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It's Time For 2010 South African Blog Awards

The South African Blog Awards were started in 2005 to showcase the best blogs in South Africa voted for by the public. Nominations for 2010 South African Blog Awards took place between 2–27 August 2010. The top ten nominees in each category have now entered into the public vote phase, which runs from 1–17 September 2010.

The results of this vote will then be passed onto judges who will cast their votes to decide the category winner. The overall winner of the SA Blog Awards will be chosen by the judges from the selection of category winners.

The winners will be announced on 25 September 2010 at the annual awards ceremony at the One & Only hotel, Cape Town.Last year the event attracted more than 5 000 blog nominations and over 100 000 individual votes. Here are the finalists for 2010 SA Blog Awards in 25 categories.

Writing about the awards, SEO Cowboy calls for a better nomination process:

To be nominated one needs to just add a URL and a category telling SA blog awards about your site. This can be done by the owner of the site or any person that feels the blog is worth nominating. The more nominations sent in of any source for any particular blog result in that blog making it to the “Voting” phase

He says that the nomination process is not enough for classifying a blog as “best in SA” because no other ranking factors are considered:

As fas as I know, no other ranking factors are taken into consideration apart from the amount of nominations you get so it seems that the blogs that nominate themselves and request their friends and networks to vote for them in the short time period become the top contenders. This to me is not enough criteria to class a blog as “best in SA” …. best according to who? the amount of friends the owner of the blog has? The bloggers reaction time?

Why not take Alexa ranking, social media presence and other figures into account? There was an article last year with the same issues at hand so it seems not much has changed since then. You can read the “SA Blog Awards 2009 are Meaningless” article where the author explains in detail the flaws in the nomination process.

He also takes issue with South Africa Blog Awards categories:

I have taken a look at the finalists in the “The Ogilvy Best Media and Marketing Blog” section to find that only a handful of Media and Marketing Blogs actually made it to the voting phase. Many of the blogs listed are not even media or marketing blogs. Some of the blogs are random, talk about everything blogs but only a few like IntegralWebSolutions (fantastic marketing blog, I will be voting for them), Memeburn, Expanda Blog , Fundamental Displays , 10and5 and maybe Urban Ninja actually belong in the category. Some even admitted that they were in the wrong category like TheGiven but hey, what can they do.

Now I only looked at one section so it may be that SA blog awards are just having a hard time categorising some of the “I post on everything” blogs. Maybe they should come up with an uncategorised section to dump all those blogs but if you are going to give away an award for a blog in a category then they should be sure that the finalists are indeed about that category.

Commenting on SEO Cowboy post, Galen Shultz supports the idea of using Alexa ranking:

I totally agree that they should take Alexa ranking, social media presence and other figures etc. into account. There also seem to be a few categories lacking. Particular writing styles could have formed a couple more unique categories for bloggers who don't neccessarily fit into any of the chosen categories.

I also think that no blog should be allowed to get more than one award per year. Look at how many 2oceansvibe scooped up in 2009. This really limits the scope with regards to the finalists and over-exposes just a few blogs. No doubt they will receive at least one award this year. The ‘rich’ just seem to get ‘richer’ *sigh* :P

Monty believes that the process will take about 3 – 5 years to be refined:

I agree!

Although it's pretty cool that there is an awards competition for blogs, I think the process will probably only be refined in another 3 – 5 years.

A nomination process is a little bit dated to begin with, and there are many other ways to get the info for an awards system… Also, it would be nice to standardise these awards to the same time of the year… This year I missed out getting my blog nominated purely because of the short nomination process and the shift from last year's March/April to this years August/September award dates. Mental note to self, never take a sabbatical!

2009 South Africa Blog Awards did not pass without criticism. Afrika T considered the awards meaningless:

The 2009 SA Blog Awards as it currently is configured has become a meaningless exercise that will do little more than identify which blogs are quick and organised enough to nominate themselves and marshall/motivate their friends and networks to vote for them. Little if any inherent meaning is conveyed by winning an award (or failing to win one, for that matter). There are no pertinent independent or objective criteria involved in nominating blogs, in determining a short list, or in awarding the final winners in the various categories. In no way is the relevance or value of a blog linked to its winning or not winning an award.

That's not to say that there couldn't – or shouldn't – be a meaningful award for SA blogs, nor that the SA Blog Awards couldn't become that. The blogosphere in South Africa is socially relevant and strategically significant across economic sectors, and we have some great blogs worthy of commendation. However, the way these awards currently are run will neither recognise nor enhance this, effectively being a popularity contest devoid of real value to the winners.

