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read_me.gif Southern Voice Washington Blade

Judging Black Weblog Awards Winners

Somebody had to do it

by j. brotherlove

The winners of 2007 Black Weblog Awards were announced yesterday. This year’s awards were the most publicized with the greatest participation.

The biggest winner was Young, Black and Fabulous winning awards in six categories. Also, Best Blog Post or Blog Post Series and coveted Blog of the Year went to What About Our Daughters?

The sad outcome of every BWA are the the resulting complaints after the winners are announced. Most complaints can be considered the sour grapes that come whenever people don’t win. However, sometimes the winners clearly don’t fit the category they’ve won or don’t represent “the best” in said category according to experienced bloggers. With that in mind, planning discussion in the BWA Google Group led to a change in the voting process:

Unique to this year was the addition of our panel of ten judges, authorities in the fields of blogging, design, the Internet and good writing. Each category has two winners: a popular vote (the ones which you, the users, casted your ballots for) and the judges’ vote (the top ranked picks from our judges).

I thought this was a great idea as it allowed the public to be invested in a winner while allowing for more critical selection. As such, I’ve been pretty quiet about the BWAs since first mentioning them because I was selected as one of the judges and didn’t want to unfairly influence the popular vote.

I’m happy to say that many of my picks ended up being the final judges’ winners but not all of them. Incidentally, the popular vote and judges’ vote were the same for Best Business Blog (Black In Business), Best Gossip Blog (Young, Black and Fabulous), Best International Blog (Black Women in Europe), Best LGBT Blog (Keith Boykin) and Best Sports/Recreation Blog (The Starting Five).

As a judge I had the daunting honor of pouring over all of the 7,000+ nominations to choose winners; this was no picnic! What made the task frustrating was wading through tons of nominated sites that had no business being nominated (Apple? Gateway? MySpace? Perez Hilton?).

From my standpoint, too many nominees reflected a lack of effort from the voters. When I say “effort” I’m referring to actually looking for blogs and websites to fit the categories instead of just placing any site in any category.

This “tunnel vision” where people stick to their (rather small) blogroll is not the way to build community. I read blogs by people of all races, genders, faith, sexual orientation and specialty; so should you. The risk you run from only reading blogs in your genre is how to copy from each other. And let me tell you, there’s a lot of that going on.

On the plus side, the amount of nominated blogs proves that the black blogging community is massive (albeit somewhat fragmented) and growing. At this point anyone still wondering “where are the black bloggers?” simply isn’t trying hard enough.

Congratulations to the winners of 2007 Black Weblog Awards and to karsh who built, organized, managed and suffered for the awards!

pub: 09/06/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 6 | subscribe

I just wanted to thank you personally for finding The Starting Five, nominating us, and making us the judges choice for best sports blog.

Thanks for taking the time to be a judge and I am proud, honored, and giddy to have won for Best International Blog.

7k+ noms is complete insanity. I know when I filled out my own ballot I was at times, at a loss for so many of the categories. Perhaps next year the judges could do a shortlist of 10 nominees per category and the votes can be done from there because personally, I like to take the time to actually look at a site and read a little.

I’m just bouncing ideas, naturally I have no clue how to run something of this scale. I do know that I’m proud to be a judge’s pick and from what I’ve seen there’s a lot of good amongst the winners and I can’t wait to explore the list.

just wanted to stop by and say THANK YOU!! Best Fictional Blog is a category close to my heart (seeing as though my goal is to write for a living) and i am honored that you all chose mine!

thanks again.


Great post. I completely agree with what you said about the tunnel vision and lack of actual thought in the nomination process. Hell, even some of the finalists in a few categories I thought were pretty bad.

It’s a shame that these things always denigrate into sour grapes by some, even if they do win. I think the judges did fine with what they had and even though I’ll never visit or blogroll most of those sites again, it was still nice to be introduced to new things.

Yo brotherlove,

thanks for explaining more of the insider’s perspective and thanks for your TIME. 7,000 nominations!? dang. On behalf of myself and jack & jill politics, thanks

I feel you on the fragmented tip. My blogroll has gotten much wider thanks to the BWAs. I had no idea the quantity and quality of black folks blogging.

I’m hoping to make it to the Blogging While Brown conference next year to take the conversation offline as well.

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