Asia Blog Awards — A fruitless exercise?

As you probably haven’t noticed, I only referred once to the Asia Blog Awards and refrained from urging readers to go vote for me (and I am still refraining).

Two reasons:

1.) I am listed under the Singapore Blog category, and since I’m only a Singapore blog in the strictest geographical sense, I can’t (and probably shouldn’t) win.

2.) With all due respsect to Phil, who has done an amazing job organizing this, I still have no faith in the validity of this sort of exercise.

This skepticism was greatly enhanced when I went to the Singapore Blogs category and visited the blogs of the top 2 players (xiaxue and mrbrown). Not bad, not offensive. But then compare them to Adri’s sensational blog, and I’m sorry, they are night and day. She gets 33 votes, xiaxue gets nearly 200 votes!! (Mrbrown has only put up five posts in the past month.) Something is way, way off.

Which leads me to ask, what’s the point? My personal suggestion for next time would be to have a panel of judges who are prominent within the blogging community — not necessarily in Asia, but from around the world. Let the decision be made by them. We could also hold the vote with everybody, as we’re doing now, just for fun. But take a hard look, and ask yourself if what’s going on now is really a valid way to determine the best blogs in Asia?

Again, I thank Phil for all he’s done. I think there’s a good lesson we’ve all learned — that there’s got to be a better way.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

Adam, I said what Phil has done is amazing, I’m just disappointed in what some have done with it.

Alaric, I believe you are exactly right, and I never said the bloggers themselves perpetrated the nonsense.

December 18, 2003 @ 10:00 pm | Comment

I disagree. There may be a better way, but it’s shouldn’t be elitist.

I like that Phil left everyone there. The best thing out of the entire contest is that you have there a list of blogs that was created by the readers themselves. (I don’t believe that too many authors voted for themselves — I certainly didn’t.)

It’s like a grand blogroll.

Whenever you get people involved in whittling down the nominations you open yourself up to a lot of criticism. Take the Wizbang awards for example. I have no idea how they could have possibly missed guys like The Marmot for their nomination round. Or take the Guardian’s Best Britain blog. I mean, sheesh, who decides these things?

It oughta be the readers themselves, I say.

With that, though, you are going to get some real dumb things happening. I’m sure a lot of readers are voting multiple times. And you get yourself in the Singapore list when you obviously write a lot more about China. I could mention some other dumb things, but it’s better not to in public.

To me, it’s out there. It’s democratic. Equal opportunity. No one’s on there because of some connection. It’s practically anonymous people voting for no reason except to give people credit where credit’s due.

It’s cool.

December 18, 2003 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

I agree that the real value of the whole thing is finding all these new blogs to read..

I did have an idea of something similar where you could:
– nominate a site for inclusion
– rate other sites (as many as you wanted) on criteria like design, humour, style, apparent size of ego, etc.

That way, you’d still get the blogroll effect, and you’d get an idea of which sites people consider good in a particular category, without encouraging excessive voting fraud.

Maybe I’ll get around to coding it up, one of these years…


December 18, 2003 @ 4:10 pm | Comment

I steal Phil’s words he posted somewhere else : that “the most important thing is the nominations, not the winning”. He’s definitely right. I found some cool blogs there.

December 18, 2003 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

Totally agree about the nominations, and also that winning isn’t important. But the current system is way too rife with abuse.

To Adam’s points, I’d say, let us create the grand blogroll. Let us nominate. But improve the system for choosing “winners” — or even do away altogether with choosing them.

Where I do disagree with Adam is his comment “it’s out there. It’s democratic. Equal opportunity.” Ha. It’s a stacked deck for whoever can get to the most internet cafes faster to vote for themselves and not be caught using the same IP addresses. At least, I’m afraid, that’s how some see it.

I think the concept is wonderful, and again, there’s lots of benefits to the nominations. But looking at a new post by Phil, he says those with the big votes have cheated. It’s just something to think about…

December 18, 2003 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

What is sensational to one, may not be sensational to others. It all depends on the community as a whole. No doubt about it, the people who vote in the Singapore category are mostly Singaporean bloggers. I too think that popagandhi’s blog is intelligent, but obviously, most in the local community don’t think it is the best Singapore blog. I can’t speak for Xiaxue’s blog, but I can say that Mr. Brown, although he hasn’t been posting, has been around for years and has created a rather big readership. So I guess it depends on how big your existing redership is. I also think that the one vote per person is a factor. Unlike Wizbang, which allowed a vote a day or every hour, or something. Sometimes you want to vote for a new nomination, but because you have already voted, you can’t vote a seconf time. But I agree with you that some form of judging, perhaps to decide who should contest, will help.

December 18, 2003 @ 5:28 pm | Comment

“But looking at a new post by Phil, he says those with the big votes have cheated. It’s just something to think about…”

Richard, please be clear that it isn’t necessarily the bloggers who are cheating. (Phil is clear about this in his posts.) As one of those front runners who has never asked anyone to cheat, and who has specifically explained the rules in Chinese to my readers, I would not like to be lumped in there with cheaters. I look forward to having suspicious votes deleted.