He thought that the selection process was seriously flawed:

In the SA blogosphere as tracked by Afrigator, there are 4,548 blogs (as of the date of posting this). So 3 of the 10 blogs fall in the top quintile (20%), 1 in the 3rd quintile, and 1 in the 4th, with the other 5 not tracked. Not exactly compelling evidence of “top blog” status.

What's sad is that only 5 of the 10 blogs even BOTHER to be listed on Afrigator, which shows a lack of concern with their relevance to the South African context. 5 of the 10 blogs (not the same 5) also don't BOTHER to be indexed by Technorati, which shows a serious lack of seriousness, or of the understanding of the power and relevance of Technorati.com.

Now, HOW can a top SA Blog not be benchmarked against other SA blogs? Afrigator ranking should be a requirement. And how can any blog not be benchmarked against all other blogs? Technorati ranking should be a requirement.

Now, numbers aren't the full measure of a blog's value or relevance, but it's absolutely clear that the current shortlist selection process is seriously flawed. Two of the ten blogs in the Travel category aren't even blogs about travel! One (pakiscorner.com) is about sport, and one (66squarefeet.blogspot.com) is about urban container gardening – in New York City!

Witness This posts a number of questions voters should ask themselves before voting:

One’s main instinct is to vote for the blog(s) that you enjoy most and perhaps read the most often; but there are a few questions voters should ask before casting and determining who the winners will be this year.

1. Number of Authors

It’s a lot easier for a blog to gain rank and readership when there are several people behind its content creation. Blogs that publish fresh content several times daily are bound to get more attention than those that only publish once or twice a week. Google Caffeine also smiles favourably on blogs that update more frequently — further increasing rank and attention. So take into account how many authors each blog has before casting a discerning vote.

2. Ads and monetisation

Some blogs are purely in it for the money, which is usually evident by the number of ads a blog displays as well as the nature of the content. One should question what a blogger’s intentions are. Are they trying to sell you something or promote certain things or do they freely offer information or something of interest or entertainment value?

3. Success within a single year

Most blogs work hard to gain rank and popularity, but a steady soaring up the ranks is indicative of the author(s) dedication and persistence. Assess how well a blog has done in a single year and whether or not it is still improving and likely to soar to even greater heights. Compare or ask what a specific blog’s rank / readership was a year ago with what it is now and use these stats as a measure of its success.

4. Awards and Recognition

Ask if any of the blogs being voted for achieved any awards in the past. Did they snatch up a blog award (or awards) last year, and if not, were they a runner-up?

5. Free Design

Custom blog designs don’t come cheap, but kudos to the ones who spent 20k for a professional to zoosh up their blog. Although design is an all-important aspect of any blog, consider whether or not bloggers have made the most of a free blog template, or perhaps designed their own template themselves.

This is why the same blog, Witness This, deserves an award this year:

* I am the sole author of this blog and manage to publish three times weekly.
* This blog was only recently monetised and refuses to ruin its integrity with casino or bling ads.
* All articles that are no longer relevant or offer something of value are purged off this blog on a regular basis.
* Every comment is responded to asap and responding to readers/subscribers via email is a regular occurrence.
* Witness This started off with a free WordPress template but has since managed to get a free, new design from a family member.
* Roughly 40% of my articles have been published in a South African newspaper and last year one particular post won me a Foozi Foozball table valued at R12 000!
* In less than a year Witness This has managed to gain a top-ten spot on MyScoop and a top-hundred spot on Afrigator with an average of 30 000 unique visitors a month.

To vote for the finalists, one needs to do the following on this site:

1.Please type your email address, the security code and click Submit below.
2.You will be sent an email to confirm your vote.
3.To complete your vote, click on the confirmation link in the email. If the confirmation link doesn't work out for you simply reply to the confirmation email.

You can see South African Blog Awards winners since 2005 here.

2 comments

  • Thanks for reiterating my points / arguments here. It seems that there will always be issues regarding the blog award process every year. As Monty says, it will most likely take a few more years until it’s properly refined.

    It almost seems like it would have made more sense for the JUDGES to nominate the blogs and then let the public / readers vote. That would have lead to a much fairer result in my opinion…

    Anyways, enough ranting. All the best to the finalists!

  • @Galen – I think that’s a great idea (with some added diversity in the judges pool please… am quite surprised our blog Wonkie CartOOns won an award actually considering our audience is over 90% black and not many of the other bloggers/ judges had even heard of it despite it being in the top 10 on Afrigator!).

    Perhaps the way to do it is for the judges to select their top 5 and then allow for public nominations to help determine the remaining 5 for the category – and not by voting but rather just nominating to make the judges aware that the blog exists and should be considered) – that way both the already famous and the relatively unknown both exposure and blogging as a whole grows in SA.

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