment is fair enough, only you can't then claim that BBAW is looking for diversity and reaching out to the wider (ie international) community.

  46. Apologies to Amy and myfriendamy; my mistake.

    Congratulations to all the nominees (shortlisted and otherwise). I am not attempting to detract from your successes at all but to point out that some fabulous blogs lost out from longlist to shorlist and, as this is an appreciation week, then please check out some of the wonderful UK blogs when you can.

    Ironically, I am noticing a correlation between this and my dissatisfaction with the Booker shortlist - the predictable choices feature there and the loss of quality writing, creativity, and ideas.

  47. Alright, here's my two cents or four:
    Am I blowing this so far out of proportion that even the universe can't find my point?
    Absolutely not. If a topic isn't discussed, then there's no room for it to expand and grow. There has been a lot of flack coming from around the sphere about the nominations and there's going to be a lot of changes going on (Amy has confirmed this). I mean, if you think about it, how can something be changed if no one knows about it?

    Do others like the idea of a committee (who works hard, no doubt about it) making the shortlists?
    As someone who was on one of those committee, I can tell you that it wasn't easy. Each committee was given 40+ blogs to review and we were given 5 links to base our opinions on. It was harsh. I have to say, I do like the idea of a committee being involved - I think it helps against the idea of it being a popularity contest and a site bribing people with a contest to vote for them - but it does need some work. We barely had a week to go through all the sites and it was very time intensive.

    Do you think some blogs were overlooked that would have fit much better into the category (whether you nominated them or not)?
    Of course. Me for instance. :)

    But seriously, I have checked out some of the other sites that were shortlisted and I don't agree with a lot of them either. There was one in particular that seemed very thrown together and wasn't all that attractive to look at. They must have had some excellent posts, but I couldn't get past the design to find them.

    Do you think the bloggers who are nominated should submit 5 posts or should the people who nominate them give proof?
    That's a really good question. I like the idea of those who nominate giving proof, but then nominating becomes a burden. This idea has merit, but I don't know if that's the way to go either. I mean, would you want to go through all those categories and have to submit a link for why you're nominating a blog? Not everyone would have the time or the inclination to do that. It might actually detract from the nomination process.

    Do you care whether certain blogs are shortlisted for more than one or even two categories?
    It depends on the category. You couldn't be shortlisted in more than one niche (or even on the long list), but for Best Design or Most Chatty, why not? There's more to an awards thing than just the Best of IMO. However, I'll be honest and say I think there are a few too many categories already in the list.

  48. Bella - I want to say that to be eligible for Best New Blog, it had to be new in the past 12 months, since the last BBAW, not in 2009.

    Debbie's World of Books - At the end of last year's BBAW, Amy put out a list asking for anyone who would want to help out with it next year. I added my name to the list and Amy sent us an email this spring to see if we were still interested. I'll be honest, I have no clue who else was on any of the judging panels, so I don't know if there was a set group deciding a lot of the shortlists. During the entire thing, the only person I talked to was my panel chair and that was mainly to let her know I was running to the deadline on getting her my scores.

    I'm sure Amy will put out another "want to help" post at the end of BBAW, so keep a lookout for that.

    Jenny - I know a number of blogs that were shortlisted asked their fans which posts they should submit. I know I did and I want to say 90% of my submissions came from my readers.

    Khy - As one of those judges who had to look through those 5 blogs, there is no way in hell I could have looked through more. There were 40 blogs sent my way to score. As it was, it took me most of a whole day to go through half of them and I have a 2 year old at home. I don't have that much time. My opinion, the longlist needed to be a little shorter than what it was. Then maybe the number of submissions could increase, but even then, 5 posts is still a good number to go by though.

    Ann Kingman - I'm totally with you there. I didn't feel like there was an inner circle at all since I didn't know anyone who was on a judging panel.

    Claire - I find that to be true for a lot of things. I've noticed a lot of "book blogging community" things tend to focus on areas where the organizers are more familiar with. This was actually one of my complaints from last year's BBAW. Being a paranormal/fantasy blog, my genre really wasn't represented last year in the giveaways and whatnot and I felt like I couldn't participate as much. However, I got involved with this years and I KNOW there's going to be UF/PNR/F giveaways since I helped get some.

    I think it's all a matter of who gets involved. You can only talk about something if you knew anything about it. I have no clue on contemporary literature, but if I had to talk about it, I'm sure I would totally mess it up.

    Elizabeth - I think the reason people have been focusing on the awards so much instead of the actual BBAW is because that's what is going on. The nominations, the voting, the discussion, etc. I think once everything gets going next week, people will have more to talk about.