Having said that, I want to commend you for this blog. I am a frequent visitor and enjoy my visits.

December 18, 2003 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

Well, in that case, Richard, it seems really simple.

Do your own awards.

There you have it.

December 18, 2003 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

I thought the whole thing was bogus. It doesn’t take a computer scientist to see what a sham it was.

December 18, 2003 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

And thanks for the kind words Alaric. I appreciate it.

December 18, 2003 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

Why not find a middle way. Have a nomination period of say a couple of weeks. Then have two voting sessions: a public one and a peer one, perhaps where only those bloggers nominated can vote (but not for themselves), or get a group of “elite” bloggers to judge. There still need to be rules on voting and I think Phil’s doing a great job policing it.

And it has certainly exposed a lot of Asian sites to a lot more traffic, so in that regard it has already achieved its aims.

December 19, 2003 @ 11:01 am | Comment

Right on all counts, Simon. It’s great for us to nominate and thus learn about new blogs, and a vote can still be held. But so far, the vote doesn’t seem to mean much, at least not to me. An unbiased team of judges would make it more meaningful.

Same problem with Whizbang’s — I checked the results once and never went back. It’s about which is the Most Popular blog, not which is “Best.” Of course instead of all the voting we could simply look at who’s got the most site trafic — I suspect the votes are going to be a reflection of that. Quantity vs. quality. That’s valid, but then maybe we should call it a popularity contest.

December 19, 2003 @ 11:17 am | Comment

It’s all good harmless fun. Likewise there’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism either.

The current arrangement is not perfect, but it’s his first time doing it and as long as we support the awards, the more likely we are to see a better system next year.

December 19, 2003 @ 11:51 am | Comment

It’s interesting to see the reactions this has evoked. I just want to clarify again, it was never a criticism of Phil, but of the inherent misery of doing any kind of Internet voting. And of how meaningless, therefore, Internet voting can be. I’m all for learning about new blogs and commenting on them. But in terms of honoring “the best” of those blogs — Internet voting just doesn’t seem to be an effective methodology.

December 19, 2003 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

I don’t take this as critical of me at all Richard and in fact I agree with you.

This was an experiment – nothing more. I was completely taken aback by the way this exploded – in a good way. These voting pages are getting nearly 10000 page views a day. Almost every site to a blog has been exposed to new readers (numbering in the hundreds in some cases) who will come back and almost every person who has looked at the list (now more than 1000 sites long – yes ONE THOUSAND WEB SITES) has found something new to read. As far as I am concerned everything else is irrelevant – I think this has been an incredible success.

After the closing date and then another week while I go through the voting table to finish cleaning it up of block votes as best I can this list will be left up for ever more – in alphabetical order with the number of votes not showing. It is the most comprehensive list of blogs (and a few journals) on the net with the arguable exception of the Rice Bowl Journals although, fan as I am, the majority of its members are on the other side of the Pacific.

[It was your readers who nominated you for best Singapore blog not me – don’t argue with the maketplace :)]

This methodology is a popularity contest and it seems much more so because of the number of voters – XiaXue is quite well read and her readers are the sort easily mobiled to come out and vote.

Next year will see a number of changes.

1. A group effort – I want volunteers for their lingustic skills and their brain power to think through the best strructure.

2. Multilingual – the voting interface will be in at least English, Chinese (comp. and simple), Japanese, Korean and Malay – others possible. One of my strong points is I am an expert at building mutilingual web templates where you can change language on the fly and I intend to take advantage of that to make the awards as inclusive as possible.

3. I am already approaching potential media sponsors and have some interest – early days yet. I see no problem in getting these blogs mentioned in the press.

4. Preparation starts in the New Year building up to December.

5. The polls will be a combination of jury and popular vote but I am working on a less competitive system (I supose a bit liek comparing first pass the post with proportional representation).

6. The word best will not appear in a single category.

7. Nominations will be open like this year but blog owners themselves have a say whether they are in or not before voting/deliberations start.

The point is to celebrate the People in Asia who write and the people who write about Asia. We are a community bigger than we realise and with all due respect to our cousins in the United States I think we are capable of leaving home now and standing on our own two feet.

December 19, 2003 @ 2:33 pm | Comment

Fantastic comment, Phil. I am with you 1,000 percent and hope I’m still around in Asia next year to help you. I have some suggestions re. sponsors and media who might be able to help in 2004. We can talk later via email.

December 19, 2003 @ 2:45 pm | Comment


I am volunteering right now to help out next year in whatever way I can.

December 19, 2003 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

cool blog =) are you CHinese? I’ve always wanted to visit singapore. U can call it an obsession. lol.

December 29, 2003 @ 6:24 am | Comment

Ah damn it, just saw this post. Just created the 1st Quarter of the Asia Blog Awards 2004 on my site –

May 5, 2004 @ 5:46 am | Comment

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