We tried to make it as fair as possible by letting people nominate their favorite blogs in each of the 21 categories. Boy, did that blow up in our faces. Clearly, the mass nominations were NOT working, and making the final votes open didn't help either. However, most people played it fair and we didn't have to do anything drastic to keep the votes legit other than weed out spam comments. And there were plenty of them! For 2007, we're thinking of ways to make it fair and even, but still representative of the black blogospheres out there. One way we've thought to do this was draft a committee of people to pick nominations for the categories. But do we pick bloggers? Non-bloggers? Bloggers could work best, but what if they picked their own sites? And would people on the committee be eligible to win prizes for their sites? If we did the committee system, they would not be eligible. But if we got non-bloggers on the committee, then people would decry who they nominated because -- surprise, surprise -- they don't blog. It's a slippery slope that I hope we'll climb over the next few months. Because August 2007 will be here before we know it and that'll be a wrap, baby.
It's come to our attention that some finalists still have NOT received prizes and that some prize donators have NOT gotten in contact with the winners. The thing is, we can't really crack the whip on people and say "Hey, you said you were going to donate...now do it!" We've tried. It doesn't work, and generally just makes the donators mad. Please, if you're a winner who hasn't received your prize or if you're a donator who hasn't been able to get in touch with a winner, "drop us a line":https://blackweblogawards.wufoo.com/forms/contact/ and we'll do our best to straighten it out. Next year, we will probably definitely cut the prize aspect OUT. Having prizes is a good idea, but the Awards are really about recognition, and it ends up being more on the back end that we have to do after the Awards are announced. Tracking down winners for physical awards was really just an "extra" that we thought would be cool. Who knew it would end up creating such a hassle because some people want to remain anonymous and others don't want to give on what they've promised?
Was 21 too many? Was 10 not enough? It's a split decision in our camp, and judging from the e-mails we received during the Awards, it seemed like 21 was too many. It's hard to say what we should keep and what should go. Some categories had a ton of nominations, and others had just a few. Again, it goes back to the nominations and voting. We got e-mails saying that we should have "picked" this blog for a category. Keep in mind that there was no "picking" going on; we left it up to the people, and unfortunately, they chose the same folks over and over again. One thing that switching to a committee-based voting system would do is even out the nominatins across the categories, not to mention give more depth to the Awards than the network of well-known and well-networked blogs. For now though, I think we'll keep our 21 categories. Who knows though? A "Best Food Blog" award could be in the future....
Of course, there's several things with the Awards which we hardly were able to delve into this year. Advertising is one thing -- originally, we got by on word of mouth to let people know about them. However, we may start stepping it up into doing Internet or print ads in the future. Sponsorship is another thing -- the Awards have always been free (as in speech and beer), but a little financial backing could do wonders in many areas we discussed before. This year, we used a startup company called Wufoo for our form provider, and that worked well. I'm sure Wufoo will be around for years to come, so we'll probably use them next year as well. Don't worry -- we hopefully won't have the same issues with links as we did this year on the form. We have other big ideas for the Awards too, but right now isn't the best time to utilize them since..well...we're just not there yet. But with time and support comes progress, so as long as we have that, we should be OK.
So again, thanks to the winners, thanks to our donors, thanks to Wufoo and thanks to you, the people, for helping to make the Black Weblog Awards a reality. Any relevant suggestions you have out there for us are more than welcome. And we might even reply too! But seriously, we want to make the Black Weblog Awards a good thing for everyone, so if you have suggestions, make 'em plain and let us know.