    JT - of the criteria for scoring was how much reader interaction there was? I so didn't look at a single comment for the category I judged. I took that to mean did the blogger allow for reader interaction. Like did they ask "what do you think or what could be better" rather than did anyone talk about the book. Mmmm...I also didn't take that into consideration when I submitted my 5 posts too.

    Amy/Deborah - I think the BBAW could be a very diverse and international event, but it's a work in progress. Like some have said before, blogs need to be nominated to even be considered. At the same time, the BBAW has to be known to that area of the blogging world to get publicized.

    Sorry I rambled a bit, but I was typing while reading the other comments. :)

  49. First, I didn't read all the comments, but I skimmed most of them.

    Second, thank you for posting this.

    Here's my opinion: it is very much a popularity contest. I feel a lot like it's a core group patting each other on the back. It is true that I have a little bit of sour grapes because out of 1000 nominations no one nominated me. So yeah, that makes me an outsider, which is my point. WOW, want to make someone feel like an outsider, have a popularity contest. To me, and likely to a lot of other blogs who weren't nominated, let alone shortlisted, it's a bit of a slap in the face. It feel very devisive to me and seriously kills my enjoyment of the community.

    I had no idea that it was ok to nominate yourself. I wouldn't have, because that screams of cheating to me, but the end result was no nomination at all.

    I don't doubt that a lot of work went into this, by a lot of people. I think intentions were great. I know that everyone couldn't be nominated. None of that matters to how it makes us little guys feel.

  50. Jackie: I feel the same way, as I judged like 150 blogs. If everyone submitted good posts (as in ones that weren't about their vacations and not just pictures of cats) it might have been a little more tolerable.

  51. In response to J.T's question about reader interaction - as a panelist I never even glanced at the comments to see if people commented on a post. I took that criteria to mean: does this post give the reader something to react to, a question to answer, a thought to ponder, etc. It was not how many comments did the post get.

    And I could only tell the nationality of one blogger from the 180 blogs that I judged. How in the world does one know if a blog is from the U.S or the U.K?

    Okay, I'm done with the drama and looking forward to the activities next week.

  52. So wish I could read through all of these comments, but I tried to skim the high points.

    As a panelist, I'll have to admit that I was disappointed in some of the blogs that were short-listed in the category I judged. As a blogger, I was disappointed in some of the blogs that were short-listed in some of the other categories. I think one of the biggest flaws of the judging process was that there wasn't a criterion for how well the blog fit within the category--we just had to trust that based on the 5 submitted posts that the blog did fit the category. Hopefully this will not be overlooked next year.

    I had much much much more to add, but I'm running out of steam. Yes, it certainly is a popularity contest of sorts, but even a people's choice awards would end up being the same thing. I think all we can do is take a look at the blogs who were nominated and vote for the ones who truly are the best.

  53. Thanks to everyone who responded to my questions of criteria.

    After my ridiculously long comment, you might think that I didn't have anything more to say.


    But rather than write ANOTHER ridiculously long comment, I wrote a whole post about it on my blog.

  54. Wow! Thanks so much to everyone who has participated in this discussion! I am glad that almost everyone realized that this was for discussion purposes and not a bashing session.

    I do have some things I want to comment on, and I apologize for not having been able to comment more throughout the discussion, but I am having to borrow a computer right now and on top of that I have been sick.

    One, it is interesting to me that the people that have been the most defensive about the process are pretty much the same bloggers who have been called out for not being a good part of the community. I also find it interesting, though, that if people have such a problem with these bloggers, why do they continue to read their blogs and interact with them? It seems to me that is a bit hypocritical. If I don't like the way someone treats me, I don't interact with them (at least on a regular basis- I don't like exclusion of anyone.)

    Another thing I notice is that people are coming from all directions on this one. I want to make sure that people who did not take part in the committee realize how very little time the judges had to work with to judge these blogs. One or two weeks is not enough time. I think a longer time to go through each blog will allow for a more thoroughly thought-out decision. I was not on the committee because one, I did not even know about BBAW until it came up, being a new blogger this year. And two because I have a chronic illness so if I have a flare-up that week, everyone is out a judge and that's not fair.

    If you want to participate, like someone mentioned above, please be on the lookout for Amy's requests because she cannot do it alone.

    I think that it is important to have these kinds of discussions because that is the only way to understand each other, weed out ideas that don't work, and gather new ideas that may work. I am glad that we were able to have that here.

    With all that said, I am sure that everyone realizes they have the opportunity during BBAW week to highlight some of the blogs that they feel should have been shortlisted and have the opportunity to participate in more book blogging community building activities. I am doing an interview with a blogger I have never talked to for the 15th and I am very excited about that!

    So if you want to show the community what you would like the community to be, then BBAW week is your chance!

    Thanks again for the great discussion. I have learned so much!


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